The dolphin snatchers: Mail investigation exposes vile trade where animals are sold for up to £100,000 each to aquariums where they suffer unimaginable cruelty

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For the men wearing wetsuits wading in a shallow bay teeming with trapped wild dolphins, the decision is as simple as it is ruthless. Running their hands carefully over each dolphin’s body, they check to ensure the creature is free from scars, particularly on the dorsal and tail fins.

At first glance this human interaction with one of the few creatures said to possess an intellect close to our own appears an act of caring tenderness. But in reality, these are businessmen selecting their merchandise for a multi-million-pound trade in live dolphins. The best specimens (usually young females, or cows) are removed from their families to be sold live for between £50,000 and £100,000 each to aquariums.

The dolphins they reject — the ones with minor blemishes on their skin — are slaughtered where they are trapped in that cove at Taiji on the south coast of Japan.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT – Discretion advised when scrolling down!

The cruel sea: A dolphin selected for sale last month in Japan. Others that are 'not suitable' are killed

The cruel sea: A dolphin selected for sale last month in Japan. Others that are ‘not suitable’ are killed

In a frenzy of violence that has shocked animal lovers and marine environmentalists around the world, some are speared repeatedly by fisherman circling in motorboats whose propellers often slice the dolphins’ skin. Others are simply held underwater to drown.

Sometimes, a metal pole is rammed into their blubber in the hope of shattering the mammal’s spine. A cork stopper is then hammered into the hole where the rod was forced in, to try to reduce the blood spilt into the sea — to conceal the extent of the slaughter.

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The rejects are slaughtered for their meat. Some are speared repeatedly by fisherman circling in motorboats whose propellers often slice the dolphins’ skin

Invariably a few dolphins try to make a break for freedom and attempt to jump over the netting that seals off the bay.

However, amid the blood-red waters almost all of them eventually succumb to their fate. These barbaric scenes took place just before Christmas, during a hunting season when Japanese fishermen ‘harvest’ dolphins to supply to aquariums for human entertainment.

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Killer cove: The dolphins they reject – the ones with minor blemishes on their skin – are trapped in a cove at Taiji on the south coast of Japan

It is estimated that for every wild dolphin caught to be trained to perform tricks in captivity, around four times that number are slaughtered.

The fishermen then sell off the meat for about £10 a kilo. They see the creatures as a menace because they pose a threat to the dwindling reserves of fish in the Pacific Ocean.

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Blood red: Japanese fishermen collect the bodies of harpooned dolphins from the bloody waters of a bay in Taiji

But for those that survive the slaughter, life might as well be over.The stress a dolphin suffers as a result of being captured, transported and imprisoned in a small tank dramatically reduces its lifespan

While wild dolphins live for up to 60 or 70 years, captured ones often perish when they are as young as eight, say environmentalists.

According to marine experts, some dolphins are so distressed by their capture that they commit suicide.

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The odds: For every wild dolphin caught to be trained to perform tricks in captivity, around four times that number are slaughtered

One of the most vocal campaigners against the practice is also one of the most knowledgeable — he is the very man who helped create and promote the worldwide aquarium industry.

Ric O’Barry became famous in the Sixties as the on-screen trainer of the five dolphins that played Flipper in the popular U.S. TV series, which was also hugely successful in Britain.

For ten years he worked at Miami Seaquarium, where he trained the wild mammals after capturing them on hunting expeditions in the Pacific.

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Rounding them up: Fishermen drive bottle-nose dolphins into a net during their annual hunt off Taiji. The ‘drive hunt’ involved five or six large fishing vessels sailing out to sea to find a pod of dolphins

But when Kathy, the main dolphin that played Flipper, died in his arms after apparently losing the will to live, he says it dawned on him how cruel captivity is for such intelligent and social creatures.

For the past 40 years he has travelled the world highlighting the plight of dolphins in amusement parks, and even releasing them from those parks into the wild, often getting arrested in the process.

Three years ago, he made a documentary called The Cove, which revealed the truth about the ‘drive hunts’ that take place at Taiji in Japan. Yet since then, the practice has continued unabated — as these photographs demonstrate only too graphically.

O’Barry, 73, says live dolphins taken from the waters in Japan are shipped to aquariums and ‘swim-with-dolphin’ centres mostly in the Far East. Speaking from his home in Miami, O’Barry says: ‘Taiji is the number one location to get dolphins for the dolphinarium industry — or what I called “abusement parks”.’

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Some dolphins are so distressed by their capture that they commit suicide. the stress that they suffer as a result of being captured dramatically shortens their lifespan

Although there are no international laws banning the shipment of live dolphins to those countries prepared to accept them, O’Barry claims the dolphins undergo terrible suffering.

‘After enduring a painfully long period of transportation, they are put into often filthy and confined conditions at aquariums. ‘These are free-ranging creatures with a large brain whose primary sense is sound.

‘Some have been placed in aquariums at casinos where the noise is appalling. These environments are hell-holes to creatures used to the open seas and which often swim up to 100 miles in a day in search of food. ‘They are taken away from the two most important aspects of their life — the world of oceanic sound and their families. ‘They end up suffering depression. I believe they are also capable of trying to commit suicide.’

Two years ago at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in south-western Japan, hundreds of tourists at a marine show looked on in astonishment as a large dolphin rose up out of the water tank to balance precariously on the glass barrier of the aquarium. It then threw itself out of the water on to the ground.

Touchingly, the other dolphins in the tank swam to the glass wall to look at the plight of their companion, called Kuru (meaning ‘black’). The dolphin was eventually put into a huge tarpaulin sling and winched by a crane back into the water.

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The hunt is on: Taiji’s fishermen are licensed by the national government to catch 2,100 dolphins and pilot whales in the six-month hunting season

The incident was filmed by an appalled American tourist, who passed the footage on to O’Barry. While many thought the mammal was trying to make a break for freedom, O’Barry believes it was more likely it wanted to commit suicide.

‘It was depressed and wanted to end it,’ O’Barry says, adding that it had been in captivity for six years after being taken from the wild. ‘I have seen it many, many times. They are living in a world of sensory deprivation, then bombarded with a wall of noise from the crowd.’

After the clip was made public the aquarium managers immediately issued a statement saying the dolphin was ‘playing around’ and suffered minor scratches and bruises on its head and fin. It was, they insisted, fine and enjoyed a healthy serving of mackerel and squid once returned to the tank.

They did admit, however, that dolphins occasionally jump out of the water on to dry land, so they have now placed crash mats around the perimeter of the three tanks in their amusement park to avoid serious injury.

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A hidden practice: Due to worldwide concern, the fishermen now try to hide the slaughter. The kills take place out of sight underneath blue tarpaulins

The trade in wild dolphins to U.S. aquariums has ceased due to public outrage, and the high-profile campaigns of activists like O’Barry.

There are no captive dolphins in Britain either as a result of a public backlash against the shows. Only a few are on show in Europe, and these animals were born in captivity — although O’Barry fears even this poses a threat to the mammals’ welfare because there is now a problem with inbreeding. O’Barry exhorts the public never to attend dolphin aquariums.

‘The solution lies with the consumer,’ he says. ‘Don’t buy a ticket for a captive dolphin show. ‘This is a multi-million-dollar industry I helped create. I remember loading them onto the planes after the Flipper show became so popular. At one point there were more dolphins in the UK than in Florida.

‘But the consumer now has to bring his power to bear on this trade, which also results in the slaughter of all those other dolphins. There is more money in live dolphins than dead ones, but the one fuels the other.’

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A fisheries worker guides the carcass of dolphins at ‘killer cove’ in Taiji, Japan. The fishermen claim that any kills that take place are humane and that it takes only seconds for the dolphins to die

In Taiji, Nicole McLachlan, of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, is part of a team monitoring the capture and killing of dolphins that takes place from September to March each year in the small port where whales have been hunted since the 17th century. Last month alone, she claims up to 170 cetaceans were killed, including pilot whales, risso, striped and bottlenose dolphins. More than 100 were captured for aquariums.

Such is worldwide concern over the slaughter that the fishermen try to hide it. ‘Nowadays the kills take place out of sight underneath blue and brown tarpaulins that cover the bay,’ the Australian marine environmentalist says.

The carnage lasts about half an hour. It is harrowing. ‘They are terrified. You hear the dolphins screaming; it’s a high-pitched wailing sound. ‘There is splashing as they thrash around in the water. Young dolphin calves are often among those slaughtered within the cove; some are younger than a year old.’

Yet locals are adamant it should continue. Police monitor the activists while many of the town’s 3,500 residents — most of whom are linked to the fishing industry — arrive to support the fishermen in this Japanese tradition.

The ‘drive hunt’ (‘oikomiryou’ in Japanese) involves five or six large fishing vessels sailing out to sea to find a pod of dolphins. The fishermen bang metal poles against the side of the boat to disorientate and scare them.

More boats arrive, making the same noise, to corral the confused and by now terrified pod into the cove, which is then sealed off. The next day the inspectors arrive to examine their quarry and separate the dolphins for the aquariums from those to be killed.

According to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, between 1968 and 1972, only 77 live-caught bottlenose dolphins were sent to aquariums from such hunts. But now Taiji’s 120 fishermen are licensed by the national government to catch 2,100 dolphins and pilot whales in the six-month hunting season.

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A fisherman tows away dolphins that have been tied by rope to the front of his boat. In 2011, about 15 per cent of dolphins were taken into captivity (68 were kept alive and 968 killed)

The fishermen claim any kills that take place, particularly those where the rod shatters the spine, are humane and that it takes only seconds for the dolphins to die. It is a claim vehemently refuted by marine environmentalists.

A spokesman for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society said: ‘In 2011, about 15 per cent of the dolphins were taken for captivity (68 were kept alive and 968 killed). ‘The year before that (2010-2011), nearly 20 per cent were taken into captivity (213 were sold for aquariums and 1,100 were killed)  This year, however, may be even higher due to the 100 bottlenose dolphins already taken into captivity.’

In the summer months, long after the blood has been washed away from Taiji cove, tourists arrive to swim in the bay — with dolphins. The town has a whale museum and fish tanks in which dolphins are kept — in 2011, two dolphins were filmed in a tank so small it was nicknamed ‘the fish-bowl’.

Captured dolphins also swim in the bay, which is sealed off to ensure they cannot bolt to freedom.

And as tourists marvel at the antics of these sensitive creatures and play with them, almost every one remains blissfully unaware of Taiji’s bloody secret — and of how young healthy dolphins are snatched away from their parents to amuse humans in this callous multi-million-pound trade.

News Link:– http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2257426/The-dolphin-snatchers-Mail-investigation-exposes-vile-trade-animals-sold-100-000-aquariums-suffer-unimaginable-cruelty.html#ixzz2H3wYDyHM

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Javan rhinoceros facing dire extinction threat: Study

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WASHINGTON: American researchers have confirmed that a species of Javan rhinoceros found in Vietnam are on the verge of extinction, with only 29 of them remaining. 

“We still have a chance to save the species but before we do anything, we have to determine the profile of the remaining group,” study leader Peter de Groot said.

Researchers from the Queens and Cornell Universities used genetic tools to determine that only Javan rhino was living in Vietnam in 2009, who was later found dead a year later.

The study confirmed the demise of the Javan rhinoceros population living in Vietnam by analysing animal dung collected with the assistance of special dung detection dogs. 

The researchers are now working to save a group of 29 Javan rhinoceroses currently living in a tiny area called Ujon Kolong in Indonesia.

They will use the rhinoceros feces to determine the age, sex and pedigree of this group. This study will provide a direction to try to save the remaining population of one of the most threatened large mammal species in the world. 

The research was published in Biological Conservation.

News Link:http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/environment/flora-fauna/javan-rhinoceros-facing-dire-extinction-threat-study/articleshow/15364530.cms

 

Maldives Will Become World’s Largest Marine Reserve

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The ever-increasing threats to the survival of oceans are putting all life on this planet at risk. As Leonardo DiCaprio recently asked in his call to save the seas, “What else is more vital to our health and well-being than our Oceans?” While commercial fishing and pollution continue to take their toll, positive steps are happening.

One of those steps was just announced at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. The conference was recently the focus of some controversy over its meat-filled menu, despite the production of meat being a significant contributor to climate change, but there was some good news. The Maldives has unveiled plans to turn its islands into the world’s largest marine reserve.

According to the Global Post, all 1,192 islands will be a reserve by the year 2017. “I would like to announce today Maldives will become the first country to become a marine reserve. It will become the single largest marine reserve in the world. This policy will allow only sustainable and eco-friendly fishing. It will exclude deep-sea, purse-seining and other destructive techniques,” announced President Mohamed Waheed.

In purse-seining, a circular net is placed around large schools of fish, then the net is drawn closed in the shape of a bag to prevent the fish from escaping. It is often used to catch fish like tuna, including the increasingly threatened bluefin tuna. Other species of ocean life often fall victim to this and other forms of large commercial fishing as “unintended bycatch.”

The Baa Atoll, consisting of 75 Maldives islands is already a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, but Waheed believes the whole country can become a protected area for ocean life.According to  PR Newswire, he adds “This commitment reflects our respect for our unique natural environment. We have taken these measures to protect our coral reefs, lagoons, coral islands and coral sand beaches. The Maldives will take any action necessary to ensure our future.”

News Link:http://www.ecorazzi.com/2012/06/21/maldives-will-become-worlds-largest-marine-reserve/

Aerial wolf hunting on Kenai Peninsula put on hold

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Although the Alaska Board of Game earlier this year approved aerial wolf hunts on the Kenai Peninsula to help boost moose populations, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will wait at least a year to learn more about the wildlife populations before starting to shoot.

“We want to have the best information possible so that we’re most effective in what we do to improve the moose population on the Kenai,” Fish and Game biologist Larry Van Daele told the Alaska Public Radio Network.

In January, the seven-member state Board of Game voted to extend predator control to two Kenai Peninsula game management units – 15A, west of Cooper Landing and north of the Sterling Highway and 15C, south of Kasilof and west of Kenai Fjords National Park.

But Doug Vincent Lang, acting director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation, said more basic science information was needed to begin predator management and later judge its effectiveness.   “I thought it was worthwhile to spend some additional time to collect that foundational science to inform how best to proceed in the future,” Vincent Lang told The Associated Press.

John Toppenberg, a board member of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, argued that the main problem for Kenai moose was a reduction of good habitat following 60 years of wildfire suppression on the Kenai that harmed feeding prospects for moose.

“What they had proposed really had no scientific logic behind it,” Toppenberg told the AP. “It was purely, ‘Let’s kill wolves in order to artificially inflate moose.’ ”

News Link:-http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/aerial-wolf-hunting-kenai-peninsula-put-hold

STOP THE NRA’S LEAD-POISONING LEGISLATION

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Toxic lead was taken out of paint and gasoline years ago, but lead from hunting ammunition still kills millions of birds and other wildlife every year. Lead poisoning is taking a terrible toll on bald eagles, peregrine falcons, loons, condors, herons and even wolves, bears and panthers.

Bald eagle suffering from lead poisoning

Now the National Rifle Association and its cronies in Congress are trying to stop us from protecting wildlife from lead poisoning. We need your help to make sure they don’t get their way.

More than 150 groups representing conservationists, birders, hunters, scientists, veterinarians, American Indians and public employees joined the Center for Biological Diversity in calling to eliminate lead hunting ammunition. Making this change will protect millions of birds and other animals each year from suffering painful poisoning and even death

Predictably, the NRA is trying to roll back laws that could protect our wildlife from this poisoning epidemic even though effective, nontoxic alternatives are widely available and can be comparable in price to lead.

Use the form below to help us stop the NRA’s cruel and misguided Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012. 
Then help spread the word to your friends on Twitter and Facebook.

Please click this link in order to help:-http://action.biologicaldiversity.org/o/2167/t/5243/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=10065

Paul Watson out of prison Sea Shepherd – Press Conference JV

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Please sign the petition below to drop charges against Captain Paul Watson. He deserves a medal for all the whales, sharks & dolphins that he & the crew of the Sea shepherd fleet have saved over the years.

 

Published on 21 May 2012 by 

Complete press conference Paul Watson Sea Shepherd in front of the prison JVA Preungesheim on May 21, 2012.

PETITION: Tell Costa Rica to drop all charges against Captain Paul Watson “Our Sea Shepherd

http://www.causes.com/causes/533852-turn-facebook-purple-for-1-week-to-raise-awareness-against-animal-abuse/actions/1654092?recruiter_id=118883540&utm_campaign=invite&utm_medium=wall&utm_source=fb

WOLVES Idaho AG Asked to Investigate Controversial Trapping Photos

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“OMG…I will never, assimilate how a human can take pleasure out of causing, then watching an animal suffer…I don’t believe we need to kill animals to control population sizes, or should I say ‘Wildlife Management Programs’ (which doesn’t sound as bad as the afore mentioned term) I think Mother Nature should be left alone to deal with any over crowding, it is humans that have upset the balance of nature as it is!”

” I was under the impression that when someone applies for a trapper license, they are required to attend  an ”Ethical Trapping Class”  Ethical meaning, humane, decent, moral…there is nothing ethical about the way Josh Bransford conducted his self, I have to wonder how many other trappers are as heartless, leaving animals to suffer?” 

Having read what follows,  Josh Bransford should be held accountable for his inexorable actions; the US Forest Service should be ashamed of their work colleague!” 

The Following extract was taken from the web site:- Earth Island Journal

“On March 16, a Friday, a US Forest Service employee from Grangeville, Idaho, laid out his wolf traps. The following Monday, using the name “Pinching,” he posted his story and pictures on www.Trapperman.com . “I got a call on Sunday morning from a FS [Forest Service] cop that I know. You got one up here as there was a crowd forming. Several guys had stopped and taken a shot at him already,” wrote Pinching. The big, black male wolf stood in the trap, some 300-350 yards from the road, wounded—the shots left him surrounded by blood-stained snow. Pinching concluded his first post, “Male that went right at 100 pounds. No rub spots on the hide, and he will make me a good wall hanger.”

“The Trapperman website went wild with comments. “That’s a dandy!! Keep at it,” wrote Watarrat. Otterman asked, “All the gray on that muzzle make a guy wonder how old he is or if it is just part of his black coloring.” Pinching’s picture of the wolf’s paw caught in the trap got special attention. “Is that the MB750 stamped ‘wolf’ on the pan?” asked one man. “Looks to be a perfect pad catch. Congratulations! Pinching confirmed the trap model and commented, “Oh an [sic] by the way, a wolf is a heck of a lot of work to put on a stretcher! Man those things hold on to their hide like no other!”

Click here to read more on the above; with facts & figures of wolf killings:- Earth Island Journal

Three grisly images, depicting a badly injured wolf captured in north Idaho, have gone viral. Posing alongside the animal is a grinning Josh Bransford, an employee of the Nez Perce National Forest. The pictures, which surfaced on the Web in March, continue to stir fierce debate over an already-emotional topic. And now, some environmental groups are asking for a formal investigation into possible animal cruelty.

The Moscow-based Friends of the Clearwater and the Portland-based Center for Biological Diversity have banded together to ask Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Forest Service to look into the incident and the images.

The pictures were reportedly posted to the website trapperman.com. An accompanying description indicates that the wolf was trapped and shot by someone other than Bransford.

“The egregious torture of a wolf needs to be investigated by Idaho’s attorney general and the Forest Service,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “And Josh Bransford should be fined or dismissed from his position.”

But a spokesman for IDFG’s Clearwater Region said the wolf was legally trapped by Bransford and subsequently checked by department officials.

Nez Perce National Forest employee Josh Bransford poses with a wolf trapped in north Idaho.

National Forest employee Josh Bransford poses with a wolf trapped in north Idaho.

Josh Bransford, an employee of the Nez Perce National Forest Trapped Wolf

Pictures & news link here:- BOISE Weekly

Click this:- Link to Post In Missoulian Web News

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