Plastics “Unwrapped” at University of Washington’s Burke Museum

  By: Courtney Arthur, Marine Debris Research Coordinator

New exhibit called “Plastics Unwrapped” takes a look at the cultural changes that have led to the increasing use of plastics in the last 50 yrs. @University of Washington’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

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What is The Cove?

The Cove: The fight to end Japan’s Dolphin Hunt

by Madison E. Rowe, September 6, 2012

The Cove (film)

The Cove (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The annual dolphin hunt provides big business along Japan’s coastal areas. But the hunt has been a contentious issue amongst pro and anti whaling organizations in the country for years.

Click here to sign the petition to end the dolphin hunt.

News and lifestyle blog recently profiled a woman named Tia Butt. The website describes how Butt would wake up at sunrise everyday in the small coastal town of Taiji to observe its annual dolphin hunt. Butt is a keen volunteer under the Dolphin Project campaign, acting as a “cove monitor”. These monitors keep tabs on the Japanese dolphin hunt.

“I’ve seen days where the dolphins get away, but then you have days where you see [the fishermen] get them and they push them into the cove and kill some of them,” Butt said to TakePart. “As you know, they’re very intelligent animals. They know what’s going on.”

Starting in September, the area’s fishermen trap and kill hundreds of dolphins. These animals are either sent into captivity at marine parks or packaged into meat for consumption.

The Dolphin Project campaign is one of many groups fighting this cause. According to Takepart, activists landed in Taiji this week. Their goal is to peacefully push for change from Japanese fishermen and generate enough media coverage to get people’s attention.

After learning about Japan’s dolphin slaughter early last year via YouTube clips and the documentary The Cove, Butt reportedly decided to take action. A natural runner, Takepart says she fundraised almost $3,000 from races in support of the Dolphin Project. Butt also traveled to Taiji in September for a few days to participate in the campaign. She then came back a few weeks later on her own to become a cove monitor.

“Never in a million years did I think I could go to Taiji and observe the killings, but once I was there, I knew I had to come back,” Butt said.

As a cove monitor, she is one of many committed volunteers who sign up to travel to Japan, on their own dime, to fight against the slaughter.

Mark Palmer is associate director of the Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project. He told TakePart: “We’re looking for people who can spend time in Taiji; usually we recommend up to two weeks.”

TakePart explains that these volunteers spend time with veteran cove monitors, who prepare them for the hunts and train them in their responsibilities. The cove monitors conduct outreach with Taiji locals, write letters to Japanese officials, and continuously monitor the numbers of dolphins killed or captured in the hunt.

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Read all articles by Madison E.Rowe

What Fukushima accident did to the ocean

Buddha statue Kamaishi, Japan image

A huge Buddha statue looks over the bay in 2011 in the tsunami-devastated city of Kamaishi, Japan

One year ago, a series of events began with an earthquake off the cost of Japan that culminated in the largest accidental release of radioactivity into the ocean in history.

We have to be careful and say “accidental” because in the late 1950s and early 1960s, 50 to 100 times more radioactivity was released worldwide as fallout from the intentional testing of nuclear weapons. The word “ocean” is also important, since Chernobyl in 1986 was hundreds of miles inland, so it had a smaller impact on the concentrations of radionuclides in the sea than was measured directly off Japan in 2011.

One year later, we have to ask, what do we know about Fukushima’s impact on the ocean and levels of radioactive contaminants in water and fish? read more  via

Kids Stand Against Dolphin Captivity

Picking up where the Oscar Award Winning Documentary “The Cove” left off is this simple yet profound PSA featuring  all children who are standing up to tell the world that Dolphins don’t belong in tanks. It is the captivity industry which subsidizes and allows the horrific slaughter of dolphins in Japan and other parts of the world to occur. If these kids can get the point, certainly the rest of us can!

An adult female bottlenose dolphin with her yo...

Image via Wikipedia

Are we in the west being hypocritical about Japan’s whaling?

Published on: July, 08 2011 by Philip Hoare, we in the west being hypocritical about Japan’s whaling?.

Next week’s open meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has a particular relevance, since it is to be held on British soil. In Jersey, delegates will debate what has become increasingly vitriolic in recent years. This year’s annual conference is sure to be contentious, after last year’s debacle over Japanese whaling and compromise put forward by the US and New Zealand, and which nearly ended in the collapse of the talks and threatened the future of the IWC itself.

Sperm Whale tail  imagwThis year, things are even more extreme: the Japanese whaling fleet had to pull out of the 2011 season due to the direct action of Sea Shepherd in the Southern Ocean in February. New concerns over the cost of renewing Japan’s ageing fleet put the future of its operation in doubt. But that was before the earthquake and tsunami.

Now, everything is up in the air: will Japan demand international sympathy and support for its hated whaling industry, and even increased quotas? Or will it see the tsunami’s destruction of at least one of its coastal whaling centres as a way to bow out gracefully from an embarrassing international impasse? Even more controversial, it has been accused of using its overseas aid budget to “buy” the votes of non-whaling nations. With that budget drastically cut by the demands at home, will it be unable to influence this week’s meeting?

There are already rumours of a new deal being done between the US, New Zealand and Japan – to the fury of NGOs such as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (whose 1.5 million-strong petition was influential in the failure of last year’s proposed compromise). Next week, protesters as disparate as Women for Whales and Surfers for Cetaceans promise a bumpy ride for any delegates arguing for the continuance of commercial whaling – not only from Japan, but Norway, Iceland, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, many aboriginal hunts and even new would-be whaling nations such as South Korea.

Meanwhile, the Japanese accuse the anti-whaling lobby of the US in particular of double standards, since they allow the Inuit to hunt bowhead whales in the Arctic – whales which may live to up to 200 years, and are a threatened species. The Japanese, the Norweigians and Icelanders all argue that they are hunting minke whales whose numbers are increasing. Indeed, the Japanese call these baleen whales “the cockroaches of the sea”. Misinformation and intrigue, as ever, surround our interpretation of cetaceans, and what they may, or may not, mean to us.

I’m writing from the Azores, having spent the week observing whales in their natural habitat. These deep waters are a sanctuary to cetaceans – up to 30 species, nearly one third of the known number of species – far from Japanese harpoons. Yet these, too, are under threat, more insidiously, from pollution and climate change; from military sonar and seismic surveys; from the sheer noise we make in the ocean.

But they also suffer from our mere observance, from our expressed love for them as a collective species. Many argue that this multimillion-dollar industry is as much a threat to the whales’ wellbeing as the Japanese whale hunt, with too many boats chasing too few whales. I saw this happening earlier this year, off Sri Lanka, where the ending of the war with the Tamil Tigers has suddenly opened up swaths of the Indian Ocean to tourists coming to see its resident blue whales – a booming industry that is almost entirely unregulated there.

What you observe, you also destroy. When it comes to whales, emotions always run high. We in the west have invested much in the conservation and protection of these astounding creatures – the largest, loudest, longest-lived animals on Earth. Unable to speak for themselves, we appoint ourselves their ambassadors. Yet next week’s crucial meeting in Jersey will once again raise the question: are we hypocritical in our attitude towards Japan’s cultural adherent to whaling, when our own actions, or inactions, do so much to damage the whales’ world?

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