Off the Trail

Category — Whales

Japan must halt whaling, court says

This is great news:

An international court has ordered Japan to revoke whaling permits in the Antarctic and stop granting new ones.

The country’s government had argued that hunting whales was part of a research program, but the International Court of Justice ruled Monday that Japan hasn’t generated enough scientific research to justify killing hundreds of whales. Critics said the hunts were instead a way to justify commercial hunting.

Under the whaling program, Japan had set annual “lethal sample size” limits of 50 per species for fin whales and humpback whales, in addition to approximately 850 Antarctic minke whales. But the court said the research program had generated only two peer-reviewed papers that together refer to nine whales.


April 1, 2014   Comments Off on Japan must halt whaling, court says

We are not pirates

It’s a shame what the US government is doing on behalf of the Japanese whalers.

Paul Watson was forced to testify in Seattle yesterday to, hopefully, avoid criminal prosecution.


November 7, 2013   Comments Off on We are not pirates

The Whaling Industry Propped up by Japan (The US isn’t exactly innocent either)

From The New York Times:

Most Japanese consumers have turned away from whale meat. The industry shipped just 5,000 tons in 2011, compared with 233,000 tons at the peak in 1962, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Demand this year is so low that the industry has cut its planned shipments by half, to 2,400 tons.

“Whaling is unprofitable, and survives only with substantial subsidies, something cultural and nationalist arguments for whaling obscure,” said Patrick Ramage, the director of the animal welfare fund’s whale program. He said the country would be better off economically and ecologically if it promoted whale-watching tourism instead of hunting whales.

To be fair, Japan is not the only country that subsidizes industries that harm animals.

The US government subsidizes factory farms. Says a Tufts University study:

For the hog industry, industrial operations’ feed costs were 26% lower than what farm families were paying to produce their own feed, which lowered total production costs for factory farms by 15%. The discount to large and industrial hog operations housing over 2,000 hogs each totaled almost $1 billion per year between 1997 and 2005. Savings to other industrial livestock sectors were significant as well: $733 million per year to industrial dairies; $501 million/year to industrial beef cattle; and $433 million/year to egg producers. Over the nine-year period, the estimated savings to these three sectors plus hogs and broilers was nearly $35 billion.

February 23, 2013   Comments Off on The Whaling Industry Propped up by Japan (The US isn’t exactly innocent either)

Blackfish: A documentary about Orcas in captivity


I’m looking forward to this documentary on Orcas later this year. I hope it gets attention and wakes up the world to the horrible treatment that these creatures undergo at places like SeaWorld.

Imagine spending your life in a bathtub. That’s the life they live, if you can call it that.

The film, which will hit theaters this summer and debut on CNN later in the year, explores the psychology of Tilikum, who was born in the wild near Iceland in 1983, captured and sent to a marine park near Vancouver before coming to SeaWorld in Orlando. Separated from his family, he was bullied by other whales as a calf in captivity. Older female whales raked his skin constantly, and Tilikum (“friend” in Chinook) was kept in a small, dark tank for more than 14 hours at a time — factors the movie suggests may have contributed to his aggression later.

Movie link

February 7, 2013   Comments Off on Blackfish: A documentary about Orcas in captivity

The United States vs. The Sea Shepherd Society

paul watson

I can’t say I’m surprised this day would come.

When I began writing The Tourist Trail in 2008 I envisioned the FBI going after the leader of a fictional anti-whaling group. At the time, the US was largely neutral about the goings-on in the Southern Ocean. This was a matter between the Sea Shepherd and the Japanese.

And for a moment there I honestly thought the Japanese would give up. Accept the fact that the whales weren’t worth the trouble.

Focus instead of developing an industry that has a future instead of squeezing out what little the fishing industry has left to offer.

But the Japanese did not give up. I’ve come to believe that the Japanese view whaling as a line of defense  If they give in on whaling then the activists will come after them over the dolphins and the toothfish and so on. Which is probably true.

The Japanese had been lobbying the US to get involved for years, to put a stop to the Sea Shepherd. And now, by leveraging our court system, they scored a victory.

Paul Watson has resigned from Sea Shepherd (though he’s nowhere near retiring).

And now the ships are headed south again, to do battle with the whalers and, unfortunately, with the US government.


January 26, 2013   Comments Off on The United States vs. The Sea Shepherd Society

To Dance with Orcas

Down in southern Argentina on the coast of Peninsula Valdez there is a phenomenon that has to be seen to be believed.

The orcas have developed a unique way of going after sea lions and elephant seals. The first half of this video may be difficult to watch at times but the second half makes up for it. The park ranger has developed an equally unique relationship with these orcas.

PS: The penguins in this video, as readers of this blog should well know, are Magellanics.

January 16, 2013   Comments Off on To Dance with Orcas