Friday, June 13, 2008

Cetacean Collateral Damage

Sorry, I know I don't usually post twice in one day and I certainly don't want to detract from my conciliatory friendship post below, but I couldn't get the idea out of my head that these 26 dead dolphins in Cornwall England are just more military collateral damage.

Click here to read the 6.11.08 full story, which has many explanatory links and ends on this cheery note: "One hopes that although the animals died, that we can learn something from this..."

I don't have the stomach to tell you what I really think we will "learn" from these deaths. Can anyone look at this photo and not think, the dolphin is literally crying tears of blood? I wonder if anyone ever counts how many of these large-brained sonar-guided dolphins and whales suffer "coincidental" deaths when the navy is conducting SONAR war games. Wouldn't it be ironic if Cetaceans really are Aliens Among Us, and our first chance at cosmic diplomacy involved killing them while testing our quaint tribal war technology?

6.12.08 Update from MSN.UK.News: A common reason for cetacean stranding/beach deaths is when they are chasing fish - but if they were feeding, there would be clear evidence of it ...
Post-mortem tests on a pod of dolphins which died this week after they became stranded in a river have revealed evidence they were "scared ashore" near Cornwall, England.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said most of the dolphins had no fish in their stomach, which adds weight to the theory that they were panicked by an underwater disturbance.
The Royal Navy admitted it was carrying out training exercises with a submarine and survey ship using sonar in Falmouth Bay. The Ministry of Defence would not comment on what training the submarine was doing but said it would have relied on passive sonar during the exercise & confirmed there were live firing exercises.

16 comments:

DivaJood said...

Scared ashore - that's just horrific.

Mauigirl said...

It is sad beyond belief that our warlike natures are harming and killing these gentle creatures.

D.K. Raed said...

Diva:
The article said the Naval SONAR devices would produce symptoms similar to decompression sickness. Their heads must've felt like they were exploding. No wonder they rushing anywhere they could to get away from it.

MauiG:
It is sad & I don't understand what it is the British Navy was testing SONAR for. Our navy has been banned from new sonar testing ... well, supposedly ... who knows what really goes on out there at sea.

Fran said...

Ugh! It is sickening, can't even find the words.

Cart said...

Even the hoons, those who would not normally care about any life form, give the dolphins a very special regard here.
Certainly the military would not risk a public backlash like this. We lucky ones look forward to watching the local pods every chance we get.
I especially enjoy seeing the old grey bloke, long separated from the pod and very wheezy, but a frequent visitor.

Ingrid said...

that is very sad... has there been more of a backlash about this? Especially the Brits who can be so outspoken and engage in public protests more easily than Americans, should've been out in droves about this..shameful!!
Ingrid

D.K. Raed said...

Fran:
words really don't suffice, do they?

Cart:
well you forced me to google "hoon" so now I have a new word to add to my vocabulary! I didn't know that an old dolphin would separate from the pod. Seems very sad, but sounds the harbor people keep him occupied.

Ingrid:
You bring up a good question; I will have to search to see if any Brits are protesting. It speaks volumes that for days the only news sources I saw that covered this story were British. It was way down in Cornwall, off the beaten path so to speak, so perhaps not as visible as a mass beaching would've been in a more populated area.

Je ne regrette rien said...

I have friends in Cornwall who are quite devastated ... no protests en masse but definitely investigating to see how to prevent in the future. They coexist uneasily with the UK military presence in the area.

D.K. Raed said...

Je Ne Regrette:
Welcome, I've seen you at Utah Savage's blog!

I couldn't find any news of British protests, but as you say, the local Cornish are very saddened & quite upset with the military. The British Royal Navy is denying that any sonar testing they were doing could have caused the dolphins to beach. Just a coincidence that they were testing devices that might cause sonar-sensitive animals like dolphins to go absolutley bonkers trying to escape a "noise" that would've made them feel like their heads were exploding. Oh, and that these sonar tests were conducted at roughly the same location at roughly the same time of morning as the beaching occured is just more coincidence! Coincidence, or Crap?

an average patriot said...

That screws up and kills a lot of whales too and has led to some shifting of navy routines but that is so said. Dolphins actually seem human to me because they care and think though a lot of people don't. I was looking at that and thinking it appeared to be crying blood and then you said it. Hmm!

D.K. Raed said...

Avg Pat: it did look like blood tears. To me, it meant the pain inside their heads must've been terrific. Of all the other pics I saw posted, this one was the only one that looked uncleaned up for public consumption.

an average patriot said...

That is what I instantly thought of. One of my sons tells me whenever he goes surfing they come up to play with them. To me they almost seem human and have emotions. You want to hug them!

D.K. Raed said...

Avg Pat: I've played with & petted them in SeaWorld & have to say, they seem like a mirror of what we would be if we had gone back to the sea instead of making it on land. But then, if we'd gone that route, we would never have become "civilized" (i.e., protective and/or coveteous of land & possessions, which of course lead to war). Hell, what am I thinking? Let's get back in the ocean now, before it's too late!

Cart said...

Dolphins show some cultural behaviour, something long believed to be a quality unique to humans. A discovery was made in Australia which shows some dolphins, such as the Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) teach their young to use tools. The dolphins break sponges off and cover their snouts with them thus protecting their snouts while foraging. This knowledge of how to use a tool is mostly transferred from mothers to daughters, unlike simian primates, where the knowledge is generally passed on to both sexes.
Dolphins are known to have sex for reasons other than reproduction, sometimes also engaging in homosexual act, but then so do dogs.
Various dolphin species have been known to engage in sexual behaviour with other dolphin species this also having resulted in various hybrid dolphin. Sexual encounters may be violent, with male dolphins sometimes showing aggressive behaviour towards both females and other male dolphins. Occasionally, dolphins will also show sexual behaviour towards other animals, including humans.
I mention the sexual behaviour because young males are also known to practice what we know as pack rape.
Now as to the old man dolphin here, I'm not certain whether he was kicked out a pod or whether there is some other reason. He has very light mottled skin and tends to work (very successfully alone) at night. Perhaps he has a health issue that forces separation.
Cute little buggers, but humans tend to have too many animal characteristics. Oh, that’s right, we are animals…

D.K. Raed said...

Cart:
uh-oh, sounds like your Hoons have been teaching the dolphins bad behavior! seriously, I never knew they were capable of such (mis)deeds. I sure hope none are seriously injured during such aggression, hope that it's more "Show" than "Go", if you know what I mean.

That is so cool about the sponge-tool use being learned behavior! I just read that they select conical sponges (rather than the far more common flat sponges) because they will stay on their snouts better. And that the dolphins that exhibit this skill are known as "Spongers" -- amazing! It reinforces the observation that they didn't evolve such big convoluted brains for nothing.

Your Old Man Dolphin sounds like a neighborhood favorite. My guess is he was unable to keep up with the pod, if he is that wheezy. Or maybe he just prefers human harbor company.

an average patriot said...

all right Red!