Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. (THE COVE RUNS RED. Endangered Striped #dolphins have been ambushed & mercilessly massacred!
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Unlike other marine species, the corals are still capable of adapting under current circumstances of sea acidification, reveled by researchers at the Center of Biological Research of the Northeast (Cibnor).
More than 200 people, mostly environmentalists, celebrated the Earth Day with a whole day coastal clean-up at the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA) last April 20, 2013.
The coastal clean-up, led by Save Freedom Island Movement (SFIM), Earth Island Institute (EII) and partner organizations, served as a kick-off for a series of activities including photo and art contests, culinary competitions, bird lecture series, nature walk, essay writing, and other activities for the youth running up to the Ocean Month and International Fishermen’s Day in June.
According to SFIM & EII, the campaign seeks to promote awareness and appreciation of the environment as well as a demonstration of protection and restoration activities. The campaign is aimed to inspire people to clean up their surroundings and to sound the alarm regarding worsening environmental depletion, the group said.
The Importance of Freedom Island
The Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), also known as Freedom Island, is a bird sanctuary in an urban setting that was recently added to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. It is said to be the last mangrove area in the National Capital Region (NCR) and has recently become controversial due to a widely-opposed P14 billion reclamation plan.
Groups say this will endanger its biodiversity and will spell peril for the livelihood of local fisherfolks depending on its rich marine resources.
The mangrove ecosystem serves as a feeding, nesting and nursery grounds for commercially important fish, prawns, mollusks, crabs and shellfish. High levels of organic matter found in the mangrove ecosystem means high productivity; this means more diverse range of living species can be supported.
It also functions as a habitat area for a wide array of organisms from planktons to birds. About more than 80 species of endemic and migratory birds were documented by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) and DENR-NCR in the area. The list includes the already vulnerable Philippine Duck, Chinese Egret and the Pied Avocet.
Mangroves are said to be the Earth's “natural filtering system,” that absorbs pollutants like heavy metals, sewage drains, and toxic substances; stabilizes coastlines by catching sediments washed downstream; and help protect coral reefs and sea grasses from being smothered by such pollutants. It also forms a natural barrier, which protects the shore from sea surges especially during typhoons, and absorbs carbon dioxide that lessens the impact of global warming.
However, mangrove forests in Metro Manila were diminished years ago by massive reclamation projects. Threats of reclamation, relentless dumping of wastes and pollution continue to remain.
A continuing battle for Freedom Island and children
The inclusion of Freedom Island to the RAMSAR list is a small victory for environmental groups and concerned citizens calling for the protection of the critical animal habitat.
“But the battle isn’t over yet. Proponents of the reclamation projects in Manila Bay are still pushing for their plan. While the government is more concerned of the profit that foreign investors would generate, thousands of families would be affected by loss of livelihood and shelter, floods, storm surges, and other environmental disasters that reclamations may cause,” says Glacy Macabale of Save Freedom Island Movement.
To demonstrate the saying “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, but borrow it from our children,” a group of children from the Bulungan Market community of Paranaque wore “environmental head gears” and performed an Earth dance to jumpstart the program.
“We live in very critical times. Our actions to save the environment now will have an impact on how our children will live tomorrow. We all need to act now,” Trixie Concepcion of Earth Island Institute said.
“This action is important as choosing the next leaders in the future. Now that we are in the election period, we must choose the right leaders with good track records on protecting the environment and the people. We are doing our part, the government should also do theirs,” Concepcion added.
Among the personalities and organizations who joined and supported the coastal clean-up event are Ms. Earth Philippines 2013 candidates, actor Raymond Bagatsing, Villar Foundation, Office of Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino, Akap-Bata Partylist, Kabataan Partylist, local fisherfolks from the Unified Marketing Services Cooperative, Stewards of Creation, HBC employees, Young Nacionalistas, Smart Mountaineers, UP Minggan, and volunteers from different environmental groups.
In a hearing last 8 March 2013, environmental groups and animal welfare organizations pursued contempt charges against Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) as well as the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for allowing the re-export of 25 dolphins last year. One dolphin died enroute to Singapore.
According to the Urgent Manifestation and Motion filed by Earth Island Institute (EII), Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS),CARA Welfare Philippines and concerned individuals last 20 November 2012, “..even before and while the Honorable Court was conducting a hearing on the Motion for Reconsideration on the Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO), the respondents had already flown out 11 dolphins from the country in full defiance of the administration of justice in the Philippines. To make matters worse, we stress again that the Respondents (RWS, DA & BFAR) did not even have the decency to inform the Honorable Court that they had already taken out the eleven dolphins before the Honorable Court last November 19, 2012.”
The motion further reads: “This makes a mockery of the proceedings in this case and is in brazen and utter contempt of this Honorable Court and the entire administration of justice in the country.”
Indirect contempt falls under Section 4 Rule 71 of the Revised Rules on Civil Procedure for “any improper conduct, tending directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct or to degrade the administration of justice” under Section 3 of the same rule. Penalties for indirect contempt carries a fine and/or imprisonment.
Meanwhile, in a motion dated 20 November 2012, RWS filed a compulsory counterclaim against the green groups amounting to 4 Million Pesos for moral, exemplary damages and legal fees.
RWS claims that the activists put the company “in a very bad light, portraying it as a violator of environmental laws and oppressive to its animals” and that the law suit filed was “wrongful, baseless and malicious.” For that reason, RWS requested the court to dismiss the petition filed by the activists and to burden the latter to pay for the damages and litigation costs.
EII, PAWS and CARA however, believe that it is a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) case that is meant to harass and silence environmental advocates seeking the implementation of environmental laws. SLAPPs is defined by the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, promulgated by the Supreme Court in 2010 as “A legal action filed to harass, vex, exert undue pressure or stifle any legal recourse that any person, institution or the government has taken or may take in the enforcement of environmental laws, protection of the environment or assertion of environmental rights.”
The green groups assert that their case against RWS, DA and BFAR seek the implementation of the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of the Philippines or RA 9147 and international conservation laws. Furthermore, the group believes that RWS, DA & BFAR should be held accountable for hastily transporting 25 dolphins to Singapore despite ongoing hearings in court resulting to the death of a dolphin named Wen-Wen last November 2012.
Asked about the effect of the SLAPPs case against them Earth Island Institute Philippines Regional Director Trixie Concepcion says that the best way RWS can tarnish its reputation is to file a case against the country’s leading animal welfare groups, environmental organizations and multi-awarded environmental heroes. According to Concepcion, “SLAPPs cannot deter good people with a rightful cause, rather, it will even give us the venue to clearly present the arguments for our case. Upholding RWS’ counterclaim is a true ‘SLAPP’ in the face of justice.” ####
Another year has begun but the issue of captive dolphins remains unresolved. There has been a paradigm shift in public opinion all over the world for the past several years but Philippine courts and government officials have yet to see the light. I wonder what it will take to make them realize that their actions – or inaction – are causing much damage to the marine environment as well as to their image among the Filipino public and the rest of the world. A judge’s misguided judgement has already caused the death of a dolphin named Wen Wen en route to Singapore. Animal welfare activists in Asia manifested their protest against this gross injustice by holding candlelight vigils and memorial services simultaneously in Manila, Jakarta, Thailand and Singapore last December 2. In Manila, the service was held at the Philippine Animal Welfare Society’s (PAWS) Animal Rehabilitation Center at the corner of Aurora Boulevard and Katipunan Avenue. The atmosphere was loaded with sadness while the flickering flames of the candles of participants illuminated their gloomy faces.
Frustrated by the obvious indifference and ridiculous ruling of the QC Regional Trial Court (QC RTC), an activist became emotional as she spoke of the need to never forget Wen Wen and what he stood for.
I had never seen anything like it. I had never imagined I would one day be attending a memorial service for a dolphin. PAWS even erected a memorial tile with the inscription: “Rest in Peace, Wen Wen. Swim freely across the Rainbow Bridge.”
But then 10-year old Wen-Wen was – or is – special. He was born in the wild and lived his first six years in absolute liberty, swimming 25 miles a day, breaching, chasing fish and cavorting with other members of his pod as all dolphins are meant to. Then human greed caught up with him and he suddenly found himself a captive in pools and tanks filled with chlorinated water.
He was trained to play with hoops and balls, objects which he would never have encountered in the wild. He was fed dead fish and made to earn his keep by performing for boisterous children and ignorant adults. He was a prisoner though he had not committed any crime. But the shape of his face and head made people believe he was always smiling and happy.
The “dolphin smile” is the world’s greatest deception, as environmentalist Ric O’Barry always says.
Wen-Wen died on a plane last November 22 while being transported to Singapore where he was to be one of 25 dolphins slated to perform for the holidays at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS).
It was a sad and unjust death for a highly intelligent being and a tragic loss for his already depleted species. DOLPHINS IN THE SOLOMON ISLANDS But let’s backtrack a little bit. You may ask why a small bunch of activists and environmentalists is making all this fuss about Wen Wen and his kind. The 25 wild-caught Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) flown to Singapore last November were taken from the Guadalcanal area in the Solomon Islands. RWS brought them to Ocean Adventure Park in Subic in three batches in 2008, 2009 and 2011. They were to be trained and prepared for their eventual fate as animal entertainers. But scientific reports from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) revealed that the dolphin population in the Solomon Islands (SI) is severely at risk and their harvest or extraction would further endanger the survival of the species. According to the IUCN "Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin Assessment Workshop Report”, there are now less than 5,000 individuals in the Solomon Islands. The SI government banned all dolphin hunts in their territorial waters starting January 2012. In addition, the law now stipulates that only one dolphin can be captured every five years.The captures, mostly by an American company, had been done despite the international restrictions and recommendations. The 24 dolphins now in Singapore are the survivors of a long and cruel journey. They were originally 27 –- before Wen-Wen, two died in their original destination, Langkawi, Malaysia. Earth Island Institute (EII), which monitors the welfare of captive marine mammals all over the world, and local animal welfare groups tried to block the entry of the Solomon dolphins in the Philippines, citing the IUCN report and the Philippine Wildlife Act (RA 9147). But the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) of the Department of Agriculture would have none of it. Philippine Courts and Philippine Laws While the SI dolphins were still in Subic, the environmental and animal welfare groups continued to ask BFAR officials not to re-export the dolphins to Singapore. If the dolphins were to go anywhere, the groups wanted it to be the Solomon Islands. When their pleas fell on deaf ears at the BFAR, they tried the courts. They had high hopes at first because Section 6 of RA 9147 states that "all activities…shall be authorized by the Secretary upon proper evaluation of best available information or scientific data showing that the activity is, or for a purpose, not detrimental to the survival of the species or subspecies involved and/or their habitat".
Trixie Concepcion, EII’s Regional Director for Asia, said the DA and BFAR violated RA 9147 when they allowed the dolphins to enter the Philippines despite recommendations to the contrary of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) and internationally recognized scientific bodies like Silliman University and the National Museum.
EII, PAWS, CARA (Compassion and Responsibility for Animals) and concerned individuals then filed a petition to prevent the issuance of a re-export permit for the 25 dolphins. About an hour later, the office of the First Vice Executive Judge of the QC Regional Trial Court issued a 72-hour Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO). The Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA), the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore were respondents in the case. Lawyer Mel Velasco said this case is a first in Philippine legal history. "We are charting unknown waters. We saw a loophole — the rule of using precautionary measures when there is conflict between authorities and they (the government) didn't follow that," he said. The Precautionary Principle in Environmental Law is cited in the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which the Philippines ratified in August 1981. CITES is an international agreement that regulates trade in wild animals and plants and protects all species. According to CITES, authorities should consider the best interest of the conservation of species in any undertaking. "BFAR violated certain rules. Precautionary measures should have been observed before they issued the permit to import the dolphins," Velasco said. “In light of the CITES provisions, any import of sea mammals should have the green light of internationally recognized scientific bodies. In the Philippines, National Museum and Silliman University are recognized as the CITES marine mammal experts," he clarified. "BFAR ignored the recommendations of National Museum and Silliman University.” “Dolphins Are Pets” But after 72 hours, Judge Evangeline Castillo- Marigomen of QC RTC Branch 101 ruled against any extension of the TEPO, saying the government agencies had not violated the law and the dolphins are like pets that belonged to RWS anyway.
"We were shocked and aghast when the judge likened the Solomon Island dolphins to 'pets'. She even asked us if we have been to SeaWorld where she said the dolphins are well cared for," Concepcion said.
In effect, this ruling allowed RWS to fly the dolphins to Singapore.
"This is tantamount to saying that it is all right to capture, train and use wild dolphins for dolphin shows even if this will threaten their survival in the wild," Concepcion quipped.
She added that “dolphins must never be mistaken as pets because they are wild animals”. To illustrate her point, she cited the case of two animal trainers and one intruder who died at SeaWorld after one of the resident killer whales, Tillicum, dragged them into the water and drowned them.
EII, PAWS, CARA Welfare Philippines, and 10 environmental and animal welfare advocates filed another petition, saying the re-export of the dolphins would violate both the CITES treaty and the country's Wildlife Act. Concepcion called on the public to closely monitor the government's actions when it comes to environmental issues."We are doing this because if we don't do anything, it will institutionalize the government's failure to abide by its commitment to CITES, to protect all species and not just the dolphins," she stressed. ACRES Singapore-based ACRES launched in 2011 the campaign to 'Save the World's Saddest Dolphins' to pressure both governments to return all the Solomon Islands dolphins to their natural habitat. . The campaign’s online petition has so far generated over 680,000 signatures from all over the world. Last December 7, representatives of ACRES went to see the dolphins. “We regret that the dolphins are being housed in appalling conditions; in tiny barren swimming pools,” ACRES Chief Executive Louis Ng said in a statement. ACRES has issued a final ultimatum: RWS must work with ACRES and Earth Island Institute for the rehabilitation and release of the dolphins back into the wild, or the group will launch a “full-fledged boycott against not just Resorts World, but all Genting properties.” ACRES urged RWS to review the facts and reconsider their decision to keep the Solomon dolphins. “We hope that we won’t need to launch a boycott, but we are ready to do so if needed and we are confident that members of the public will support this,” Ng said.
With the Philippine court’s failure to act on a matter of environmental conservation, the animal welfare groups are confident that the Filipino people, like the Singaporeans, will eventually be able to pressure both governments to fly the dolphins back to the Solomons.
For the past three years, the annual Positive Change for Taiji event has raised awareness for the plight of dolphins outside of the Consulate General of Japan in Miami. This year will incorporate a parody of Psy's, Oppa Gangnam Style.
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Ric O'Barry is now number 1 in the BiLLe Celebrity Charity Challenge! Thanks to you! Please keep on voting for the dolphins at http://www.celebcharitychallenge.org/. The contest prize money will support Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project. If you're using iphone, you may download the application BiLLe C3 for easy voting everyday. Voting is until March 28 only.
SINGAPORE - The dolphin which died when it was transported from the Philippines to Resorts World Sentosa's Marine Life Park on Nov 22 "succumbed to an acute bacterial infection", the resort said in a blog post yesterday.
Revealing the findings of a final pathology report, the resort said no evidence could be found to pinpoint the source of the infection.
Thorough medical examinations done before the dolphin, called Wen Wen, and others were transported showed that they were all healthy.
Wen Wen, a male dolphin about 10 years old, was one of 11 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins flown from Subic Bay in a three-hour flight.
Less than an hour before the plane landed in Singapore, it "died suddenly", said a Marine Life Park spokesman that day.
Another batch of 14 dolphins had arrived here on Nov 19.
The Agri-food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore gave approval for the 24 dolphins to be released from quarantine on Dec 24.
Resorts World Sentosa added yesterday that "based on the close observation and medical status of our dolphins, and the successful completion of the quarantine assessment, we believe the infection was an isolated incident".
The resort did not reveal a date when the public would be able to see the animals, but said it would be in the "very near future, through progressive stages of introduction".
The dolphins are expected to be part of an interactive programme at Marine Life Park.
Since they were acquired in 2008 and 2009, the wild- caught dolphins have been a source of controversy between the resort and animal-welfare groups, which have called for them to be released back to the wild.
Twenty-seven dolphins were initially acquired, but two died in Langkawi in October 2010, reportedly due to a water-borne bacterial infection.
Mr Louis Ng, executive director of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), said it does not add up how Wen Wen, who was found to be healthy before the flight, got the infection and died in a few hours.
He said Acres is still waiting for the resort to reply to an invitation to a public debate it plans to hold later this month regarding the dolphins.
Tests show dolphin died from bacterial infection: RWS Ng Kai Ling Straits Times 4 Jan 13;
A DOLPHIN that died in transit to Singapore last November was killed by an acute bacterial infection of unknown origin, said Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) on its blog yesterday.
It said the remaining 24 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins bound for its marine attraction had been approved by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) for release from quarantine on Christmas Eve.
Dolphin Wen Wen was among a batch of 11 being flown from the Philippines to Singapore on Nov22, but it died en route. The first 14 had arrived three days earlier.
RWS issued a statement about the death on the same day.
It said on its Marine Life Park blog that the final pathology report indicated the male dolphin, estimated to be 10 years old, a prime age for the species, had succumbed to infection.
"The laboratory tests yielded evidence that infection was bacterial in nature, but there was no evidence of the causative bacteria," said a company spokesman.
The tests were conducted by the University of Illinois' College of Veterinary Medicine in the United States and the AVA in Singapore.
RWS added that there was "no evidence of the origins of the infection", but that all the dolphins had been cleared for export.
They were caught in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, and had been kept at a facility in Subic Bay in the Philippines since 2008 while the Marine Life Park was being constructed.
"Based on close observation and the medical status of our dolphins, and the successful completion of the quarantine assessment, we believe the infection was an isolated incident," RWS said.
Dolphin experts said it would be difficult to ascertain where or how Wen Wen had caught the bacteria, but it is rare for dolphins to die in transit.
Biologist Elizabeth Taylor of the National University of Singapore's Tropical Marine Science Institute said bacteria can be found everywhere in the environment, but not all lead to sickness or death. She said it was not likely that the dolphin had caught the bug on the plane. "I would think that this company would take the best precautions to keep the animals healthy," she said.
Ms Courtney Vail, the campaigns manager at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said research shows that transporting dolphins produces a change in stress hormone levels similar to what occurs in humans during stressful situations.
"It is well-established that chronic stress can lead to immuno-suppression and susceptibility to disease," she added.
The dolphins are not yet on show at the 8ha Marine Life Park, which opened on Nov 22.
Animal rights groups are calling for the rehabilitation and release of the dolphins back to the wild.
Dolphin 'died of bacterial infection' All animals were healthy prior to move and infection is an isolated incident, says RWS Today Online 4 Jan 13;
SINGAPORE - Wen Wen, the male dolphin that died en route to Resorts World Sentosa's (RWS) Marine Life Park, was killed by an acute bacterial infection, according to results of laboratory tests carried out here and in the United States.
However, the origins of the infection could not be determined, RWS said in a post on the oceanarium's blog yesterday.
"The final pathology report indicates that Wen Wen succumbed to an acute bacterial infection. There was, however, no evidence on the origins of the infection," RWS said.
It concluded that the infection was "an isolated incident" and reiterated that the dolphin, as well as the 24 others transported here in November last year, were given a clean bill of health prior to the flight from the Philippines.
"Medical examinations prior to the transport, including full haematology and chemistry profiles as well as cytology and body examinations, indicated that all animals were healthy prior to the move," RWS said.
"Based on the close observation and medical status of our dolphins, and the successful completion of the quarantine assessment, we believe the infection was an isolated incident."
The dolphin died mid-flight on Nov 22, a day after Marine Life Park was opened to the public.
RWS' acquisitions of 27 dolphins from the Solomon Islands in 2008 and 2009 for its Marine Life Park had stirred some to call for the animals to be rehabilitated into the wild.
The calls intensified when Wen Wen became the third dolphin to have died, after two dolphins died in 2010, also from bacterial infections, while they were in a holding area in Langkawi, Malaysia.
The remaining 24 dolphins could be available for public viewing "in the very near future" after the park said it had received the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore's approval for them to be released from quarantine.
"Our dolphins are healthy and have adjusted well to their new home through the diligent care of our marine mammal staff and veterinary professionals," it said.
"We look forward to letting the dolphins meet the public in the very near future through progressive stages of introduction."
Marine Life Park dolphins released from quarantine Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 3 Jan 13;
SINGAPORE: The dolphins at Resorts World Sentosa's Marine Life Park have been released from quarantine and are expected to meet the public soon.
The park said the 24 dolphins have received the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore's (AVA) approval for their release.
It added the mammals have adjusted well to their new home through the care of its staff and veterinary professionals.
The park looks forward to let the dolphins meet the public through progressive stages of introduction.
It also gave updates on the laboratory tests on the male dolphin that died on the flight to Singapore from the Philippines.
The final pathology report indicated that Wen Wen had succumbed to an acute bacterial infection.
There was, however, no evidence on the origins of the infection.
Medical examinations prior to the transport indicated that all animals were healthy prior to the move.
The park believes the infection was an isolated incident.
Recently, the park attracted controversy for its import of dolphins.