Academy Award® Winner for Best Documentary of 2009, THE COVE follows an elite team of activists, filmmakers and freedivers as they embark on a covert mission to penetrate a remote and hidden cove in Taiji, Japan, shining a light on a dark and deadly secret. Utilizing state-of-the-art techniques, including hidden microphones and cameras in fake rocks, the team uncovers how this small seaside village serves as a horrifying microcosm of massive ecological crimes happening worldwide. The result is a provocative mix of investigative journalism, eco-adventure and arresting imagery, adding up to an unforgettable story that has inspired audiences worldwide to action.
THE COVE is directed by Louie Psihoyos and produced by Paula DuPré Pesmen and Fisher Stevens. The film is written by Mark Monroe. The executive producer is Jim Clark and the co-producer is Olivia Ahnemann.
Marine Mammal Specialist, Earth Island InstituteAbout Activist Richard O'Barry
Richard O'Barry has worked both sides of the dolphin street, the first 10 years with the dolphin captivity industry, the past 38 against it.
Working back in the 1960s for Miami Seaquarium, O'Barry captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV-series of the same name. When Kathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms, OʼBarry realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.
From that moment on, O'Barry knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he founded the Dolphin Project, dedicated to freeing captive dolphins who were viable candidates and educating people throughout the world to the plight of dolphins in captivity. He launched a searing campaign against the multi-billion dollar dolphin captivity industry, telling the public what was really going on at dolphin shows and urging people not to buy tickets to see dolphins play the fool.
O'Barry has rescued and released more than 25 captive dolphins in Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Bahamas Islands and the United States. His more than 45 years of experience with dolphins and his firsthand knowledge about the methods used to capture and train them has taken him all over the world to participate in lectures and conferences about the controversial dolphin captivity issue. As he knew it would, this created a lot of hostility toward him by those who stood to profit from the continued exploitation of dolphins.
"They're in this for money. Take it away, and they'll quit doing this," OʼBarry says and adds: "Dolphins are free-ranging, intelligent, and complex wild animals, and they belong in the oceans, not playing the clown in our human schemes."
To recognize his contribution, in 1991 OʼBarry received the 'Environmental Achievement Award' presented by the United States Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program (US/UNEP).
His book 'Behind the Dolphin Smile' was published in 1989, a second book, 'To Free A Dolphin' was published in September 2000. Both of them are about his work and dedication.
O'Barry is a Fellow National in The Explorers Club, a multidisciplinary society that links together scientists and explorers from all over the world. Each member is an accomplished individual with at least one fascinating story to tell.
In January, 2007, O'Barry became the Marine Mammal Specialist for Earth Island Institute and Director of Save Japan Dolphins coalition: www.SaveJapanDolphins.org
A Ray of Hope for Mantas: Marine biologist makes case for protecting ‘devilfish’
Editor’s Note: This is the final installment in a four-part series on exhibits, public programs, lectures and scientific research in connection with “Shark Summer” at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The spotlight this time is on research and conservation efforts of manta rays, cousins of the shark.
By Lynne Friedmann
On his first day of college, Josh Stewart made a momentous decision. “I dropped a scheduled course and enrolled in a scuba diving class instead,” he said.
Josh Stewart is a Scripps Oceanography Ph.D. student and associate director of The Manta Trust. courtesy
Stewart was an undergraduate at Indiana University, a land-locked school without a marine biology program.
But what Indiana University does have is one of the oldest academic diving programs in the country where Stewart found unparalleled opportunities for hands-on science experience accompanying underwater archaeologists studying shipwrecks in international waters. During a research excursion to the Dominican Republic, Stewart first glimpsed a giant manta ray — a disc-shaped fish more than 20 feet wide — gliding toward him like a slow-motion, underwater bat. This and subsequent encounters with the majestic creatures set the course for Stewart’s graduate studies.
Another Happy Diver, Another Great Video! We have been hearing so many awesome stories of experiences from recent divers! Keep 'em coming! When divers take the time to make videos, that means it was definitely an adventure of a lifetime.
While the researchers said the ocean remains basic rather than acidic, meaning it has a pH level greater than 7, falling pH is a measure of acidification that may harm marine life from mollusks to fish, according to an Aug. 25 study in the journal Nature Climate Change.
The oceans are becoming a repository for almost all of Earth’s excess heat, driving up sea levels and threatening coastlines, according to a leaked draft of the most comprehensive United Nations report addressing climate science.
Former Highveld and 5fm DJ, media personality, company director and activist, Grant Nash, has just landed in Taiji, Japan, as part of an awareness campaign to save the world’s dolphin community.
Grant was approached by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international non-profit marine conservation organization whose mission is to defend, conserve and protect ocean wildlife worldwide. With the generous sponsorships from PURE IMAGINATION MEDIA and CANON South Africa, Grant is able to make, and document, this trip.
The slaughter of 20,000 dolphins, porpoises, and small whales occurs in Japan each year. Starting on September 1st and usually continuing through March of the next year, fishermen herd whole families of small cetaceans into shallow bays and mercilessly stab and drown them to death. This annual slaughter of dolphins was virtually unknown until 2003 when Sea Shepherd globally released covertly-obtained footage and photographs of the now infamous bloody “Cove” in a village called Taiji.
After the widespread controversial release of the documentary, The Cove, more and more people are becoming aware of the abuse and savagery occurring in the waters of Taiji every year. Grant Nash and hundreds of other “Cove Guardians” worldwide are uniting in their fight against this barbarism. To date, their plea to the Japanese government to stop this cruelty has fallen on deaf ears, but by documenting the slaughter and raising awareness, the Guardians hope to unite the world to create change.
Grant Nash will be in Japan from 13th – 27th February, using his celebrity (though he modestly denies this term) as a platform in which to enlighten South Africans, and the world about the initiative.
More than just a tree-hugger:
Grant Nash is a very vocal vegan, and has become synonymous with protecting wildlife. He has been called a tree-hugger on more than one occasion, but he highlights the bigger picture:
Ourmission: Reveal Value in plastic waste.Ourgoal:Demonstrate the growing demand for repurposed ocean plastics.
As consumers begin to demand the use of recycled ocean plastics in the products they buy, the value of ocean plastics will increase. The more we can increase the value of ocean plastics world-wide, the less plastic will be discarded.
Help us make ocean plastics too valuable to throw away. This is the only sustainable way to prevent plastics from entering the ocean.
Takeaction–help us spread the word.Demand Corporations Use Recycled Ocean Plastics: Support The Plastic.
A new kind of telescope buried deep beneath the ice of Antarctica has, for the first time, seen a signal from distant, violent events. In doing so, it is beginning to paint a picture of a part of our cosmos that has never been observed before.
Pretty much everything we can see in the universe glows. Astronomers capture the light from stars and galaxies using huge telescopes. But even the most powerful telescopes can only see so much. The cores of dying stars, for example, are hidden behind shrouds of gas and dust that light cannot penetrate. Hidden, too, are the edges of black holes.
There is, however another way to see the universe: through the neutrino. Neutrinos are tiny, fundamental particles created in nuclear reactions, such as those inside stars. But unlike light, the neutrino can't be easily deflected. "It's a ghost particle," says Pierre Sokolsky, a physicist at the University of Utah. "It hardly ever interacts."
Trillions of neutrinos are passing through you at this very moment. The vast majority are passing through the ground, through the earth's core, and flying back into space.
For decades Francis Halzen, a physicist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has dreamed of capturing a few of these neutrinos. Think of them as sort of the ultimate X-rays. They can shoot through the thickest dust and debris. That means that some neutrinos that reach the Earth have emanated from the cores of exploding stars or the edge of black holes.
"They may allow us to do astronomy that you cannot do with light," Halzen says. "That's kind of the dream."
There's just one little hitch. Since neutrinos hardly ever react with everyday matter, most of them will pass straight through the telescope you're trying to see them with.
A neutrino telescope has to be big, so that a lot of neutrinos go through it; very dense, so that a few will get caught; and transparent, because when a neutrino gets caught, it gives off a flash of light.
By nature, most divers are as laid-back as Jimmy Buffett. We have to be to sail out to sea, toss on a tank and plunge into the dark unknown. Yet, there's a little Woody Allen dwelling within each of us, threatening to turn dangerously neurotic should the tides turn. That's the essence of panic. You go from cucumber-cool to scared, disoriented and out-of-control. Though new divers are more susceptible, experienced divers are also at risk, especially when a dive goes awry.
Panic can kill in many ways. Rapid, shallow breathing can cause hypoxia and a buildup of carbon dioxide. The result: The diver acts irrationally, breathing faster, expelling the regulator or bolting to the surface. These panic responses can make you pass out, or even have a heart attack if you have a weak heart. And panicking impedes your ability to solve problems and get to safety when your equipment malfunctions or you're tangled in a line.
The National Underwater Accident Data Center attributes about one-fifth of diver deaths directly to panic. Another 22 percent of fatalities cannot be attributed to a specific cause. But considering the number of divers found with working equipment, ample air supply and their weight belts firmly cinched, most experts believe that death due to panic is more common than we think.
What? Me Worry?
Trying to predict who will panic is a little bit like guessing who will win Survivor. With enough analysis, you could probably figure it out, but you're just as likely to be surprised, especially because panic strikes so many divers. A national survey from the mid-1990s shows that more than half of experienced divers reported having at least one panic or near-panic experience.
Not surprisingly, people who have panicked on dry land are at an increased risk for losing control and panicking under water. In a study published earlier this year, dive panic researcher and psychiatrist David Colvard, M.D., found that 45 percent of men and 57 percent of women with a history of panic reported panicking on one or more dives, compared to 19 percent of men and 33 percent of women who had never panicked before. "If you have been diagnosed with panic disorder, you should be very hesitant about jumping in the water," says Captain Marie Knafelc, M.D., Ph.D., who has performed nearly 20 years of diving research for the Navy. "If you really want to dive, find a very small class with a lot of personal attention and time in the water."
Some experts report that women are also at a higher risk for panic. The 1995 Sea Grant study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found the incidence of panic was 64 percent among women compared to 50 percent among men. Knafelc is skeptical that predisposition to panic is really a genetic quality, however. "Women may be more likely to admit when they feel panicked," says Knafelc. And they're also more likely to get into diving because their partner wants them to rather than of their own accord, she says. "That immediately puts them in a more vulnerable position. Scuba is something you should really want to do for yourself."
Finally, people who tend to react to adversity with anxiety are also more likely to panic when faced with a flooded mask or a great white looming overhead. There are "trait anxiety" tests that could ferret out these nervous divers before they ever earn their C-cards, but most experts agree that's unrealistic. "Certified divers tend to fall in the lower range of trait anxiety to begin with, and the people who score high may simply be more anxious; they don't necessarily have panic disorder or other mental illness," says Colvard. Subjecting every potential diver to a psychological profile would be difficult, if not a violation of anti-discrimination laws.
The bottom line is that panic is something instructors need to address more seriously, and that participants need to prepare for more ardently, says Knafelc. "You need to honestly assess your own anxiety level. If you're a high-stress individual, you'd be wise to stay in the pool until you feel confident in your skills and ability to stay calm. If you are able to keep your wits, you can get yourself out of most any situation, even if your equipment fails."
Practice Makes Poised
Being scared under water is a rational fear, says Knafelc. "The only reason we're all not panicking all the time is that we're trained, so we know what to do." Enough knowledge, practice and preparation can soothe even the most anxious scuba enthusiast.
Rehearse the basics. Practicing basic skills is essential for preventing panic. "New divers especially need to rehearse important skills until they are burned into their psyche," says Colvard. Experienced divers also should brush up on the basics. Practice sharing air, clearing your mask and other skills you may not have done since certification. Visualize and mentally rehearse each dive.
Plan for emergencies. Panic happens when rational fears become irrational, says Knafelc. "Have an emergency procedure ready for every situation. Plan what you will do if you see a shark, have equipment failure or lose your buddy. Then rehearse those procedures with your dive buddy, so if something scary happens, you both automatically know what to do."
Remember "SBTA." Physiologically, it is almost impossible not to calm down when you're breathing slowly and deeply from your diaphragm, says Colvard. Train yourself to "Stop--Breathe--Think--Act" when something unexpected happens.
Come prepared. Having the proper equipment will bring you great peace of mind. Have a wetsuit for cold water, a backup light for night diving, and anything you need for special circumstances like wreck dives. Never fudge it or use equipment you aren't familiar with.
Listen to your instincts. If a dive doesn't feel right, don't do it. Period. Never dive beyond your training and abilities or push it when the conditions aren't cooperating.
Plan pauses. Prevent unpleasant surprises with pauses at every main transition, like when you enter the water, are at the bottom, before you ascend, at your safety stops and so on. Take a moment to assess your gear, your buddy and the environment.
Fix the little problems before they snowball into big ones and you'll go a long way to warding off panic, says Colvard. "It's usually not one thing that sends you over the edge, but a combination of unexpected factors."
When Panic Attacks
The following are classic signs that you're losing your cool. If you experience any of them, stop to relax, breathe, think--and seek help.
> Rapid breathing or feeling like you can't get enough air.
> Rapid heart rate, palpitations or heaviness in the chest.
> Gastrointestinal distress, "butterflies," nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
> Muscle tension, headache or tremors.
> Trembling voice or inability to speak.
> Sweating, chills or hot flashes, feeling out-of-control or impending doom.
This is not an Orson Welles-esque prank, but real and scary: An international panel of marine scientists is demanding urgent remedies to halt ocean degradation based on findings that the rate, speed and impacts of change in the global ocean are greater, faster and more imminent than previously thought.
“The health of the ocean is spiralling downwards far more rapidly than we had thought. We are seeing greater change, happening faster, and the effects are more imminent than previously anticipated. The situation should be of the gravest concern to everyone since everyone will be affected by changes in the ability of the ocean to support life on Earth,” says Professor Alex Rogers of Somerville College, Oxford, and Scientific Director of the IPSO.
This is the conclusion made by the latest International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO)/IUCN review of science on anthropogenic stressors on the ocean. Predictions go beyond the conclusion reached by the UN climate change panel the IPCC that the ocean is absorbing much of the warming and unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide and which warned that the cumulative impact of this with other ocean stressors is far graver than previous estimates.
What’s happening? Decreasing oxygen levels in the ocean caused by climate change and nitrogen run-off, combined with other chemical pollution and rampant overfishing are undermining the ability of the ocean to withstand these so-called ‘carbon perturbations’, meaning its role as Earth’s ‘buffer’ is seriously compromised.
The findings, published in the peer review journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, are part of an ongoing assessment process overseen by IPSO, which brings together scientists from a range of marine disciplines.
Among the latest assessments of factors affecting ocean health, the panel identified the following areas as of greatest cause for concern:
De-oxygenation: the evidence is accumulating that the oxygen inventory of the ocean is progressively declining. Predictions for ocean oxygen content suggest a decline of between 1% and 7% by 2100. This is occurring in two ways: the broad trend of decreasing oxygen levels in tropical oceans and areas of the North Pacific over the last 50 years; and the dramatic increase in coastal hypoxia (low oxygen) associated with eutrophication. The former is caused by global warming, the second by increased nutrient runoff from agriculture and sewage.
Acidification: If current levels of CO2 release continue we can expect extremely serious consequences for ocean life, and in turn food and coastal protection; at CO2 concentrations of 450-500 ppm (projected in 2030-2050) erosion will exceed calcification in the coral reef building process, resulting in the extinction of some species and decline in biodiversity overall.
Warming: As made clear by the IPCC, the ocean is taking the brunt of warming in the climate system, with direct and well-documented physical and biogeochemical consequences. The impacts which continued warming is projected to have in the decades to 2050 include: reduced seasonal ice zones, including the disappearance of Arctic summer sea ice by ca. 2037; increasing stratification of ocean layers, leading to oxygen depletion; increased venting of the GHG methane from the Arctic seabed (a factor not considered by the IPCC); and increased incidence of anoxic and hypoxic (low oxygen) events.
The ‘deadly trio’ of the above three stressors – acidification, warming and deoxygenation – is seriously effecting how productive and efficient the ocean is, as temperatures, chemistry, surface stratification, nutrient and oxygen supply are all implicated, meaning that many organisms will find themselves in unsuitable environments. These impacts will have cascading consequences for marine biology, including altered food web dynamics and the expansion of pathogens.
Continued overfishing is serving to further undermine the resilience of ocean systems, and contrary to some claims, despite some improvements largely in developed regions, fisheries management is still failing to halt the decline of key species and damage to the ecosystems on which marine life depends. In 2012 the UN FAO determined that 70% of world fish populations are unsustainably exploited, of which 30% have biomass collapsed to less than 10% of unfished levels. A recent global assessment of compliance with Article 7 (fishery management) of the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, awarded 60% of countries a “fail” grade, and saw no country identified as being overall “good”.
Marine mammals command a high level of public attention, reflected in specific legislation for their protection and management in many countries. They also present particular challenges to ecologists and conservation biologists. They are mostly difficult to observe, they occupy an environment that is vast in its three dimensional extent, there are often perceived conflicts between marine mammals and people, and furthermore several species are now close to extinction.
Marine mammals have some intriguing features in their biology - the ability to dive to crushing depths, to perform breath-hold dives that defy our current understanding of mammalian physiology, and many have an ability to hunt down prey using sophisticated sonar that we are only just beginning to understand. Many species also have complex social structures. We still have much to learn about these extraordinary animals so a comprehensive and authoritative overview of current methodology is now timely. The intention of this book is both to summarize the state-of-the-art and to encourage innovation and further progress in this research field.
Noise pollution has now become one of the common themes of human-generated impacts on the ocean. Shipping noise, military sonar, and seismic airgun surveys are increasingly becoming part of the public discussion in marine conservation. These noises are easy for us to understand; they are loud, ubiquitous, and they are all in the range of human hearing. We can all imagine what it must be like having an expressway of supertankers and cargo vessels plying the shipping lanes over our heads, or being subjected to ear-piercing tactical sonar signals.
But there is a flood of noises creeping into the ocean that, while we humans can’t hear them, may prove equally as insidious as the loud noises that we can hear. Dolphins, porpoises, beaked whales, and sperm whales – the “toothed whales”–use high frequency bio-sonar, so their sound frequency sensitivities reach well above the frequencies that we humans can hear.
Some of their fish prey can also hear these higher frequencies as an adaptive measure against predation. And while we don’t yet have evidence of seals using bio-sonar, we do know that many seals also hear sounds well above the highest frequencies that humans can hear.
While marine technologists don’t seem to be giving it a lot of thought, our sonar technologies are increasingly crowding out these higher frequency bands with underwater acoustical beacons, echo sounders, and underwater communication systems. The spectrogram below (and the ones accompanying the sound examples) is a method of visualizing sound with time on the horizontal “x” axis, and frequency on the vertical “y” axis. The lower frequencies are closer to the bottom.
This particular spectrogram from NEPTUNE Canada displays a year of sound near the sea floor in the ocean off of Vancouver Island.
The Cove Guardians and the Sea Shepherd Policy of Gaiatsu Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder Captain Paul Watson The Cove Photo: Brooke MacDonald 2003The Cove Guardians are passionately compassionate men and women who come from all over the world...
Cove Guardians on the Ground in Taiji Fourth Season of Operation Infinite Patience Gets Underway September 1 Preparations for the upcoming killing season have been observed Photo: Sea ShepherdThe 2013-2014 Operation Infinite Patience Cove Guardian...
The Guardian Global warming and oceans: what are the known unknowns? The Guardian Perhaps the most important component of the Earth's climate, and perhaps the hardest to measure, is the oceans that cover over 70 percent of the Earth's surface.
I’m reading with mounting incredulity the increasingly frenzied reports about the radiation problems at the site of the crippled reactors at Fukushima. The idea seems to be gathering speed that there is some major problem at the site, one that’s going to have regional or even global implications for health and the environment. I’m afraid this simply isn’t true. We do have a very expensive problem and there are also highly local problems at the plant. But in the larger scheme of things the dangers are somewhere between vanishingly trivial and non-existent. Indeed, an entirely reasonable and sensible solution to the radioactive water at the plant would be to simply dump it all into the ocean.
As the dolphin hunt season has begun in Japan, environment activists rallied in Tokyo on Saturday to show their protest against the annual event in the country. According to Action for Marine Mammals, the rally organizer, the demonstration in the capital was only one of the protests around the world. In central Tokyo, there were 50 people who joined the rally bearing banners saying, “Stop the slaughter.”
“Japanese people are responsible for stopping our country’s barbarian dolphin hunt,” said the group’s leader Toshiaki Morioka. Besides joining the protest in Tokyo, there were also others who went to Taiji in Wakayama, which is known for its annual dolphin hunt. The fishing village caught the attention of the world because of a 2009 documentary film called The Cove. Known for winning international recognition, including the 2010 Academy Award, the film featured how dolphins are captured and slaughtered in the southern town. The film also described Taiji as “a little town with a really big secret.” When the dolphins and whales are captured, some are placed in aquariums while the rest are slaughtered for meat. The dolphin hunt season lasts for months.
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