Friday, February 15, 2008

Bleak Future for our Oceans?

(Artist credit: Jean Luc Bozzoli)

From the various reading I've done today online, it would seem that the future of our oceans looks quite bleak.

Over 41% of our oceans are polluted and damaged or tainted by human activity. The only pristine places left are near the poles and with the ice caps melting, it appears it's only a matter of time before those places are affected negatively as well.


Coastal areas are polluted by runoff. Oyster beds and fisheries are disappearing. Floating islands of trash the size of small states clutter what used to be open water. Birds and whales are struck by ships which leave a trail of oil and waste in their wakes.

While subsistence fishing has a limited impact on ocean ecologies, high-impact commercial fishing dumps millions of pounds of unwanted dead fish, birds and mammals back into the ocean. This has threatened many species of turtles, birds, whales, and dolphins with extinction.

Shipping traffic is the third largest culprit because there is simply so much of it.

"The fuel gets spilled, there's noise pollution which is disturbing to whales and such... which has a major affect on the ecosystem."

To compound this continuing problem, oil companies continue to seek permits to do oil drilling off the coasts. The latest application for an oil drilling permit is in the Gulf waters from Gulf Shores to the end of Dauphin Island here in the USA.

GX Technology Corp. is the company who has filed for an application to conduct seismic studies in this area using air guns. They seek to do more than 200,000 blasts of compressed air down to a depth of 31 miles.


Scientists say sound waves from the air cannons can kill or damage whales, dolphins, sea turtles and other creatures, but said the technology is safer than some of the alternatives. The permit application states that "the proposed activity may affect listed endangered or threatened species, or their habitat."

While this is not the same kind of sonar technology used by the U.S. Navy, the impact is still felt by marine mammals. The company claims they will have oversight done and preventions in place to ensure minimal impact on the local marine wildlife.

Somehow that doesn't make me feel any better.

Scottish Dolphins in Britain are also at risk for similar oil and gas exploration off the coasts there. It appears very likely that the government will grant the licenses for this exploration to take place.

What happened to the EU taking a stand against the culling of whales? Shouldn't that also apply to dolphins and other endangered marine mammals?


"Oil and gas exploration and development includes intense noise caused by very loud seismic exploration, the placement of rigs and associated pollution and drilling, and finally, in decades to come, the removal of the rigs when the supply is exhausted. Should one license be allowed, others will surely follow. This means increasing and ongoing disturbance for the dolphins. We do not want this precedent to be set."

She added: "These animals are already facing many threats, including pollution, coastal development, increased boat traffic, food shortage and illegal driftnet fishing. Oil and gas exploration within a habitat vital for their survival could be the straw that breaks the camel's back."

The bottlenose dolphins of the Firth are a small, isolated and vulnerable group – there are only about 130 – which is why a special area of conservation (SAC) under the EU habitats directive was designated in 2005 to protect them in their core habitat. This offers very strong protection under European law.

Read more on this here: Scottish dolphins at risk

Japan's stance on killing whales is well known. "Scientific research" and "it's a culture thing" are the two most common defenses. They use the latter as an excuse to also continue killing thousands of dolphins annually.

Mercury findings in dolphins does not sway these people a bit.

In Taiji, it has been well publicized how the local fishermen hunt down, gather, and turn their waters blood red with their killing of the dolphins. These fishermen say "It's our culture to eat dolphins." But I once again must argue, if Japan is so proud of their culture in regards to killing and eating marine mammals, then why do they try to hide what they do? Seems contradictory to me.

CNN attempted to film the killing of these dolphins and the fishermen erected tarps to obstruct the filming.

Popular professional surfer, Dave Rastovich, was in the media spotlight last year when he and some other people, including some celebrities, tried to intervene with the dolphin culling in Taiji. Now it seems the Japanese Mafia are involved and are looking for and attempting to intimidate Dave Rastovich.

Wow. The mafia is involved? That's just amazing.

It's alleged that the Japanese Mafia have been visiting surf shops, spreading threats and intimidating people while searching for Mr. Rastovich.

And Japan tells us that we are too emotionally involved in this issue and that "diplomacy" must be the rule of the day. Ja right. Freakin' amazing balls these people have.

What the hell is it going to take for the people of this planet to start protecting itself? You can't say "Let's drill the hell out of our oceans" and at the same time, think you're going to be able to protect the marine mammals from being affected.

I shudder to think that the day is fast approaching when the only way we're going to be able to witness any marine mammals or wildlife left on the planet, are via the films, documentaries, and photographs of today.

The only good news I can end with at this time is that Sea Shepherd is back out at sea and once again, searching for the whalers. Will they succeed again? One can only hope.

Meanwhile, Captain Paul Watson hopes to have two ships out there next year in order to ensure there is always someone available to continue harassing and interfering with the whale culling.

"For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love." - Pythagoras, Greek mathematician and philospher

“The Cetacea hold an important lesson for us. The lesson is not about whales and dolphins, but about ourselves. There is at least moderately convincing evidence that there is another class of intelligent beings on Earth beside ourselves. They have behaved benignly and in many cases affectionately towards us. We have systematically slaughtered them. Little reverence for life is evident in the whaling industry - underscoring a deep human failing...In warfare, man against man, it is common for each side to dehumanize the other so that there will be none of the natural misgivings that a human being has at slaughtering another..."
Carl Sagan,


  1. People still think that the oceans are infinite and can take any kind of punishment. One of the best things I learned during an ocean crossing cruise last year was that oceans are big, but not vast, certainly not infinite.

  2. Yeah, that's true. Let's hope we don't hit the point of no return due to peoples' ignorance of our finite resources.

  3. Great post!!! This situation is unbearable. I pray changes happen soon.

    Hugs, JJ

  4. Thank you JJ .. appreciated you stopping by!

    Let's hope things can be changed before it's too late ....