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Protecting Dolphins: A Right to Life

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One of the daily privileges of living in southern California along the Santa Monica Bay is watching pods of bottlenose dolphins patrolling the coastline. They are extraordinary creatures with astounding memories that bring joy to my day - each time I see them.

My students and I believe that dolphins are entitled to the right of life. We along with millions of other Earthlings are mortified that Japan and Faroe Islanders brutally slaughter small-toothed whales and dolphins i.e. Faroe Islands and Taiji Cove with such reckless abandon and a despicable sense of entitlement.

Those unfortunate dolphins not slaughtered but caught are sentenced to an unimaginable captivity - suffering a brutal and torturous existence in dolphinariums for the amusement of unconscious humans. Have you seen the documentary Blackfish?

Since July 1, my colleagues and I have witnessed bottlenose dolphins dying along the eastern seaboard from New York to the Carolina's (and soon predicted along Florida) at ten times the normal death rates, washing ashore emaciated, shark bitten with shocking skin lesions. So far over 375 have perished with predictions suggesting casualties will at least double before a morbillivirus, which is implicated in their deaths, abates.

In addition, it is worrisome that polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs are showing up in high concentrations off-coast Georgia. Although banned in the U.S. since 1979 they remain at manufacturing sites bleeding carcinogenic toxicity into soils and waterways for many decades.

The truth of the matter is that our oceans are desperately sick; my forthcoming book 'Shepherding the Sea' delves into many of those details. In the meantime, dolphins and whales are in big trouble - naval and oil exploration sonar are shattering their eardrums, cargo ships are ramming them, 13 million miles or 27 return trips to the moon of hooked and monofilament fishing lines are ensnaring them or cutting them badly, their autoimmune systems are so over-compromised from mercury poisoning (a by-product of coal-fired power plants) and toxic micro-plastics acting as sponges laced with high concentrations of potent man-made poisons; these awesome sea creatures are now susceptible to many viruses whereby pneumonia sets in, quickly.

My colleagues have clearly shown that both filter feeding whales e.g. humpbacks and large- and small-toothed whales (i.e. dolphins) play an essential role in keeping the web of sealife intact and vibrant. The filter feeders fertilize the ocean with their nitrogen-rich flocculent fecal plumes, stimulating phytoplankton, enriching the marine ecosystem, and creating abundant fisheries. Toothed whales cull the old and weak fish and seal populations preventing diseases from reaching epidemics and ensuring a high level of fitness throughout the seas.

The Japanese and Faroe Island bloodlust is barbaric and it is fueling the death of the sea - their repugnant sense of entitlement must end, now!

The Japanese government recently called demonstrators in Tokyo 'environmental terrorists' for drawing attention to the beginning of yet another dolphin slaughter season. Shame on them for their incorrigible misuse of the word 'terrorism.'

Those that stand-up for nature and the rights of sealife are intrepid and indeed worthy of praise. Those, on the other hand, that authorize and profit from killing or torturing of nature and the destruction of our living biosphere are perpetrating global crimes against all children and their birthrights on planet Earth.

Do not buy tickets to dolphinariums. Please support the conservation work of Blue Voice, Save Japan Dolphins, Ocean Preservation Society, Animals Australia and Operation Infinite Patience - Sea Shepherd.

Earth Dr Reese Halter is a broadcaster, conservation biologist, educator and co-author of Life, The Wonder of it All.