Of the 54 reasons I’m vegan, numbers 31-38 are devoted to the stunning, startling, sacred, sentient, sagacious, astounding, astonishing, enchanting, wondrous, mysterious, magnificent multitude of marine lives, the sea beings.
Reason 31: Fish, Fishies, Schools and Pools of Fishes
If you have any interest at all in learning more about how overfishing has contributed to: a 90% reduction in the oceans top predators disrupting the delicate balance of sea biodiversity, the ocean floor being ripped apart by trawling, the environmental destruction caused by shipping vessels, the depletion of vital resources from the ocean, and the demise of non-target animals like dolphins, turtles, birds, and sharks who are caught in nets and thrown back to the ocean dead or dying, read the article 10 Alarming Facts About Overfishing. It will explain a lot about why I don’t eat fish. This article from National Geographic talks about how commercial fleets have to go deeper into the ocean and farther down the food chain for their catches. A continued disruption of the sea’s delicate balance. It’s predicted that the sea simply cannot sustain this level of abuse, and if something doesn’t change, fisheries will collapse by year 2048.
A report by Oceana shows that seafood fraud is running rampant and that at least 20% of fish is mislabeled. This could pose a health problem if you’re ingesting fish laden with mercury when you think you’re eating something else.
A recent petition to the State Council of the People’s Republic of China implores a change in China’s fishing industry that is growing out of control and threatening penguins and other Antarctic wildlife.
Reason 32: Dolphins
Just recently, scientists in the Ukraine discovered that dolphins communicate to one another in complete sentences of up to five words long. Dolphins are such fabulous communicators, that they actually stop and listen to one another before responding. Read more here about some of my all-time favorite beings, who may very well be equal to humans in social and emotional intelligence, the dolphins.
In her book, Voices in the Ocean, Susan Casey details accounts of altruistic dolphins saving humans. Stories like how 5-year old Cuban refugee, Elian Gonzales, was alone adrift on the water for 48 hours after the boat carrying him and his family capsized. He told how, before being rescued, dolphins encircled him and prevented him from slipping out of his life ring in dramatic 13-foot seas.
Or a story like that of scuba divers off of Phuket, Thailand during the 9.1 earthquake. Seven boats of scuba divers were encouraged to go deeper out to sea by a pod of dolphins who were frantically and dramatically trying to communicate with them. Out of curiosity, they followed the dolphins not knowing there was a tsunami rolling beneath their boats. They would have all perished had it not been for the dolphins.
The stories continue on to infinity and beyond from swimmers to surfers to boaters who have had auspicious dolphin encounters that saved their lives.
There’s a shadowy side to a dolphin’s existence that is hidden from the public. People adore them to death, unwittingly abusing and exploiting them. I’m talking about dolphin shows and establishments that keep dolphins in captivity for reasons of amusement including but not limited to: swim with the dolphins (when the dolphins are not choosing to swim with you), and dolphinariums or water parks like Sea World-type places that exploit for the sole intention of entertainment that feeds the bottom line.
The darkest side of dolphinariums lurks in a cove at Taiji, Japan. Dolphin trainers from all over the world visit this cove from September through February to select the best dolphins for their shows. But they are not just riding out in boats and pointing out dolphins and capturing them, which would already be a sad event. No, they hire fishermen to drive the dolphins from deep into the sea to the shallow waters of the cove. Several boats surround the dolphins and the fisherman pound the water with metal rods creating a deafening sound to the dolphins’ sensitive hearing. They are confused and distraught and unwillingly caught up in the chaos that drives them to shore.
Exhausted and scared, the dolphins acquiesce because they are unable to escape the coalition of boats operating for the sole purpose of pushing the pod to shore. At the shore, they are driven into netted pens. The trainers stand around the pens, clamoring over one another to select the best dolphin. The selected dolphin or dolphins, usually infants or juveniles, and often females, are extracted from the pod. The pod, meanwhile is generations of one family. Grandparents, parents, mothers, fathers, children, infants. This is the reason it is too easy for fishermen to capture such a large group: their familial bond. They will not leave one another even in the face of danger, or more so, because they are in danger, they stay by one another. Even a fisherman with a weapon will not break the bond of love, but this love is what destroys the entire family.
The rest of the pod family screams and cries and thrash the water with their tails in protested agony as they see their baby yanked from the family. The little ones cry too. These are emotional beings. Just like humans, babies want to stay with their moms. Moms want to protect their babies, but you see, there is no protection against a human with a weapon. Despite their brilliant minds and beautiful hearts, dolphins have no means of defending themselves and are no contest to humans powered by greed. A young female dolphin is worth $150,000 to a fisherman, because to a dolphinarium she will generate revenues her entire life which will be prematurely shortened because a life in captivity renders her distraught, depressed, and susceptible to diseases. Chlorinated water poisons her body, a confined tank renders her bored and distressed, dead fish contribute to an unhealthy diet, and act of hunting for food, an essential exercise for longevity, is absent. Most importantly, the tragic separation leaves a dolphin longing, the rest of her life, to be with her family. About 50% of dolphins in captivity die in seven years whereas dolphins, like the bottlenose, can live longer than 40 years in the wild.
So the baby is taken away and exposed to the first time to trainers, most of them from IMATA. Despite all the pretty pictures and the exciting notion of “how fun to be a dolphin trainer!” IMATA trainers bully the baby dolphins into submission. They hold their heads under water, they drag them by the tail, they deny them food, and they torture them.
The rest of the pod is murdered. Not just murdered but murdered in front of one another as they each witness the deaths of their family members. A metal rod is hammered into each dolphin’s spinal cord. This causes paralysis. They die a slow, excruciating death, each dolphin witnessing the family members around them all struggling for breath. The cries diminish as the cove runs red with blood. Japan has authorized fisheries to kill or capture 16,000 cetaceans this year. Read more if you dare at SeaShepherd.org.
To learn more about the Taiji, Japan, practices, check out Ric O’Barry’s FAQ‘s. Ric O’Barry was once the dolphin trainer for the show Flipper. The day he changed from trainer to activist was the day he held a female dolphin who died in his arms. He is certain she willed herself to death from depression.
Turn that frown upside-down by taking action for the dolphins.
1. Avoid dolphin (or any animal – marine or otherwise) shows or places that make a profit off of animal exploitation. Tell your children and your neighbors. Shout it from the rooftops! Because any dollar spent on supporting dolphinariums (think SeaWorld and all the marine animals living unnatural lives in captivity), is money that contributes to the misery and suffering of these beings.
3. Share this post, eh?
4. Read this book! It’s very well written. AND if you purchase from the below link, I will receive 4% of the purchase price at NO extra cost to you. yay!
Reason 33: Whales
Reason 34: Seals
Reason 35: Sea Lions
Reason 36: Sea Turtles
Reason 38: Octopuses, Crabs, Oysters, Sea Anemones, Jellies, & Coral + all the other super cool and very funky marine life that lives in this mysterious world, our oceans
I’ve written in past posts about marine life – whales, seals, sea lions, and birds. Check them out here: Shooting the Wildlife of Monterey Bay and Cleanup on Aisle Earth: My Litter Crusade (this post highlights the issues impacting animals from marine debris).
There is some recent GREAT news!
Obama has given the environmental a major thumbs-up by protecting two large areas. One, in Hawaii, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, is now the largest protected place on the planet. George W. Bush established the marine monument in 2006, and Obama’s proclamation quadrupled the area to now cover and preserve over 580,000 square miles of land and sea.
Obama has also helped to create the Atlantic Ocean’s first marine preserve, It’s about the size of Connecticut roughly 130 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. This area, home to endangered whales and turtles, will now be protected. Get all the fantabulous details here!
Yay for marine life and for all those precious dolphins, whales, turtles, and everyone else who lives in the sea!
“The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat.”
~Jacques Yves Cousteau, Oceanographer
“It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist: the threat is rather to life itself.”
~Rachel Carson, Marine Biologist
“Many of us ask what can I, as one person, do, but history shows us that everything good and bad starts because somebody does something or does not do something.”
~Sylvia Earle, Oceanographer
To see the other posts in this series click click click away
Post 1: International Homeless Animal Day & 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: #’s 1-3
Post 2: Sanctuary One & 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: #’s 4-11
Post 3: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Numbers 12-19
Post 4: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Coyotes and Wolves
Post 5: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Chickens and Turkeys
Post 6: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Smallish Animals and Reptiles 24-30
Post 7: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Marine Life & Birds
Post 8: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: African Animals
Post 9: 54 Reasons I’m Vegan: Rainforests, Air, Water, Soil, Climate Change, Peace & Hunger (50-54)