The following is a list, at a glance of ten individual points that will help you understand what you can do to help protect the dolphins and in turn speak to friends, family and other loved ones about the issues. This will direct you in ways to make contact with those responsible & accountable.
1. Dolphin Safe Tuna : This administration is poised to eliminate the Dolphin Safe Tuna, by a WTO challenged (World Trade Organization). It will probably come from a small country like Venezuela or Venuda as an unfair trade barrier, with no environmental arbitration on the side of the dolphins. When this happens, this administration is ready to then dismantle many other environmental protections, starting with MMPA (Marine Mammal Protection Act) which will take our pulse as people who are paying attention. It will then proceed to go after the ESA (Endangered Species Act) and the Clean Water Act, just as they have already used NAFTA (North America Free Trade Alliance) to be able to sell dirty foreign gas in our country, starting with the Clinton Administration, thus taking us back to the air quality of the 60's.
2. Drift, Gill and Purse Seine Nets: Drift nets can be lengths of up to 20 miles, when linked together there have been continuous nets running up to 70 miles. These walls of death drown everything in their path, where as Gill nets are generally 2 to 4 miles, but accomplish the same end with a little more efficiency and finally the Purse Seine nets, which are similar to a Gill net only having a ring of loops on the bottom with a cable running through it that can close it off, resembling a ladies purse. The Purse Seine net alone, is responsible for the death of 7 to 10 million dolphins and with a total population in the neighborhood of 20 million more than 10 years later, the remaining dolphins have not recovered their numbers and are still holding only at approximately 11 million. Thus, the harassment and encirclement even with net back downs and release, have caused much stress, leading to separations and mothers even aborting their young, with some dolphin families being encircled 3 times a day.
3. Immune Suppression: Dolphins and especially Orcas have been exposed to very high levels of PCB's, Dioxins, and other air borne contaminants such as mercury, that have come from foreign countries as far away as China and Russia, where production of PCB's that have been outlawed in our country in the 70's are still manufactured and can drift across an entire ocean, landing in the mud of an ocean bottom or stream bed that can be bioaccumulated up the food chain rapidly reaching the salmon that is the Orca's food. The levels of PCB's in northern resident Orcas are 50 ppm (parts per million), with southern residents carrying levels of 150 ppm. Transient Orcas are running as high as 240 ppm. The legal level humans can be exposed to in the U.S. is only 2 ppm. This causes a rapid wasting away of animals when they are stressed and digesting their fat when food is scarce. In an article published in Discover Magazine, it cited that 20 percent of the adult Orcas had died since 1996. What also happens when a baby is born healthy, it's mom passes a lethal dose of these poisons on to the baby. These chemicals being oil based never break down and last in the mud for years almost in the state they first arrived in. This why the State Fish and Wildlife Service of Washington is about to list the Orcas as an endangered species, finally as Canada did years ago. Mercury, a heavy metal, has also been linked to birth defects and has also caused blindness in hundreds of Japanese from eating tuna sushi.
4. Pesticides, Fungicides, Herbicides & Fertilizers: These come from many sources, most of which are applied on our food by agriculture, but are also used on golf courses and sold over the counter for our green lawns and in products used to protect our pets and ourselves. In commercial applications these petrochemical compounds can only be applied after individuals have been trained and licensed to do so, which is not so with common flea and tick powder. Many of these are abused in their application, but all of them end up in our landfills or washing down into the ocean, where the plankton, the most vulnerable of creatures and the food of the larger whales is exposed to the harshest of chemicals. This does not just effect dolphins midway up the food chain, eating fish, but is the source of 70 % of our oxygen supply that we depend on. These also enter the food chain and start biomagnifying, this means that as things are eaten up the food chain they increase in the 10's and 100's of thousands reaching levels of 1,000,000 by the time it reaches mammals like Orcas and other dolphins at the top. Herbicides are used in clear cutting forests, not just for wood but to grow our coffee. Fungicides are put in paints used on bottoms of boats and the pipes going into and out of coal and nuclear power plants. They are even used in silos holding the peanuts that your peanut butter comes from. Finally, the fertilizers that are used are found concentrated in domestic drinking water supplies and have led to still birth or what is called in humans, "blue babies".
5. Plastics: These are being found in every ocean in the world at alarmingly high rates at 6 lbs of plastic to 1 lb of plankton. Some of them stay floating, making 7 year round trips with ocean currents propelling them. None of them are breaking down due to ocean temperatures, keeping them cool, but all of them are mistakenly becoming food as mimics to the plankton and filling up the stomachs of animals and birds including turtles causing them to starve to death from lack of nutrients as a stomach full of plastic gives them the feeling of fullness. More import-antly the stock that industry uses to make other things out of plastic, acts as a magnet attracting an alarmingly high concentration of 1,000,000 times in pesticides to it, thus giving the animals in essence the biomagnification of the top of the food chain all at once.
6. Jet Skis, Boats, Freighters, & Cruise Ships: Jet Skis
in particular are the worst as they harass the dolphins with sound
and physical stress by chasing them in the waves. Their two stroke
engines also pollute directly into the water. Boats have been
found to leave propeller scars on the backs of dolphins. Freighters
have been increasingly striking whales that can't get out of the
way in time. They also have lost cargo containers full of plastic
packaging. Cruise Ships being a floating city have to eliminate
their waste and this is done directly into the sea. That is not
isolated only to water and sewage, but also the film developing
fluid, engine oils and again the trash in the form of plastic
ware and styrofoam, which might be used for 12 minutes, but stays
in the oceans indefinitely. Navy ships have been observed dumping
their oil in pristine Caribbean waters. Probably the worst threat
to the dolphins are an estimated 400 single hulled chemical and
oil tankers, as experienced with the Prestige oil tanker breaking
in half off the Spanish coast killing millions of shellfish, birds
and marine life, causing economical collapse to the Spanish economy
and floating around now to the south coast of France, with only
a third of the oil released that in the end will release twice
the amount of the Exxon Valdez. The "nuclear winter"
that the Valdez caused has brought nothing more than drug and
alcohol abuse leading to spousal abuse and divorce due to unemployment
in that region ten years later. Not to mention unprotected volunteers
who will have medical complications from the effects of these
toxins on their bodies 25 years later. An incident such
as this on the California coast would extend in length from one end of the state to the other. Over 30 oil rigs are planned for the Calif. coastline.
7. Deforestation: Using out of season logging and steep slope
cuts, many landslides have occurred that put debris into rivers
and creeks fouling salmon eggs with parasites and causing water
temperature to rise, heating up these eggs above their normal
The end result is less food for the Orcas. Entire towns have been wiped out because of these slides, just so we can have a new phone book made from virgin timber, instead of demanding they be made from 100% recycled paper.
8. Water Testing: At laboratories, a costly procedure is used to test for individual chemicals, then locate the point source of these polluting chemicals that were applied or dumped illegally into our rivers and creeks that might have been the run off of commercial sources, golf courses, ranches and residential locations. Water needs to be tested frequently in lakes, rivers and open oceans as currents move things around.
9. Global Warming and Ozone Depletion: This occurs mainly from petrochemicals such as oil, pesticides, freons, halons & styrofoam. The greenhouse gasses that are causing the planet and oceans to warm up, are also melting the ice caps and the mountain tops due to climate change caused by the ocean currents altering the weather patterns, also altering the feeding seasons of marine mammals and causing certain species to have to move altogether. Ozone depletion on the other hand, is accelerating, causing less protection from the sun's ultraviolet rays, thus allowing more radiation onto the ocean surface. Already for a number of years a stronger radiation in the form of ultraviolet B has been entering the ocean at depths of 30 meters, or 90 feet, killing plankton before it reaches the surface. At sea level bunnies and sheep have been found blind in the southern hemispheres and salmon as well, below sea level.
10. Legal Action & Enforcement: Another costly procedure, but the laws we have are not being enforced. We need to send official letters prepared by legal staff, file suits, and be prepared to go to court. This takes a considerable amount of resources on a continued basis. We have found that polluters and those that exploit marine mammals are not going to do the right thing if left to their own devices. In some cases we'll even need surveillance of their actions as government agencies are under staffed and under funded and don't have the political will to take action. In some cases, it will be as simple as training young people as docents in marine sanctuaries where the public only needs education of what a marine mammal's life is all about, with its need of rest, solitude and food.
As always, the most important part of our work is education. We plan to continue our work in classrooms, on the water, through our web site, fairs, festivals and conferences. But more importantly, we will continue to provide you the information you need to gain the knowledge of these issues. For with knowledge, comes responsibility to share that information and help others understand these sometimes simple but complex issues. The word idiot comes from the Greek word idiotos which was given to those who didn't vote. A resident only takes up space, where a citizen takes responsibility. Remember, they are not saved yet!