Exponentially High Baby Dolphin Deaths in the Gulf

Signs of Horrors to Come?

In the latest of repercussions from the BP debacle in the Gulf of Mexico, we got word of baby dolphins washing up dead on the shores Mississippi and Alabama — at ten times the normal rate of stillborn mortality.  The Sun Herald reports that 17 babies less than 3 feet in length have been found, premature or stillborn.  Unfortunately, that’s only part of the story.  The ocean recycles very efficiently; many more dead babies likely never made it to the shore. This being the first of the babies to be born since the spill, we have no real idea how far-reaching the devastation may be.

Dead Baby Dolphin

This is one of a score of dead baby dolphins that washed up on the shores of the Gulf earlier this week.

Dr. Moby Solangi, director of the Institute of Marine Mammal Studies, confirmed that the death rate is highly abnormal, and informs that it appears that most were born premature.  Some were aborted at that time, others were stillborn.  Other points made are that some of the bruising that might have made it appear to be trauma was likely from the mothers trying to push the babies to the surface and get them to breathe.

It is not uncommon to sight one, maybe two stillborn dolphins a year.  That there have been a score found on shore already is pretty solid proof that this is a significant anomaly.  It may also be a warning that we, too, are at risk from the oil and Corexit.  Just because we don’t live IN the water doesn’t mean it’s not affecting us as well.

This is amongst the results of the use of Corexit and the oil spill itself.  We see it because we notice something as large as a baby dolphin floating on in to shore.  To be sure, many millions of other living things have been lost, and their offspring dead.  As Protect The Ocean warned last summer, the use of Corexit has made a tragic event  into a full-blown disaster of epic proportions.  We are just now beginning to see the effects of this myopic decision.  Corporate greed must never be allowed to choose and control the choices made in our planet’s waters again.
Scientists continue to discover even greater areas of Gulf floor covered in oil that was kept from rising by Corexit.  In the places where it is found, what should be breeding grounds for the next generation of ocean flora and fauna to come, the ocean floor is lifeless, dead.   Some may want to claim that this is not empirical proof.  We cannot afford to wait for any more decisive evidence than has already been seen.

Remember: As go the oceans, so go we all.  What happens in the Gulf effects every one of us, eventually.  Please support efforts to ban the use of Corexit in the States and abroad, as has already been successfully done in the UK a decade ago.

As the dolphin families mourn the loss of their infant children, we mourn their loss as our own, and hope that the ocean is able to recover soon from the horrors we have released upon it.

A Plea For Vegetarianism

Once thought of as fanatical by some, and downright impossible by others, the movement towards becoming vegetarians, eschewing eating animals’ flesh, is one which has been steadily gaining steam.  At the heart of the resistance is simple habit — the way we’ve all been brought up.  In some peoples and cultures, the notion of eating the flesh of another living being is so vulgar that it’s unimaginable.  But most of the world has been doing so for a very long time, and changes don’t come quickly.  As our planet becomes more fragile, the balance more delicate, the argument for vegetarianism becomes increasingly valid, important.  Some have legitimate cause to claim that it may be the only way we can save ourselves from ourselves.

It takes between 5 and 8 pounds of grain for a cow to produce 1 pound of flesh.  Obviously, if we were just to eat the grain ourselves instead, we’d have 5-8 times as much food, and no animals would suffer, no massive slaughterhouse processing would be necessary, that much less fertilizer and pesticide would be employed… plenty of good reasons not to eat beef.  The same can be said of chickens, only the figure is even higher in favor of not eating their flesh.  Indeed, the damage done by the production of animals for our consumption is significant, and it’s getting into our water table.  Even if one has no problem with causing another living being to be killed so that one can enjoy a taste for a few seconds, there remain plenty of reasons to support vegetarian practices, and precious few reasons not to make the change, or at least make a dramatic reduction in our individual consumption and daily eating habits.

A great number of sage people have become vegetarian, after careful consideration of all arguments.  The simple fact is that we do not need to eat flesh to be healthy and flourish.  Amongst them was a man of peace who left us all with both lesson and proof that non-violence can and will win the day against insurmountable odds.  The below  writing by Henry Salt, from a hundred years ago, was the one which led Ghandi to give up eating flesh entirely.  Mr. Salt’s arguments are rather convincing:

A Plea For Vegetarianism — Henry S. Salt

I must preface this essay by the confession that I am myself a Vegetarian, and that I mean to say all the good I can of the principles of Vegetarianism. This is rather formidable admission to make, for- a Vegetarian is still regarded, in ordinary society, as little better than a madman, and may consider himself lucky if he has no worse epithets applied to him than humanitarian, sentimentalist, crotchet-monger, fanatic, and the like. A man who leaves off eating flesh will soon find that his friends and acquaintances look on him with strange and wondering eyes ; his life is invested with a mysterious interest ; his death is an event which is regarded as by no means distant or improbable. Some of his friends, who take a graver view of such dietetic vagaries, feel it to be their duty to warn him boldly and explicitly that he will undoubtedly die in a short time unless he amends his ways. Others content themselves with the more cautious assertion that he is undermining his health by slow degrees, and will inevitably fall a victim to the first severe attack of illness that may befall him. Others, again, are of opinion that though his bodily health may not suffer, yet his mental powers will be sapped by a fleshless diet, and he will soon sink into a state of hopeless idiocy and imbecility. On the other hand, there are some who readily admit the possibility of living without meat, but profess themselves, with a pitying smile of superior intelligence, utterly unable to imagine any reason for such abstinence.

In spite of these somewhat discouraging reflections, I think it will be worth our while to inquire if there be really such great absurdity in the idea of not eating flesh, or if it be possible that the Vegetarians have reason on their side, and that the present movement in favor of a reformed diet may contain the germ of an important change. However that may be, it can do no harm to my readers if they hear what can be said in favor of Vegetarianism ; then, if they are not persuaded to adopt a fleshless diet, they will have a clear conscience, and be able to enjoy their beef and mutton all the more afterwards.

The first and most obvious advantage of a vegetarian diet is its economy. Flesh-meat is so much more expensive than cereals and vege­table products, that it must be accounted very extravagant and unbusinesslike to use it as a common article of food, unless, as is generally believed, its superior quality compensates in the long run for its dearness. But if Vegetarians find that they live in perfect health without meat, would they not be somewhat deficient in common-sense if they did not make the most of their pecuniary advantage? The humanitarians, sentimentalists, crotchet-mongers, and fanatics have therefore, at least, one point in their favour—the cost of their food is far less than that of the shrewd flesh-eater. I mention this point first as being the most plain and indisput­able, not necessarily the most important; yet that it is also of great importance will scarcely be denied, in a country whose food supply is yearly becoming a matter of greater difficulty, and where thousands of people are in a state of abject poverty and want. Even in well-to-do house­holds the price of meat is a source of constant complaint and vexation to the prudent house­wife ; yet she would laugh to scorn the bare idea of living without flesh, and, if she has ever thought of Vegetarianism, has thought of it only as an impious absurdity and dangerous halluci­nation of modern times, to be classed with Mormonism, Spiritualism, Anglo-Israelism, Socialism, and possibly Atheism itself. “What sort of a religion must that be?” was the remark of an old and faithful servant when she heard that her former master had become a Vegetarian — a remark typical of the attitude of society towards the Vegetarian movement.

Secondly : Is it not equally unquestionable that it is both more humane, and what, for want of a comprehensive word, I must call more “aesthetic,” not to slaughter animals for food, unless it be really necessary to do so? If it can be shown that men can live equally well without flesh-food, or, rather, unless it can he shown that the contrary is the case (for the burden of proof must always rest with those who take on themselves the responsibility of wholesale slaughter), it must surely seem un­justifiable, on the score of humanity, to breed and kill animals for merely culinary purposes.

Cateris paribus, there is therefore a moral advantage in a vegetarian diet; and the humani­tarians and sentimentalists are only fulfilling a real duty in a real duty in abstaining from animal food, if ‘experience has shown it to be in their case unnecessary. And, if we assume For a moment that a fleshless diet is practicable, how cruel to animals, and how degrading to men, is the institution of the slaughter-house! Having no wish to dwell on what is morbid and unpleasant, I shall not pain the feelings of my readers by harping on the sufferings which their victims undergo, but shall content myself with remark­ing that those good people are mistaken who imagine that the slaughter of animals is painless and merciful. A society has lately been insti­tuted (not by Vegetarians) with the object of introducing into our slaughter-houses more humane and sanitary methods of procedure. The mere existence of such a society is a proof that the system is not free from cruelty ; but if anyone wishes for further proof, he has only to read, if he has nerve enough to do so, the account which the society has published of the present system of slaughtering.

But, as I said before, the practice of flesh- eating is not only cruel towards animals, but degrading to men — to those, at least, who have eyes to see, and ears to hear, the teaching of morality and good taste. A truly “aesthetic” eye would surely be shocked by the horrible display of carcasses with which our butchers are wont to bedeck their shops ; and it is indeed a strange predilection that induces even ladies to go in person to the market to buy their ” butchers’ meat,” as that article is euphemisti­cally entitled, and to ask anxiously the important question, ” when was it killed ?” A truly aesthetic ” ear would hardly be charmed by the lowing of cattle and bleating of sheep when they are driven hurriedly down our streets by an individual dressed in blue. A truly “aesthetic” palate and a truly “aesthetic” nose (if there be “aestheticism” in these senses) could hardly relish the flavor of “meat,” however artfully mitigated and concealed by the skill of the cook. The greatest and most unerring argu­ment in favor of Vegetarianism is, to my mind, the utter absence of “good taste” in flesh-eating, which is revolting to all the higher instincts or the human mind. ” Methinks at meals some odd thoughts might intrude,” says Byron ; and if they do not intrude in most cases, it is only another proof of the well nigh insuperable power of custom and prejudice.

It appears, then, that both on economic and moral grounds there are certain very distinct advantages in a vegetarian diet, provided only that such a diet can be shown to be physically practicable. This is, in reality, the cardinal point of the whole controversy; and we accordingly find that the possibility, or, at any rate, the advisability of Vegetarianism on physical grounds is most pertinaciously denied. The popular idea is, of course, that meat is the only food which gives strength, and that Vegetarianism is well nigh impossible. “Don’t you feel very weak?” is generally the first question asked of a Vegetarian, by a new friend or acquaintance; and if we press for a clearer explanation of this vague belief in the strength-giving qualities of meat, we find that it is composed of two distinct and sometimes contradictory notions – first, that meat is necessary to support bodily strength; secondly, that mental work cannot be done without it. “Vegetarianism,” says one, “may be all very well for the rich and idolent, but the hard-working man must have his meat.” “The laboring classes,” says another, “may doubtless perform their merely body work on a vegetarian diet, but those who have to work with their minds need a more stimulating diet.” The Vegetarian thus finds himself placed between Scylla and Charybdis, but neither argument, when examined, will be found to be very formidable. To prove that the former is quite fallacious, one need only refer to the undeniable fact that in all countries the mass of the peasantry live in robust health without flesh- meat, for the simple reason that they cannot afford to get it: The latter supposition, for it is nothing more, that the intellectual classes stand in special need of flesh-meat, is equally unfortunate, in face of the positive evidence of Vegetarians that they can do their mental work as well, or better, without meat ; and of the well-known fact that great writers have usually eaten little or no flesh-meat, especially when engaged on any literary work. The belief that meat alone can give strength may therefore be dismissed as a mere error, resulting from preju­dice or thoughtlessness.

The objection of chemists and medical men to a vegetarian diet is based rather on the belief that meat is the most convenient form of food: they admit that Vegetarianism is possible, but deny that it is advisable : a vegetarian diet may be well enough, but a mixed diet is preferable. Such was the line of argument taken up by the scientific champions of flesh-eating, in the con­troversy on the “Great Food Question,” to which a good deal of space was devoted a few months ago ( 1882) in the columns of the Echo. It is, of course, impossible for Vegetarians to prove to demonstration that such a theory is wrong ; but it should be observed that it is a theory only: all the practical evidence that can be obtained goes to indicate that abstinence from flesh-food causes no physical deterioration, but rather the reverse, Indeed, those who have themselves made practical trial of Vegetarianism, although perhaps devoid or any technical knowledge of the digestive organs, cannot but smile at the arbitrary assertions and objections of learned men ; nor can they be much interested by the information that flesh-meat is chemically supe­rior, when they happen to have learnt by expe­rience that they are much better without it. They adopt a rough-and-ready style of reason­ing which is very disturbing to scientific minds ; their boldness is “magnificent, but it is not war.” They are like Diogenes, who, when learned men were demonstrating by subtle and flawless argument ” that motion is impossible,” was pro­voking enough to rise from his seat and move about. In short, it is abundantly evident that the ” Great Food Question,” whatever its ultimate solution may be, is not one that will be settled by the authority of chemists and physicians. Quot homines, tot senentiae. We Vegetarians have no wish, on our part, to be dogmatic and interfering ; but with regard to the physical aspect of Vegetarianism, which, as I said before, is the cardinal point of the whole question, we are at least justified by the facts of the case in asserting this much, There is over­whelming proof that Vegetarianism is possible; there is an utter absence of proof that it is in any way detrimental to perfect health. It is, therefore, at least worthy of more serious con­sideration than it has yet received ; before it is ridiculed and condemned it should at least be tried.

But it must not be supposed that Vegetarians rely solely on personal experience and empirical proof—they, too, can appeal with confidence to the teaching of science and physiology. The fact that the structure of the human body is
wholly unlike that of the carnivora, and that the apes, who are nearest akin to us in the animal world, are frugivorous, is a somewhat strong indication that flesh is not the natural food of mankind, And if it be said that man, unlike other creatures, is omni-vorous, and has there­fore to seek not what is “natural,” but what is best, then I readily accept the challenge, and reply that there is a strong concurrence of proof, on economic, moral, and physical grounds, that a vegetarian diet is the most suitable and beneficial. Among various advantages, it has one inestimable blessing ; it is less stimulating than flesh-food, while it is equally nutritious. If people could only realize how much vice and violence is caused by over-stimulating food, they would soon recognize the importance of a non-stimulating diet. On the other hand, if they would only remember how much misery is caused by a lack of nutritious food, they would welcome a diet-system which, by its vast economic saving, would bring within our reach an abundance of cheap and wholesome nutri­ment. From whichever point one may regard this question, utilitarian or moral, it will appear more and more marvelous that men should persist in squandering their money and repress­ing their finest moral impulses, in order to supply themselves with the costly food which they stupidly imagine to be necessary for their physical health.

In addition to the serious arguments brought forward by the scientific opponents of Vege­tarianism there are, of course, many minor objections which are constantly cropping up when the subject is discussed in ordinary con­versation, all or them more or less fallacious, and some exceptionally remarkable for the curious insight they give one into the mental state of those who advance them. Many and many a time have I been begged to explain “what would become of the animals” under a vegetarian regime, fears being sometimes expressed that they would drive mankind from off the face of the earth, at other times that they would themselves perish miserably in utter want and destitution! Many and many a time have I been reminded, not as a joke, but as a serious argument, that animals were “‘sent” us as food! I have no space here to notice these and similar difficulties; and in truth, it is but a thankless task to answer them at any time, for they are hydra-headed monsters., and spring up as fast as one can cut them down. It is a mournful fact that when people have no wish to understand a thing, they can generally con­trive to misunderstand it ; and the hopelessness of pleading with those who will not or cannot comprehend is one of the first lessons learnt by Food Reformers, as, indeed, by reformers of all kinds. I once heard of a physician, of some local repute, who not only condemned the prin­ciples of Vegetarianism„ but professed himself entirely unaware of the existence of Vege­tarians. When informed that such persons do undoubtedly exist, he persisted in regarding them as impostors who maintained a spurious reputation by artifices such as those attributed to Doctor Tanner, or the -” Welsh fasting, girl,” and gravely inquired, ” Are you sure they do not eat meat by night?”

It has been the unambitious object of this paper to show that Vegetarianism is worth more serious consideration than this, and that it is not a mere foolish craze and hallucination. When charged with fanaticism and infatuation, the Vegetarian may well retort, in the words of Hamlet –


My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time,

And makes as healthful music. It is not madness

That I have uttered: bring me to the test.

To bring such a question to the test is, however, a process which to most people is particularly disagreeable. They greatly prefer the easier and more expeditious method of shaping their ideas in accordance with the time-honored traditions of custom and “society;” and hence, on the subject of food, they cling firmly to the notion that the roast beef of England is the summum bonum of dietetic aspiration. I believe that time will prove this to be a fallacy, and that future and wiser generations will look back with amazement on the habit of flesh-eating as a strange relic of ignorance and barbarism.

Related Video:


Japanese Take Up Protest Against Dolphin Slaughter

The horror story of the dolphins being slaughtered in Taiji (and at other towns along Japan’s coast) is well documented in an Oscar-winning documentary called The Cove.  Since that film came out, a tremendous amount of attention has come to the small Japanese town with the big ugly secret.  The entertainment industry (Blackstone, SeaWorld, Six Flags, and others all over the planet) purchase live dolphins, taking these majestic, sentient and sapient beings into captivity.  Selling dolphins into slavery is a large part of the town’s profit, as they go for several tens of thousands of dollars each.  In contrast, dead dolphin flesh is sold for a few hundred dollars (a sum supplemented by the Japanese government to help the “fishermen”.)  So without the enslaving, dolphin slaughters, like the Grind in the Faroe Islands, would become much harder to justify.  Dolphin flesh is very high in dangerous mercury, and shouldn’t be sold in Japan, but is sometimes misleadingly labeled as “whale”.  Cetacean activists from all over the world have stood opposed to these dolphin hunters and their vulgar practices.  Historically, that has put them at odds with the Japanese “fishermen” and the Japanese government.  But now light is falling on these barbaric practices, and respected individuals within Japan are beginning to speak up against the slaughters.  We couldn’t be more pleased.

Here is a video, in Japanese (sorry, no subtitles at this time).  The video doesn’t necessarily need translation.  Be warned, it’s rather graphic.

Video: Dolphin Slaughter Protest