Wikileaks shows Japan obsessed with Sea Shepherd

Wikileaks shows Japan obsessed with Sea Shepherd and US willing to “take action” against the anti-whaling group by taking away its non-profit status.

Keep reading Wikileaks & wildlife–US toyed with removing Sea Shepherd’s non-profit status to appease an obsessed Japan


Icelandic Whalers Try to Lure Tourists Onto Whaling Boats, Showcasing Organs, Meat and Guns

Iceland whaling boat tries to offer tours

Icelandic whalers fitted a big boat for whale watchers. They’ll showcase whale organs, harpoons and whale meat and hope to win over whale lover

Keep reading Icelandic Whalers Try to Lure Tourists Onto Whaling Boats, Showcasing Organs, Meat and Guns

Whales are People, Too, Group Says

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society announced this weekend that they’ve gotten a bunch of cross-disciplinary experts together and decided  that cetaceans have human rights.

The Declaration of Cetacean Rights, which anyone can sign, basically includes the right not to be killed, captured, abused or owned. The society, which met at the University of Helsinki (nice touch), says their rights to “life, liberty and well-being” are due after we figured out that they have more intelligence, self-awareness and culture than we previously thought. The petition gets at the idea that it’s okay to care about the fate of not just the health of a species population or ecosystem, but an individual animal.

Most westerners would go along with most of that–although the part that would ban Sea World or swim with dolphin programs might shock some. We already don’t hunt whales and changed the tuna industry to avoid dolphins (which are really just small whales). Japan still kills about 23,000 dolphins a year on purpose.  Hundreds of whales are killed each year–no one is sure how many exactly how many–mainly by Japan, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Russia.

The controversial part, at least in my mind, is that they also “affirm that all cetaceans as persons.” I don’t think they’re persons. Individuals, sure. Anyone who’s spent time with higher functioning animals can tell you they’re individuals. They don’t need to be people to have individuality and rights. Then again, if they didn’t put a little bit of crazy talk

Keep reading Whales are People, Too, Group Says

Chukotkans Gobble 419 Pounds of Gray Whale Each Year According to Russia’s 140 Whale a Year Quota

A gray whale illegally harpooned off by the Makah tribe in Washington

Do the Chukotka people really each eat 419 pounds of gray whale each year? That’s what the Russian government is asking the world to believe as it asks the International Whaling Commission to extend its absurd “subsistence” quota of 140 gray whales for the Chukotka people. Continue reading Chukotkans Gobble 419 Pounds of Gray Whale Each Year According to Russia’s 140 Whale a Year Quota

DNA Reveals International Black Market for Whale Meat; Also: Horse Meat Fraud

Kujira Yukke

The whale meat sold at a hipster Santa Monica sushi restaurant came from Japan, a paper in Royal Society’s Biology Letters shows. The results highlight a growing body of research that shows there’s a thriving international black market for whales caught both under the guise of research and bycatch.  

We all knew that the whale sushi sold in the U.S. wasn’t caught off the Santa Monica pier, but we didn’t know where it came from beyond the Mercedes in the parking lot. Biologists now want the normally flaccid International Whaling Commission to stand up to recalcitrant whaling countries and demand a public DNA registry of the whales they admit taking.  The database of legal whales could show just how many whales are being poached.

Charles Hableton, producer of the Cove, is the big Hollywood name on the paper and at the original sting operation, but the big academic name is C. Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University. Baker is a pioneer in using whalemeat DNA to show where whales were caught–often where they weren’t supposed to. Some of his previous work has shown:

Some sei whale meat sold in Japan inexplicably came from the southern hemisphere.  Japan’s fish markets sold meat from 19 individual fin whales at a time they only admitted to taking 15. 46% of whalemeat sold was from protected local waters–suggesting that “bycatch” kills as many as “scientific research” whaling

Baker warned at the time that this excuse

Keep reading DNA Reveals International Black Market for Whale Meat; Also: Horse Meat Fraud

Where to See Orcas Not in Captivity

Shamu Rocks

Shamu Rocks, at Orlando Sea Worldcourtesy of Miss Quarel.

Want to see a killer whale that hasn’t been captured, trained to do tricks and kept in a tiny tank? You’ve got plenty of options other than Sea World, where their primary breeding male was involved in his third human death last week. Instead of seeing the 42 captive orcas go through their routines for your amusement, wouldn’t you rather see them doing what they do naturally?

The Pacific northwest is probably the best place to see killer whales in the world. The whales hang out just to the west of the San Juan Islands in Washington state. Tour boats run to and from the San Juans from all over the region, including from Seattle 90 miles to the south.

Better yet, you can even see them from the shore. Industrious whale lover Donna Sandstrom corralled a pack of agencies to set up The Whale Trail, a series of sites where you can see whales from the shore. Behavioral biologist and author Toni Frohoff, says land-based whale watching is “the ideal form,” because it doesn’t disturb the whales at all. Plus, it’s basically free.

The orcas can also be found up a little north in British Columbia. You can take boat trips off Vancouver Island that will let you see grizzly bears, eagles, sea lions and other kinds of whale. On the other side of Canada, Battle Harbor, Newfoundland has orca pods visit in September. Killer whales are spotted off Hokkaido, the rugged,

Keep reading Where to See Orcas Not in Captivity

Australians Geared Up For Years to Fight Japanese Whaling; Sunken Vessel Just Ticked Them Off to Do It


,The Australian Government collects photos for a potential court case.

When the Japanese whaling ship Shonan Maru 2 mowed down Sea Shepherd’s Ady Gil they ticked off an already anti-whaling Australia. The incident seems to have pushed Australia to threaten Japan with legal action this week, but Australia has been grinding its teeth and preparing for battle for years after watching Japan flout international whaling rules off its shores. The outcome will turn on Australia’s claim over its nearby waters and which international body has jurisdiction.

This week prime minister Kevin Rudd gave Japan a November deadline to cut its whaling quota to nothing. New Zealand may join the fight, too, it announced Feb. 22. Australia is holding some undoubtedly awkward talks with Japanese diplomats this weekend. Some Australians fear a court case could solidify a lack of Australian control over nearby waters.

Australians says they can head to the International Court of Justice at The Hague or the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Germany to get an injunction against whaling. Japan, meanwhile, plays down the fight as “unfortunate” and threatens to appeal to the International Commission on Whaling. They banned whaling in 1986 but let Japan continue under the fig leaf of “research,” even in an area Australia considers a whale sanctuary.

The first signs Australia had reached its limit were just after the Sea Shepherd’s skirmishes when Bob Brown, head of the Green Party, started pushing for international court action. He called Rudd’s

Keep reading Australians Geared Up For Years to Fight Japanese Whaling; Sunken Vessel Just Ticked Them Off to Do It

The Cove: By Seeing the Movie, You’re Participating in the Effort

The Cove is a movie about dolphin slaughter in Japan, but the filmmakers have the sense to know that an hour of dolphins being harpooned, flailing and bleeding to death would be unwatchable. Instead they tell the fascinating, adventure story of trying to get footage of a slaughter of dolphins that Taiji, Japan tries desperately to keep secret.

Spoiler alert: they get the footage. And here’s where the audience feels like they’re participating. The point of the effort is to get the word (and video) out on how horrific and unnecessary the process of killing 23,000 dolphins a year is. It’s an act of faith by the filmmakers that once the world knows this will have to stop. And just by witnessing The Cove, you fee like you’re part of their journey.

They also list things you can do to help. You can write President Obama and the Japanese. You can donate. You can carefully choose your seafood–for your own health and for the fish’s sake.

One of the actions they suggest is that you pledge not to go see dolphins in captivity. (The sale of show dolphins supports dolphin slaughter.)

Here are some places you can go see dolphins in the wild instead.

To see more animals go to

Whalers Try To Revive Desire For Whale Meat

Whale meat for sale at a supermarket

Whale meat for sale at a supermarket,originally uploaded by thaths.

The old argument for whale meat used to be that it was a cheap, familiar meat for old people who had grown up on it. Sustenance and self-sufficiency came up a lot. Now that Japan and Iceland have spurned international bans on whaling, they’re hard to market whale meat to new customers.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that in Reykjavik marketer Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson is trying to “hook” urban hipsters on whale meat by selling it in vacuum-sealed ready packs and offering recipe tips.

The Journal quotes Eva Maria Thorarinsdottir, marketing manager of Reykjavik’s Elding Whale Watching saying hunting has made minke whales much shier. So all the government of Iceland’s support of the nostalgic whaling industry is hurting people who are making a living on animal tourism. “Our business is much more profitable than theirs,” she says.

The Washington Post says the Japanese government and pro-whaling groups spend $5 million a year for promotions like to getting school kids to try whale meat. Meanwhile, though, demand is so low that prices have fallen 20% from 1999 to 2004 ($15 a pound to $12 a pound). And they still have extra that they have to freeze.

This looks like yet another program where a government is throwing money away to support a dying industry (whaling) rather than throwing money behind a growing industry (whale watching).

Find the Best Places to Go Whale-Watching Around the WorldWhere to See

Keep reading Whalers Try To Revive Desire For Whale Meat