Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive! - Vol. X No. 1 - January 2001

News Notes

Compiled by William Rossiter

Santa Barbara will host the 7th Annual Whale Festival from 24-25 March. 40,000 visitors are expected to enjoy the many festivities. Is anyone out there interested in voluntarily helping CSI to be represented at a small exhibit table? Please email rossiter@csiwhalesalive.org, or call us (203-770-8615) if you are interested.

A 211 year-old Bowhead whale was recently killed in a Native Alaskan hunt. Three other killed bowheads were between 135 and 172 years old. Six ancient ivory and stone harpoon points were found lodged in the whales' blubber, not used by Native Alaskan whalers since the 1880's. Ages were determined by a new technique that studies changes in amino acids in the lenses of the whales' eyes. Is it naïve to wonder what wisdom might come after two centuries of life, and to wish that the world's oldest animal might have been left in peace, and to marvel at how many years it still had left if it had not become muktuk?

Consumer alert: If you see "Dolores" brand canned tuna for sale in the U.S., please contact CSI with the date, name and address of the store where it is for sale. "Dolores" tuna comes in a white label (in water) or a red/gold label (in oil). Don't believe the "amigo del delfin" ("dolphin friendly") label.

While Makah whaling is stalled pending a revised Environmental Assessment, five organizations in December filed a legal complaint in Olympia Superior Court, Washington, charging that the state had ignored its own environmental regulations by refusing to protect a small, "resident" aggregation of Eastern Pacific gray whales. The Makah whaling agreement with the U.S. government prohibits any hunting of residents, which by definition do not migrate long distances. To appear politically correct with Native Americans, Washington's governor and Department of Fish and Wildlife have declared that there are no residents, although they are hard to miss just offshore of Neah Bay. Meanwhile the Nuu-Chah-Nulth tribe of Vancouver Island in December tried to expand an offer from British Columbia to harvest marine mammals to include whales. This is directly related to Makah whaling, and the rumor that the Canadian government may be softening its opposition to aboriginal whaling.

Authorities in Anguilla have been duped into providing a license to display four to six dolphins that would be housed in a backyard swimming pool and lowered over a hundred feet to an ocean pen by a crane. The promoter's promise of using the dolphins to aid disabled children seemed to make sense to the authorities, before the controversy erupted. Dolphin assisted therapy (DAT) programs often make controversial claims unsupported by clinical proof, duping desperate patients and families into extraordinarily expensive efforts. This profitable exploitation of humans and dolphins is exploding all over the world (see report on Mexico in this issue) because it plays on the most vulnerable of people's needs, to help loved ones at any cost. CSI salutes the hundreds of organizations and advocates who wrote letters, trying to stop this in Anguilla. In particular, we thank anti-captivity advocate Ric O'Barry, who went to Anguilla to explain the fallacies of DAT programs, and cetacean captivity in general.

While plans for a $52 million addition for a captive dolphin display at the Virginia Marine Science Museum, Virginia, drag on in the face of strong and mounting opposition, another attempt at a captive dolphin facility has surfaced at Coquimbo, Chile. Thanks to the efforts of Chile's cetacean advocates, Leviathan, with international support, the other dolphinarium at San Antonio was stalled. Coquimbo is a highly contaminated seaport with few tourists, and home to fishing companies previously involved in pirate whaling. Now dead are all of the 12 dolphins previously displayed even temporarily in Chile, and all of the more than 40 captured for export to Germany, Japan and the U.S.A.

GuideStar Foundation's website at http://www.guidestar.org is recommended by CSI as a reference to an overwhelming number of non-profit organizations, to help with decisions about where to give support. A key word search allows an efficient survey among thousands of organizations.

Go to next article: Projeto Baleia Jubarte or: Table of Contents.

© Copyright 2001, Cetacean Society International, Inc.

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