The Cove Movie Tells Of Dolphin Eating Epidemic
Our first story deals with people eating marine mammals (whales, dolphins, seals, etc.). We all know what is happening in Taiji, Japan made famous by the movie entitled The Cove. If you haven’t seen the movie, I suggest you watch it…it will open your eyes!
Now some people think that Taiji is the only place where this stuff happens…well that is not true…
The main reason why this is a real threat to some marine mammal populations is because many of the species are long-lived and only have a couple of young every year. Fishing these animals is not sustainable because they don’t reproduce quickly and therefore, long term fishing, and over-fishing, will slowly cause the species to dwindle until there are only a few 100 left.
Some examples of marine mammals that are eaten are dudongs (looks like a manatee), and the Atlantic humpback dolphin. At present there is no regulated fishery established which means we don’t know the numbers of individuals out there and how their population is doing.
Conservation of Marine Mammals Targeted for Food
Authorities and conservation organizations noticed that local communities in isolated locations such as First Nations living in the Arctic eat whales and seals; however, they do so in a sustainable way as they are aware of the consequences of over fishing. In fact, the authorities work with First Nations groups to conserve and protect marine mammals as the local community understand the environment better.
In the tropics where marine mammal consumption is growing, authorities are working with local communities to involve them in the process as they understand the consequences of over fishing.
More often then not, the local communities who have been living off the land and oceans for centuries are good Ocean Stewards as they observe patterns in nature and respect it. However, it is usually outsiders that come in and to the damage by either buying the meat in bulk or fishing it themselves to sell lots and not worry about the damage it causes the environment or the local people.
US Sued over Whale Deafness
In a separate matter of marine mammals, a group of environmentalists joined forces to sue the US Government over Navy Exercises along the West Coast of the US stretching from California to the Canadian Border. The suit against the National Marine Fisheries Service wants to prevent the US NAvy from performing exercises in biologically critical areas during feeding and breeding times.
The major animal of concern is the Orca, an Endangered Species in the US, inhabits the waters off the coast of Washington and British Columbia. Orcas and many other marine mammals use echolocation to hunt for food, attract a mate, and communicate with their respective pods. So they are extremely sensitive to noise.
The sonar used by the Navy emits a very loud noise into Ocean waters to detect possible enemies; however, the noise is thought to effect the hearing of marine mammals. The noise raises the threshold of the mammals hearing. It’s better understood using the headphone example. Think of wearing your headphones while listening to music. If you constantly listen to your music at the maximum level, you won’t be able to hear as effectively music at lower level because your hearing threshold is raised. Well the same goes for Orcas, BUT they need their hearing to hunt and attract a mate…in other words they need to use it for survival.
The issue seems simple to solve doesn’t it…stop the sonar training during times of important feeding and breeding for Orcas. But the problem is the science is not exact. The threshold theory has not been tested because it is tough to test hearing of a 2 ton whale in a perfect setting. So the lack of studies for each individual species of marine mammals does not prove that each animal is affected equally; giving the Navy and other sound users (seismic companies) the authority to conduct there business whenever they need to.
So good on this environmental coalition for the law suit…I wish them the best of luck.
I want to leave you with the question of the day:
Do you think it is right to eat marine mammals?
Answer in the comments below to tell us what you think. We want to hear from you!