Monday, March 2, 2009

Sea Shepherd - Faked Whale Media $$

Wagging the Conservation Dog

Did SSCS fabricate a sperm whale rescue story for Nine News - MSN?

We have talked a lot about Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and their efforts after 31 years to save whales.

While SSCS "devoted" claim their eco org is legitimate and actually saves animals acting as the guardians of wildlife, we maintain they have devolved into little more than a media machine that has gone off the rails, trading your hard won eco dollars for faked press releases and even less credible reality television shows.

SSCS media output has become so abjectly dishonest and fanciful that we're not surprised many governments and blogs like this one are taking a stance against Wagging the Conservation Dog for continued ineffective eco results.

Case in point - Where was the Steve Irwin Jan 22.2009?

If you ask Sea Shepherd’s National Director for Research, Ness Pearce, the Steve Irwin was off the coast of Tasmania on the site of a horrific sperm whale stranding, with actual whale saving equipment on board. This weeks major media story from Australia and Sea Shepherd becomes even more poignant as Ms.Pearce goes on to say:

Sea Shepherd members travelled on their ship Steve Irwin to a mass beaching of more than 50 sperm whales on the Tasmania's northwest coast on January 22 — but they were told their help wasn't needed despite carrying marine scientists and expert whale-saving equipment on board.

"When we arrived there on the Steve Irwin, we found about eight guys standing around with nothing but a bucket and a hose," Ms Pearce said. "We asked if we could help and they said, 'No thanks, we're fine'." The crew members claim to have witnessed one man dismembering a dead whale with a chainsaw just metres from another that was still alive, causing the live mammal even more distress and suffering.

Faked News?

This actual quote and first hand reporting from Ms.Pearce makes for great news. Reading this one comes to the conclusion that Sea Shepherd cares about whales, is always there to help, and even carries around "expert whale saving gear". Additionally the local Park service employees (read local government) are put in a completely negative light after telling Sea Shepherd crew members "their help was not needed" not to mention the shady reference to the man with the chainsaw.

Now let's look at this same story from an actual Sea Shepherd blog post written by Shannon Mann, Merryn Redenbach and Wietse Van Der Werf. Here's what they say about the same stranding January 22.2009 complete with on site images of just three SSCS members milling about many dead whales laying on the sand. They also document where the Steve Irwin was at the time Sea Shepherd’s National Director for Research claims in a first hand report it was off the coast of Tasmania at the sperm whale stranding:

Two days after we had waved off the Steve Irwin and its courageous crew, and as the ship again set sail for the icy waters of Antarctica (saving whales from Japanese hunters), we read in the Tasmanian papers about the mass stranding of sperm whales on Tasmania's north coast. We decided to hit the road and cross the island, hoping to arrive in time to assist the rescue operation in whatever way we could. While we organised a vehicle and downloaded news articles about the incident, we learned the full extent of the situation. Fifty female sperm whales were stranded on a sandbank off Perkins Island near Smithton, a small town on the very North Western corner of Tasmania. It was one of the biggest standings of its kind in Tasmania's history and with the size of the animals and the remote location, it was evident the rescue of the remaining live whales would be a daunting task.

Clearly these two media takes on the same event are wildly different. In fact there's no mention of Ms.Pearce even physically being at the stranding event, yet she is the voice of whale conservation authority in the media. The SSCS National Director for Research coverage of this event for the major media is filled with eco excellence, bravado, whale saving equipment, and the actual vessel Steve Irwin. Unfortunately the entire eco story was absolutely fabricated - classic Wagging the Conservation Dog. For what?

Your Money

Your money is important to the ongoing and unfortunately, global efforts, to roll back environmental disasters and unsustainable fisheries. Hundreds of NGO's are literally begging for donations to get serious and lasting work done. As we discovered first hand, donations to SSCS only Wag the Conservation Dog and do little to help move agendas forward or work with disparate groups for long term solutions.

SSCS has had 31 years to effect change. Faked eco news is the best they now have to offer the global eco movement.

If you want your donations to work, ensure whoever you donate to is transparent and can show metrics for success not just massaged eco news clips that cash in on the horror's of dead whales, seals, and sharks to fund more of the same.

Demand more from your eco org.

Editors Note: In the interests of fairness one might argue that the woman portrayed in the major media this week as SSCS National Director for Research is in fact a local, radicalized eco loon, who was pretending to the part of the SSCS organization. We cannot fathom how this woman could get the basic facts of a horrific whale stranding so wrong while actual boots on the ground told a completely different story of three well meaning "whale stranding media parachuters" who wanted to help, but realized they were late, without the equipment needed,the finances, or the manpower to effect any change at all.

Given the many bogus news events pumped out by SSCS over the past year - from faked assassination claims to hostage taking events, who knows what the real story is.

Suffice to say whatever SSCS says about it these days, they are probably dead wrong.

Maldives Sharks - Historic Decision

The Marine Research Center, Maldives in tandem with the ministry of fisheries and agriculture has extended the moratorium on reef shark fishing to cover the whole of the Maldives, as part of a historic move towards a total ban on both reef and oceanic shark hunting.

The Banyan Tree Resort also deserves kudos for their ongoing efforts to preserve sharks in the region.

This move is simply remarkable, showing a level of government leadership that few other 1st world governments have yet to adopt. The Maldives have been quick studies of the power of shark tourism and research vs one time takes and this announcement sets the table for other governments such as Malaysia to follow suit:

Marie Saleem, a reef ecologist at the marine research centre and one of those at the forefront of the campaign to ban shark hunting, said she was both excited and relieved to hear that the efforts of those who had been pushing for a ban were finally fruitful.

For divers, shark conservationists, and others, sending an email of support would be highly appropriate at this time. When fisheries decide to make the right move for sharks we need to be there as well. Kudos.

Email: Maldives Fisheries

Sea of Cortez - Production Adventure 4

Good friend Captain Greg Grivetto of Horizon Charters is on another eco adventure and this time in the company of the BBC as they film their much acclaimed series, “Last Chance to See”. Biologist, naturalist, writer - Mark Carwardine and esteemed actor Stephen Fry host this series and will be aboard as we search for blue, sperm and humpback whales.

For the next two weeks he'll be sending us his "notes from the field":

I need to talk to the people that named this place Sea of Cortez. There seems to be a bit of confusion as to who's Sea it really is. The namer believes that it is Cortez's sea, we believe that is the Sea of Whales. I will discuss this with the powers that be in Mexico and will get back to you.

So what did we see today after I wrote you all's this morning? Well, read my list below:

1) 2 humpback whales 30 miles north of Cabo San Lucas
2) 100 sportfishing boats, yachts and pangas on the Golden Gate Bank 20 miles north of Cabo. Of which at least 1/2 of them were engaged with marlin, tuna or what appeared to be wahoo. There were marlin jumping everywhere! Would be a cool place to be before the boats arrived, say 7:00am. Find a bait ball and jump in to swim with the marlin!
3) Cabo San Lucas....what a zoo...
4) THE SEA OF WHALES!!!! It was like an infomercial for the humpback species. Jumping over here, frolicking over there. We stopped with one pod and watched them swim the length of the boat and then pop up 40 feet off the stern. And then as I drove off, one of them did a full body breach!
5) Jumping mobulas everywhere. Mobulas are the smaller cousin to the manta ray. The biggest I saw today was pretty big though, 8 feet across or so. It jumped directly in front of the boat about 40 feet off. A bit closer and we would have been trying to toss it back into the water!

Bottom line is that today was amazing! The life is incredible in the East Cape area and based upon reports should continue farther up into the Sea as well.

As I write we just dropped anchor in the Bahia de los Muertos. The boat has been moving for three straight days so we decided to give her the night off. She quoted some union law concerning 72 straight hours of work and mandatory overtime pay...yada, yada, yada. Whatever you say boat.

In the morning, after the boat gets a good nights rest, we will depart for La Paz. We'll be cruising past my buddies place, Palapas Ventana, along the way. If you are looking for a great place to stay that will give you the flavor of Baja, Tim's place IS the PLACE you're looking for. Okay Tim, where's the $20 you said you'd give me for the plug?
Until Manana!

Captain Greg

Whale Shark Research - Kenya

Hungry for front line whale shark research and education news from Kenya?

Look no further than the Wildlife Direct website and blog featuring researchers Nimu Njonjo and Volker Bassen as they report back on weekly efforts to save the worlds largest fish. Their in depth blog covers marine research, tagging and following whale sharks in and around Diani Beach, Kenya.

Fascinating reading, great website and in depth research coverage.

The Tasman Question - Stranding Whales

Rescuers are once again frantically at work trying to save stranded whales in Tasmania. This year over 400 whales have stranded. While not uncommon in the region local rescuers are beginning to say this years standing levels are much higher than normal. These are also cross species stranding events involving sperm whales, pilot whales and even dolphins.

Being a shark blog we rarely cover whales - over 400 animals in five months seems like a lot of animals to us making this noteworthy. For more information about Tasman whale stranding and local efforts to help them go to WILDCARE Inc.