Action Alert: Help Gray Whales! No Waiver of The Marine Mammal Protection Act for Makah Whalers


By Kirsten Massebeau

A baby gray whale was killed in the name of “tradition”by Makah whalers in 1999. Some Tribal Elders decried this killing as “non-traditional” yet today the Makah whalers are on the very of getting a waiver of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to again hunt gray whales. The gray whales who have come to trust us need your comments in opposition now!

Alberta Tompson tribal elder died two years ago. According to her daughter she was a huge advocate for the gray whale families that visit our coastlines. That can be seen in her tireless work to stop the whale hunt.

After the whale hunt in 1999 Alberta Tompson and others: “Tribal elders pointed out, in disgust, that no traditional practices had been observed, no traditional rituals had been even remotely respected in the killing of the first whale in nearly a century. They did not even know how to butcher the animal, and had to be shown how to peel back the blubber and render the animal by a visitor from Alaska. While one could argue that they simply needed to re-learn these lost traditions, several Makah tribal elders pointed out at the time that those involved with the hunt exhibited no respect whatsoever for tribal traditions related to the kill, nor did they seem inclined to learn”. (Source: Alberta Tompson, Tribal Elder.)

“They say aboriginal subsistence, but there isn’t that many people so poor here that a whale is going to fill their tummies. We are blessed by living on the oceanside, we can catch fish, we can get mussels, we can get clams and all that rock food. We have grounds that could produce potatoes and all those vegetables. We are not hurting, we’re not poor. Even during the Great Depression we didn’t even know we were in it because we were eating.” (Source: EF! Journal, “A Makah Elder Speaks: Interview with Alberta Thompson.”)

Thompson also took exception to the portrayal of aninmal advocates as being racist for opposing the hunt. Said Thompson:

“Some of the people outside [Neah Bay] call anti-whaling people racist, but they’re not against Indians, they’re against the killing of whales, which I, as an Indian, am against, especially for nothing.” (IBID.)

Finally, Thompson was outraged at the claim of “tradition” when those participating in the hunt failed to follow any semblance of Makah tradition in the killing of the first whale in nearly a century. She described the gap between tradition and reality thusly:

“They say tradition, well the first part of whaling, the tradition is you spend a year of a clean life, spiritually clean, and they didn’t do that. Three of them didn’t pass a drug test. I was at court where one of them had a DUI against him and he was found guilty. But he had the common sense, the good sense of stepping down, not getting back in that canoe. But the three that didn’t pass the drug test stayed in that canoe, so this is certainly not tradition. Right over television you see this boat towing this whale… and they towed it until they were almost into the bay and they then switched it over to the canoe…That is not tradition. The gun is not tradition. The way they disrespected that baby killed, by jumping on it and dancing on it is horrible.” (IBID.) (source)

“In fact, it had been so long since any Makah member had killed a whale that, when one was killed by the Makah in the late 90s, no one knew what to do with it”. (Source: Alberta Tompson, Tribal Elder.)

The Animal Defense Media article from 2009, “The Truth about the Makah Whale Hunt

reveals commercial whaling money has played a role in the Makah whalers bid for wavier of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Why, then, was interest suddenly rekindled in the traditional practice of killing whales? Was it really a resurgence of cultural values, a desire to return to the traditions of the past, or even a desire to exercise treaty rights for the sake of the rights themselves? Again, perhaps in part. But it turns out that the machine behind the renewed Makah whale hunt was not really so much about cultural heritage at all, but about money, politics, and cynical commercial whaling interests from Japan and, to a lesser extent, Norway. As it happens, the Makah tribe was getting along fairly well without whaling, and no one had given the practice much thought in several generations. That is, until Western PR firms working with the Japanese commercial whaling industry (make that the Japanese whale “researchers”) came along. It seems that the PR firms had discovered that whaling could be made more palatable to world public opinion if it could be presented as “culturally significant.” In other words, those PC animal advocates would be reluctant to speak up against whaling if a strong case could be made that the killing of whales is an indigenous right sanctified by the hallowed concept of diversity. 
To that end, commercial whaling interests from Japan and Norway kicked in tens of thousands of dollars in 1996 to start a pro-whaling group, the “World Council of Whalers” right next to the Makah territory. Meetings began to ensue between the Japanese whalers and receptive members of the Makah, and money began to flow. It was shortly after this that interest in the “cultural right” to kill whales was suddenly reignited in the Makah tribe. One of the first members of the Makah tribe to suggest a return to the killing of whales was one Dan Greene, who suggested to tribal council members that a single whale could earn the tribe a whopping $500,000 if sold to the Japanese. (Although the terms of the agreement that eventually allowed the killing of whales strictly prohibited the sale of dead whales, Greene and others believed it would be easy to get around that little obstacle. Even John McCarty, the former executive director of the tribe’s whaling commission, indicated that he was enticed by the thought of selling whale meat commercially to Japan.) (Source: The Great American Whale Hunt, by Richard Blow, Mother Jones Magazine.) Oh. Did I mention that the Makah Tribe’s whaling commission and expensive entrance into the IWC was founded on money donated by none other than, you guessed it, Norway and Japan? Yes, this is rather important to add.

Objective data proves whales are highly intelligent beings, but subjective data, “tradition” and “culture” are forever growing and changing. Dr. Lori Marino states it simply:

Dr Lori Marino, a leading researcher in whale and dolphin brain anatomy, notes that the brains of these species have evolved ‘along a different neuro-anatomical trajectory’ to human brains, but provide ‘an example of an alternative evolutionary route to complex intelligence on earth’.

Marino further notes: ‘In particular, the cetacean cerebral cortex (the part of the brain involved in higher-order cognition) evolved along a very different trajectory than other mammals, resulting in a highly unusual arrangement of functional areas and an entirely unique structure, the paralimbic lobe. Yet, despite the vast differences in cortical organization cetaceans and humans (as well as great apes) share a number of complex cognitive abilities, such as self-recognition.  Cetaceans and humans, therefore, are a striking example of evolutionary convergence in psychology among mammals.   These similarities, importantly, mean that cetaceans, as humans, are vulnerable to emotional and social stresses that can lead to considerable harm.  This important point is critical to guiding the ethics of how we interact with and treat cetaceans’.

ACTION ALERT:

The public has until July 31 to comment on a draft environmental impact statement. Follow this link and comment now! 

Sample letter to NOAA

Dear NOAA,

I am writing in opposition to your granting the Makah a waiver, and a permit to hunt gray whales off the Coast of Washington State. You cannot go around the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and allow harming these whales who have come to trust humans, and are loved by whale watchers, residents, and visitors that come to Washington, Oregon, California Coastlines on their way to the birthing bays.

In 2015 there is no “need” to kill whales. The Makah Tribe has access to food, clothing and traditional history. “Tradition” is not an acceptable excuse or objective reason to circumvent the Marine Mammal Protection Act as it is a subject state. Objective data proves gray whales and all cetaceans to be highly intelligent beings who were almost driven to extinction because of hunting. Today the goal should be to protect and celebrate their existence not harm.

If you allow the Makah whalers to kill whales you will be breaking a law, weakening the MMPA and betraying the whales, the whale watching companies and the visitors and whale watchers that bring money into our local economies.To risk the lives of the gray whales, and the lively-hood of whale watching companies, and tourism for an outdated tradition that has no place in a modern world is wrong. Gray whales are highly intelligent and know when they are being hunted. If hunting is resumed the whales may take a different route for migration negatively impacting tourism on the Oregon, Washington and California Coastlines.

In closing I want to reiterate that I oppose any permit to allow the Makah whalers to hunt whales in anyway. If you go forward you will be breaking a law and taking away the protections for the Gray Whale and all cetaceans by weakening the validity of the Marine Mammal Protection Act which came about for a reason.
It is time to stop all hunting of cetaceans who science has proved are highly intelligent beings, and who already face so many challenges to survive in a modern ocean.
Sincerely,

Acoustic Naval Experiment Promises Deadly Consequences for Whales Dolphins of the Western North Pacific Ocean


By Kirsten Massebeau

Proposed locations of the sonar experiment http://1.usa.gov/15ZUgLl

Proposed locations of the U.S. Naval acoustic experiment (source)

The Office of the Naval Research (ONR) is proposing an acoustic technology experiment (ATE) during spring, summer 2013 in the Western North Pacific:

The nine provinces are discrete areas identified with the following 5 geographic titles as presented in the analysis results herein: Sea of Japan, East China Sea, South China
6 Sea, North Philippine Sea, West Philippine Sea, East of Japan, Offshore Guam, Northwest Pacific 7 Ocean: 25º to 40º North latitude, and Northwest Pacific Ocean: 10º to 25º North latitude.. No more than 8 four underwater acoustic sources will be employed during the experiments, with none of the ONR ATE 9 sources transmitting concurrently, and with all sources operating below 1.5 kilohertz (kHz) and a sound 10 pressure level (SPL) less than 220 decibels (dB) for a total of no more than 69 hours of acoustic
11 transmissions over six days (Source)

All active sources will transmit below 1.5 kHz and a SPL less  15 than 220 dB for a total duration of no more than 69 hours (hr) over six at-sea days (source)

All active sources will transmit below 1.5 kHz and a SPL less
15 than 220 dB for a total duration of no more than 69 hours (hr) over six at-sea days (source)

If the permit to perform this ATE sea life,whales and dolphins living in an already challenging Western North Pacific Ocean riddled with long line fishing, trawlers, hunting, shipping strikes and shipping noise will be exposed to 220 dB for extended periods of time as seen in the chart above.

2000 Bahamas stranding caused by Naval Sonar

2000 Bahamas stranding caused by Naval Sonar

Connections between Naval acoustic activities and strandings are on the rise. While few strandings due to sonar are acknowledged by the Navy the stranding in the Bahamas in 2000 was confirmed and the effects were devastating as noted by cetacean researcher and expert Ken Balcolmb in an interview discussing the 2000 stranding in the Bahamas:

Yes there’s actually hemorrhaging going on. It isn’t an auditory injury per se. It affects the ears, but this pressure damage is not related to whether or not the whales have temporary threshold shift in their hearing [a hearing loss]. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) says these injuries are survivable-and they are, but only with hospitalization. And whales don’t have that option. (source)

Navy sonar recorded 2003 in the Puget Sound.

Orca approach researchers

Orca approach researchers Puget Sound, Washington

Join the voice of opposition to the use of Naval Sonar and all acoustic devices in the oceans.

Please leave a comment asking NOAA/NMFS to deny the Navy’s request for a permit to do  acoustic experiments in the North Pacific. The comment period on this permit ends on May 2, 2013 so get your comment in today! 

Comments on the application should be addressed to P. Michael Payne, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. The mailbox address for providing email comments is ITP.Magliocca@noaa.gov.

Read the entire permit proposal hereFollow the permits as they are listed here.

Atlantic Seismic Survey Promises Death and Devastation for Dolphins,Whales, and other Sea Life


By Kirsten Massebeau

FIGURE 1. Location of the proposed seismic surveys and OBH/S instruments at the proposed study site in the northeast Atlantic Ocean during  June–July 2013, and marine protected areas in Spain.

FIGURE 1. Location of the proposed seismic surveys and OBH/S instruments at the proposed study site in the northeast Atlantic Ocean during
June–July 2013, and marine protected areas in Spain.

The month of June thru July 12, 2013 promises death and destruction for dolphins, whales, and all the sea life in the Northeastern Atlantic ocean as a seismic survey takes place in a marine protected area. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (L-DE) are planning to do a seismic survey with funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation to search for gas and oil deposits. This planned high energy seismic survey will take place  in International waters in and within the exclusive zone (EEZ) of Spain in water depths greater than 3000 meters or approximately 1 and 3/4 miles under the surface. The Marcus G. Langeth will be towing a 18 gun array of 160-190 Db of deadly sound. The intervals between blasts would be 15 seconds for 39 days without stopping. “Seismic airguns are used to find oil and gas deep underneath the ocean floor. Airguns are so loud that they disturb, injure or kill marine life, harm commercial fisheries, and disrupt coastal economies. These dynamite-like blasts—which are repeated every ten seconds, 24 hours a day, for days and weeks at a time—are 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine.  Seismic airgun testing currently being proposed in the Atlantic will injure 138,500 whales and dolphins and disturb millions more, according to government estimates”.

Blue Voice was on the scene as 2800 dolphins continued to wash up on the beaches of North Peru

Blue Voice was on the scene as 2800 dolphins continued to wash up on the beaches of North Peru

Every day more strandings and cetacean deaths are linked to seismic testing and sonar. In 2012 the deaths of 1000’s of dolphins off the coast of Peru was linked to acoustic trauma:

“The marine veterinarian, Carlos Yaipen-Llanos, who is president of the conservation group Orca Peru, said in an interview that necropsies that he and his colleagues performed on three separate expeditions indicated that the dolphins examined were bleeding in their middle ears and had suffered fractures there. They also had gas in their solid internal organs and severe acute pulmonary emphysema, symptoms consistent with death from decompression sickness — that is, the bends, he said.

“The animals died from decompression sickness caused by acoustic trauma,” he said” (source)

How a seismic test works

How a seismic test works

Air gun before and after discharge.  By Ocean Conservation Research


By Ocean Conservation Research

Listen to the sound of a seismic survey. Try to this explosion repeating every 15 seconds for over a month. Remember this survey has an 18 air gun array!

What can you do? Sign the petition created by Ted Danson and be a voice for dolphins, whales and all ocean life. 

Letter Opposing Proposed Navy Permits to Harm and Harass 31 million Dolphins and Whales


By Kirsten Massebeau

Dolphin death linked to Naval Sonar exercises off the coast of San Diego,Ca. 2008/In 2000, 17 wnales stranded on beaches in the Bahamas following U.S. Navy sonar exercises. Beaked whales appear to be especially sensitive to sonar.

Dolphin death linked to Naval Sonar exercises off the coast of San Diego,Ca. 2008/In 2000, 17 whales stranded on beaches in the Bahamas following U.S. Navy sonar exercises. Beaked whales appear to be especially sensitive to sonar.

If the U.S. Navy is awarded two permits to “take” 31 million whales and dolphins over the next five years the results will be devastating to whales, dolphins, seals and all marine life off the Atlantic Coastline, Hawaii and Southern California Coastlines. The comment period on these two permits closes on March 11, 2013. Both permits are still up for review. Follow these links to see the permits and submit your comments.

How many more must die for war games!

How many more must die for war games!

A sample letter and suggestions have been provided by Stephen Hambrick creator of the  Facebook Event: Save Whales & Dolphins from Navy Sonar Massacre! 

Please enter your comments regarding the Navy sonar testing. Tell them the potential casualty rate of Marine Mammals is unacceptable.
– NOTE VERY IMPORTANT. Please Be polite. At the end of your Comment Say the following “Request the application by the US Navy be denied.”

EXAMPLE COMMENTS…….

The following are all very good examples, however it is not necessary to leave a lengthy Comment.

Such as :
a) The loss of marine life is too great, the oceans with all the vastly diversified free-roaming life of Cetaceans, together with all the other life forms contained within them are not owned or vested to the determination of the USA. Request the application by the US Navy be denied.

b) “I write to express my opposition to this permit. To further allow the Navy to have an increase in incidental takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; U.S. Navy Training and Testing Activities in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Study Area
The numbers of marine mammals the Navy plans to harm, harass, and kill are catastrophic in impact to all the species specified. It is without precedent to slaughter, maim, otherwise harm cetaceans and other sea life on this scale. Request the application by the US Navy be denied.

c) This permit seeks to fundamentally effect the balance of the worlds oceans and it’s natural habit I wish therefore to demand that you do not award the navy this permit, which seeks to commit devastation which will have consequences well beyond the the USA oceanic jurisdiction. Request the application by the US Navy be denied.

d) Dostana posts, “The loss of marine life is too great, the oceans with all the vastly diversified free-roaming life of Cetaceans, together with all the other life forms contained within them are not owned or vested to the determination of the USA. Request the application by the US Navy be denied.”

e) By the Navy’s own admission, per their application. The Navy requests authorization to take individuals in a total of 74 marine mammal species and another 27 more marine mammals, with serious injury or mortality. While I appreciate the Navy’s ability to defend and protect, the training and exercises should not be at the expense of the life of our oceans. For without our oceans. We have no life!
A panel of leading marine scientists brought together in Oxford in 2011 by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).The suggestion made by the panel is that the potential extinction of species, from large fish to tiny corals, is directly comparable to the five great mass extinctions in the geological record, during each of which much of the world’s life died out. The panel of 27 scientists, who considered the latest research from all areas of marine science, concluded that a “combination of stressors is creating the conditions associated with every previous major extinction of species in Earth’s history”. They also concluded:The speed and rate of degeneration of the oceans is far faster than anyone has predicted; Many of the negative impacts identified are greater than the worst predictions; The first steps to globally significant extinction may have already begun. Dr Alex Rogers, professor of conservation biology at Oxford University and IPSO’s scientific director states: “As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had realized.This is a very serious situation demanding action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, in the lifetime of our children and generations beyond that.” Given the state of our oceans at this time, allowing these tests seems to be far beyond a ‘negligible impact’. Therefore I request the application of the US Navy be denied.

Petitions you can sign!

Permit would allow U.S. Navy to Clear Cut The Oceans of Whales and Dolphins


By Kirsten Massebeau

The U.S. Navy is seeking authorization to “take” the largest number of whales, dolphins and seals in history.

The term “take,” as defined in Section 3 (16 U.S.C. § 1362 (13)) of the MMPA, means “to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal.” “Harassment” was further defined in the 1994 amendments to the MMPA, which provided two levels of “harassment,” Level A (potential injury) and Level B (potential disturbance). (Section 5)

A record 31 million marine mammals will be injured and killed, at the very least their lives disrupted during Naval training exercises off the Atlantic, Hawaii, and Southern California Coast Range during the 5 year period if the permits are granted.

King Island Tasmania 2009 stranding. Scientists believe that naval sonar from both Australian and US Navy may have been responsible. — Island,Tasmania 2009

King Island Tasmania 2009 stranding. Scientists believe that naval sonar from both Australian and US Navy may have been responsible. — Island,Tasmania 2009

“It’s the largest proposed authorization of these levels of harm since such authorizations have been required under the US Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The Navy’s mid-frequency sonar has been implicated in mass strandings of whales and dolphins across the globe. In 2000, 14 beaked whales and several other marine mammals stranded themselves in the Bahamas in response to U.S. Navy vessels operating offshore mid-frequency sonar. Further investigations revealed bleeding around the whale’s ears and brains”.(source)

Picture by Sandy Sullivan taken at Jeremy Point, Wellfleet 2012

Picture by Sandy Sullivan taken at Jeremy Point, Wellfleet

In the Atlantic alone 2,599 striped dolphins, 2,203 common dolphins, and 1,854 Atlantic spotted dolphins are slated to be injured and killed (Class A). That is only naming a few of the species that will be killed as a by-product of Naval training. Many other millions of encounters are requested in both the Atlantic permit and the Hawaii Southern California Permit citing (Class B) ranging from harassment to temporary hearing loss as seen in the permit request for the Atlantic Fleet Training and testing area:

Over the 5-year LOA period being requested, the Navy requests 1,735 total Level A harassments and 11,559,236 total Level B harassments for all marine mammals combined for testing activities, excluding ship shock trials. 

For one CVN ship shock trial, the Navy’s requests a maximum of 6,591 Level A harassments and 4,607 Level B harassments over the 5-year LOA period. (Source 5.2.1)

Sonar and the explosions created by underwater detonations are deadly to marine mammals. The injuries are painful and death may come slowly as injured and disoriented dolphins and whales flounder for days or weeks in the ocean eventually stranding or dying at sea:

“Many of these beached whales have suffered physical trauma, including bleeding around the brain, ears and other tissues and large bubbles in their organs.

These symptoms are akin to a severe case of “the bends” — the illness that can kill scuba divers who surface quickly from deep water. Scientists believe that the mid-frequency sonar blasts may drive certain whales to change their dive patterns in ways their bodies cannot handle, causing debilitating and even fatal injuries”.(source)

Be a voice for the voiceless! We must insist that the Navy start scaling back their sonar and war games not increasing them. In addition, the Navy’s reliance on people known as “look-outs” to detect marine mammals is unacceptable and inefficient as whales and dolphins spend most of their lives underwater.

What you can do!

Join the event on Facebook Saving Whales and Dolphins from Sonar Navy Massacre!

The two permits now available for comment until March 11, 2013: 

1)  2012 U.S. Navy Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Activities (AFTT)

2) 2012 U.S. Navy Hawaii Southern California Training and Testing Activities (HSTT).

United States Citizens Only:

1) Protect Constituents Rights of Appeal on NOAA Marine Mammal Permit Application. The Navy and NOAA/NMFS are trying to take away your right to be a voice for marine mammals. Follow this link the sign the petition.

2) Prohibit Military Sonar and Seismic Testing Harming Marine Mammals. Sign the petition

Action for Marine Mammals 海洋ほ乳類を守る会 Hold Tokyo March Protesting Research Whaling


By Kirsten Massebeau

Tokyo Whaling Protest MarchPhoto By Michael Q Todd

Tokyo Whaling Protest March
Photo By Michael Q Todd

Action for Marine Mammals  海洋ほ乳類を守る会 an independent, Japanese group supporting cetaceans in Japan has staged their second protest in Tokyo. This second protest solely focused on opposition to Japan’s controversial  research whaling program in the Antarctic Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. In 1986 a moratorium was placed on whaling. Since that time Japan has circumvented the ban by using a clause in the moratorium that allows for research whaling. Despite the Japanese government and powerful Japan Fisheries efforts to keep whaling alive the people of Japan are  speaking out against hunting whales and with good reason. Aside from being inhumane the business of whaling is a financially a sinking ship.

Video by seawooluf1

In a recent report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) released on February 5 many substantial reasons for ending Japan’s whaling program were listed:

  • Taxpayers Subsidise Money-Losing Industry
  • Subsidies average around ¥782 million (US$9.78 million) annually.*
  • Demand for Whale Meat Falls While Stockpiles Grow
  • Earthquake Relief Funds and Additional Subsidies Diverted: While other needs went unmet, earthquake reconstruction funds to the tune of ¥2.28 billion (US$28.55 million) were diverted from tsunami relief to support “research whaling, stabilization promotion, and countermeasure expenses” for the ICR.
  • Polls: Indifference to Whaling, Opposition to Funding. 85 percent expressed opposition to the use of billions of taxpayer yen to build a new factory ship. (source)
Shibuya Protest Against  Research WhalingBy MQ Todd

Shibuya Protest Against Research Whaling
Photo by Michael Q. Todd

 Without opposition the march was able to move forward with their peaceful yet strong message asking the Japanese government to end research whaling. 48 attended and the event was declared a success. This small but brave group of pioneers now a voice for whales and dolphins have had their second historical march through the streets of Tokyo spreading awareness to 1000’s. Their’s is a message of peace and hope for whales and dolphins in Japan and worldwide.