Endangered ocean species
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1994:
Russian whaling commissioner
Alexei Yablokov on February 21 confirmed
that Soviet whalers for decades killed far
more whales than they reported to the
International Whaling Commission. For
instance, he said, in the 1960s one ship reported
killing 152 humpbacked whales and 156 blue
whales, but actually killed 7,207 humpbacks,
1,433 blue whales, and 717 right whales, a
species protected by the IWC since 1946.
Another ship killed 1,568 humpbacks and 1,200
right whales during the winter of 1961-1962,
but reported none of the right whales while the
USSR said its entire fleet killed only 270 hump-
backs all year. Two years later the same ship
killed 530 blue whales; the USSR said the fleet
total was just 74. The revelations mean IWC
estimates of whale numbers may be far too high.
Volusia County, Florida, on
February 17 became the fifth and final county
along the Indian River Lagoon to pass a resolu-
ion opposing dolphin captures. At least 99 dol-
phins have been hauled out of the 156-mile-long
lagoon by exhibitors over the years. About 250
dolphins still live there. The resolutions were
obtained by the Dolphin Alliance.
Flipper, the Atlantic bottlenosed dol-
phin rehabilitated by Ric O’Barry of the
Dolphin Project and released off Brazil i n
March 1993 by the World Society for the
Protection of Animals, was seen often with wild
dolphins near Sao Francisco do Sul in February.
He had been branded to make identification cer-
tain. “This proves without a doubt that captive
marine mammals can be returned to the wild,
and can survive,” said WSPA field services
director Neil Trent. “The captive marine mam-
mal industry can no longer justify the continued
incarceration of many of these creatures.”
Caught at age two, Flipper spent 10 years on
display, as the last captive dolphin in Brazil.
The three whitesided dolphins cap-
tured by the Shedd Aquarium off southern
California in late November are still not on dis-
play. The Chicago Animal Rights Coalition asks
that appeals for their release be sent to new
Shedd director Ted Beattie, c/o 1200 South
Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605.
The Indianapolis Zoo lost the
chance to import four psuedorcas from Japan
on February 28 when the Japanese captors
decided not to sell them rather than try to prove
to the National Marine Fisheries Service that
they were captured humanely. The Indianapolis
Zoo import permit expired four days later. Earth
Island Institute and the Animal and
Environmental Defense Association said the
psuedorcas were caught by driving them into a
bay with underwater sonic devices. Such drives
usually end with the massacre of whales and dol-
phins and the sale of their meat.
Mark LaRochelle, press secretary
for the anti-animal protection group Putting
People First, on March 13 announced “experts”
from Canada, Japan, Norway, Mexico, Great
Britain, and South Africa, as well as the U.S.
would meet in Washington D.C. on April 12 to
discuss “moving toward a sustainable harvest of
fish and marine mammal resources.” The spon-
sorship was not disclosed.
A task force appointed by the state
of Hawaii killed 58 tiger sharks off Oahu in
1993, after a shark scare allegedly hurt tourism.
“We don’t know if they were 58 out of a popula-
tion of 59 or 58 out of a population of 58,000,”
objected state Department of Land and Natural
Resources shark expert Dr. Kim Holland.
The International Wildlife Coalition
on February 28 called a tourism boycott of St.
Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenada, and Dominica,
four Caribbean nations which voted with Japan
at the February 25 International Whaling
Commission meeting to obstruct the designation
of Antarctic waters as a no-whaling sanctuary.
Japan gives all four nations major economic aid.
California coastal sharks may be
wiped out by quack cancer cures based on
their body parts, Sean Van Sommeran of the
Pelagic Shark Research Foundation warned on
March 17, after intercepting an attempt by
nutritionist and optometrist Kenneth Absher of
Grass Valley, California, to order “tens of tons
of the stuff.” Sharks––many species of which
are endangered––rarely get cancer, but there is
no recognized medicinal use of shark parts .