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Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.
Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately-balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.
Florida’s Manatees are Dying in Record Numbers
Commentary by Jennifer Mishler, Sea Shepherd Jacksonville
Manatee Festival in Crystal River raising awareness about the endangered animals. Aside from their lovable nature, manatees are important to the marine ecosystem as grazers of seagrass and other vegetation. However, the manatees that call Floridian waters home are facing serious and imminent threats.Manatees are beloved here in Florida, and we saw just how much at this year’s
Due to their declining numbers, protections have been established for them. The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 protect manatees under both state and federal law. Under these protections, it is illegal to harass, hunt capture or kill them in the United States, but they continue to face other threats including boat collisions, loss of habitat, pollution, fishing lines/nets and an annual toxic algae bloom known as red tide named after the color change it creates underwater.
Although many algal blooms are not harmful and actually provide a large amount of food for oceanic life, some algae grow excessively depleting oxygen in the water and produce toxins harmful to marine life, ecosystems, as well as humans. Red tide produces brevetoxin, a nerve poison which marine mammals consume when they eat plants such as seagrass, other marine life that have ingested the toxin, or when they ingest the algae itself. Brevetoxins can also be harmful to humans through the consumption of shellfish or if the toxin becomes airborne.
Prior to 2013, red tide was responsible for the mortality of a record 151 manatees in 1996, but this year combined causes of death have taken a much larger toll on the manatee population. According to a report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, 585 manatees have died as of May 2, 2013- that’s approximately 11 percent of their total population! Some ill manatees have been found and are being rehabilitated at various facilities.
While red tide is killing manatees on Florida’s southwest coast, their population is also being threatened by unexplained deaths on the eastern coast of the state, which some experts believe is due to the manatees consuming algae in place of their usual seagrass that has been dying off.
The struggling manatees recently caught a break when Florida passed HB999, an amendment to a bill to create environmental regulation such as enforce local fertilizer ordinances and wetlands regulation (as one possible cause of algal blooms is runoff from agricultural and industrial operations). With summer quickly approaching, the manatees face yet another threat in an increased number of boaters.
On top of everything else, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering changing the status of manatees, one of the first species listed as endangered after the passing of the Endangered Species Act, from endangered to threatened. As manatees are still facing severe threats and 2013 has been a record-breaking year for manatee deaths, we are urging that they continue to be protected on federal, state and local levels.
CALL TO ACTION!
The manatees desperately need our support on a national level, here’s what you can do to help the manatees of Florida:
1. Contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service using the contact information below and ask that the manatee continue to be a protected species listed as endangered on the federal Endangered Species List, and to protect manatee habitats.
Chief, Division of Conservation and Classification: Gina Shultz - 703-358-2171
Chief, Office of Communication and Candidate Conservation: Jim Serfis - 703-358-2171
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Endangered Species Program
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 420
Arlington, VA 22203
2. Get familiar with the boating guidelines for manatee protection and always USE CAUTION. Above all, keep out of areas designated as “NO ENTRY - MANATEE REFUGE.”
If you happen to accidentally run into a manatee with your boat (please don’t flee) or find an injured, ill or dead manatee, please report the sighting immediately! Use the contact information here:
Wildlife Alert number: 1-888-404-FWCC (3922)
Cellular phone *FWC or #FWC
VHF Channel 16 on your marine radio if you see a manatee being harassed or an injured, dead, tagged, or orphaned manatee,
Please be respectful of manatees - DO NOT TOUCH, FEED, FOLLOW, OR HARASS MANATEES IF YOU SEE THEM!
3. Spread the word, awareness can create change. Please share this with friends and family concerned about the wellbeing of our nation’s animals, especially those residing in Florida.
4. Participate in a beach cleanup, organize your own, or connect with Sea Shepherd Jacksonville on Facebook for upcoming beach cleanup events.
Paddling For The Oceans
By Gary Stokes – Sea Shepherd Hong Kong
On 12th - 14th June, 2013 the best outrigger teams from around the world will be competing in the Olamau Race in Hawaii. This grueling race is the ultimate unlimited outrigger canoe challenge. The course is 100 miles covering some of the most ferocious ocean around the volcanic north shore of Hawaii’s Big Island. Described as the formula one of the outrigger calendar this race is not for the faint-hearted.
Kevin Kelly recently approached me about joining forces for the ocean as the team of hardcore paddlers from Hong Kong are entering the race this year. They want to help promote Sea Shepherd’s global efforts to save our oceans whilst they compete in front of the world’s media and also introduce Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to the global paddle community. They are donating 50% of all their fundraising to Sea Shepherd, (the other 50% from their fundraising they are using to cover the teams expenses in getting to Hawaii).
The international team is made up of top paddlers from Hong Kong’s two most competitive clubs, Lantau Boat Club and the VRC Hong Kong Paddle Club. The team is training hard here in Hong Kong in preparation, in fact I just received this text from them whilst writing this article, “Paddled 46k yesterday, 38k today and we’ll be doing another 45k with sprints tomorrow!”
Sea Shepherd’s involvement has been a joint effort between Sea Shepherd Hong Kong and the newly formed Sea Shepherd Hawaii. The team will be helping to promote the latest campaign Operation Reef Defense launched by Sea Shepherd Hawaii’s Director, Deborah Bassett. This campaign is aiming to draw global attention to the protection of our reefs from over-exploitation and human damage. The aquarium and live reef fish trades are having a serious effect on our reefs and nowhere is this better highlighted than in Hawaii where the aquarium trade is currently driving several species closer towards extinction.
With the team based in Hong Kong, another campaign very close to the team’s heart is the shark fin issue. Hong Kong is ground zero of the shark fin industry, with over 50% of the world’s shark fin trade passing through Hong Kong. Each year more than 100 million sharks are killed to supply Asian markets with shark fins for soups at banquettes and weddings across the region.
As we draw closer to race day we will be updating with progress reports and of course we’ll be covering the race and have Sea Shepherd Hawaii providing support on the ground and at race events.
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An Anniversary to Remember:
May 13th Marks One Year Since Captain Watson’s Arrest
Hard to believe it has been one year, as of today, that our esteemed Founder, Captain Paul Watson, was arrested in Frankfurt, Germany on politically motivated, 10-year-old charges stemming from an incident in which he tried to intervene, at the Government's request to stop Costa Rican shark poachers. No one was hurt, no property was damaged, and the case was dismissed by local authorities. In fact, the entire ordeal was documented in the 2007 film, “Sharkwater.”
However, Japan, who has thrown $30 million dollars of taxpayer and Tsunami Relief Funds into stopping Sea Shepherd at all costs, later convinced Costa Rica to re-open the charges, which led to his arrest.
Since that time, Captain Watson has been added to the Interpol Red List by Costa Rica and subsequently Japan. He is listed alongside serial killers, child abductors, and drug traffickers and still can't make landfall or else he'll face unfair extradition and “kangaroo” trials in Costa Rica and Japan, from which he will likely never be released or worse. All this for the “crime” of intervening against illegal shark-finning activities, on order of Guatemalan authorities, being conducted by convicted shark poachers in a Costa Rican vessel in Guatemalan waters and for saving thousands of whales in a whale sanctuary.
Many caring individuals have written, called, and pleaded to these and other governments — reportedly more than 158,000 letters asking for Captain Watson’s freedom received by the German Foreign Ministry alone — to pardon Captain Watson and provide him safe haven. We continue to fight for his freedom within the legal system. However, no matter what happens, his legacy — Sea Shepherd Conservation Society — lives on as the most effective direct action marine conservation organization in the world, and that is what matters most to Captain Watson.
Please take a few moments today to watch this video, which was recorded at Sea Shepherd's 35th anniversary celebration in Lyons, Colorado just two days before Captain Watson’s unexpected arrest. Use this information to keep fighting for this eco-warrior and to motivate all of us, individually, to continue to fight for the future of our oceans.
Please continue to support Sea Shepherd and consider making a donation today in honor of Captain Watson’s pioneering work. Your support is needed now more than ever. Show Captain Watson as well as the poachers that the citizens of the world will not stand down in the face of corruption and greed, and that we will continue to fight so that our grandchildren, too, will see and experience healthy, living oceans.
On behalf of everyone at Sea Shepherd, we thank you for your support!
Pete Bethune and Sea Shepherd Settle Long-running Legal Dispute
Earthrace Conservation, and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, have reached an agreement following arbitration in their long-running legal dispute. The agreement, which involved a financial settlement to Bethune, also provided that he will assist Sea Shepherd to help ensure Paul Watson is not extradited to Japan.Pete Bethune, founder of
The dispute between Sea Shepherd and Bethune arose after the Ady Gil vessel was damaged in the 2010 Sea Shepherd campaign, while trying to stop Japanese whaling in Antarctica. The Ady Gil was deliberately rammed by the Shonan Maru #2, a Japanese security vessel, and after a period of towing, the Ady Gil was abandoned.
Under agreements signed between Bethune and Sea Shepherd in 2009, if the vessel was lost or destroyed, Sea Shepherd would be required to make certain payments to Bethune. The arbitration was regarding the payment and its amount.
Bethune said, "I am happy that the case has reached its conclusion and am pleased with the result. Fighting between individuals and organisations that are fundamentally working towards the same goals is a waste of time, money and effort that could be better spent protecting marine life and environments.
"This settlement means that I will be able to repay all those who have been so generous in helping me keep my head above water, as well as all those who have steadfastly supported me throughout this whole episode, especially all the Earthrace volunteers. Without that support, I would have been sunk, much like the Ady Gil."
Bethune and Sea Shepherd are both now focused on working together for the good of the oceans and as part of that endeavour, Bethune has been helping Watson in his efforts to avoid extradition to Japan pursuant to an Interpol red notice that was issued against Watson at the request of Japan.
Sea Shepherd contends that the red notice is politically motivated and that its allegations are false. Bethune, who was convicted of five offenses by a court in Japan following Sea Shepherd's 2010 campaign, says that Japan's allegations against Watson are essentially false or misleading, and his goal is to see the red notice against Watson lifted.
"Sea Shepherd has honored the agreement we made with Pete Bethune," said Susan Hartland, Sea Shepherd Administrative Director. "Now both of our organizations can close this chapter in our history and move forward to support marine wildlife worldwide," she added.
Sea Shepherd will continue its various campaigns to protect endangered and threatened marine mammals and fish. The organization would like the red notice against Paul Watson lifted before the sixth season of Sea Shepherd's hit docu-reality TV show, "Whale Wars," airs later this year.
Bethune and Earthrace Conservation are about to deploy their tactical unit to Africa where they are filming a reality TV series documenting illegal fishing by foreign vessels. Two episodes of the show have already been filmed, and another six will be filmed from July to October this year.
Sea Shepherd Launches Operation Reef Defense Campaign in Hawaii
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is proud to announce the launch of Operation Reef Defense, a global campaign to end the destruction of coral reefs and the many threats they face worldwide. Coral reefs represent some of the planet’s most biologically diverse ecosystems providing critical habitat to approximately 25 percent of all marine species, but they are disappearing at an alarming rate due to human-induced activities such as pollution, overfishing, reef wildlife trafficking, coastal development and global warming. Thirty percent of the world’s coral reefs have died in the last 50 years, and another 30 percent have suffered severe damage. Of the reefs remaining, it is estimated that 60 percent could face extinction in less than 25 years.
According to Sea Shepherd Hawaii Director & Reef Defense Campaign Leader, Deborah Bassett, "With the oceans of the world under attack from commercial extraction and pollution, our mission remains steadfast to defend marine habitat and wildlife to the fullest extent — from the smallest of reef species to the largest marine mammals and apex predators. Time is running out for these great rain forests under the sea, so we must act now."
Although Sea Shepherd is best known for its direct action efforts on the high seas, Sea Shepherd remains committed to protecting marine wildlife in all habitats, including the coastal awareness campaign orchestrated for Operation Reef Defense. Sea Shepherd plans to collaborate with Hawaiian dive shops and the surfing community to bring light to the destruction happening beneath the waves. With the campaign currently underway in Hawaii, Sea Shepherd’s global chapters will soon mirror similar programs in their local waters.
Reef degradation is a global crisis. Of the 100 countries with coral reefs, reef degradation is highest in Southeast Asia where nearly 95 percent of the region's reefs are threatened, mainly due to overfishing and destructive fishing practices. The loss of underwater life and habitat is also ever-present in our own backyard of Hawaii, where the top ten sought-after species of fish for aquariums have decreased by 59 percent over the last 20 years, while the most popular aquarium fish has declined in abundance from 38 to 57 percent. In Jamaica, it is estimated that almost all of the reefs are dead or severely degraded from overfishing and coastal pollution.
Sea Shepherd’s Vice President Robert Wintner, a veteran campaigner against the aquarium trade and its devastating impact to Hawaiian reefs stated, “Sea Shepherd will champion marine habitat and wildlife from the ravages of urban and corporate effluent and the destruction caused by the aquarium trade. Massive reef wildlife dies every year as disposable ornamentation in the vicious cycle of wildlife trafficking for the pet trade. Death generates continuing demand, driving the aquarium trade to strip reefs bare. Over 25 million sea creatures are in the commercial aquarium pipeline at any given moment – and nearly all will die within a year from the point of capture."
"Sea Shepherd is very much concerned for this wildlife and needs public support to translate these concerns into action. We may lose support from people who keep captive marine wildlife for a hobby, but as Captain Paul Watson has stated — our clients are the creatures of the sea. We hope that all people who are concerned for the oceans will recognize the importance of protecting reef eco-systems worldwide, and that if any of our supporters do keep marine wildlife in an aquarium, they will care for the wildlife they have and refrain from purchasing any more,” Wintner added.
Coral reefs simply cannot support continued unlimited resource usage or unmanaged global trade. Such drastic ongoing decline of healthy reefs will pose serious consequences for animals both on land and in the water and people worldwide.
"The Mermaid Song" Download Now Available!
Violinist and Composer Ysanne, strings for the “Smashing Pumpkins,” Launches “The Mermaid Song” with brand partner LUSH Cosmetics to Benefit Sea Shepherd
Composed, performed, produced and directed by Ysanne, “The Mermaid Song” is the first release from Ysanne’s “The Coldwater Project,” a collection of 13 songs, each partnered with a corresponding brand and a worthy non-profit who benefits.
“The Mermaid Song” is available online as a digital bundle that can be downloaded for $2 in the USA, UK, and worldwide.
The film and music bundle contains TWO films (MOV) and FOUR music tracks (320kbps MP3):
The Mermaid Song (Director’s Cut)
The Mermaid Song (Lyrics Video)
Four Music Tracks:
The Mermaid Song
The Mermaid Arrives
The Mermaid Departs
The Mermaid Song (Instrumental)
The Mermaid Song features the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, a 44-piece symphony orchestra, conducted by Ysanne, in Prague. Ysanne composed the song, arranged the strings, recorded the vocals, and also directed and starred in the films.
Shot in the Art Deco apartment of painter Gail Potocki in Chicago that once housed legendary stars Gloria Swanson and Groucho Marx, “The Mermaid Song” film is a sumptuously luxuriant cinematic feast for the eyes. Drenched in nostalgia, opulence, and fine craftsmanship, the artistic film was shot almost entirely in one seamless take and showcases the extraordinary jewelry of Russell Lownsbrough alongside the exquisite paintings of Gail Potocki, who also appears in the film. Ysanne wears couture by Alexander McQueen and Terry de Havilland.
“The Mermaid Song” is available from Ysanne‘s brand partner, LUSH Cosmetics, as a download with their exclusive new product, “The Mermaid” bath bomb, which was inspired by her song. Customers who purchase “The Mermaid” bath bomb from LUSH US and LUSH UK will get a free download of the song. All proceeds from the sale of the bath bomb and the song and/or film will be generously donated to Sea Shepherd.
“I can’t think of a more effective marine wildlife conservation organization to benefit from ‘The Mermaid Song,’” Ysanne said. “I’m thrilled to offer this gift to Sea Shepherd,” she added.
Find out more about “The Mermaid Song” in this exclusive Los Angeles Times review.
“The Mermaid Song” Download AVAILABLE NOW
World Renowned Scientist Dr. Louise Leakey Voices her Support for Sea Shepherd and the Importance of Protecting Marine Wildlife
Leading Paleontologist Dr. Louise Leakey, and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Board of Advisors member, is speaking out about her increasing concern for the dire state of the oceans and marine wildlife. Along with Sea Shepherd’s founder Captain Paul Watson and other esteemed members of the science community, Dr. Leakey believes that species are deeply interconnected and rely on the existence of healthy whale populations, and once they are damaged, all human and animal kind will be in trouble. “Humans are exploiting the oceans well beyond our means and we will see the end of species across the board purely as a result of human neglect. Unless we can ensure the longtime survival of species within our oceans, we are going to find ourselves in a great deal of trouble,” Dr. Leakey said.
Dr. Leakey joined Sea Shepherd in 2006 to lend her scientific expertise towards abating the growing public disconnect to the natural world, but has recently become more vocal about expressing her views in the face of the relentless assault upon our oceans. Dr. Leakey refers to Sea Shepherd as a group of “very dedicated people going out of their way to bring world attention to the plight of the oceans.” As a native of Kenya and active member of the historic Leakey paleontology family from East Africa, Dr. Leakey has seen first-hand the devastating effects of wildlife poaching even in the designated international sanctuaries. “It is absolutely imperative that we don’t just rely on governments to actually stand up (for the sanctuaries) — they’re not doing a good job of this. If the sanctuaries aren’t defended by the nations that create them, we need Sea Shepherds out there to say, ‘No!’…we need custodians for nature.”
Dr. Leakey is the first of several of Sea Shepherd’s science advisors to be profiled in a series of videos and statements featuring scientists in support of the organization’s efforts to defend and protect marine wildlife, including whales, dolphins and sharks. Aside from her involvement with Sea Shepherd, Dr. Leakey currently heads the Koobi Fora Research Project, the main program behind some of the most notable hominid fossil discoveries of the past two decades.
Sea Shepherd’s Board of Advisors includes Dr. Leakey’s peers from within the scientific community such as respected fisheries scientist Dr. Sidney Holt, primatologist Birute Galdikas and ecological scientist Dr. Deborah Brosnan. The Board also boasts a list of Hollywood’s environmental heavy hitters such as Pierce Brosnan, Martin Sheen, Sam Simon and John Paul DeJoria.
Dam Guardians Report “Hope,” Sea Lion #781, Finally Gets Assessment But No Intervention
After Three Days and Dozens of Calls to State and Local Agencies by Dam Guardians, Staff and Supporters Worldwide, a Marine Biologist Visits “Hope”
Three days after Sea Shepherd’s Dam Guardians began requesting help for “Hope,” the injured sea lion, branded with the number 781, a marine biologist working with Portland State University Marine Mammal Stranding Network (MMSN) in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) arrived on the scene at approximately 2:00 pm yesterday to assess the beleaguered animal, but did not provide any treatment. This, after Sea Shepherd Headquarters received word that someone from the MMSN would check on the animal on Wednesday afternoon, but it is unclear as to whether that happened, as the Dam Guardians on site never saw anyone arrive and no one made themselves known to the Dam Guardians guarding “Hope.”
The Dam Guardians, who are on the scene at the Port of Astoria to document the ongoing harassment and killing of sea lions for the crime of eating salmon along the Columbia River, found the wounded sea lion at the Port in the East Basin at approximately 4:00 pm Monday afternoon. In the hope that the Dam Guardians could obtain some assistance to treat the sea lion before it was too late, they quickly dubbed him, “Hope.” The sea lion appears to have a fresh, bleeding gunshot or puncture wound on his back along with splattered yellow paint on his fur. The area along the riverbanks where he was found is riddled with jagged glass and sharp metal objects which could have injured the animal or he could have been the victim of assault. While he has moved a bit, he has mostly remained in a small region of the river since he was found. His breathing is labored, at times he’s had difficulty hauling out, and keeping his head above water.
Two female Dam Guardians on the scene have kept a vigil by “Hope’s” side since he was found and have had to endure harassment from hostile individuals who stated their intent to harm the animal. In one instance, they put their bodies between an angry man and the injured sea lion to protect the animal from being kicked and attacked. They have filed police reports about the incident. Many locals mistakenly blame the sea lions for the decline in Columbia River salmon, when data shows they historically eat less than 1.6% of salmon in the river — last year eating just 0.6% — while human predation and the Bonneville Dam turbines, to name just two reasons for the decline, together claim at least 34%.
The Dam Guardians first reported “Hope’s” condition to Oregon authorities when the animal was found on Monday. Due to the state’s policy of “no rehab,” it took a great deal of effort and many phone calls from supporters to the Governor’s office, NOAA and MMSN to get anyone to visit “Hope.” The Dam Guardians also tried calling the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Oregon Dept of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) but these government agencies have not offered direct assistance to the distressed animal.
“When a call about a marine mammal in distress is received in California, the response time is roughly 30 minutes to one hour,” said Ashley Lenton Dam Guardian on the ground Campaign Leader and former marine wildlife rehabber. “How is it possible it’s taken three days for anyone to look at “Hope” in Oregon and, finding the animal in horrific condition, they still won’t do anything to help him?”
Sea Shepherd proposed to NOAA that in the absence of them providing any treatment for “Hope,” it would like to obtain permission to bring in its own licensed marine mammal specialist at its own cost to assess and treat the animal. However, Sea Shepherd was warned that under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, any unauthorized disturbance of the animal could be considered harassment, which means the organization could be prosecuted for trying to assist.
“Agencies like NOAA, NMFS, Oregon Dept of Fish & Wildlife, Columbia River Inter Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Dept of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services, and the Bonneville Power Administration are all very responsive when it’s time to relentlessly haze, brand, capture and ultimately kill these innocent animals at taxpayer expense,” said Lenton. “But somehow there is no funding or infrastructure to take care of a federally protected animal in need? If federally protected animals are not safe in Oregon, no wild animal is safe anywhere.”
In the absence of any government agency intervening to assist this injured sea lion, the Dam Guardians will be maintaining a vigil with “Hope” until he gets the help he needs or until the bitter end.
site for more information.