Saturday, 8 December 2012

Risso's No More

Today's blog is dedicated to the beautiful Risso's Dolphin (Grampus Griseus), the largest Dolphin species with the word "Dolphin" in its name.

I haven't been blogging this last week. I have wanted to. Day after day I have logged in ready to pour out my heart but day after day I have logged in and gone straight to the Cove Guardians page on facebook to see what has happened in Taiji while I have been sleeping. This week I have wanted so much to pour out my heart - this week my heart has been ripped from me.

Cove Guardian Nicole McLachlan
Nicole, who is actually on the ground in Taiji and not just viewing from afar as I am for now, has poured out her own heart in her report of the week up until 5th December here, Operation Infinite Patience: December 5, 2012 and as well as her powerful words, there are videos on that link that you should see.

As I read her report I came to this comment, "It was on December 2nd that the most horrific display of greed played out before our eyes. All of us Cove Guardians, who were present during the three days that followed, will never be the same."

I knew what the rest of the report was going to be about because I had followed it frame by horrible frame on Taiji Dolphin Defense TV. I am sorry for not blogging but no words of mine could soothe that pain, it would not have been therapeutic for me, it would not have been good reading for you.

If this is all new to you then please follow each of those 3 links in turn and make sure you know what is happening in 2012 in the World that we share. If you won't take the time to follow the links then please read my November blog, #Taiji or Head in the Sand instead.

From speaking to close friends, some who have already been in Taiji as Cove Guardians and others who have flights booked and are just about to go, as I will be doing soon, I know that we all read those notes in numb disbelief. Little could any of us have realised that it was about to get even worse.

Photo Courtesy Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians,
Slaughter of 7th December 2012
The Today in Taiji report from December 7th began,

"A pod of 15 Risso's Dolphins were hunted and slaughtered within the cove this morning.. They frantically fought against the dolphin killers' deafening boats and terrifying walls of nets- all were killed for human consumption as none were 'suitable' enough to spend their lives entertaining humans in the captive trade."

Risso's are an amazing species of dolphin and one of the largest if you exclude Pilot Whales and Orcas. They span a wide range of ocean habitats between 60° North and 55° South. In Scotland -  where I spend most of my time - we see them alone or in small family groups of up to 20 although there are reports of mega-pods of Risso's 100+ in number.

These beautiful creatures grow up to 12 feet in length and can live to at least 30 years old. As long as they stay away from Taiji.

Slaughtered Risso's Dolphins
If you have seen the film The Cove you will know that the Taiji fishermen claim that they kill every dolphin caught - but not sold into captivity - as "pest control" because they have been told by their Government that the collapse of wild fish stocks is nothing to do with man and his insatiable appetite for ever larger and ever more effective fishing programmes.

Somehow they have convinced themselves that if you kill every dolphin and whale then somehow, magically, the nets of their pelagic trawlers will be full to bursting on every haul. This "scientific wisdom" coming from a nation which has contributed so much to genuine science!

Even if that was true for some species (it isn't) then it most certainly does not apply to the Risso's which prefers a diet of squid, octopus and cuttlefish which they catch and swallow whole. Have another look at the picture at the top of this blog, those scars did not come from a mackerel encounter!

This diet already puts the Risso's in severe danger from mankind, specifically from mankind's most destructive invention: the plastic bag.

Post mortems on squid eating cetaceans such as Risso's Dolphins and Sperm Whales regularly reveal that the animal had nothing in its stomach other than plastic bags. Not a nice way to go and, although they can dive to depths of over 1 kilometre and can remain below the surface for up to 30 minutes, Risso's are believed to eat mostly at night when squid rise closer to the surface - guess where plastic bags float?

I once had a "half in fun, whole in earnest" dig aimed at me on a facebook post asking why, if whales and dolphins were such hyper-intelligent creatures, how could they not tell the difference between a squid and a plastic bag? My response was even simpler:

If we are such hyper-intelligent creatures how can we not tell the difference between right and wrong?

To all those Risso's Dolphins who lost their lives yesterday in Taiji's killing cove I am sorry my fellow man lacks the humanity that you should be entitled to take for granted. We will remember you swimming wild, swimming free, swimming far and swimming deep.

Thank you for reading.