India bans “morally unacceptable” dolphin shows

Photo Credit: Flickr/Purple Slog

Photo Credit: Flickr/Purple Slog

India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests recently banned the captivity of dolphins calling them “morally unacceptable”. India is now the largest of the four counties to ban dolphins shows. The list includes Costa Rica, Hungary and Chile.

The country recognized dolphins as “non-human persons” who do not thrive well in captivity, said B.S. Bonal of India’s Central Zoo Authority in a statement. The statement also included the moral reasoning behind the ban:

“Whereas cetaceans in general are highly intelligent and sensitive, and various scientists who have researched dolphin behavior have suggested that the unusually high intelligence; as compared to other animals, means that dolphins should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and as such should have their own specific rights and [it is] morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purposes.”

The decision that India has made should be celebrated!  Dolphins and whales are known to be highly intelligent creatures that can become distressed in captivity.

In recent studies, dolphins have been shown to recognize themselves in mirrors and even notice changes made to their appearance. Scientists have also found that dolphins also recognize their names and call each other using distinct, high pitch whistles.

This kind of intelligence cannot be ignored. There is no reason why holding a dolphin captive for our entertainment is a good idea. The animal does not benefit from jumping through hoops or learning how to wave at a crowd. When it comes to the captivity of animals, the United States has fallen behind.  

Read Born Free USA’s awesome article Ten Facts about Captive Orcas and Dolphins to shed some light on the captivity of these animals.

Gov. Rick Scott continues to ignore Florida’s environmental damage

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JAXPORT, Meredith Fordham Hughes

Ever since Governor Rick Scott took office in 2011, Florida has taken steps back in conservation and land management.

Bob Graham, former governor and U.S. state senator, joined in on the debate and said Rick Scott reversed 40 years of Florida’s progress in conservation efforts.

During Scott’s term he has:

  • Cut $700 million from Florida’s management districts. The cuts hurt efforts to restore the Everglades and Indian River Lagoon while also threatening water supply. 300 positions were eliminated from the water district.
  • Ended an initiative that begun in 2001 that protected Florida’s springs. The initiative already totaled $25 million in spending.
  • Put the state’s water supply under the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) instead of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). People are concerned that the DEP will only follow the minimum requirements, if that, set by the EPA.

Some of the blame can be given to the strong Tea Party movement in Florida. The Tea Party wants to reduce government control and has unfortunately hurt the conservation progress by doing so. By making the government smaller, we are losing some of the control we had over the conservation efforts to keep Florida from getting much worse.

To be fair, I am not here to just mention all the bad things Rick Scott has done regarding conservation efforts. He has signed House Bill 7065, which gives financial support to help restore the Everglades. The $880 million promised to the restoration project was met with little criticism from the Florida state government.

However, some say the measure does not go far enough in getting the sugar industries off the hook for polluting the Everglades. The bill does not give consequences to sugar companies who do not reduce the amount of phosphorus coming off their land. Still, the bill does head in the right direction.

Florida has a diverse, beautiful ecosystem and it seems that the government forgets it in order to profit from their own agenda. As residents of the the state, we cannot stay silent as the state faces destruction caused by the ignorance of the people who are supposed to represent us.  Contact your representatives and keep fighting!

For a more in-depth list of Gov. Rick Scott’s decisions on conservation efforts, check out this great Broward New Times article at browardpalmbeach.com.

Mysterious Deaths in Indian River Lagoon

Toxic seaweed may be the cause of the deaths of 112 manatees in the Indian River Lagoon, according to the National Ocean Service.

The Indian River Lagoon is known to be one of the most diverse ecosystems in North America. However, the lagoon may be in danger after scientists discovered that more than 47,000 acres of its sea grass bed, the manatee’s main diet, have died off.

Because the sea grass has been wiped out, manatees are forced to eat the seaweed in the lagoon that, scientists now know, is plagued with sewage-fueled algae blooms.

The cause of the bloom is not yet known. One idea is that there is a leak in one of the 300,000 septic tanks around the lagoon, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Basically, the lagoon is now an active sewer.

Manatees aren’t the only casualties. Since last summer, 52 dolphins and 300 pelicans have also been found dead. These casualties may or may not be related to the deaths of the manatees because they all eat different types of food. Also, manatees have been found completely full of seaweed while dolphins and pelicans were found starving.

How’s Florida reacting to the news of the deaths of their marine life?

The Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University had $2 million in  state funds coming their way to study the bodies popping up in the lagoon. Good ol’ Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the project.

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Photo Credit: Flickr/Steve Duane

Help save the manatees by donating to the Save the Manatees Club at http://www.savethemanatee.org. They even give you the option of adopting a manatee for yourself!

Want to read up on the Indian River Lagoon crisis? Wired has a great article at http://bit.ly/1669oWc.

Attack of the Burmese Python!

Photo taken by Karunakar Rayker

Photo taken by Karunakar Rayker

In the Everglades, a creature unlike any others slithers through the trees. Animals scatter away in horror of the creature as it boasts its fangs and eats everything in sight. DUN, DUN, DUN! It’s the Burmese python.

Okay, maybe the story is not so dramatic, but the Burmese python has caused a lot of damage to the Everglades.

The python is known to be an invasive species. An invasive species is an exotic species that, once it is introduced to the ecosystem, explodes in numbers and does environmental harm or harm to human health, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

These invasive species can come from either a different part of North America or a different continent altogether.

Invasive species can lead to the extinction of native species.Think of the Everglades as a system of checks and balances. In a perfect ecosystem, plants get eaten by smaller animals, larger animals eat those smaller animals, and so on. This system of checks and balances can be disrupted once a predator that is not a part of the system is introduced.The animal thrives because it has no real predators and can eat anything.

Burmese pythons have become an invasive species after being released by pet owners. The pythons, one of the largest species of snake in the world, have been known to feed on mammals and sometimes even alligators!

According to a Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences report, in January 2012, there was a severe decline in mammal populations in the Everglades over the last eight years.  A full-grown 13 foot python, needs to eat about 200 pounds of food every five years, according to the Nature Conservancy. The Burmese pythons have been known to get up to 13 feet.

To fight back against the invasion, the Nature Conservancy launched Python Patrol. Citizens are encouraged to call in snake sightings at 1-888-IVE-GOT-1. The call will reach Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission call centers in South Florida where a trained responder are dispatched, according to the Nature Conservancy.

For more tips on ways you can help stop the invasion, visit the Nature Conservancy Python Patrol page at http://bit.ly/16W0EyU.

European Member States Ban Pesticide Responsible for Death of Bees

Fipronil, an insect nerve agent used to treat cockroaches and termites, has recently joined the list of pesticides banned throughout Europe in an attempt to save the bees. The ban came after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a scientific study that proved that seeds treated with Fipronil posed an “acute risk” to the honeybee population.

The decline of honeybees is not new news. Just last year the United States lost 31% of the population. Scientists have been puzzled by the drastic loss of bees. Some have found the cause to be colony collapse disorder where bees abandoned their hives and disappear. One of the causes of colony collapse disorder has been known to be the effect of pesticides.

Although Europe took a huge step forward in saving the bees, it is not enough. The use of Fipronil is still allowed under certain circumstances in greenhouses. To truly help get the honeybee population up again, we must outright ban the pesticides that cause harm to them. We must also urge our own country to look at the facts that are being ignored and pass laws that will protect the species.

There is no room for debate. The bees are dying. A world without bees means a world without pollination. A world without pollination means a whole lot less food.

What would a world without bees look like? Here’s a video that might answer that question. BeABee is not an actual company, but, the way we’re heading, it someday might be.

After a 16 hour climb, one Greenpeace activist waved a flag of triumph over London’s Shard with a simple message: “Save the Arctic”.

Six women, all from different countries but with a common goal, scaled the Shard with a ladder-like structure and rope. Their mission was to bring attention to the oil companies’ part in climate change and the destruction of the Arctic. Their main target was Shell, which boasts as one of the top oil companies in the world. This was no small feat. London’s Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe reaching up to 1,016 feet, according to BBC News.

The climb created a media firestorm with praises from all over the world and cries to “keep Shell out of the Arctic.” The hash tag #iceclimb became a top trend on Twitter as Greenpeace tweeted the progress of all six climbers.

“The Shard is bang in the middle of Shell’s 3 London HQs. Today the #iceclimb team is rising above oil greed to demand Arctic drilling stops,” Greenpeace tweeted to explain why they chose the Shard.

According to BBC News, Shell reported that drilling in the Arctic was “not new”. Shell, and other oil companies, continue to ignore the science and evidence that proves that not only are we causing harm to the Arctic by drilling for oil, but we are also responsible for the speeding up of climate change. The profit is going into the hands of a select few while everyone else profits from nothing in exchange for the destruction of the planet.

Greenpeace is asking each of you to join the movement! Fight for our home! Although you’re not expected to go around scaling huge buildings, you can do your part by writing to leaders in your country to help stop the damage being done. Small change is still change and when coupled with everyone else can make a huge difference.