Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Fishmas/Merry Christmas/Year in Review Blog

Hello again everyone. I would like to thank each and every one of you who has helped to make this blog what it is today. I started this blog a couple years ago with the objective of opening just one person's eyes to what is going on in our oceans. I never for a moment thought we'd be where we are now. So again I would like to thank all of you as without you this blog would probably have fallen to the wayside years ago. I know I have not been very active over the past few months, but that will now hopefully change as it seems more things are starting to fall into place that will allow me to blog more once again! So lets take a look back at this year and retouch on a few topics that I touched on to perhaps clear some things up or just remind us all that they are actually happening in the world around us.

2014 started off with Sea Shepherd once again hampering Japan's whale poaching campaign in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
West Australia laid out it's plan to cull sharks. Remember that during the upcoming cull that over 100 tiger sharks would be slaughtered in an attempt at killing great white sharks in which zero were killed.
Iceland in a strange move decided to place whale beer on the market in an attempt to sell people on eating whale. The beer sold from late January through late February.
An extinct species of shark, the smoothtooth blacktip shark was rediscovered!
Finally, Taiji, Japan returned to news headlines following the capture of a superpod of bottlenose dolphins in the killing cove. Let's touch on this once again as it was and is still a huge moment.
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The albino dolphin in this photo would become known as "Angel" and is currently housed in the Taiji Whale Museum. Her family was divided up. Some slaughtered, others driven back out to sea after several days of not eating. Thanks to Anonymous, Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project, and Sea Shepherd Taiji made news headlines for the first time since The Cove was released. Sadly though the attention on Taiji has fallen back off while Japan continues to slaughter dolphins at will with no regard to what the rest of the world thinks.

The first shark in West Australia's shark cull was caught. The shark was claimed to be a bull shark buuuuut..... Embedded image permalink
As this image that flew ll over the place notes, the shark was not a bull shark but a tiger shark. This image really tells the tale of what the shark cull would be. Uneducated paid "fishermen" killing whatever sharks they wanted to kill. It wouldn't be long before most rules would fly out the window with these guys. Remember this shark cull happened to make beaches safer.... By baiting the water and attracting sharks...Many of the sharks that were released by fishermen were too badly injured and died soon after release. All of the released sharks were small and had not yet had a chance to reproduce. Some were returned to see after having their throats slit, others after having a hook hacked out of their heads.

The cull continued and eventually bycatch became an issue as a small dolphin appeared to have been killed, but was never confirmed by the fisheries agency. It was one of the few animals to be taken to the dumping grounds covered by a tarp which only made suspicions grow.

Illinois and California shark fin laws showed some bite as arrests were made on people possessing and selling shark fin products.
The world court found Japan's whaling operations to be not scientific and had to be altered if it were to continue. This helped to lead us to where we are today. As I type this blog, Japan is NOT whaling in the Southern Ocean. Rather, they are redesigning their "scientific" whaling program to meet the standards that are required. Chances are they will return to the Southern Ocean to hunt whales next year, but for at least one year, the whales an swim safe in a whale SANCTUARY.

The West Australia shark cull came to an end and with it came the final figures. Here are the final figures for catches from start to finish...
0 great whites
1 very small bull shark
157 tiger sharks
1 northwest puffer (bycatch)
1 spinner shark (bycatch)
1 dusky whaler (bycatch)
3 mako shark (bycatch)
7 stingrays (bycatch)
Out of all the sharks caught roughly 70% were undersized and were released though the condition of the sharks at the time of release were far from acceptable. West Australia aimed to continue the program for another 3 years.

The Maldives granted protection for 18 species of rays, including manta rays.

Denmark showed it's support for whaling by sending the Danish Navy to control Sea Shepherd in the Faroe Islands.

This blog was hacked! Still not sure by whom or from where, but clearly I had angered someone :)

Something truly amazing happened. In the state of Maryland a sand tiger shark was caught alive and well with it's fins cut off. The wounds from where the fins were cut were healed over and the shark appeared to be healthy! My personal feelings remain that this is possible due to sand tiger sharks being able to store air in their bodies. This causes them to become neutrally buoyant and not sink if they need to stop swimming. This ability is exclusive to the sand tiger shark. Luckily it seems the major arteries at the base of the fin was not severed which could have led to the animal bleeding to death. It also brought back the realization that just because shark finning is illegal doesn't mean it does not happen. Still though it was quite an amazing discovery to see that animal alive and well.

Well there it is folks. Another year is coming to a close. What happened in October/November/ most of December while I was MIA? On the topics that I cover here, not too much really. The listing of several sharks and manta rays to CITES Appendix II went into effect so those animals now have stricter trade regulations which will greatly help all involved species. Japan has continued to hunt and kill dolphins. West Australia has taken the word overreaction to a whole new level (View my previous blog to discover why) and poachers are apparently allowed to poach in the ocean freely (Again, view previous blog).

Sooooo to wrap up this blog, the last blog before Christmas, but probably not the last blog of the year, I want to again say thank you. It really has ben an incredible ride with this blog. I want to wish you and your families a very merry Christmas if you celebrate and if not I wish you a very happy Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever holiday you will be celebrating in the near future or are celebrating now.

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