Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Grind

The waters of the Atlantic. Soaked in the blood of 1000s of pilot whales. To satisfy a nation's wants. A slaughter that is not needed. A slaughter that is horrendously cruel.

Untitled-3.jpgI have not known about the Grind for very long, but this is a tradition that dates back hundreds of years. You will probably know about the dolphin slaughters that take place in, Taiji, Japan, and the whaling that takes place annually in the Antarctic, but this slaughter is not widely known by the world, and one that also needs the spotlight, and fast. 

Every year, a small island colony in the north Atlantic carry out a cruel and heartless practice. The Faeroes are a danish colony, and so are part of Europe. But the horrendous slaughter that takes place would make you think that these peaceful people are living in the middle ages. 'The Grind' a slighter of possibly hundreds of pilot whales, and it can take place on any of 22 beaches in the Faeroes. It is almost crueler than the cove, and does not supply a nation with needed food, nor does it boost their economy, and the unfortunate pilot whales to end up trapped, will not continue life in a tank. Every one of the pod members will be slaughtered, for two main reasons.
One is tradition. These are a proud people, not wanting to give up their past.
The second is simply because the Faroese enjoy eating the meat that they steal from the ocean.
Minor reasons are to feel like a man. It seems that the men and teens that carry out this murder feel butch and strong when they kill.

But is it worth wiping out entire families to feel a long gone past? Is really worth slaughtering babies in front of their mothers for you to have one nice meal? Is it right to butcher a small group of friends to feel strong?
The answer is no.
The Faroese think differently though. Their understanding of cetacean minds show that they either have no respect for the animal, or do not want to have respect. They claim that a pilot whale is no more intelligent than a pig. However, there is proof of deep emotions and culture among every species of whale, dolphin and porpoise. Either that information has not reached them, they do not believe it, or they choose not to trust it.
To know that you were killing a 'non-human' person would eventually destroy you.
How these men can kill a screaming calf, and the children and women can stand and watch, feel proud, that a small part of dolphin society is being wiped out forever, is beyond me.
To say that these animals are not intelligent because they have not got flying machines or cities is a lack of respect for me. 10,000 years ago we barely had settlements, never mind aircraft, but the lack of technology some how justifies the slaughter. We would not murder thousands of people on an alien planet simply because they did not have towns and technology, so why is it right here?

The key to stopping the grind is simple. Much like whaling and the cove, we need pressure on the Faroese. If the entire world is protesting, then they can no longer justify their senseless slaughter. The second part is education. if we can teach how amazing the minds of cetaceans are, then we can change the minds and hearts of everyone involved.

“We are fighting the horror of the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. We are opposing the Japanese whale poachers in the Southern Ocean and we are fighting the Faeroese to stop this nightmare called the Grind. This is a global struggle against the last hold-outs of barbarism against cetaceans,” Captain Watson, Sea Shepherd.

Faroes Grind.jpg

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Are dolphins people?

This is an issue that I have been thinking about a lot recently, and something that I believe will have a missive impact on us all in the end.

Personally, I do believe that dolphins are people like us. They count as intelligent life. They may not have cities and technology, but that doesn't matter. They have culture, language  and deep emotions- traits of intelligent beings.
I believe that a person is self aware, and this has come from various articles, papers and quotes telling us that a person is a being with consciousness. And dolphins regard themselves as individuals, so they must count.

There is much evidence to back up al of this. Dolphins can recognise them selves in the mirror, a very rare quality, shared only by humans, elephants, great apes and cetaceans. They are very noisy when in groups, and this cannot be just random noise. The amount of sound that they produce must have a purpose. Being social beings means that this sound may not only be on hunting and mating, but also the latest gossip and information. Perhaps these people have stories and songs passed down through the generations, much like knowledge is. After all, we pass down stories and songs, why shouldn't they?
Dolphins and whales live long lives, and this is amazing given that they have hardly any medical care or housing. Orcas can live well into their 80s, and a bowhead whale was found in the Arctic with a type of whaling spear stuck in it's head that had not been used in over a century, making this a truly ancient whale. Research has even suggested that these whales can live for over 200 years. It may just be me, but a creature that lives this long, and is that social, must have much wisdom. So teaching must be a vital part of their society, as it is in ours.

Our two species have may cultural similarities, such as teaching and socialising. So it stands to reason that these animals are in fact people, and one day may be able to communicate with them. In fact we have tried, and are trying. Hopefully the outcome will be successful, and end up with a partnership of species. But have we thought that they might be trying to communicate with us? I believe that they have.
Here is a link to a youtube video that shows Luna, a lone young orca making sounds like those of a boat's motor. Perhaps he thought that the motor was one of us? Perhaps he was just playing. We cannot know, but this video is strong evidence of communication.
More evidence of this communications is of captive dolphins. In a tank they fall largely silent, but many videos show dolphins squeaking or clicking at humans, even when they are the only ones in a tank. So are they talking to themselves? Or are they talking to us? Or are they talking to us as we might to a dog or cat? Or are they simply making mindless noises?
Until their language is opened up to us, we can't know.
To tell what they are saying would be amazing. We could share knowledge with them, as they could with us. Would they notice the slowly dying oceans? Would they cry at the loss of a loved one? What would they say about captivity?
All these questions may be answered in the next decade, and it would be amazing to be able to communicate with these amazing beings.

So are they people? Do they count? Make your own mind up, but I am sure that we will come to a conclusion on this in the next few years.
How hard would it be to keep a dolphin in a tank if it told you how much it hated it? How hard would it be to kill whales if we knew that we were killing our equals? And just how will more people on this planet affect us all in the end?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

My art work link

This is my deviant art profile, and any of you interested in the essay that I wrote on dolphins may also be interested in my artwork. It is not all dolphins, but have a look anyway. This is somewhere that I post art about dolphins, and I update it regularly.

Why dolphins should not be kept in captivity.

I know that it's long, but give it a read, and am only 15. This was a school essay on 'something that I was passionate about', so hope you enjoy.

Why dolphins should not be kept in captivity

            Space. It is vast. And for most of our past, we have looked up to the stars, and asked ourselves- are we alone? And the simple answer is no. We are not alone. To find intelligent life we need to look no further than our humble oceans.
            There are creatures there that have language and culture. Creatures that can feel empathy and perhaps even love. And these creatures are whales and dolphins.
            So how have we reacted to their presence? We slaughter them in their thousands. We cage them and force them to perform tricks for our entertainment. We make them live in horrendous conditions in the name of educating ourselves.
            And this is wrong.
And I will show you why.

First we will look at dolphins them selves. They are classed as animals, but more and more people are pushing for them to be recognised as ‘non-human’ people. There is reason enough for this. . It is constantly being proven that these animals are intelligent and self aware.
‘Science has shown us that individuality- consciousness, self awareness- is no longer a unique human property’. Ethics Professor Tom White, BBC.
But what does this have to do with ending the captivity industry? Well, under the ‘Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans’, captivity is viewed as slavery and whaling as murder. So what exactly is this set of rights? Well cetaceans are the order of animals commonly known as whales, dolphins and porpoises. There are a total of ten rights. Some of these rights include: ’Every individual cetacean has the right to life.’ ‘No cetacean is the property of any State, corporation, human group or individual.’ ( These rights are revolutionary, and may one day come in to effect around the world.
Because of the simple fact that cetaceans are self aware –i.e. regarding themselves as an individual- means that this is a very strong argument against captivity. We don’t allow the killing or enslavement of human people, so why allow it in dolphins people?
Many of those who love dolphin shows claim that the dolphins them selves love captivity, and that they themselves love the dolphins. I will discuss why dolphins do not enjoy life in captivity later. Surely if you loved something, you would want it to have the best life possible, to be free. So surely if you loved a dolphin, you would want this status for one? So helping end captivity. To end this point there is this to think about:
“A person needs to be an individual. If individuals count, then the deliberate killing of individuals of this sort is ethically the equivalent of deliberately killing a human being.’ Ethnics Professor Tom White, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.

The intelligence of dolphins is not hard to prove, and neither is their empathy.
‘A member of a group of orcas, or killer whales, (orcas are the largest member of the dolphin family) in Patagonia had a damaged jaw and could not feed. The elderly whale was fed and kept alive by its companions.’ BBC news.
Surely such big brained animals deserve better than tiny tanks? Keeping dolphins in captivity can have severe effects on both their mental and physical health. The most shocking of these statistics is longevity. In the wild, an orca can live to over 100 years (in one or two cases); in captivity, they rarely make it past their 40s. the longevity of orcas and other cetaceans is amazing considering they have little medical care. Humans need a large amount of medicines, drugs and extremely good care such as housing to make it to 40, and yet most wild orcas can make it to 70.
Of a total of 199 orcas having lived in captivity (not including still births), 157 have died, while 42 remain alive, at the time of writing. In the wild most would still be alive. (orcadatabase, TheOrcaProject)
‘In the early 90s, at Marine land Ontario, it was reported that at least 80% of their bottlenose dolphins had died.’ (A Fall From Freedom). bottlenose dolphins can survive into their 50s or even 60s, so considering that most captures took place in the 70s, the dolphins should have been at the peak of their mental and physical fitness, not dying off at a staggering rate.
‘Of the 140 killer whales taken from the wild for Marine parks and aquariums, 90% are dead’. (A Fall From Freedom)
These statistics are hard to argue with, and the simple fact is, cetaceans are not cut out for captivity.
‘if Seaworld’s claim that whales live 25-30 years is true… then not only is half the population we have now well past that, they must be dead already, or going to die in the next few moments’. (Ken Blacomb, Centre for Whale Research. A Fall From Freedom).
Seaworld, America’s most famous dolphinarium, claims that orcas do not live past their 30s for males and 40s for females. the statistics and facts, and orcas themselves, are proof that Seaworld have false statistics for wild whales, so why don’t they believe that orcas can make it to their 80s and beyond?
In fact, SeaWorld ignored a paper written on longevity by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, claiming that-
“Based on studying nearly 250 juvenile and adults, survival of wild killer whales was significantly higher than in captivity.’ (A Fall From Freedom).
Later, this statement came out,
“No change in the statistics since the 1995 study.’
Why do SeaWorld claim that their statistics for captivity are the same as the wild? This is like an alien studying humans in prisons, or poverty, and saying that these statistics were the same for all humans. It just doesn’t make sense.
So what do these statistics show? If you want a dolphin to live a long life, let it live wild.

So what about quality of life for these animals? No matter how hard any park tries, it cannot replicate the conditions of the wild, nor can they meet the physical and mental demands of the dolphins themselves. Their tanks are less than 0.01% of the size of their natural habits.
This leads to depression, reduced life span, and stress. If dolphins are as mentally similar to humans as science claims they are, then the effect of a small stressful environment for dolphins is devastatingly similar to humans- disastrous. Have two humans that do not get on in a small room for years on end, and one of them will snap.
And on the 21st August, 1989, in SeaWorld San Diego, and incident occurred between two orcas, Corky and Kandu, and this resulted in Corky’s death. The incident itself was horrific. Just before the show, tension between the two broke, and Kandu rammed Corky, breaking her jaw. A fountain of blood spouted upwards, and over the next 45 minutes, Corky bleed to death in front of a horrified crowd of people of all ages, including young children.
In the wild, this tension would not have been present, since different populations of orcas keep apart, and there are entire oceans to separate any rival whales. Both orcas in this case were form different populations, and were forced to get along, keeping up the image of the playful, friendly and eager to please orca.
Aggression is present towards trainers as well. These are the people that are meant to have a strong bond with the orca. Those people that have spent years building up the dolphin’s trust and friendship. Dozens of injuries are suffered every year, and a total of 4 people have been killed.
On February 20th 2010, Keto, one of the resident orcas at Loro Parque, Tenerife, rammed trainer Alexis Martinez. It cost him his life.
1991, and Tillicum, SeaWorld’s prize bull orca, dragged trainer Kelty Burns to the bottom of the tank after she slipped and fell in. Tillicum and two other tank mates held her under the water till she drowned, and did not allow the recovery of the body for a long time. February 24th 2010 and trainer Dawn Brancheau was mauled to death by Tillicum in front of a huge audience, filled with small children. (source- A Fall From freedom).
It is very hard to find evidence of killer whales or dolphins harming people in the wild. Many people swim or kayak with the orcas and dolphins in the wild, so it is not that people are not having contact, it is simply because in the wild, the orcas are relaxed, with their family, and roaming free. If they chose to investigate someone, it is not because they want to eat them, it is because they are curious.
Many of the world’s top orca scientists believe that the attack on Dawn Brancheau in 2010 was deliberate. And the more we learn about these fascinating creatures, the more plausible this becomes.

Have you ever wondered how dolphins get to captivity? Rescue? Birth? The sad truth is that capture with the sole purpose of entertainment is the most common way. How many orcas have been rehabilitated, in all time? The truth is, hardly any. And how many dolphins, not orcas, have been rehabilitated, in all time. the truth here is happier, but most releases are by dedicated activists, desperate to put a stop to the captivity industry.
Take Tillicum. he was snatched at the age of two from his mother. That is like taking a two year old human child from their mother. He has been moved around many times, has been chased, harassed and bullied by the orcas already in the parks he ends up at. He possibly speaks a different language or dialect, so he is alone. No where to run, no where to hide. This is a giant leap from daring rescues, followed by a happy recovery, leading to a successful release into the wild.
This violent kidnapping is sadly one of the more peaceful ways of capturing a dolphin for display, and all to common.
Taiji, Japan. It is early morning, and the sun has not yet come up. It is September, and 100 dolphins will not see the sun again. They are swimming in their own blood, and their screams can be heard. This is not the middle ages. It is not an age long tradition. It is 2011, and by evening, most of these dolphins will be dead, by stabbing or drowning. Those lucky enough to live will never see the ocean again. They will live the rest of their lives in cramp, barren tanks.
Their life spans will be slashed by more than half. They will never see their families again. They will never again feel freedom.
Imagine that his was you.
You have witnessed your entire family being killed. You are swimming in the blood of your best friends. The screams of your friend’s children have long fallen silent You are loaded in to a sling, and suffer what seams like an eternity of bumps and shaking. You are relieved to find that you are back in water again after an eternity, but a quick check of your surroundings, and you find that solid walls are trapping you on each side. You are utterly alone.
This is what 10s of dolphins have experienced every year. And the unlucky 1000s are slaughtered for their poisonous meat. And this will go on, unless we stop it.
And the dive for these dolphin fisheries is money.
In the late 1980s, SeaWorld obtained permits from the fisheries service to import six false killer whales from Japan. A capture team was sent to Ikei Island, Japan, and a total of 12 false killer whales were caught. 6 of those false killer whales were then transported on a flatbed truck over rough roads all the way to Kamagowa SeaWorld on the east cost of Japan. SeaWorld America was then directly involved in the transport of those 6 dolphins on a horrendous journey. They were taken to Tokyo, flown to Hong Kong, then on to Singapore, to Dubai, to the United Arab Emirates, and then to Amsterdam. They were taken from there to dolphinarium Harderwijk, and then used as trading material. SeaWorld did not have proper permits for these animals, and they put the animals through a terrifying and stressful ordeal, in order to avoid Canadian airspace. (source- A Fall From Freedom).
Captures are horrendously cruel and stressful, and the welfare of the animals is clearly not top of the list. If SeaWorld really cared about the animals, they would not put them through this torture, and in fact would not keep them in the first place.

There is much evidence against captivity, but we shall analyse the arguments put forward by those who regard themselves as ‘pro-captivity’.
First of all, the meaning of the word ‘captivity’.
‘Captivity-the state or period of being held, imprisoned, enslaved or confined’. (
So are you pro-captivity? Do you support enslavement? By visiting marine parks, you are.
But what do the experts think.
‘Public education here at SeaWorld is phenomenal. The people that walk out of our park have a better understanding, a better appreciation of the animal, the awareness level is just heightened.’ (Brad Andrews, Chief Zoological Office, SeaWorld, A Fall From Freedom).
But is educating us really what happens?
In the wild, you observe the animal from a distance, study its behaviour, maybe take a few photographs for future reference. That is if you want to learn.
In captivity, you watch fit young men and women command dolphins to jump to a pounding beat.
You decide which one you will learn more from.
On the other side of the education argument is Ric O’barry.
‘The show is nothing more than a show of dominance. It teaches us that dominance it good, dominance it right, dominance works… Its not just about those 1000 dolphins in captivity, its as much about those millions of people who go through there and are mis educated, who come out thinking- they belong here.’ (Ric O’barry, dolphin activist).
So the education myth is just that- a myth, a lie. In fact, the only facts that are correct anymore in dolphinariums is the outside anatomy.
The argument that dolphinariums propose about conservation also does not stand. The amount that they spend on conservation is shocking.
‘Only about 0.25% of the 2009 spring revenure (April-June) was spent on the entire year of conservation’. (Seaworld and Conservation, Cetacean Insparation). Considering that SeaWorld spends more on conservation than other parks, it is clear that conservation is not their main focus.

It all appears to be doom and gloom, but togetherwe can stop captivity. Here’s how. Watch ‘The Cove’. Know the industry. Watch ‘A Fall From Freedom’. Know the facts. Go on to’Cetacean Inspiraton” and ‘Voice of the Orcas’ and find out what the experts think. Spread the word. Let the world know the harsh reality of captivity. And do not buy a ticket to a dolphin show. These parks thrive on our money.
To finish, I leave you with this quote.
‘No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of there aquariums or one of thoes marine lands can be considered normal.’
Jaques Yves Cousteau.

First post

OK so first post guys.... I want to spread the massage about dolphin freedom, and how we can put an end to captivity forever. So hopefully I will remember to post regularly... Wish me luck.