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Saving dolphins could be key healing oceans

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Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013 10:00 am

One of the daily privileges of living in Southern California along the Santa Monica Bay is watching pods of bottlenose dolphins patrolling the coastline. They are extraordinary creatures with astounding memories that bring joy to my day each time I see them.

My students and I believe that dolphins are entitled to the right of life. We along with millions of other Earthlings are mortified that Japan and Faroe Islanders brutally slaughter dolphins e.g., the events at Faroe Islands and Taiji Cove, with such reckless abandon and a despicable sense of entitlement.

Those unfortunate dolphins and other sea life not slaughtered but caught are sentenced to an unimaginable captivity - suffering a brutal and torturous existence in dolphinariums for the amusement of unconscious humans. Have you seen the documentary "Blackfish"?

Since July 1 of this year, my colleagues and I have witnessed bottlenose dolphins dying along the eastern seaboard from New York to the Carolinas (and soon predicted along Florida), at ten times the normal death rates, washing ashore emaciated, shark bitten with shocking skin lesions. So far over 375 have perished. Predictions suggest casualties will at least double before a morbillus virus, which is implicated in their deaths, abates.

In addition, it is worrisome that polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs are showing up in high concentrations off the coast of Georgia. Although banned in the U.S. since 1979, the chemicals remain at manufacturing sites, bleeding carcinogenic toxicity into soils and waterways for many decades.

The truth of the matter is that our oceans are desperately sick; my forthcoming book 'Shepherding the Sea' delves into many of those details. In the meantime, dolphins and whales are in big trouble - naval and oil exploration sonar are shattering their eardrums, cargo ships are ramming them, 13 million miles (or 27 round trips to the moon!) of hooked and monofilament fishing lines are ensnaring them or cutting them badly, their autoimmune systems are so over-compromised from mercury poisoning (a by-product of coal-fired power plants) and toxic micro-plastics acting as sponges laced with high concentrations of potent man-made poisons. These awesome sea creatures are now susceptible to many viruses whereby pneumonia sets in quickly.

My colleagues have clearly shown that both filter feeding whales like humpbacks and both large and small toothed whales such as dolphins play an essential role in keeping the web of sea life intact and vibrant. The filter feeders fertilize the ocean with their nitrogen-rich flocculent fecal plumes; stimulating phytoplankton, enriching the marine ecosystem, and creating abundant fisheries. Toothed whales cull the old and weak fish and seal populations, preventing diseases from becoming epidemics and ensuring a high level of fitness throughout the seas.

The Japanese and Fareo Island bloodlust is barbaric and it is fueling the death of the sea - their repugnant sense of entitlement must end now!

The Japanese government recently called demonstrators in Tokyo 'environmental terrorists' for drawing attention to the beginning of yet another dolphin slaughter season. Shame on them for their incorrigible misuse of the word 'terrorism.'

Those that stand-up for nature and the rights of sealife are intrepid and indeed worthy of praise. On the other hand, those that authorize and profit from the killing or torturing of nature and the destruction of our living biosphere are perpetrating global crimes against all children, and their birth-right on planet Earth.

Do not buy tickets to dolphinariums.

Please support the conservation work of Blue Voice, Save Japan Dolphins, Ocean Preservation Society, Animals Australia and Operation Infinite Patience - Sea Shepherd.

Earth Dr Reese Halter is a broadcaster, conservation biologist, educator and co-author of "Life, The Wonder of it All".

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  • octagonart posted at 1:43 pm on Sat, Sep 7, 2013.

    octagonart Posts: 28

    As the ocean goes so goes the land. There are too many of us consuming this fragile planet, seemingly oblivious to the toxicity of our extractive energy ways of living. Petroleum, coal, uranium, mercury, lead to name a few are fouling the air, the land, and the sea from which we came. When bees are gone thanks to petroleum based pesticides, we are gone.

    This tragedy is avoidable, since organic non-toxic living is technically possible today. Sadly, it will only get worse as long as extractive energy and petroleum based consumables are profitable and Earth's population continues to grow until we destroy ourselves. Those who profit are blind to the consequences of their greed and most of us haven't a clue.

    Dying dolphins and bees are the "canary in the coal mine" to which most of us are oblivious.

  • Earth Dr Reese Halter posted at 4:31 pm on Fri, Sep 6, 2013.

    Earth Dr Reese Halter Posts: 7

    Ocean acidification is a HUGE problem occurring faster now than the past 300 million years because of the accumulating CO2 in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels to attain energy. As the phytoplankton in the seas and oceans attempts to absorb the higher concentrations of CO2 -- a by-product of its photosynthesis is carbonic acid, which is directly responsible for the acidification of the seas & oceans.

    The only way we can slow this process down is to lower our emissions, which now exceed 85 million metric tons of fossil fuels burned daily on planet Earth.

    Coral reefs are habitat to over 8,000 kinds of fish species or a quarter of all known fish species. And corals are dying at a record rate, globally. In fact, 72 percent of Australia's renowned Great Barrier Reef are gone.

    There's no time to fiddle around any longer, human activity is rapacious and ruinous: We are leaving the children of the Earth an impoverished and ailing life support system.

    Thanks for asking, Matt !

    Earth Dr Reese Halter, over.

  • Matt Horns posted at 3:45 pm on Fri, Sep 6, 2013.

    Matt Horns Posts: 739

    Dr. Halter, I wonder what is your take on "ocean acidification." From what little I know, this alone makes it imperative that we reduce our CO2 emissions. Never mind climate change because that will always be debatable.