Monthly Archives: November 2011

Cove Blue for Jiyu

Jiyu, in her last hours

Jiyu, in her last hours; Photo by Heather Hill

First, I have changed the name of my blog from “Mo’s Blog” to “Cove Blue for Jiyu.”  The rest of this post explains why, somewhere in between the lines.

The life and death of Jiyu the dolphin struck me deeply.  As has been discussed by myself and others, Jiyu was snatched from a free life in the ocean, having witnessed some or all members of her pod being killed, placed into a small sea pen with other dolphins unknown to her and with whom she likely could not communicate, only to languish and then be killed when her value as meat outstripped her value as entertainment.

We cannot bring Jiyu back, and she is at least free from the torturous existence epitomized by the captivity industry, but Jiyu is a bellwether for me.  She is a bellwether for what can happen when a system that is allowed to benefit corporate entities and a few people is allowed

  • to utilize marketing to hide the truth from those outside that system, and
  • to count upon the lack of political or individual will to demand that truth.

I will never forget her.  I will never stop working for dolphin freedom, or the freedom of all creatures, including homo sapiens, to live the life that this planet provides for them naturally, unharassed and untrammeled by unsustainable systems.

If you have read some of my other pieces, you may have ascertained, while wading through my inarticulateness, that my core belief is in the inherent dignity and unity of all life.  That all are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.  I also believe that the logical imperative for a right to be inalienable is that it cannot be purchased with a price that includes compromising or extinguishing even one of another’s inalienable rights.

Human beings appear to have, however, set themselves apart from the rest of the organic and inorganic parts of this Earthly paradise and to merely consider this paradise to be “theirs” to unsustainably, that is, without regard for inalienable rights:

  • extract both substance and information;
  • anoint certain species, that would be all 8.7 million species except homo sapiens (translates, I believe ironically, to be “wise man”),  to be here on Earth for the enjoyment, sustenance, and curiosity of themselves;
  • justify this anointing of themselves as above all others under the auspices of certain religions and mythologies;
  • procreate without regard for how it impacts our ability to respect the inalienable rights of other species, or indeed, of the ecosystem in which our species found ground fertile enough to grow (again, under the auspices of dot dot dot);
  • having procreated beyond a sustainable number that respected the inalienable rights of our fellow Earthlings, in which I include plants, run roughshod over this delicate and graceful Earth by developing unsustainable systems to feed, shelter and clothe that unsustainable human population.

We, this opposable thumb species, take it as our birthright to create any problem and to sell any solution that someone will buy, whether it will crash the entire system.

For Jiyu, I pledge to be part of creating a sustainable world, built upon the truth of  inalienable rights.  It isn’t just about creating a world that respects the dignity of the Earth’s most intelligent species.  It’s also about creating one that truly respects the dignity of humans, too.

That one may catch you on the way home.

Cove Blue for Jiyu.

Photo by Greg Huglin

Photo by Greg Huglin

For Jiyu: Japanese Embassy dolphin drive hunt call tracking

This is an open request to all believers in dolphin freedom to join me in creating a worldwide tracking of all telephone calls or letters to the Japanese Embassies about the Taiji dolphin drive hunt.

Jiyu, in her last hours. Photo by Heather Hill, Save Japan Dolphins

If you will do this with me, it will involve your taking an additional action beyond making the call or writing the letter/email, but it will give us all an idea of our united advocacy efforts on something that I do not think we have yet tracked.  That additional action is your sending me an email about your communication with the Embassy.  I know we are all busy, but I am committed to leaving no stone unturned on behalf of Jiyu and the other Japanese dolphins.

Background: When I called the Washington, D.C. Embassy this morning, I asked if I might speak to someone about obtaining a copy of the catalogue of drive hunt calls they were receiving.  I was directed to a live person who told me, very politely, that the catalogue was not for pubic dissemination.  I was assured, however, that if I wrote a letter, I would receive a response, even if it did not contain the content I was seeking.

I am, therefore, requesting that we believers in dolphin freedom continue (or begin) to make our calls or send our letters to the embassies and/or consulates requesting such information, but also begin tracking them.

The contact information for the Embassy in Washington D.C. is:

Fisheries Section
Embassy of Japan
2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20008
USA
Phone: (202) 238-6700
email: jicc@ws.mofa.go.jp

and for the rest of the embassies and consulates worldwide.

I will post a tally and summary of responses on a monthly basis until the drive hunt is ended.

Summary:  your part is to

  • call an embassy and email or write me that you did it, with the date of your call; AND/OR
  • write to an embassy and email or write me that you did it with the date of your letter/email; AND/OR
  • email or mail to me a copy of the response from the embassy.

Hint: if you email an embassy/consulate, you can just copy me at forjiyu@gmail.com, so it really isn’t an extra step.   For hard-copy communication with me:

For Jiyu
Taiji Drive Hunt Catalogue
P.O. Box 365
Clarkston, GA 30021
USA

Thank you, from the heart.  And if you don’t know what the Taiji dolphin drive hunt is, please watch the Academy Award-winning documentary, The Cove.  Once you have seen it, you will look for ways to stop the hunt.

– Mo Brock

For Jiyu, who will never be forgotten.

 

Are you pro-captivity or anti-captivity? There’s really nothing in between.

As the video makes pretty clear, there is really nothing in between, except indecision.  If you do not yet find yourself either standing for marine mammal freedom or against marine mammal freedom, I have one question for you.

What will it take for you to make up your mind?

Maybe learning the truth about the marine mammal captive industry would help?  The documentary, A Fall from Freedom, is a content-rich work that includes interviews with marine biologists who have performed research on marine mammals in the wild, executives with Sea World, brokers in the orca and dolphin-acquiring business, and advocates for the position that marine mammals cannot be provided a normal life in captivity.

No, wait.  One more question.

How many orcas and dolphins have to die in captivity, in the process of being taken captive, or in the drive hunts where often there is no attempt to capture them – but only slaughter them – before you stand on one side or the other?

Perhaps it would help you to know that there are already-existing ways to learn about and advocate for the freedom of marine mammals here in the United States and abroad, such as:

  • groups on Facebook that organize for marine mammal freedom (some great ones are Save Misty the Dolphin, Save Japan Dolphins and Free the Atlanta 11);
  • advocates on Twitter that you can follow for information (I am @mobrock,  and there is @MrHolise, @SaveMisty, @Misty_Dolphin, @janice_oceans, @blog4cetaceans, @livenbothworlds, @shortbus1, @AustinLynch1, @edatthebeach, @Luv_Dolphins, @SJDolphins, @RichardOBarry, @LincolnOBarry, @SeaShepherd, @earthisland, @earthrace, @PeteBethune, @orkacoalitie, @BlueVoiceOrg, and many others)
  • signing petitions (e.g., to stop a dolphin expo in MississippiPuerto Rico, the Maldives or St. Maarten);
  • signing pledges not to buy a ticket to a dolphin show;
  • watching the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove;
  • watching a film created by the dolphin “fishermen” for how they handle dolphins;
  • calling the consulates and embassies of Japan to voice your opposition to the dolphin hunt; or
  • leaving AT&T who has its name on the dolphin extravaganza at the Georgia Aquarium and write them letters to tell them about your decision.  AT&T can be reached at AT&T, 32 Avenue of  the Americas, New York, N.Y., 10013-2412.

The fight for all marine mammals, including Morgan who has lost the first round in regaining her freedom, continues, and will not stop until they are all given a chance to be rehabilitated and returned to the ocean. For right now, I hope you will follow Morgan’s story and the community in Norway who is eager to rehabilitate her in a sea pen near where her pod has been identified and then to release her to live with her pod, instead of being condemned to life of ownership by Sea World.

I hope you find yourself on this path with us, for a sustainable future that  recognizes that freedom and enlightenment for one species cannot be purchased by the enslavement of another.

Namaste.

A few words and a moment of silence for Jiyu

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn't withstand captivity Taiji Cove

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn’t withstand captivity, photo by Heather Hill of Save Japan Dolphins

To those who think that dolphin captivity is a benign enterprise, meet Jiyu, one of its latest casualties.  To those who go to the dolphin show, whether Sea World, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, or another, the dolphins you see in the show are the ones who made a successful transition from living in the wild to captivity or the progeny of those who made that transition.

What is central to this transition?  Force-feeding.  Wild dolphins catch and eat live fish.  Once they have been deprived of the ability to feed themselves, they must be motivated by food-deprivation (hunger) followed by force-feeding to accept dead fish as food.

Hand down the throat

Hand down the throat, photo by Martyn Stewart

What does force-feeding of a dolphin look like?  In a nutshell, the first trainers these dolphins will ever see must “break” them to accept a small enclosure.  The trainers, or most appropriately called “breakers”, force their hands down the throats of dolphins pushing dead fish to the point in their throats where the dolphins are unable to spit it out.  Over and over and over, until the dolphin accepts dead fish from the hands of people as their food.

You won’t see that from the trainers at Sea World or the Georgia Aquarium, because the first trainers somewhere else performed that ugly task.  The show trainers may still need to perform force-feeding, but they don’t typically do that in front of you.  They save that for the back-tanks.  After the show.

But what about the dolphins that do not make the transition from a free life to captivity and become a casualty?  Meet Jiyu, who was snatched from the wild, languished, unable to make the transition, unable to accept dead fish as food.

The trainers, realizing that she was a “lost cause” for the show or breeding in captivity, stopped caring for her.  And now she has disappeared from this miserable pen, and is likely in a grocery store, in the human food chain.

I am sorry, Jiyu.  Someday there will be no more dolphin shows or trainers whose  job it is to dominate and force-feed you.  Someday there will be trainers whose job it is to teach your kind to learn how to fish and be returned to the ocean where you deserved to live out your life.

And now, reader, please have a moment of silence to honor the life of Jiyu and the others who have fallen due to the captive dolphin industry.

Thank you to Martyn Stewart for the images of the breaker and Heather Hill for the video of Jiyu.  For more information, see Champions for Cetaceans, My Porpoise Driven Life and Suite 101.

The knee bone of dolphin killing

It is a sad morning around the world today because of

  • 26 men in Taiji, Japan,
  • a network of dolphin brokers,
  • aquarium owners, such as SeaWorld (Orlando, San Antonio, San Diego) or the Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta), and their member organizations, for instance, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums,
  • trainers and their organization, the International Marine Animals Trainers’ Association,
  • individuals who have made a business of “wildlife”,
  • the customers who attend “the dolphin show,” and
  • a lot of silent men and women.

Even here in Atlanta, where the Georgia Aquarium has “only” one wild-caught dolphin in its possession while the other ten were bred in captivity, the impact comes home to roost.  Why?  Because it is the dolphin show, ultimately, whether with wild-caught or captive-bred dolphins, that creates the market for dolphins that causes the slaughter.  Kinda like, the shin bone being connected to the thigh bone via the knee bone.  While some aquariums may suggest that they are not connected directly, they’re kinda like that thigh bone.  The Taiji hunters: they’re the shin bone.  The knee bone of this operation, the thing that holds it all together, that keeps it moving, that keeps it on its feet, running like gang busters, that is to say,  killing dolphins, is the show.  Without the dolphin show, there would be no slaughter.

In A Fall from Freedom, Brad Andrews, Chief Zoological Officer of Sea World Parks & Entertainmet, makes the case that it is the dolphin show that saves the dolphins; that twenty years ago, we were shooting them as a menace.  He states that the show has elevated them to our awareness such that we want to protect them.   Let me repeat.  Chief Zoological Officer.  Not Chief of Marketing.  I could maybe handle that statement from the Chief of Marketing.  It would be his job to say whatever he needed to get us paying dollars for dolphins.  But I expect science from a scientist.

Mr. Andrews, there are over 110 dolphins, including the 8 Risso’s that were killed last night, who have been killed this year alone in just one small cove in Japan.  The love factor isn’t saving them.  It’s killing them.  Intentionally.  Premeditatedly.  By design.  Because of the dolphin show.

So this morning, after 8 more were killed yesterday in Taiji, I am having one of those mornings, where I am deeply saddened by the collective effort to kill dolphins, that is to say, the collective effort of a few who whether they like it or not benefit from dolphin death, and then the silence of the rest.

This morning, I do not want to see a video of a person swimming with even a wild dolphin.  To me, at the risk of offending some of you, it is just the other end of the aquarium spectrum.  The dolphins are free, but we are still intruding.  When the few who are responsible intrude, there are thousands behind who are not responsible.  There are those who will hire the “Sea Worlds” of tour boats of less responsible people.  We will go to them, call it research, call it education, put the money in their pocket, and leave behind them a wake of petroleum and trash.  We will go to the dolphins, and teach them that they can trust us, when they cannot.  Not now.

This morning, the morning after yesterday’s tragedy in Taiji, I am wanting, more than anything, for us to truly respect them.  They are neither our entertainment, nor our therapy, nor a curiosity to be studied, nor a language to learn.

Can we not simply leave them alone?

To stop being part of the silence, for starters, you can attend on April 14 from anywhere there is dolphin captivity and sign a pledge that you won’t go to the dolphin show.

For more information:

  • http://savejapandolphins.org/blog/post/eight-rissos-dolphins-killed
  • http://holisecleveland.wordpress.com/ aka Cyber Whale Warrior
  • http://championsforcetaceans.com/
  • http://savemistythedolphin.blogspot.com/

A murmuration of starlings

This is quite possibly the most perfect film ever made.  Simply titled, Murmuration, this two-minute film by Sophie Windsor Clive and Liberty Smith, is on the Mo Perfection List.  This film, my friend, is the one for which the big screen and surround sound was made.  What is a murmuration?  It is, as the end of the short film tells us, a collection of starlings.

But a collection of starlings, that is, a murmuration, up close and personal in a way I’ve never experienced, but hope to soon.  Enjoy the film; we’ll get back together after you’ve had a moment to come down from the breathless state in which you will find yourself.  Not to be your mommy, but use the full-screen option once you push play.  3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

See what I mean?

For more information, Huffington Post did a piece on the video, adding other references, video and pictures.  Me?  I just want to watch this one again, and so I shall.  But I’ll admit that I discovered only after I’d watched it at least three quarters of a dozen times that an eight-minute version appears to exist that has been selected in three film festivals!  Atlaaaaaaaanta!  Sophie and Liberty.  Come to Atlaaaaaaanta.

Now, let me go see if I can find that track (perfectly scored by Nomad Soul) by Emmet Glenn and Band, maybe at www.islandsandrivers.com.

Bill Moyers: Our Politicians are Trafficking in Power and Policy

Journalist Bil Moyers delivers keynote address at Public Citizen 40th Anniversary Gala, from Truthout

There is nothing that I can add here to Mr. Moyers’ fine piece of work.  When a great mind, like Mr. Moyers’, summarizes how corporations created a stranglehold over our government, that is to say, our country – despite the warnings by our founding fathers and others – against such power being vested in hands of those few, it is truly a beautiful thing to read.

I’m mostly “writing” this just to put Mr. Moyers’ article in Truthout where I can always find it.  You see, Mr. Moyers has given me some homework, and I do not want to lose my assignment.

Specifically, the works that I have been advised to read (Moyers expressly recommended the first on the list) are :

  • The Radicalism of the American Revolution, Gordon Wood, 1992, Alfred A. Knopf
  • Memo by Lewis Powell, August 23, 1971 (before he became one of the Supremes)

And more about and by:

  • Robert LaFollette, 19th C. statesman from Wisconsin
  • Richard Reeves, syndicated columnist and journalism professor at USC
  • Lawrence Goodwyn, historian and author of Democratic Promise: The Populist Movement in America, 1976, Oxford University Press USA
  • Mary Elizabeth Lease, 19th and 20th C. writer and activist

Thank you, Mr. Bill Moyers.  I have a bit of homework ahead of me.  But what exciting homework in these exciting times.  And in honor of your parents, I am going, first, to my public library to look for Mr. Woods’ book.

No difference between dolphins and dogs, Georgia Aquarium?

It is amazing to me that the United States allows people who do not understand the fundamental nature of dolphins to be their caretakers. But that is exactly what is happening right this minute at the world’s largest aquarium. The organization that is entrusted with the lives of “its” eleven dolphins doesn’t see the difference between them and dogs. Or horses.

Now, if you have dogs and horses, you already know that even those two species shouldn’t be lumped. And those two species have been living under the care of humans for over 10,000 years. But let’s get to what the Senior Vice-President of Husbandry (I dare ya not to say “Ew!” when you read the definition of husbandry in the context of the Aquarium’s dolphins. Hey! I didn’t write it!) and Chief Animal Officer, Billy Hurley, at the Georgia Aquarium actually said (listen up beginning at 18 seconds):

Maybe this is gilding the lily, but Mr. Husbandry, I mean, Hurley, also said, in a piece by Access Atlanta, to announce the opening of its dolphin extravaganza:

I look at people playing with their dogs in the park and see the dogs jumping really high in the air to catch a Frisbee and say, ‘That dog is having a lot of fun.’ That’s exactly what you would see in the training of our dolphins; our trainers are playing with them every day.

So, Mr. Hurley thinks that a wild creature living in captivity is having fun. Sayin’.

As is the case with most corporations, they make assertions to sell a product, or rather, to sell an idea which will imprint something on your brain that will then inform your decision to buy that product again and again. So, when the world’s largest aquarium says, with casual authority, that the dolphins could be dogs or horses, it doesn’t really matter, they are counting on that idea – that image of your wagging lap dog or your favorite jumper who likes you but hates your brother (grin) – creating a warm and fuzzy in your brain somewhere. It tells you that dolphins-in-an-aquarium is natural, just like your dog curled up beside you on the sofa while you drink egg nog and listen to premature Christmas carols. Are they ever really premature?

But here are some facts:

Let’s recap that: Dogs always liked table scraps, so they may have sought us out, and live longer with us than in the wild. Horses, same story, except it seems we don’t know much about how or when we domesticated horses. Dolphins are not “domesticated” animals; they are merely wild animals held in captivity, like a lion or an elephant. And how do dolphins fare in the wild-to-captivity transition? Not well. Not well at all. They live longer in the wild. Plain and simple. Ergo, the comparison to dogs and horses is misplaced, Mr. Georgia Aquarium Man.

So, if the Georgia Aquarium almost succeeded in creating that lap dog-dolphin connection in your brain, I’m trusting that you now can begin to see that the comparison is grounded in marketing more than fact. Until the Georgia Aquarium appreciates that a comparison of dolphins to dogs or horses is inappropriate, their ownership of these wild creatures is, likewise, inappropriate.

But to borrow, and modify, an old country expression, that dolphin can’t hunt. Because you won’t let him.

One last thought: while David Kimmel, Georgia Aquarium President and Chief Operating Officer (they don’t get any bigger than that, well, except for Bernie Marcus, CEO and Chairman of the Board) and the rest of us “go about [our] lives,” the Atlanta 11 remain captive in a set of tanks that are morbidly small compared to their natural range and removed from the natural rhythms of the ocean to which the dolphin has been connected for 50 million years.

In an ethical society, these are beings with an inherent right to go about their lives and not be considered someone’s “actor” in an extravaganza, or someone else’s amusement, or even curiosity, or a human-named ambassador for the ocean.

Sign the Pledge: Say No! to the Dolphin Show.

Note to self: Blog for another day is the point that Mr. Hurley also doesn’t see the difference between the dolphins and “other mammals.” Hey, PETA!! I think Mr. Hurley agrees with you! Sounds like you may have a hostile witness.