Newsweek Engulfed In Social Media Backlash on Eve of Historic WAZA Dolphin Protest


 

By Kirsten Massebeau

A Newsweek article entitled “A Social Media Storm Descends on Taiji, the Japanese Town at the Center of a Dolphin Slaughter” is on the cover of Newsweek. The cover image depicts a red wave with blue birds flying towards the heavens. The cover states, “Twitter Tsunami, A Japanese Fishing Village Unleashes a Social Media Storm”. Newly resurrected Newsweek author Bill Powell comes on strong painting a romantic picture of a small “fishing village”. He calls the hunt tradition despite the recently revealed information that the dolphin drive began in 1969. Through-out Bill Powell’s Newsweek article he describes the experiences of a “slight elderly woman” who does not understand why dolphin advocates are coming from around the world to speak out for the dolphins captured and slaughtered in “The Cove“. The real truth is hunters and dolphin trainers work side by side sorting through dolphin pods, selecting the juveniles, and slaughtering their parents, the injured, and unwanted by aquariums using a technique called pithing that can be viewed here.

Powell cleverly vilifies the social media movement portraying the dolphin hunters as a group of quiet “fisherman” plagued by the cruel outside world. He uses the word “tsunami” bringing up painful memories for the Japanese people, connecting the term to social media. He continues using the “elderly woman’s” impressions making the hunters and captive industry seem helpless victims of a modern world:

“She also knows that Caroline Kennedy, the high-profile U.S. ambassador to Japan, helped fuel the global outrage with a tweet on January 17, 2014, saying “she was deeply concerned by the “inhumane-ness” of the hunt”. But Isoda, like most members of the local fishing families, is unapologetic-and quietly bitter over how her little fishing village has been vilified by celebrities and civilians all over the world.”

The global anger generated by the annual dolphin drive is the latest example of how social activism is being transformed by technology”.(source)

Angel was the first dolphin removed from the pod. It was rumored that her mother  committed an act of suicide when Angel was ripped from her side. Whether she committed suicide, was slaughtered, or driven back out to sea will never be known. Powell foolishly quotes a dolphin hunter calling albino-ism and illness when in fact it occurs in many species including humans. In addition to claiming a wild albino dolphin who has the protection of her mother, a deep ocean, and a mega pod is better off in a shallow pool with strangers demonstrates his skewed source.

“A local official in Taiji denies that albinos can fetch such an exorbitant price. They’re white “because of disease,” he adds, and thus are actually more likely to survive longer in captivity than in the ocean”.(source)

The above video is Angel being bullied at the Taiji Whale Museum in a cramped tank.

Despite Bill Powell, and Newsweek’s attempt to throw up a smokescreen for Taiji the truth has surfaced and is not going away. When a mega pod of bottlenose dolphins was pushed into the cove this January the world would watch day after day as the juveniles were taken captive and their parents then slaughtered for fertilizer:

“A wild dolphin caught in Taiji, for example, will sell for around $500-600 US for its meat. But a live trained dolphin will sell on the international market for as much as $150,000 US. The huge prices offered by JAZA and WAZA member aquariums for live dolphins sustain the brutal Taiji killing of hundreds of dolphins each year, which would likely collapse without the aquarium trade”.(source) In addition, the meat is toxic and unfit for human consumption despite Bill Powell’s claims!

It seems Newsweek’s Bill Powell has unleashed his own social media backlash as comments of outrage continue to load into the article. Newsweek cannot delete the angry comments of the masses quickly enough, stating their Newsweek subscriptions will be cancelled, calling Newsweek irresponsible, and corrupt.

The release of Bill Powell’s skewed article seems almost strategically released by Newsweek on the eve of a historic event. On March 28, 2014, only hours away, demonstrators will convene at the headquarters of The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) demanding they sever their ties with The Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) whose members, specifically the Taiji Whale Museum are trafficking blood dolphins to aquariums worldwide:

“Ric O’Barry, Director of Earth Island Institute’s Dolphin Project, will attend a demonstration in front of the offices of WAZA in Gland, Switzerland. O’Barry and members of the environmental coalition are expected to be received by WAZA Director, Dr. Gerald Dick, and his lawyer in front of the media, where the environmental coalition will demand the organization expel their “Association Member” Japan Association of Zoos & Aquariums (JAZA), over violations of the WAZA Code of Ethics & Animal Welfare in relation to the brutal Taiji dolphin drive hunts in Japan, fueled and financed by the international dolphin captivity industry, including JAZA and WAZA member aquariums.

Joining Ric O’Barry, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Cetacean Society International and the Swiss nonprofit OceanCare, is Sakae Hemmi of ELSA Nature Conservancy of Japan and one of the first persons to film and publicize the slaughters, along with numerous activists dressed up for the occasion. Ms. Hemmi and Elsa recently pleaded with WAZA Director Dick, in a series of letters from Japan, to stop the subsidizing of the dolphin hunts by aquariums that are members of JAZA and WAZA”.(source)

 Join the event in Switzerland or join us on social media as we move together as one voice sending out a Thunderclap for dolphins, highly intelligent beings, citizens of the ocean, that are being captured and slaughtered in The Cove. All the Bill Powell’s of the world cannot stop the terrible truth of the modern day dolphin horror taking place in Taiji, a dolphins worst nightmare. We are not a social media “tsunami”, we are the light that is shining brighter and brighter as the dark truth about what goes on in the cove is exposed to world in an attempt to end the dolphin death and suffering.

On March 31, 2014 Louie Psiyhoyas director of the academy award winning film has come out in defense of dolphins condemning the slanted article by Newsweek glorifying and romanticizing the brutal slaughter and capture of dolphins for marine parks in Taiji Japan:

[Editor's Note: The following is a response from Louie Psihoyos, Director of The Cove, to a March 27 Newsweek story by Bill Powell.]

I usually don’t respond to our few detractors, but the recent article in Newsweek seemed deserving because the misinformation it contained might be believed. Mr. Powell’s article contains false equivalence and journalistic cowardice that insists that every story must have two sides. It’s also devoid of basic fact checking.

I hope to set the record straight by clarifying a few of the article’s claims, and by releasing unedited footage from The Cove that has never been seen before, so that the public can determine for themselves that none of the footage we used was doctored.

“Mistrust of the filmmakers and anti-hunt activists is so intense that some villagers, who say the water never turns that red during the killing, believe the producers later added the lurid color with special effects. The filmmakers adamantly deny this.”

I have always said that the slaughter we showed in The Cove was the Disney version of what actually happens behind the tarps. It seems that now it’s time to show the truth of how barbaric the Taiji fishermen and their renegade mayor really are, (Read the article and see the unseen raw footage here!)

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Naval Exercises Possible Cause of Florida Pilot Whale Strandings


By Kirsten Massebeau and Barbara Napoles

On Tuesday December 3rd  National Park Services found a pod of approximately 51 pilot whales stranded on the edge of the Florida Everglades in shallow waters near Highland Point. They immediately notified NOAA fisheries. On Wednesday December 4th rescuers and scientists arrived on  to assess the situation and attempt to move the pilot whales to deeper water. Rescuers and scientists attempted to use a technique involving sound called  “Oikomi” used by the dolphin hunters of Taiji to herd dolphins to the shallow waters of Hatakejiri Bay, know as “The Cove” where they are slaughtered and captured for the marine parks and aquariums. The banger boats create a semi-circle around the dolphins. They then drop metal poles into the water that they bang on creating a moving wall of sound (source) “On Wednesday, efforts to herd the surviving whales out to sea by forming a semi-circle of boats and making noise by hitting chains on the side and revving the engines did not work”.(Source)

“Of the 51 whales originally stranded, 11 have died, and 5 went missing overnight Wednesday”.(source)

Thursday December 5th rescuers and scientist returned to Highland Point. The remaining 41 whales had left the area: “By Thursday morning, the pilot whales were not in their initial stranding site. As of 11:45am, Thursday, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter spotted three separate pods of approximately 35 whales spread over 1,000 yards (4 nautical miles) seaward of the Seminole Point/Plover Key area (about 9 miles north of previous stranding location). 15 boats were used to again, and did push the whale 10-15 miles out to deeper water approximately 15 feet deep. “The team was unable to locate the remaining 5 whales from the original pod sighting”.(Source)

Friday morning bought more bad news as two whales were seen swimming in 2-3 feet of water off Plover Key nine miles North of the deceased whales found the day prior. In addition,”Seven whales are free swimming in 12-14 feet of water, Southwest of Plover Key. The larger group of 24 whales has not been relocated”. (source)

Many people are wondering why and how these deep water whales stranded on the shallow shelf of the Gulf Basin with some whales more compromised than others. Pilot whales are known to be deep divers that stay far from shallow waters: “They feed primarily on squid, but they may also feed on octopus and fish, all from moderately deep water of 1000 feet (305 m) or more. When they are swimming and probably looking for food, pilot whales form ranks that can be over a kilometer (more than 1/2 mile) long”.(source) When one is sick the others will often follow but the question still remains as to what caused this stranding and terrible suffering and loss of cetacean life?

High school biology teacher and ocean activist Edward Johnson of Cannon Beach, Oregon posted on Facebook about the MH60R helicopter with this statement: “Just in case the Navy starts explaining how they in no way had anything to do with the Everglades whale stranding. This hybred helicopter has the power to damage the echolocation capacity of these pilot whales”(source) The MH60R is indeed equipped with an impressive array of defensive and counter defensive weaponry:

  • Sonobuoy launcher
  • Raytheon AN/AQS-22 advanced airborne low-frequency (ALFS) dipping sonar.
  • Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire anti-surface missiles.
  • The MH-60R can carry up to three ATK mk50 or mk46 active / passive lightweight torpedoes.
  •  7.62mm machine gun
  • Lockheed Martin AN/ALQ-210 electronic support measures system (ESM)
  • Electronic warfare systems include the ATK AN/AAR-47 missile warner,
  • Laser warning system
  • BAE Systems AN/ALQ-144 infrared jammer and
  • AN/ALE-39 chaff and flare decoy dispenser.
  • Raytheon AN/AAS-44 detecting / tracking system
  • Forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and laser rangefinder.
  • Telephonics AN/APS-147 multimode radar, which has inverse synthetic aperture (ISAR) imaging and periscope and small target detection capabilities.
  •  AN/APS-153 radar, with the automatic radar periscope detection and discrimination (ARPDD) capability.

“Commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic (CSFTL) is evaluating CSG2 on how well they perform during simulated surface and sub-surface threats and ship movements such as transiting a strait in hostile waters.

“CSFTL will evaluate our ability to perform all the different mission sets,” said Cmdr. Andrew Walton, the operations officer of USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). “This includes everything from counter-piracy to maritime interdiction operations and strike warfare.”(source)

OPAREA. An ocean area defined by geographic coordinates with defined surface and subsurface areas and associated special use airspace. OPAREAs include the following:
Danger Zones. A danger zone is a defined water area used for target practice, bombing, rocket firing or other especially hazardous military activities. Danger zones are established pursuant to statutory authority of the Secretary of the Army and are
administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Danger zones may be closed to the
public on a full-time or intermittent basis (33 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 334).(source pg.49)

While NOAA suggests mobilivirus as the cause of the pilot whale strandings ocean activists are questioning as to why the Bush Strike Group Comptuex exercises December 2nd through 8th have not been mentioned. Considering the location of the pilot whales strandings to OPAREA an area designated for Special Use Airspace and other activities this seems negligent.

The Navy has been given what many are calling an excessive number of takes, ” “The Navy estimates it will harm marine mammals over 33 million times in the next five years”(source) Despite public outcry NOAA/NMFS have gone ahead and given the Navy a Letter of Authorization to increase the harm caused to Marine Mammals using archaic mitigation measures such as “look outs,” people looking at the surface for dolphins and whales.

Upon application from the U.S. Navy (Navy), we the National Marine Fisheries
Service (NMFS) are issuing regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to govern the unintentional taking of marine mammals incidental to training and testing activities conducted in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing (AFTT) Study Area from November 2013 through November 2018. These regulations allow us to issue Letters of Authorization (LOA) for the incidental take of marine mammals during the Navy’s specified activities and timeframes, set forth the permissible methods of taking, set forth other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, and set forth requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of the incidental take.
DATES: Effective November 14, 2013, through November 13, 2018.(source pg1)

While National Security is important to all American’s when is the price too great to the ocean and ocean life such as the pilot whale who is actually a dolphin, highly evolved and intelligent? We must question whether we have the right to take their lives in the name of training for war.

Naval testing activities in the Atlantic Training Complex can “Take” 15,701 class B harassments and 153 pilot whale deaths within a one year period and 74,614 level B “Takes” and 163 level A recorded death of pilot whales over the five year period(source)

Naval training can “Take” 101,252 level B harassments and 3 pilot whale deaths within a one year period and 506,240 level B harassments and 15 recorded Level A deaths of pilot whales over the 5 year period (source)

Our voice is their only hope. As ocean advocates we must  stand up and speak up and out for the dolphins, whales and all the ocean life that is going to be impacted by the Navy’s ever increasing war games in the oceans. We must demand transparency, we must demand acoustic necropsy and access to those results.

The global community has a right to speak up for the whales and dolphins. Whalers and the captive industry are constantly being reminded by activists that they do not in fact own the whales and the dolphins that inhabit the oceans. Surely we must have the same voice in speaking out against the Navy and their ever increasing training exercises and war games that have the capacity to clear cut our oceans of whales, dolphins and many other species of ocean life.

Update 12/9/2013

We understand that NOAA and the Navy cannot reveal or acknowledge COMPTUEX Naval Exercises because of National Security as was the case with the Cape Cod Strandings. We will be updating as necropsy results become available that we will begin trying to obtain via: the Freedom of Information Act. We encourage all activists to follow up as well.

Follow the NOAA updates on the pilot whales : Here