Japanese whalers kill whales for dog food


This 2017 video says about itself:

Illegal Japanese whaling filmed by the Australian Government in Antarctica

This is the footage that the Australian Government didn’t want you to see. Since 2012, Sea Shepherd has been a part of a joint fight to get the Australian Government to release rare whaling footage obtained on a 2008 Australian Customs mission to the Antarctic.

Here is the footage that the Australian Government filmed with tax payers’ money, of the Japanese whaling fleet illegally whaling in Antarctica, in Australian waters. The footage was filmed as part of gathering evidence for the International Court of Justice, which found Japan’s whaling to be illegal.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Friday, January 11, 2019

Japan is still killing whales that they don’t even eat

This summer the Japanese will start killing whales again. PETER FROST wonders why

ON Boxing Day 2018 Japan announced that it is leaving the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial, rather than so-called scientific hunts for the animals for the first time in 30 years.

At the same time it said it would no longer go to the Antarctic for its much-criticised annual killings.

Chief Japanese Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said his country would resume commercial whaling in July 2019 “in line with Japan’s basic policy of promoting sustainable use of aquatic living resources based on scientific evidence.”

He added that Japan is disappointed that the IWC — which he claims is dominated by conservationists — focuses on the protection of whale stocks even though the commission has a mandate for both whale conservation and the development of the whaling industry.

“Regrettably, we have reached a decision that it is impossible in the IWC to seek the coexistence of states with different views,” he said at a news conference.

Japan faced much criticism earlier last year when its so-called scientific research whaling fleet slaughtered 122 pregnant whales.

In 2014, the international court of justice ruled against the annual Japanese slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean, after concluding that the hunts were not, as Japanese officials had claimed, conducted for scientific research but for the commercial whale meat market.

Japan resumed whaling in the Southern Ocean in 2016 under a programme that reduced its kill by about two-thirds.

Australia and New Zealand, as well as several anti-whaling campaigning groups, have done what they can to stop the Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean and they seem to have been successful – the Japanese now say that whaling this summer will only be in Japanese waters.

However the Japanese whaling fleet will again flaunt international opinion and start hunting whales later this year.

Japan will also continue to campaign to end the international ban on commercial whaling, claiming that populations of some whale species have recovered sufficiently to allow the resumption of what Japan claims is sustainable hunting.

Japan sent no fewer than 70 delegates to last autumn’s IWC meeting in Brazil. They argued that the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling was intended to be a temporary measure, and accused the IWC of abandoning its original purpose — managing the sustainable use of global whale stocks.

The Japanese said: “Japan proposes to establish a committee dedicated to sustainable whaling (including commercial whaling and aboriginal subsistence whaling).”

The Japanese proposals would have allowed IWC’s members to decide on quotas with a simple majority rather than the current two-thirds majority from 2020 onwards. This would have made it easier for Japan to buy enough votes to end the ban on commercial whaling.

Votes in favour of whaling come from those nations still involved in the grisly business. Only Norway and Iceland still have commercial whaling fleets and they both support Japan.

In addition a number of small island communities also carry out limited aboriginal whale hunting as part of what are usually claimed to be ancient cultural traditions.

Japan, however, has often bought additional votes supporting whaling from countries by offering advantageous trading terms and other close relationships.

Does Japan need to eat whale meat? No. In fact very little whale meat is actually consumed by Japanese people today.

Much is made into expensive edible dog treats for the small lap-dogs that are so fashionable among affluent Japanese.

When it comes to human consumption a recent poll commissioned by Greenpeace and conducted by the independent Nippon Research Centre found that 95 per cent of Japanese people very rarely or never eat whale meat.

Given how Japan has leant over backwards to justify its whaling, and how much international criticism its getting, you might conclude whale meat is a hugely important part of the Japanese diet.

In fact the amount of uneaten frozen whale meat stockpiled in Japan doubled to 4,600 tons in the 10 years between 2002 and 2012, the last dates for which figures have been published.

It isn’t as if there is a long Japanese tradition of eating whale meat going back centuries. In fact the widespread eating of whale was only introduced directly after World War II by the US General Douglas MacArthur, who effectively ruled Japan during the post-war allied occupation.

World War II shattered Japan’s economy, food was scarce and meat especially so. MacArthur and his occupying administrators decided Japan could and should get much of their protein from sea mammal meat.

In 1946, MacArthur converted two US military tankers to become giant industrial whaling factory ships. A generation of Japanese children grew up eating whale meat as part of their school dinners.

Today for most Japanese, whale meat is little more than a novel culinary curiosity. For those few Japanese old enough to remember eating whale in immediate post-war school dinners it provides an occasional nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Japan’s former top international whaling negotiator Komatsu Masayuki for instance, told the world’s press he had never tried whale meat before he took on the whaling propagandist’s job.

This was the top man putting Japan’s argument for continuing to kill and eat whales saying he had never even tasted whale meat.

Why is it then that Japan is prepared to make itself such a pariah in world opinion? One popular view, and it is certainly the one I subscribe to, is that it is Japanese pride that will not accept other countries defining just what the Japanese nation can and cannot do.

Pride and humiliation are two sides of the way that Japanese people see their position in society and their nation’s place in the world.

If the world in general thinks it can tell the Japanese to stop killing whales, then that might be all the argument the Japanese need to keep up the bloody slaughter.

Some better whale news

Back in last September I wrote about a beluga whale that was spotted in the River Thames.

According to experts the 11-foot (3.5m) whale is still alive and well, and has been spotted regularly almost every week off the Kent coast in the Thames estuary.

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How prehistoric dogs hunted, new study


This December 2017 video says about itself:

There are many extant wild canids of North America including the gray wolf, the coyote, the hybrid red wolf, the Arctic fox, the gray fox, the red fox, the swift fox and the kit fox.

But North America was once home to many other canid or canid like species which are only known from fossils they have left behind. With exception of ‘’Dire wolf’’ which is a much better known extinct Canid, many other little known species of Canid or Canid-like species are known from scant fossil records and were endemic to North America.

Following are 5 lesser known Canids of Ancient North America you have probably never heard of:

1 — Epicyon (15-5 Million years ago)
2 — Borophagus (12 –2 Million years ago).
3 — Carpocyon (13.6 –5.3 Million years ago).
4 — Aelurodon (16 –5.33 Million years ago).
5 — Canis lepophagus (10.3 –1.8 Million years ago).

From the University of Edinburgh in Scotland:

Skull scans tell tale of how world’s first dogs caught their prey

January 11, 2019

Analysis of the skulls of lions, wolves and hyenas has helped scientists uncover how prehistoric dogs hunted 40 million years ago.

A study has revealed that the first species of dog — called Hesperocyon gregarius — pounced on its prey in the same way that many species, including foxes and coyotes, do today.

The findings also show that the largest dog species ever to live — known as Epicyon haydeni — hunted in a similar way. The animals — which lived from 16 until seven million years ago — could grow to the size of a grizzly bear.

Comparisons between computerised scans of fossils and modern animals have shed light on the hunting methods used by prehistoric members of a group of mammals known as carnivorans. These include modern-day foxes, wolves, cougars and leopards.

Scientists at the Universities of Edinburgh and Vienna used the scans to create digital models of the inner ears of 36 types of carnivoran, including six extinct species.

The team found that the size of three bony canals in the inner ear — the organ that controls balance and hearing — changed over millions of years as animals adopted different hunting styles.

Faster predators — such as cheetahs, lions and wolves — developed large ear canals that enable them to keep their head and vision stable while ambushing or chasing prey at speed, the team says.

Their findings reveal that inner ear structure indicates whether a species descended from dog-like animals or belongs to one of four families of animals resembling cats. A distinctive angle between two parts of the inner ear is much larger in dog-like animals, the team found.

The study is based on research carried out by Julia Schwab, a current PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, during her MSc studies at the University of Vienna, Austria. It is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Ms Schwab, based in the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, said: “For me, the inner ear is the most interesting organ in the body, as it offers amazing insights into ancient animals and how they lived. The first dog and the largest-ever dog are such fascinating specimens to study, as nothing like them exists in the world today.”

Britons against foreign military interventions


This December 2011 video is called Invasion of Iraq: How the British and Americans got it wrong.

By Ceren Sagir in Britain:

Friday, January 11, 2019

More than half of Brits oppose military intervention overseas, new poll reveals

MORE than half of British adults oppose the use of military troops overseas, an international poll revealed.

Of the 1,691 Brits surveyed by YouGov in November, 52 per cent agreed with the policy of Britain “not taking part in military interventions in other countries.”

Published this week, the poll suggested that only 27 per cent said they disagree and 21 per cent said they “don’t know.”

Pacifist group Peace Pledge Union (PPU) welcomed the results, pointing out that the British public was much more anti-war than most politicians.

PPU spokesperson Symon Hill said: “If the government were as keen on ‘the will of the people’ as it claims to be, it would end the role of British troops in fuelling violent conflict in countries such as Syria, Estonia and Saudi Arabia.

“With his plans for new military bases, [Defence Secretary] Gavin Williamson seems more concerned with playing out his military fantasies than with either public opinion or real security.

“The government’s policies are of more benefit to arms companies than they are to the British public or the people in the countries to which British troops are sent.”

Mr Hill said that opposition parties need to have “more courage” to clearly adopt anti-war and anti-militarist policies with ending military interventions overseas being “a great first step.”

Fin whales resident in Gulf of California


This 18 July 2018 video is called RARE FOOTAGE OF FIN WHALE GROUP BEHAVIOUR.

From Oregon State University in the USA:

Far-ranging fin whales find year-round residence in Gulf of California

January 10, 2019

Researchers from Mexico and the United States have concluded that a population of fin whales in the rich Gulf of California ecosystem may live there year-round — an unusual circumstance for a whale species known to migrate across ocean basins.

What makes the discovery even more unusual, researchers note, is that they identified the pattern of movement of the fin whales, which are the second largest whale species in the world, using a satellite tracking data set from 2001. Oregon State University professor Bruce Mate, director of OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute and co-author on the study, tagged 11 whales that year and was able to record the movements of nine of them for up to a year.

Since then, the OSU scientists have worked with colleagues in Mexico to further study the whales, in the process identifying via a 2011 photograph at least one female fin whale from the 2001 study — this time, with a calf, indicating the whales may even stay in the region for breeding and calving.

Results of the study are being published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

“One reason we decided to go back to this data set is that we know very little about fin whales in this region”, said Daniel Palacios, who holds the Endowed Faculty in Whale Habitats position at Oregon State’s Marine Mammal Institute, and is co-author on the study. “It is fairly remote, it is not densely populated and it requires expensive technology to track whales over time.”

“Researchers have known since at least the mid-1980s that fin whales inhabited the Gulf of California, but we just haven’t been able to get much information about them. As it turns out, we had an important piece of the puzzle in the tracking data set we just hadn’t yet fully analyzed.”

The researchers were able to reach several conclusions, based on extensive analysis of the tracking record of the 2001 satellite telemetry data coupled with more recent observations of the region’s weather patterns, acoustic data, and studies of potential food for the fin whales, in particular, krill and small fish.

  • There may be as few as 100 or as many as 700 “resident” fin whales in the Gulf of California, with the best guess at around 600. Other migrating fin whales also may visit the region seasonally and intermix with the resident population;
  • The researchers believe the Gulf of California is a microcosm for what fin whales face in the larger ocean environment, where they may migrate for thousands of miles in search of the most productive food resources — and possibly breeding and calving grounds.
  • The fin whales in the Gulf of California may have everything they need in one location, though they are more likely to spend the warmer months in one part of the gulf and the cooler months in another — likely in response to changes in prey abundance.

“The Gulf of California has a strong seasonal transition driven by changing atmospheric winds that produce upwelling and productivity,” said OSU’s Palacios, who specializes in the habitats of whale species. “Over the course of the seasons, different parts of the gulf light up and there are hot spots of productivity. Whales have learned to identify these areas and have adapted their movements to track this seasonal shift.”

Fin whales are the second largest whale species in the world after blue whales. They are thought to reach as much as 80 feet in length and weigh up to 100 tons. Heavily hunted during the whaling era, their populations have slowly but steadily rebounded because of international protection and the fact that they consume fish as well as krill and other crustaceans.

As a reflection of this, the global conservation status of fin whales was recently upgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable” by the International Union Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Palacios said he hopes the Oregon State researchers and their colleagues from Mexico can return to the region and utilize newly developed tags that will be able to not only collect location data, but record how often the whales dive, how deep, and whether they are eating.

“Feeding year-round is what separates fin whales, blue whales and related species from other baleen whales,” Palacios said. “We think they are finding enough food in the gulf to stay there year-round, but we’d like to document that over a period of years.”

The study is important because marine mammals in the Gulf of California are threatened by illegal fishing and boating activity. One fish in particular — the totoaba — is illegally harvested by fishermen who sell the swim bladder in Asian markets as a supposed aphrodisiac.

In addition to threatening the fish population, the activity has had significant impact on the world’s smallest and most endangered marine mammal — the vaquita. A member of the porpoise family, its dwindling numbers are partially a result of bycatch from that illegal fishing. Some researchers estimate that only 30 vaquita remain alive in the gulf.

Finally, the ship traffic from illegal [activity] in the gulf — including illegal fishing and drug running — may lead to increased risk of collisions with whales, which could threaten this population of fin whales, Palacios said.

“There is only one other place in the world that appears to have a resident population of fin whales, and that’s in the Mediterranean,” he said. “We’d like to find out more about how this unusual population has carved out its niche and what may define — and threaten — its success.”

The OSU Marine Mammal Institute is headquartered at the university’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon.