From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1995:
Biologist Macarena Green of Quito, Ecuador, on January 12
issued an Internet SOS for marine life in the Galapagos islands. On
October 15, 1994, she said, the Ecuadoran government opened the region
to sea cucumber collection for the first time, setting a quota of 550,000 to
be picked over the next three months. “However, in two months the take
exceeded seven million,” Green stated. “Fishermen were not only collect-
ing sea cucumbers, but also sea horses, snails, sea urchins, and black
coral. Also, one fisherman admitted he had already sent to Japan sea lion
penises as a try-out for a new aphrodisiac. The Japanese buyer paid $50 for
each penis.” The sea cucumber season was closed due to the abuse on
December 15, but, “The people involved during the lucrative yet devastat-
ing enterprise were not about to accept that. During the first days of
January they took over installations of the Park Service and Darwin Station.
They kept all the people inside as hostages, including the wives of many of
the workers and children. They threatened to kill all the tortoises in captivi-
ty at the station, and they threatened to start fires on little islands,” which
would also kill endangered tortoises. Green begged that letters on behalf of
keeping the sea cucumber season closed, permanently, be sent to Arq.
Sixto Duran Ballen, Presidente Constitucional de la Republica de Ecuador,
Palacia de Gobierna, Quito, Ecuador.
A 60-year square-inch-by-square-inch-by-inch study of life in
a tidal zone of Monterey Bay, California, published February 3 in
Science, has discovered that sea snails, crabs, starfish, and sea anemones
are all migrating northward in apparent response to rising oceanic tempera-
ture. Eight species more often found far to the south in the early 1930s are
now common in the study zone; five species common then have decreased.
Project co-director Charles Baxter of the Monterey Bay Aquarium said the
findings are “evidence that the effects of global warming may already be
apparent, at least in the northern hemisphere.”
A newly published study by International Wildlife Coalition
senior scientist David Wiley and associates has discovered that unexpect-
edly high numbers of humpback whale strandings involve newly indepen-
dent calves, who run into trouble in midwinter between Chesapeake Bay
and Cape Hatteras––far north of the usual habitat for the species at that time
of year. No explanation for the findings is offered.
Starved by the Atlantic Canada fish shortage, seals along the
Gaspe coast of Quebec and in the Magdalen Islands have learned to eat lob-
sters––and are now blamed by unemployed codfishers who have turned to
aggressive lobstering for not only the cod crash but also a drop of 20% to
24% since 1990 in the local commercial lobster catch.
South Australian environment minister David Wotten o n
February 12 called on the state to create a marine park that would protect
the breeding area of the highly endangered southern right whale.
Guy Delage, of France, who completed a 13-day trans-Atlantic
swim/raft trip on February 9, claims to have observed that dolphins always
attack fish from out of the sun and change color––he didn’t explain how––
according to the type of fish they are pursuing. Delage said dolphins fol-
lowed him almost the whole way, but he unfortunately led them into the
nets of a Caribbean fishing vessel. He also noted a sharp decline in the
shark population along his once purportedly shark-infested route.
Jean-Claude Lesquer, leader of the French spy squad that blew
up the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in 1985, was promoted on
February 8 to the rank of Brigadier-General. The action, intended to stop a
protest against French nuclear testing in French Polynesia, killed photogra-
pher Fernando Pereira.
A Swedish navy review of the sensitivity of its hydrophonic
equipment has found that swimming sea minks and submarines produce
similar sound signals––raising the likelihood that Sweden often depth-
charged sea minks during the Cold War, when hydrophonic buoys warned
that “Russian submarines” were sneaking into fjords. The depth charges
rarely raised submarines––but embarrassed officials said the number of
“submarine” detections hasfallen since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
The working committee of the International Whaling
Commission assigned to develop rules for implementing a resumption
of commercial whaling concluded a three-day meeting on January 13 with-
out reaching any agreements––as hoped by the World Wildlife Fund,
International Fund for Animal Welfare, and Greenpeace last year, when
they urged the U.S. to gamble that the necessary observation protocols and
other matters yet to be resolved would never be resolved, and to therefore
approve the adoption of a formula for setting whaling quotas in exchange
for the acceptance by Norway and Japan of the creation of the Southern
Ocean Whale Sanctuary. More meetings will be scheduled.
Drawing attention to the presence of four Japanese whale-
catchers and a factory ship, conducting a “scientific” hunt for minke
whales inside the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, two Greenpeace
activists briefly boarded the catcher Toshi Maru on January 7 as it put into
Wellington, Australia, to drop off a crew member who lost a finger in a
shipboard accident. The Greenpeacers were removed by police––news
video taken from a helicopter seemed to show them being dragged across
the Toshi Maru’s deck and being pitched overboard––and were later
released without charges.
A team led by Dr. Claude Joiris of Brussels University has dis-
covered astonishingly high levels of PCBs and other toxic chemicals in the
remains of several dead sperm whales that recently washed up on the
Belgian coast. While other marine mammals frequently accumulate chemi-
cals from eating polluted fish, sperm whales feed mostly in the deepest
parts of the ocean, rather than heavily polluted offshore areas, and have
previously not been known suffer the same build-up.
This winter’s annual aerial count of Florida manatees f o u n d
just 1,443, down markedly from the 1,856 counted last year.
The Indonesian navy on January 3 announced increased
p a t r o l s to protect the scarce Napolean wrasse from Hong Kong fishing
crews who pursue the species by poisoning and dynamiting coral.
Indonesian environment minister Sarwono Kusumaatmadja and agriculture
minister Syarifuddin Baharsyah promised a complete ban on catching
Napoleon wrasse would soon follow.
Two staffers flown in from from Sea World Austrialia, 14
volunteer scuba divers, and 13 boats full of Vanuatu residents c o m-
bined efforts on January 4 to free 15 of 28 starving spinner dolphins who
became trapped in a small lagoon––carrying them to the open sea in blan-
kets after herding attempts failed.