tagged w/ Dolphins
Los Angeles Times...
Marine biologist indicted for allegedly feeding killer whales
January 5, 2012 | 2:24 pm
A California marine biologist and whale-watching tour operator has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly feeding killer whales in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, in violation of federal wildlife provisions.
Nancy Black, owner and operator of Monterey Bay Whale Watch, was indicted in San Jose federal court Wednesday and charged with violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which bars harming, harassing, feeding and otherwise interfering with marine mammals, including dolphins, sea lions and whales.
The four-count indictment accuses Black of twice feeding killer whales in the marine sanctuary -- once in 2004 and again in 2005.
The indictment also alleges she altered a video showing possible illegal contact with an endangered humpback whale during a whale-watching trip in October 2005, then lied to investigators about doing so.
Black’s tours and research aboard her company’s whale-watching vessels -- the 70-foot Sea Wolf II and the 55-foot Pt. Sur Clipper -- have been featured extensively in local media and appeared on the "Today" show and the "CBS Evening News."
Black’s attorney, Lawrence Biegel, said she was gathering scientific data and broke no laws when she filmed the behavior of killer whales feeding off free-floating pieces of blubber from a gray whale calf.
Black and several assistants, he said, cut a hole in the blubber and used a rope to secure it close to her 22-foot inflatable research dinghy so she could film killer whales with an underwater camera as they approached to eat it.
Calling the indictment “wholly unjustified” and based on a misunderstanding of her techniques and methods, Biegel said she acted within the boundaries of a whale-research permit issued by the federal government and presented the footage to other researchers at a conference in Norway.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the sanctuary spanning 276 miles of California’s Central Coast, first revealed the investigation in 2006 and has had ongoing negotiations with the marine biologist over the charges, Biegel said.
The Monterey Bay Whale Watch website calls Black an expert in the biology of killer whales off the California coast who has a master’s degree in marine science and works to catalog, identify and document their behavior in Monterey Bay.
The website boasts of trips led by experienced marine biologists who “collect valuable data on the marine mammals sighted” and “the most skilled captains who know where to find whales and how to approach them.”
.Los Angeles Times... . Marine biologist indicted for allegedly feeding killer... more
Blood Money: Tsunami Recovery Funds Go to Japan’s Whaling Industry
By Krista Mahr | December 12, 2011
Sankei / Getty Images
Japan's research whaling fleet Nissin Maru returns its home at Oi Pier on April 12, 2010 in Tokyo, Japan.
They’re baaaaaaaccck. Whale hunting season kicked off in Japan last week as three ships set off with a security vessel on their annual pilgrimage to cull hundreds of minke and fin whales in Antarctic waters. And so begins the annual showdown between the whalers and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the tenacious, publicity-savvy anti-whaling group that chases the Japanese fleet around the frigid waters of the sixth continent each winter. The yearly spectacle features scuba-clad activists zipping around in fast boats, lobbing stink bombs at the whaling ships and generally making life miserable for the crew who keep Japan’s 19th-century dream alive. The annual tussle even has its own reality show.
Whaling is not an easy practice to defend these days, particularly when recent polls have shown that 95% of Japanese eat whale meat rarely, if at all. The state-backed industry, which Japan considers its sovereign right to pursue as part of a centuries-old tradition, is under attack both by environmental groups at home and abroad. And yet the government did not do its beleaguered case any favors when it confirmed last week that $29 million of the national post-tsunami recovery fund had been allotted to the whaling industry, including to provide extra security for the whaling fleet.
They had to know that wasn’t going to go down well. Environmental groups in Japan are outraged that the disaster fund is being used to prop up an industry they have been fighting against for years. Though commercial whaling has been banned for decades, Japan is one of a handful of nations that continue their catch with the permission of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) for scientific purposes, culling about 1000 whales annually. “Pouring billions of yen into Antarctic whaling during this time of crisis is downright shameful,” Junichi Sato, head of Greenpeace Japan, told the Guardian last week. “Japan cannot afford to waste money on whaling in the Antarctic when its people are suffering at home.”
Tokyo says the whaling industry needs the support of the fund to get back on its feet after March 11 just like other fishing communities on the devastated northeastern coast of Japan. Port towns like Ayukawa that were built on the back of the multi-million dollar whaling industry were destroyed along with so much else, and, like their neighbors, residents there want to get their businesses back up and running, too. “Many people in the area eat whale meat,” an official from Japan’s Fisheries Agency told CNN. “They are waiting for Japan’s commercial whaling to resume and it is their hope for recovery.”
But padding the industry with reconstruction money is not the end of Japan’s efforts to protect its scientific endeavors. Last year, the government caved in to the pressure Sea Shepherd exerted on its ships and crew and called off the hunt early, with only about one-fifth of its intended catch. On Dec. 9, the Institute of Cetacean Research, the government body that manages the yearly cull, announced that it filed a lawsuit along with shipowner Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha against Sea Shepherd and its founder, Paul Watson. ICR and Kyodo Senpaku are seeking a court order to prevent “SSCS and its founder Paul Watson from engaging in activities at sea that could cause injuries to the crews and damage to the vessels.”
Watson, whose organization is based in the U.S. state of Washington, responded immediately to the news of the law suit. “We have not caused a single injury nor have we been charged with a crime or even reprimanded by anyone for our actions,” he is quoted as saying on the organization’s web site. “This is simply a case of using the courts to harass us. I don’t believe they have a case and I doubt a U.S. court would take this seriously. Unlike Japan, the courts in the United States don’t automatically do what the government demands that they do.” The organization is currently planning to send 88 crew members on three ships to do its yearly battle under the banner of “Operation Divine Wind.”
Krista Mahr is a correspondent at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @kristamahr. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.
Read more: http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2011/12/12/blood-money-tsunami-recovery-funds-go-to-japans-whaling-industry/#ixzz1gOb4SqJ7
.Time... . Japan Blood Money: Tsunami Recovery Funds Go to Japan’s... more
The Scottish Sun...
Connery fights for dolphins
By STUART MacDONALD
Published: 08 Dec 2011
SIR Sean Connery is on a mission with fellow James Bond star Pierce Brosnan to halt the illegal slaughter of dolphins and whales.
Connery, 81, has joined the advisory board of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, of which Brosnan is already a member.
Other supporters of the group include Batman star Christian Bale and Star Trek legend William Shatner.
A spokesman said yesterday: "Having one James Bond — Pierce Brosnan — has been a great help to our campaigns to defend the ocean.
"Now with Connery and Brosnan, Sea Shepherd will be an unstoppable force for conservation."
Read more: http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/news/3985334/Sean-Connery-fights-for-dolphins.html#ixzz1g4s2pCpo
.The Scottish Sun... . Connery fights for dolphins By STUART MacDONALD... more
GULFPORT, Mississippi -- A stranded dolphin found alive in the marsh near Fort Morgan, Alabama continues to improve, said Moby Solangi, director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies at Gulfport.
Another dead dolphin, the fifth in the past week, was found at Waveland on Monday, he said.
"They are all about the same age, which is the group of animals that would have been born earlier this year in February and March," Solangi said. "They were less than a year old and still dependent on their mothers."
All the dead dolphins were about 5½-feet long, he said.
"These animals move in the wintertime," Solangi said. "They move toward the south of the barrier islands because of the water temperature and the food has moved toward the south."
The discovery of dead dolphins is a rarity in November, he said.
The live dolphin, found Friday, is recovering in a quarantine tank at the facility.
"It is orientating itself," Solangi said.
The survivor, named Chance by its Alabama rescuers, has been the subject of a battery of tests, he said.
"This was the second time," he said. "The first time when we got him it was a pretty quick deal. We wanted to get him stable. Today we did a battery of tests so that we could send them out."
The survivor and dead dolphins are part of an ongoing series of strandings that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has classified as an "Unusual Mortality Event" in the northern Gulf of Mexico that began February 2010.
NOAA's Office of Protected Resources updated its stranding count Tuesday to 603. The Nov. 20 total had been 596.
More at the linkGULFPORT, Mississippi -- A stranded dolphin found alive in the marsh near Fort Morgan,... more
Los Angeles Times...
Environmental news from California and beyond
Tons of L.A. River trash to be captured before hitting the sea
November 1, 2011 | 4:57 pm
Tons of trash normally swept to the ocean by the Los Angeles River should be captured by thousands of trash screens that have been installed beneath nearly every storm drain in the lower reaches of the river.
The project is believed to be the largest debris-capturing effort in the nation and marks the most aggressive attack yet on river trash in the Los Angeles region.
The project spans 16 cities and is expected to keep 840,000 pounds of debris -- the equivalent of about 450 Volkswagen Beetles -- from reaching the ocean each year, according to the Gateway Authority, a coalition of cities and public water agencies in southeastern L.A. County.
The biggest winner from the project is Long Beach, where workers routinely have to scoop floating islands of plastic bottles, grocery bags and other debris flowing from dozens of communities upstream before it litters the city’s coastline.
In August 2010, crews began installing the stainless-steel, full-capture trash devices inside nearly 12,000 catch basins.
The simple mesh contraptions sit just below the drains where water from city streets flows into the storm-water system and can catch debris as small as a cigarette butt.
Another 5,400 drains in the most-littered areas also were outfitted with street-level retractable screens as a second layer of defense.
.Los Angeles Times... . Environmental news from California and beyond... more
September 16th, 2011
07:45 AM ET
New species of dolphin discovered off Australia
Australian researchers have discovered a new species of dolphin living right under their, uh, bottlenoses.
A population of 100 dolphins in Port Phillip Bay and 50 in the Gippsland Lakes on Australia's southern coast have been proven to be genetically unique from dolphins anywhere else in the world, Monash University doctoral researcher Kate Charlton-Robb said in a university release.
"We're very pleased to announce that yes it is a new dolphin species, and I have called it Tersiops Australis," Charlton-Robb said in an interview with Radio Australia.
The new species has been given the common name the Burrunan dolphin, meaning "large sea fish of the porpoise kind" in Aboriginal languages, she said.
The Burrunan dolphins were originally thought to be one of two bottlenose species, but researchers used DNA and skull comparisons to establish they were a new species.
Only three new dolphin species have been recognized since the late 1800s, Charlton-Robb said.
"This animal has been living right under our noses for so many years and just with combining those two different technologies, with looking at the skull morphology and the DNA, you know there's still really exciting discoveries to be made," Charlton-Robb told Radio Australia.
She said the discovery highlights the importance of conservation efforts.
"It would be a shame to discover something and then and lose it. So we really are working hard to try and protect and conserve these animals," she told Radio Australia.
And if you want to get a look at the new species, head to Port Phillip Bay.
"The animals that you would see out in the bay on a normal occasion would be this new species type," Charton-Robb told Radio Australia.
.CNN... . September 16th, 2011 07:45 AM ET New species of dolphin discovered... more
Los Angeles Times...
Reusable tote bags such as the one above would take the place of single-use plastic or paper grocery bags under the proposal.
(Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles Times / September 7, 2011)
Plastic and paper bag ban proposed for Los Angeles
Los Angeles councilman's proposal would allow grocery stores to give away or sell only reusable tote bags, or risk a fine.
By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
September 7, 2011
Paper or plastic? For shoppers in Los Angeles, the choice may soon be neither.
Hoping to reduce the billions of grocery bags circulating throughout the city, an L.A. councilman Tuesday called for a sweeping ban on single-use paper and plastic bags.
By including paper bags in the ban, the proposal goes beyond similar measures taken recently by other California cities and counties. Although L.A. County, Santa Monica and other municipalities have banned plastic bags in recent years, most have allowed stores to sell paper ones for a small fee.
"With paper bags, you're still generating litter," said Councilman Paul Koretz, who introduced the motion proposing the ban. "We're taking the next step."
Environmentalists celebrated the news and said they hoped that it would push Sacramento lawmakers to enact a statewide ban.
"We're thrilled," said Kirsten James, water quality director for Heal the Bay. "We're hoping that more of these local policies will be a wake-up call."
Her group has been lobbying Los Angeles officials to enact a ban since 2007, the year that San Francisco became the first city in the nation to outlaw plastic bags in supermarkets and drugstores. Heal the Bay and other environmental groups calling for the bans say plastic bags are among the sea's most insidious pollutants.
But lobbyists who work for the plastics industry have said that paper bags are just as bad for the environment because of the energy required to produce them.
Under the L.A. proposal, stores would be permitted to give away or sell only reusable tote bags, or risk a fine. An exemption would be made for small plastic bags meant to keep raw vegetables and meats separated from other groceries to prevent cross-contamination.
Koretz said he thought retailers would welcome the proposal.
"It will save them money" he said. "It will help them make money in the long run."
In the past, large retailers have complained about a city-by-city patchwork of laws that forces them to follow different rules in different places. Instead, they have called for a statewide law that would set guidelines.
Last year, a proposed statewide ban on plastic bags died in the Legislature. It was opposed by the American Chemistry Council, the lobbying group that represents the plastic bag industry.
The California Grocers Assn. supported the bill. In response to the proposed Los Angeles law, spokesman Dave Heylen said, "We look forward to working with the city as they look at options for consumers to transport their goods from stores."
In 2008, the City Council asked the Bureau of Sanitation to report on the proliferation of plastic bags in the city. According to officials, about 2.3 billion plastic bags are used in the city each year, with only 5% recycled, and 400 million paper bags, 21% recycled.
The City Council's Energy and Environment Committee will decide whether to move forward with the proposed ban.
.Los Angeles Times... PHOTO: Reusable tote bags such as the one above would... more
Los Angeles Times...
Gulf to open up for oil and gas leases
The Obama administration will hold its first auction since last year's BP oil spill. More than 20 million acres in the western gulf will be offered up in December.
PHOTO: A rig and supply vessel sit in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. (Gerald Herbert, ASSOCIATED PRESS / August 20, 2011)
By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times
August 19, 2011, 9:45 p.m.
The Obama administration announced Friday that it would hold its first oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico since the deadly Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.
"This sale is an important step toward a secure energy future that includes safe, environmentally sound development of our domestic energy resources," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. "Since Deepwater Horizon, we have strengthened oversight at every stage of the oil and gas development process, including deep-water drilling safety, subsea blowout containment, and spill response capability."
The Interior Department plans to offer in December more than 20 million acres in the western gulf for energy leasing — despite a recent Interior report that found companies were not exploring or producing oil or gas on about two-thirds of the 34 million acres they already lease in the gulf.
The administration came under sharp criticism from the oil industry and gulf state politicians for imposing a deep-water drilling moratorium after last year's BP spill — and then for not approving new drilling quickly after the ban was lifted.
"This lease sale is an important and encouraging step toward getting the Gulf of Mexico and its hardworking people back to work," Louisiana Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, a Democrat, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the slow pace of new permits in the gulf places lingering uncertainty over this critical industry."
The conservation group Oceana condemned the move as premature. "Rushing this lease sale in the western gulf puts animals like turtles, dolphins and bluefin tuna at risk," said senior campaign director Jacqueline Savitz. "The Obama administration still hasn't addressed significant shortcomings in spill response and cleanup capabilities."
The Environmental Defense Fund was more positive. "This announcement proves that the Obama administration is serious about allowing oil companies to return to deep-water drilling in the gulf, as long as they follow essential new rules … to protect the environment, workers and the economy," said Elgie Holstein, the group's senior planning director and former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Energy.
The new lease areas are located from nine to about 250 miles offshore in both shallow and deep water, and could, Interior officials said, produce 222 million to 423 million barrels of oil and as much as 2.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Acknowledging that many existing leases were sitting idle, the Interior Department said it intended to increase the minimum bid amount for deep-water blocks to $100 per acre from $37.50 to "discourage companies from purchasing leases they are unlikely to explore in the near term."
The sale will include environmental safeguards for marine life and, "when conditions warrant," monitoring by trained observers to ensure compliance, the department added.
An Interior Department analysis released in the spring found that gulf lease auctions before the BP spill drew little interest. Of nearly 53 million acres offered in 2009 in the central and western gulf, only 2.7 million acres were leased. Last year, only 2.4 million acres were leased out of about 37 million acres offered.
.Los Angeles Times... . Gulf to open up for oil and gas leases The Obama... more
Dolphins in Asia's Mekong River on brink of extinction, group says
A World Wildlife Fund survey found only 85 Irrawaddy dolphins left in Southeast Asia’s Mekong River.
August 16th, 2011
01:48 PM ET
A group of dolphins is on the brink of extinction in part because their calves are not surviving, the World Wildlife Fund reported.
There are 85 Irrawaddy dolphins left in Southeast Asia’s Mekong River, according to the conservation organization.
“Evidence is strong that very few young animals survive to adulthood, as older dolphins die off and are not replaced,” Dr. Li Lifeng, director of the World Wildlife Fund's freshwater program, said in a statement.
Irrawaddy dolphins are found in the Mekong River, the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar and the Mahakam River in Indonesia. While a survey of the dolphins was done only in the Mekong, the World Wildlife Fund reported that in all areas the species is critically endangered.
“These dolphins are at high risk of extinction by their small population size alone,” said Barney Long, the group’s Asian species expert. “With the added threats of gill net entanglement and high calf mortality, we are seriously concerned about their future.”
The danger of the species' extinction extends beyond the animal itself, the group said.
The dolphins are viewed as sacred by the Khmer and Lao people, the World Wildlife Fund noted.
Dolphin-watching ecotourism also is an "important source of income and jobs for communities" in these areas, the group said.
.CNN... Dolphins in Asia's Mekong River on brink of extinction, group says... more
According to Rikki Ott, marine toxicologist, Exxon Valdez survivor, and Huffington Post contributor, BP and the government may be in cahoots to censor data pertaining to the Gulf Oil Disaster. Read it in her own words here: http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=4094
The way she sees it, BP went into spin mode right off the bat. Since penalties are imposed based on spill volume, BP immediately tried to limit damages by underestimating flow rates. When that failed thanks to the “spill cam,” BP attempted to prohibit other types of photography in affected areas. “I was literally flying with a pilot from New Orleans to Orange Beach, Alabama one day early June,” Ott told fair.org. “And the pilot all of a sudden says, ‘Look at that,’ and he had just been telling me stories about, you can’t believe how much oil is out there, if only the public could really see the amount of oil out there. . . BP does not want pictures taken of the oil when it hits the Gulf Coast.”
Then, Ott says, she began to witness the clean-up workers becoming ill. She said they asked for respirators, but BP refused to provide them. Not only that, when the clean-up workers procured their own respirators, BP refused to allow the workers to use them. “Fisherman go out with the respirators and they come back and they say, ‘BP says if we wear these respirators, our jobs will be terminated. BP is still saying this. This is controlling the image of how toxic this oil really is.’”
As clean-up continued, Ott says workers witnessed horrible atrocities which they were forbidden to document. “People are coming in from this cover-up, from this response operation, and they’re saying ‘my god, these islands, they have dolphins on them, dead, too numerous to count.” But she says BP routed response workers through metal detectors to prevent them from even bringing cell phones onto work sites. As a result, photo documentation is almost non-existent.
Meanwhile, Ott says, BP is recovering and destroying carcasses of dead dolphins, sea turtles, and other sea-life, which makes it difficult for anyone to gather evidence and prosecute them under the Clean Water Act. “I though Exxon was really heavy-handed back then,” Ott says. “We had flight restrictions. However, we did have citizen volunteers going out and collecting wildlife and bringing them back to facilities–freezer vans and labs–that were under lock and key, chain of custody control, because these carcasses are evidence for the federal government and the state to build their case under the Clean Water Act. . . This case still needs to be built. Well, it’s hard to build a case if the carcasses are disappearing.”
Ott says some of the whistle-blowers with whom she is working are government employees. “I will say that some of our whistle-blowers do come from the government. This is not only fishermen we’re getting this story from. This is very upsetting to people who live and call their home this area, and it’s not only upsetting for them to see this, it’s upsetting for them to be treated like this by a corporation and have the government be part of it.”
For more from Riki Ott, read her articles on Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/riki-ott/. You can also visit her web site at http://www.rikiott.com.http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2010/6/16/1276705827240/obama... more
From: Natural Resources Defense Council http://bit.ly/r3ZunV
Pictured: Eric Tiser near his trailer home in the bayou Photo: Lisa Whiteman/NRDC
Louisiana shrimp buyer Dean Blanchard has seen plenty of crazy things during his life in the bayou. But his eyes nearly popped out of their sockets the day he watched a mother dolphin pushing her dead baby calf towards him as he stood on the commercial dock of his once thriving seafood business on Grand Isle.
The memory of the dolphin pushing her lifeless calf toward him is still seared in his brain a month later. “I’ve seen a lot things after this oil spill, but this was the worst,” he says (see dramatic footage of a similar event recorded by researchers off the Texas coast in 2008).
Dean was able to retrieve the carcass from the dolphin cow and sent it out to an independent lab to see if there was any link to the five million barrels of oil BP spewed into the sea. Over the past year there has been a rash of adult and dead baby dolphins washing ashore along the oil-impacted Gulf coast. The National Marine fisheries still list these deaths as an unusual mortality event. Scientists have not yet tied the spike in deaths directly to the oil spill, but in May Florida researchers surmised that the oil spill had at least an indirect cause of the more than 150 dolphin deaths so far this year. Research shows that as many as 50 times that number may have actually died and never been recovered.
Dolphins are perhaps the Gulf coast’s most sacred marine life, a symbol of the vitality of the region and an icon of the unique people who make it their home. One of those is Eric Tiser, a fisherman from Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish that was devastated by the oil spill. Eric calls himself a pirate of the sea, a scrapping self-proclaimed “coon-ass” who’s nose was partly bitten off in a bar fight many yearrs ago. Eric’s as a wild as the thousands of acres of marshland that spread out from the end-of-the road fishing port of Venice 100 miles south of New Orleans....(cont)From: Natural Resources Defense Council http://bit.ly/r3ZunV Pictured: Eric Tiser... more
Los Angeles Considers Putting L.A. Zoo Operations into Private Hands | Why Not Create a Sanctuary, Instead?L.A. considers putting zoo operations in private hands
Officials say the change would save nearly $20 million over five years and prevent possible closure. Critics question the savings and say the move could mean less transparency in animal welfare.
Los Angeles Zoo
Photo: Zoo patrons view a pair of Masai giraffes at the Los Angeles Zoo. Two potential private operators have expressed interest in running the zoo. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
July 28, 2011
Someone else may soon be tending to the misty artificial rain forest at the Los Angeles Zoo where Bruno, a 300-pound orangutan with a wispy orange beard and a hulking frame, makes his home.
The city opened the zoo and botanical gardens in 1966, but officials are now considering a proposal to turn over management to a private operator. That means the gardeners, plumbers and other city employees who help run the zoo could be transferred to other departments and replaced with private workers.
Like any issue involving labor — or animals — the fight over the fate of the zoo has caused a considerable stir.
City officials say the change would save nearly $20 million over the next five years and rescue the zoo from possible budget reductions or even closure. But opponents of the plan question the savings and warn that privatization could mean steeper ticket prices for the zoo's 1.5 million annual visitors and less transparency when it comes to animal welfare.
The zoo plan is only the latest example of a shift in how budget-strapped officials think about "core services" and City Hall's basic obligations to taxpayers. They are also considering proposals to privatize the Los Angeles Convention Center, an animal shelter in the San Fernando Valley and several arts facilities.
Such public-private partnerships are common in Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History are two county facilities operated by nonprofit organizations.
"It's not a revolutionary idea," said Miguel Santana, L.A.'s chief administrative officer, who came to City Hall from the county in 2009. "This model has worked across the country as a way of ensuring services are maintained in an era of declining revenues."
According to a draft proposal for the zoo plan, which the City Council's Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee will consider Thursday, Bruno and the rest of the animals would remain the property of the city, along with the zoo's Griffith Park grounds.
All current staff would remain employees of the city, but those who do not hold zoo-specific jobs might be transferred to other city departments. Future hires would be employees of the new operator.
Two potential operators have already stepped forward.
One is the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn., or GLAZA, a nonprofit headquartered on the zoo's campus that raises money for the institution, manages its memberships and operates its concessions. In 2010-11, it raised about $13 million for the zoo, according to GLAZA President Connie Morgan
The other party is Parques Reunidos, a Madrid-based theme park operator that runs 70 amusement parks, water parks and zoos worldwide.
Dave Towne, a former consultant for the L.A. Zoo, said that if a private company takes over, the face of the zoo may change. "Any private, for-profit operation is going to Disney-fy it," he said. "That's just what they do."
Towne, former director of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, oversaw the transition of that zoo's management to a nonprofit 10 years ago. He said private operators run the majority of the nation's major zoos and are often more successful at marketing and fundraising than cities, in part because they are less encumbered by bureaucracy.
Animal activists fear that could result in a lack of transparency. Catherine Doyle, of In Defense of Animals, said that if the zoo is privatized, "it will become even more secretive and insular."
She and others have long accused the zoo's management of not being forthcoming about animal care, and have asked that the operator be required to answer to a city-appointed animal welfare commission.
Adriana Hawkins, a zoo gardener for six years, says everyone will suffer if longtime employees are reassigned. The zoo will lose expertise, she said, and the employees will lose jobs they love.
"I don't want to go down to the harbor; I don't want to spend my life on the freeway," Hawkins said. "I have a passion for the zoo."
Santana and others have said that privatizing the zoo will allow it to flourish. A report he commissioned said that under private management, the zoo would be able to reap up to $3.8 million more each year in revenue, thanks to new opportunities for corporate sponsorship, fundraising and special events.
But City Councilman Richard Alarcon said that's all the more reason to keep control of the zoo. "If a private corporation can make it profitable, why can't we?" he said.
It costs $26 million a year to run the zoo and pay the salaries, benefits and pensions of more than 200 employees. The city contributes about $14.6 million; the rest of the budget comes from ticket sales and donations.
Officials say if the city does not privatize management, that figure could grow as high as $19.4 million by 2015. But even if it does complete a deal, the city will still contribute about $13.8 million to the zoo in 2015, according to the proposal.
The savings may be small in the short term, but Santana insists that it adds up. Next year, he and other officials will have to find a way to close a $200-million budget deficit.
.L.A. considers putting zoo operations in private hands Officials say the change... more
Watch a whale jump for joy after being freed from a net
by Jess Zimmerman
21 Jul 2011 1:23 PM
It's worth watching a guy scramble around in a Speedo to see this boatload of conservationists save a humpback whale caught in a net. If you don't want to sit through tense ... net-cutting, though, you can skip ahead to about 5:30 and watch the newly freed whale repeatedly leaping into the air in what looks like a show of joy and gratitude.
.Watch a whale jump for joy after being freed from a net by Jess Zimmerman 21... more
Sea Life in the Gulf of Mexico continues to suffer and then dies, dies, dies, and, no, it's not over; the death, dying, and depletion will continue.Sea Life in the Gulf of Mexico continues to suffer and then dies, dies, dies, and, no,... more
Demand Dispersant Testing on Dead Dolphins & Sea Turtles in the Gulf
To: Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior; Gary Locke, U.S Commerce Secretary and Dr. Jane Lubchenco, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
In response to the increasing death rate in the Gulf of Mexico occurring in both our Endangered Sea Turtles and Dolphins.
NOAA has declared an “Unusual Mortality Event” (UME)for both species as record numbers of Sea Turtles and Neonatal and New Born Dolphins carcasses are washing ashore daily! What’s causing these UME’s? Unfortunately, due to inadequate testing procedures and delayed response times from both NOAA & MFS we may never know - unless the demands of this Petition are successful! Approximately 2 Millions gallons of the acutely toxic neurotoxin pesticide Corexit was used in BP’s oil spill cleanup efforts, yet NOAA is not testing for chemical compounds found specifically in Corexit 9500 & 9527A.
More than 190 dolphins and 300 Sea Turtles have died in the Gulf of Mexico since Jan 1st 2011. Of the 69 stranded Sea Turtles reported by NOAA in March 2011 only 29 were tested and 0 of them have been attributed to BP’s oil spill. Also disturbing is the unprecedented number of dead carcasses being left to decay along the shorelines - Federally listed Endangered Species that you and I pay to protect are decomposing on the beaches without any testing whatsoever! Witnesses have seen their bodies completely decomposed, spray painted and others dumped into dumpsters. The penalty for killing an ES is $100,000 per offense so why is our gov’t being satisfied to turn a blind eye?
Recent Gov’t Actions Contradictive to the MMPA (Marine Mammal Protection Act) & UME Response Regulations:
The MMPA states: “Solitary stranded animals are generally not refloated (i.e., released from the beach). It is assumed that a solitary animal stranded because it is unhealthy and if the animal is refloated, it is likely to strand again.”*1
In contradiction to this regulation, Kim Amendola, spokeswoman for NOAA “confirmed that two dolphins stranded in low tide on the Louisiana coastline were returned to water deep enough for them to swim away.” "These animals had no signs of external oil and were deemed healthy and robust". Then “the animals were pushed to deeper water by our stranding network partner, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries”. *2
The UME National Contingency Plan *3 details precsie instructions on who is authorized to obtain & anaylize tissue samples and "Because a declared UMME is an emergency situation, all results or research will be provided as soon as feasible". The plan further directs that the Onsite Coordinator will prepare a report for the UME containing results of analyses because they may contain valuable baseline information in determining what actions may be taken to ‘conserve & protect’ the species involved in the current UME. It is also stated that outside requests for tissue samples will be considered.
In complete contradiction to these regulations the following is occurring according to IMMS: “Under normal circumstances, IMMS sends tissues for analysis and can receive results within several months. … IMMS is not allowed to analyze the tissues or to keep duplicate samples. The current NOAA investigation is ongoing and it may be some time before any results or a possible cause for the spike in dolphin calf deaths is revealed.” *4
NOAA claims that “samples have been submitted for analysis” *5 however scientists and Stranding Network participants say otherwise. In an article from WLOX in MS “Gulfport's Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS), led by Dr. Moby Solangi, has been taking tissue samples from the dead dolphins, and sending those off to the federal government. That's been going on for months. But now, it’s been learned that the feds have yet to send those samples off to be tested. … we tried to ask federal officials, but got no answer. The only thing we know at this point is a letter, sent by NOAA to agencies gathering the samples, stated there is an ongoing criminal investigation. The dead dolphins are considered potential evidence in a lawsuit the federal government could file against BP.” *6
Reuters also reported “the U.S. government is keeping a tight lid on the lab findings due to the ongoing civil and criminal investigation involving BP.” And that in a letter Reuters obtained in February, NOAA stated "Because of the seriousness of the legal case, no data or findings may be released, presented or discussed outside the (unusual mortality event) investigative team without prior approval,".*7
NOAA claims that “more than 18,000 of these analyses have been validated” *8 yet no report has been submitted for a Peer Review to date.
These actions directly contradict the regulations set forth in the UME National Contingency Plan and eliminate the ability to track tissue samples through the chain of custody and necropsy and ultimately find out who or what killed the animals. Additionally this makes the legal obligation of “protecting & conserving” the species impossible since the test results are not being released, thereby eliminating the opportunity to determine what environmental and critical habitat changes need to be made.
In the NRDA’s “Fish Kill Plan” that was signed in December 2010 in response to BP’s oil spill, representatives of NOAA, The State of Louisiana, and BP concurred that: “Potential impacts of oil and dispersants on fish communities range from, but are not limited to, mortality to sublethal stress that may manifest itself in reduced fitness and decreased reproductive success.”
Per Dr. Susan Shaw, a Marine Toxicologist, “Corexit is particularly toxic. It contains petroleum solvents and a chemical that, when ingested, ruptures red blood cells and causes internal bleeding.” *9
By NOAA & MFS not obtaining the required tissue samples from every dead animal washing ashore in the Gulf of Mexico and testing the samples for the chemical compounds of the dispersant Corexit 9500 & 9527A in addition to the hydrocarbons found in oil, they could potentially be saving BP Millions of $ in Fines & Penalties for the deaths of our Federally Protected Species.
THE DEMANDS OF THIS PETITION ARE SIMPLE & ARE IN ACCORDANCE TO FEDERAL LEGISLATION ALREADY IN PLACE:
1. We Demand immediate toxicological analyses of all Dolphin & Sea Turtle
tissue samples for exposure to the chemical compounds found in Corexit
9500 & 9527A.
2. We Demand that the UME National Contingency Plan be followed to the
letter of the law and be abided by the very agencies who wrote and
implemented federal regulations.
3. We Demand a more thorough & immediate response to reported strandings
of Dolphins & Sea Turtles
Due to length REFERENCES have are published at http://petiontodemandcorexittesting.blogspot.com/2011/05/references-for-petition-to-demand.html. Please feel free to review these critical documents for validation of the opinions stated above.
Thank you for your consideration of the demands of this Petition.
CLICK ON THE LINK TO SIGN THIS PETITIONDemand Dispersant Testing on Dead Dolphins & Sea Turtles in the Gulf To:... more
Japan dumps thousands of tons of radioactive water into sea
By the CNN Wire Staff
April 4, 2011 9:47 a.m. EDT
A Tokyo Electric Power Company picture from April 2 shows water gushing from the cracked concrete shaft.
Tokyo (CNN) -- Japan began dumping thousands of tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean on Monday, an emergency move officials said was needed to curtail a worse leak from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
In all, about 11,500 tons of radioactive water that has collected at the nuclear facility will be dumped into the sea, officials said Monday, as workers also try to deal with a crack that has been a conduit for contamination.
The radiation levels were highest in the water that was being drained from reactor No. 6, the officials said.
These are the latest but hardly the only challenges facing workers at the embattled power plant and its six reactors, which have been in constant crisis since last month's ruinous earthquake and tsunami.
Officials with Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plant, proposed the release of excess water that has pooled in and around the Nos. 5 and 6 reactors into the sea. But most of the dumped water -- 10,000 tons -- will come from the plant's central waste treatment facility, which will then be used to store highly radioactive water from the No. 2 unit, an official with the power company said.
The water in reactors Nos. 5 and 6 is coming from a subdrain and wasn't inside the building itself, officials said. Tests suggest that groundwater is the source of the contamination in these two units, but they are not certain.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano called the dumping "unavoidable." The liquid was most likely contaminated in the process of trying to cool nuclear fuel rods.
The scope of the dump was staggering.
"For an idea about how much is 11,500 tons, one metric ton is 1,000 kilograms or about 2,200 pounds, which is close to an English ton. Water is about 8.5 pounds per gallon, so one ton is about 260 gallons," said Gary Was, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Michigan. "So 11,500 tons is about 3 million gallons. A spent fuel pool holds around 300,000 gallons. So this amount of water is equivalent to the volume of roughly 10 (spent fuel pools)."
It could take 50 hours to dump all the water, Tokyo Electric said.
The dumping of so much radioactive water into the ocean conjures fears of mutated sea life and contamination of the human food chain, but one expert said the radiation will be quickly diluted, minimizing risk.
"What we have to watch is how these materials accumulate in food products and then could be consumed by people," something that can be monitored, said John Till, president of Risk Assessment Corp.
"The ocean is so vast that this material would dilute very rapidly and I wouldn't see any lasting effects at all," he said.
The build-up of water could cause problems around the nuclear facility, which is 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Tokyo, Edano said Monday.
Authorities have made a priority of dealing with water from the No. 2 unit, some of which has been gushing into the sea through a crack in a concrete shaft.
"The radioactivity level is very high near the No. 2 reactor, and we know this. We have to stop the leak as early as possible to prevent this from going into the sea," Edano said. "The radioactivity level is much less in the water from the Nos. 3 and 4 units."
Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency officials said Monday night that the hope is that pumping out the No. 2 reactor turbine plant will lower the water level enough that contaminated liquid won't be able to reach the sea.
"I am not able to say for certain whether or not this will be the last discharge, but we certainly would like to avoid releasing any such water into the sea as much as possible," agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said.
Officials were still awaiting test results to confirm the water pouring into the ocean is leaking from the highly radioactive No. 2 reactor.
"We don't know clearly, but we feel it is somehow leaking from Unit 2," Nishiyama said. Even if the water is confirmed to have come from the reactor, neither Tokyo Electric nor government officials know how it is making its way from the reactor to the leaking pit, he said.
Once the water is pumped out of the waste treatment reservoir, the agency believes it can safely transfer the water from the basement of the No. 2 turbine plant to the reservoir without further leaks, he said.
Though Japanese officials say the water being discharged is less radioactive than the water now leaking into the sea, its top concentration of radioactive iodine-131 is 20 becquerels per cubic centimeter, or 200,000 becquerels per kilogram. That's 10 times the level of radioactivity permitted in food. But since it's being dumped into the Pacific, it will be quickly diluted, according to Dr. James Cox, a radiation oncologist at Houston's MD Anderson Cancer Center and a CNN consultant.
Reactors No. 1 and No. 3, which have lower levels of water, need to be drained as well. Tokyo Electric's plan is to pump that water to other storage tanks, including some that still need to be set up.
Attempts to fill the 20-centimeter (8-inch) crack outside the No. 2 reactor's turbine building -- on Saturday by pouring in concrete, then Sunday by using a chemical compound mixed with sawdust and newspaper -- were not successful.
CONTINUED...PART ONE... CNN... Japan dumps thousands of tons of radioactive water into... more
Dolphins die after underwater Navy training exercise near San Diego
Three of the marine mammals were found dead this month during explosives training near the coast. The long-beaked common dolphins showed injuries consistent with blast trauma.
Genetic testing showed that the dead dolphins were long-beaked common dolphins, like these off San Pedro. (Pete Thomas, Los Angeles Times / March 25, 2011)
By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
March 26, 2011
Three dolphins died this month during a Navy training exercise using underwater explosives near the San Diego County coast, authorities said Friday.
Scientists have yet to officially determine what caused the deaths at the Silver Strand Training Complex near Coronado, but examinations of the animals showed injuries consistent with blast trauma.
The unit conducting the underwater training exercises March 4 had scanned the area and spotted no marine mammals before starting a countdown to detonate the explosives about 10:45 a.m., said Cmdr. Greg Hicks, spokesman for the U.S. Navy's Third Fleet.
"They saw the dolphins before the explosives went off, but it came so late it would have put humans at risk to stop the process," he said. "After the detonation, despite all required protective actions taken to avoid marine mammal impacts, three dolphins were found dead in the area."
After the explosion, government biologists retrieved the carcasses and took them to a veterinary lab at SeaWorld to conduct necropsies.
Genetic testing showed that the animals were long-beaked common dolphins, said Sarah Wilkin, a marine mammal biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service, which is responsible for investigating sick, injured and dead marine mammals.
Samples from the carcasses are being analyzed to rule out other factors that could have contributed to the deaths, such as disease or poisoning.
Wilkin said the deaths should not have a significant impact on the species' population. There are an estimated 15,000 long-beaked common dolphins along the California coast. While protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, the species is not considered threatened or endangered.
Conservationists have wrangled with the Navy in the past about military operations, but experts said they knew of no previous incidents in the region of dolphin fatalities involving explosives.
Most of the controversy over the effects of military training on marine life in recent years has centered on sonar.
Environmentalists have argued that the Navy's sonar exercises can deafen and even kill whales and other marine life. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the military in 2008.
The Navy has been working with the National Marine Fisheries Service on permits and protocols for exercises at the Silver Strand facility, Wilkin said.
Environmental groups said the dolphin deaths show that the military needs to take further precautions to protect marine life from explosives.
"It underscores that the Navy trains with a lot of technology that is harmful to the marine environment, said Michael Jasny, senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "It is therefore imperative that it take every available step to prevent harm."
After learning of the deaths this week, Jasny wrote a letter to the Navy asking for a public investigation into the incident and for the suspension of similar explosives exercises until the chain of events is understood.
The Navy said the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit involved in the incident "conducted the underwater training in accordance with all operational training and safety guidelines as well as observed all protective measures and assessment protocols and monitoring of the area."
"Obviously, this was a very unfortunate incident," Hicks said.
A Navy investigation, he said, is underway to determine what went wrong and whether further measures may be required to protect marine mammals in future training exercises.
The National Marine Fisheries Service is also looking into whether two additional long-beaked common dolphins that washed ashore dead in La Jolla and Oceanside the following week are connected to explosives training exercises.Dolphins die after underwater Navy training exercise near San Diego Three of the... more
'Whale Wars' activist survives quake
By Patrick Oppmann, CNN
March 19, 2011 3:05 p.m. EDT
Scott West was in unfriendly territory when the quake hit.
Edmonds, Washington (CNN) --
Scott West went to Japan expecting trouble.
A veteran anti-porpoise hunting activist, West documents and protests the killing of the mammals. His actions are deeply unpopular in many of the Japanese coastal communities that cling to the tradition of catching and eating whale.
West's organization, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, has a long and colorful history of clashing with the Japanese. In the Animal Planet series "Whale Wars," Sea Shepherd volunteers impede Japanese whale fishing off the coast of Antarctica.
Their tactics include placing their boats in front of whaling ships, attempting to carry out citizen's arrests of the Japanese crew and heaving acid stink bombs onto the vessels. For their efforts, the Sea Shepherd volunteers have had flash bang grenades thrown at them, their boats sunk in collisions and detainment for days by the Japanese crews.
The show has made the Sea Shepherd members reality TV stars and notorious in Japan.
March 11 started like many other days for Scott West. He was in an unfriendly territory, a small Japanese coastal town where a porpoise hunt was under way and the efforts of outsiders to document the slaughter were not welcome.
West led a five person Sea Shepherd team of Mike Vos, Tarah Millen, Carisa Webster and Marley Daviduk to the town of Otsuchi, Japan. They were joined by Brian Barnes a cameraman from Save Japan Dolphins, a group that often collaborates with Sea Shepherd.
The activists had other company, as well.
Closely monitoring the group were two plain clothes Japanese policemen the activists nicknamed "Turner and Hooch," for the Tom Hanks comedy about a cop and his sidekick, a dog.
As detailed in the Academy Award winning documentary "The Cove," the relationship between anti-porpoise hunt activists and Japanese authorities often becomes a game of cat and mouse. The police try to impede the activists from documenting the killing of the dolphins. The activists use disguises and other sleights of hand to keep the police off their tails.
A former EPA and customs investigator, West said he is still able to think like law enforcement agents. And he recounts with a smile how he managed to lose Turner and Hooch at a traffic light with some creative driving as they tried to shadow his group.
West is back in his home in Edmonds, Washington. It's been just over 24 hours since he returned from Japan and four days since the earthquake and tsunami that wrecked much of the country. As he thinks of the two cops back in Otsuchi his mood darkens. "You know those guys are probably dead," he said.
When the earthquake hit in Otsuchi, about 94 miles from Sendai, the quake's epicenter, the activists were at the town's port waiting for the porpoise fishing boats to return with their catch.
"The car was rocking and rolling it was actually jumping on the pavement like a frog," West said. "We got out of the cars and it was almost impossible to stand up. The ground was heaving. It lasted for a long time."
Immediately seafood workers got out of factories as the town loud speakers called for residents to seek higher ground.
The six activists jumped into their two cars and made for the hills. It was a snap decision that West believes saved their lives.
"If we had stayed where we were, they probably would have never found our bodies or our cars," West said.
West estimates that the drive to higher ground took them about eight minutes. In that time the first tsunami waves already crashed into the town. Video West took from the hillside shows fishing ships fighting the incoming rush of water to get to the open ocean and safety. Houses can be seen being dragged out to sea by the monster waves.
On the hillside, the activists were joined by a handful of rescue workers and a Japanese woman.
"It was impossible to comprehend the amount of devastation and the human misery," West said "How many people got to the hill? There were only a handful of us up there. Why aren't there thousands here with us?"
In the video he took from the hill, West narrates as a wave heads toward the area below where they have sought refuge. "Look at the black one heading toward us," he said. An aftershock rocks the activists. "This is scary s**t," a woman says off camera.
As darkness fell, the tsunami waves continued sweeping into the town below them. The rescue workers on the hill left to begin their work and check on their own homes. The activists and the Japanese woman who also made it to the hill took turns warming themselves in the cars.
Over the roar of the waves they heard a voice. "We could hear this woman screaming out in the water," West said. "It was dim out there and all this debris was out there and then we could make out her form on a pile of debris. "
The activists tried to reach her but were pushed back the waves still topping the tsunami wall. They commandeered an abandoned fire truck and the Japanese woman with them used the loud speaker to call to fishing boats off the coast.
"We quit hearing her," West said of the trapped woman. "I don't know if it was because she grew weary or from exhaustion or she floated too far away. But then her voice would come back."
The boats came near to where the woman was floating but the group could not make out if they rescued her. "We don't know if the boats found her but we certainly hope they did," West said. "We heard her voice no more and the sound of her pleas in Japanese are a sound that will stay with me the rest of my life."
The next morning the group marched out of the town that was shrouded in a fog of burning wreckage and diesel.
West calls it a journey through a "post-apocalyptic world." The photos he took along the trip show enormous tsunami barriers torn and twisted by the waters, a person being plucked from a roof top by a rescue helicopter and fields of debris that were once people's homes.
And there are photos of a human body hanging in a tree.
The group came across a teenager still in his school uniform wandering the debris fields. They tried to get him to come with them. Unable to communicate with the activists, the teenager walked away in another direction.
The finally made found a group of Japanese people huddled over a campfire. Their house was destroyed but they offered the travelers soup. West said they felt bad but receiving food from them but "it would have been rude to have refused and it was welcome."
West said he and his companions were only able to leave the devastation through the kindness of Japanese people they encountered along their journey and who they could just barely communicate with.
One man, West said, pantomimed for the group to stay put and then returned with cars to drive them from the disaster area. The Japanese, West said, refused to take anything more than gas money.
Back at his home in Edmonds, West has been able to take a hot shower and sleep in a real bed if not yet fully absorb his ordeal.
West's views on the porpoise hunts haven't changed. But he has invited many of the Japanese people he knows to come stay in his family's home as they try flee the damage and radiation released by the quake. He is more than 4,000 miles from Japan but still feels like he is on the hilltop being battered by the tsunami waves.
"My wife's been saying, 'what if?' I hadn't really allowed myself to go there," West said. "The six of us made it, we are fine, we are home with our families but so many other people didn't make it."'Whale Wars' activist survives quake By Patrick Oppmann, CNN March 19,... more