Monday, May 31, 2010

Marine Mammals In The Military

On this Memorial Day, it is appropriate to note that the United States Navy will soon begin using Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins and California Sea Lions to guard Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington State, which serves as the home base for eight of the Navy’s ballistic-missile submarines, two cruise-missile subs, and one fast-attack sub. Reportedly, the dolphins and sea lions were trained by the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program in San Diego and will soon be moved north to Kitsap. Their primary mission will be to detect terrorist swimmers or divers and assist in their capture. It is a sad testimony to our time that such a use of marine mammals is necessary; however, using them to assist in the war against terrorism is a far more noble and justifiable purpose than allowing them to be enslaved in aquariums for entertainment purposes. As such, we wish the Navy well in their efforts to keep safe their nuclear submarines, which are a key part of the might and right that holds back the dark cloud of evil that seeks to destroy our world. May God bless all the men and women who serve in the United States armed forces, and in those of free nations everywhere.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Life Imitating Art

The catastrophe that is unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico is a stunning example of the harm and havoc that man is wreaking upon the oceans of the world. And while some of you may take a few minutes out of your busy lives to look on with concern as others struggle to contain the river of black death that is spreading through the Gulf, it is the creatures who live in those once pristine waters who will suffer for decades and perhaps centuries to come: none more so than the whales and dolphins. Despite this continuing assault on the domain of these sentient and self-aware beings, they have not sought to harm mankind in return.
But what if there comes a day when whales and dolphins turn against man? What if they seek to destroy you as you continue to destroy their world, through either the actions of the few or the apathy of the many? This is the premise of my novel, The Tempest's Roar, and the BP disaster is a tragic case of life imitating art. As such, the story has never been more timely, and I urge you to read it. If you do, you will never again look upon the deep blue seas that surround you through the same eyes. Whether you choose to believe it or not, you are not the only intelligent beings on this endangered blue marble drifting silently through space, this place of terrible beauty and untold potential that you call Earth but whalekind knows as Planet Ocean. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Let Me Be Clear

Let me be clear about my view of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. I admire the bravery and strength of purpose these people demonstrate in their efforts to interfere with the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean. Their crews risk their lives on that cold and dangerous ocean at the bottom of the world.
However, this tragedy is not about the slaughter of a thousand whales each year off Antarctica, and Sea Shepherd’s ability to save some of them. It has devolved into what the Japanese government and people see as an imperialistic assault upon their culture—an insult to the entire population because of a few die-hard old men caught up in the ways of the past.
Sea Shepherd's actions only serve to widen Japan’s sense of isolation from the rest of the world: a cultural remoteness formed over two millennia that will not be bridged by acts of aggression. Author Richard D. Lewis, in his book, “The Cultural Imperative: Global Trends in the 21st Century,” points out that in any interaction with the Japanese, “What is said is actually of minor importance. How it is said, who says it, and when it is said are the vital ingredients.”
Accordingly, the only way to get Japan to stop the Southern Ocean whale hunt is by allowing them to save face, and that is exactly what the proposal being presented to the IWC in June by the U.S. and other anti-whaling nations will do. As good as Sea Shepherd’s intentions may be, their continued attack on Japan’s whaling fleet has jeopardized this compromise, which will mean that the annual slaughter will continue for many years to come. Now is not the time for confrontation; it is the time for cool heads and calm negotiations. Otherwise all hope is lost.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Whales And Crab Pots...

Commercial fishermen in Alaska are complaining that Sperm Whales and Killer Whales are stripping their longlines of fish. Now let’s see if I understand the problem: men in fishing boats go out onto the open ocean where these whales and dolphins live, and leave baited hooks on floating fishing lines, sometimes forty miles long. Halibut, sable, skate and other fish are attracted to the bait and bite on the hooks. After struggling for a few minutes, these fish die and hang there. And then along come the Sperm Whales and Killer Whales who strip the lines of these dead fish. Then the fishermen come back, find the fish heads hanging there and get angry at the whales.
But let’s say these same fishermen got off their boats, drove their pickups into the interior, and strung a forty-mile long clothesline from tree to tree with sirloin steaks hanging on hooks every few feet. Don’t you think that grizzly bears and black bears would figure out that this was a free lunch pretty quickly? And bears have one-tenth the brainpower of whales and dolphins, if that.
So here is my message to Alaska's commercial fishermen: if you do not want to lose your fish to whales, stop longline fishing, and go join the crab fishermen on the Deadliest Catch. Whales haven’t figured out how to open crab pots…yet.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Voyeurism At Its Worst

Two weeks from today, season 3 of the television series Whale Wars will begin. It documents the battle that occurred this past year in the Southern Ocean between the Japanese whaling fleet and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. I submit that there are three kinds of viewers who will watch this series: the GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY, as follows:

The GOOD: these people truly care about whales and believe that Sea Shepherd is helping protect these magnificent creatures. They are not! By saving hundreds of whales this year, Sea Shepherd has ensured that thousands more will die in future years. And by watching this show, those of you in this group are contributing to the perpetuation of the slaughter. Your viewership provides profits (blood money) for the network, and misguided encouragement to Sea Shepherd, all of which further strengthens the pro-whaling movement in Japan. Therefore, I plead with you, the most humane of all humans, NOT to watch Whale Wars.

The BAD: these people do not care about whales at all, and only watch the show because they think Sea Shepherd are noble warriors of the high seas. Sadly, this admiration is totally misplaced, and would be better directed towards the real heroes of society, police officers, firemen, and the military. However, I will not try to reason with you in this group because thinking is not your long suit.

The UGLY. These people only want to see blood and they do not care if its whale blood or human blood as long as the slanting decks and frigid seas are covered with it. The more the better. I will not waste any time or arguments on you. You display voyeurism at its worst and you are a lower form of life than whale lice.

So there you have it, as Whale Wars begins another season, the network gets richer, Sea Shepherd gets more acclaim, and whales will continue to die. And for that reason, you humans are a lesser race and this is a lesser planet.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Winning The Battle But Losing The War

A small but increasingly vocal minority among the Japanese general population has begun to put pressure on their government to put an end to the so-called ‘research whaling’ that takes place each year in the Southern Ocean. And there are some Japanese politicians at both the local and national level who seem willing to support the proposal currently being worked on by the United States and other anti-whaling countries that would close the loopholes in the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling. In return, the principal whaling nations of Japan, Iceland, and Norway would be allowed to conduct limited and tightly monitored commercial hunts in their own coastal waters. Unfortunately, such a compromise will likely fail, and when it does, it will be due in large measure to the shortsighted actions of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Mr. Tadamasa Kodaira, a pro-whaling lawmaker in the governing Democratic Party said that the recent aggressive actions of foreign environmental groups like Sea Shepherd have fanned popular ire, making it impossible for Tokyo to compromise. The operative word there, in case you missed it, is IMPOSSIBLE. Thus, in saving the lives of hundreds of whales in the Southern Ocean this year, Sea Shepherd has doomed many thousands more to death over the years to come. There is a time to fight, and a time to talk. Sea Shepherd obviously does not know the difference: in winning the battle on the high seas they are losing the war. And while men fight, whales die.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Say Gray. You Say Grey. Let's Hope The Future Isn't...

Gray (or Grey) Whales have certainly been in the news a lot lately, and not in a positive way. First comes a report from Southern California that the number of sightings of Northern Pacific Gray Whales has dropped alarmingly this year, to about one-fifth of normal. This observation, combined with the fact that the International Whaling Commission in June is going to consider allowing NPG whales to be hunted again, has created concern among all those who care. The California Coastal Commission has pressured NOAA to update the Gray Whale study to determine whether the species is in decline. Unfortunately, these results will not be known until after the IWC makes its decision.
Meanwhile, much to the astonishment of marine biologists, a Gray Whale (gender unknown) has been spotted in the Mediterranean Sea off Israel. Since the North Atlantic population of Gray Whales was hunted to extinction in the 18th Century, it is presumed that this whale swam across the Northwest Passage (now largely free of ice thanks to global warming), through the Atlantic Ocean, and into the Mediterranean. Sadly, the whale appears to be alone and emaciated, which is not good, and the chances for its survival are poor.
With both of these troubling matters preying on your mind, please keep these and all other whales, and dolphins in your thoughts and prayers. Let’s hope our future isn’t gray…or grey.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Great shot, Scott!

Last week, Scott Landry, director of the Marine Animal Entanglement Response Team from the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, saved the life of a female Right Whale in the Great South Channel off Cape Cod. Notwithstanding the unfortunate fact that you humans have to create such teams, I was thrilled to learn that Mr. Landry was able to cut the rope wrapped around the whale’s upper jaw by shooting it with a razor-tipped bolt from a crossbow. Northern Right Whales are endangered and saving the life of even one whale can have a profound impact upon the survival of the species. This type of entanglement in fishing lines happens all too often with the great whales, especially Right Whales, and it invariably leads to infection and a slow, painful death. However, in this case, thanks to the great shooting by Mr. Landry, the whale was freed of its life-threatening noose. Great shot, Scott! By the way, whenever a human saves a whale’s life, a tiny image of the whale is etched upon that human’s soul, which guarantees admission through the gates of heaven. It also works in reverse.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Cry For Help!

I am breaking my normal pattern of posting every 3-4 days by issuing this urgent cry today to the readers of my blog in the United States. The House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife is currently reviewing the Marine Mammal Protection Act’s provisions for the public display of whales and dolphins, and they welcome public comments until this Friday, May 7th. Please add your voice to those calling for an end to the spectacular cruelty being inflicted upon whales and dolphins at marine parks and aquariums. The captive display of orcas and bottlenose dolphins at the Sea World parks, and beluga whales and white-sided dolphins at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, to name just a few examples, cannot be justified no matter how hard their owners and management try to spin it. Their care and concern for their captives is purely mercenary, and their claim that they are educating the public is both ridiculous and disingenuous. Making a wild animal perform stupid and demeaning tricks that they never do in their natural habitat is hardly a proper education for children. And sentencing these intelligent and sentient beings to a shortened life of mindless boredom and unknowable torment is cruel and despicable.
Here is how you can help: between today and this Friday, May 7th, please email Ms. Katherine Romans, the clerk of the subcommittee hearing (at the address below), and tell her you do not support the continuation of these performance spectacles that serve strictly for audience amusement and park owner profit. Here is your chance to do something noble and decent in a world where these qualities are so sadly lacking. Please act now!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Looking Up At Mountains Versus Looking Down

After exploring some 200 of the estimated 45,000 seamounts that dot the ocean floor worldwide, scientists from NOAA and Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi were surprised to learn that these submerged peaks have an abundance of biodiversity. This comes as no surprise to whales and dolphins as we have always known about the profusion of life that exists on these underwater mountaintops, which brings to mind another fundamental difference in the way our two species view our surroundings. I commented about this last October but it bears repeating now: it is how differently we view mountains. You humans are surrounded by peaks that tower over you, making you seem small and insignificant. For you to see the view from their tops you must climb their sides, a journey that is arduous and often fatal. Whereas we spend our lives swimming high above seamounts. From our vantage point, we can see the majesty of a mountaintop—the biodiversity noted in the NOAA/Texas A&M study—while its base holds no appeal for us, because it is rooted firmly in the deeps, where we dare not go. It causes me to wonder if that is why the soul of man is cloaked in darkness and self-pity, while that of my kind is filled with light and hope; you spend your entire lives looking up at mountains wishing you were on top, while we spend our lives looking down on them thankful we are not at the bottom.