Sea Shepherd

Sunday, September 25, 2011


People constantly say that aquariums are educational and we should not deprive our children of this interaction. What a load of bull. I have never seen a child suffer from not interacting with a dinosaur!!

The point I am making here is that children do not have to see captivity to learn. They can go on whale watches. They can learn to scuba. There are so many ways to interact with you environment than to put the animals in tanks and cages. No child will interact with every animal. Learning can be done in many ways without be cruel!

What is educational about dolphins jumping up in the air and doing tricks?? Nothing. This teaches the exact opposite of what we want our children to learn.


If zoos are like arks, then rare animals are like passengers on a voyage of the damned, never to find a port that will let them dock or a land in which they can live in peace. The real solution, of course, is to preserve the wild nature that created these animals and has the power to sustain them. But if it is really true that we are inevitably moving towards a world in which mountain gorillas can survive only in zoos, then we must ask whether it is really better for them to live in artificial environments of our design than not to be born at all.

Help for Chris!

If you can help Chris by either spreading the word, donating money or anything else please do!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Culture and Sharks

Culture has numerous positive connotations. The term “a cultured person” is often used to describe someone of refinement and sophistication. A person’s culture is seen as their rich heritage that is part of what forms them. I am not a fan of culture. It has the consequence that past deeds are re-performed into perpetuity without reviewing their merit, simply because it is part of a culture.

Let us draw an analogy with an individual. Being self aware involves constantly observing and analyzing your thoughts, actions and deeds to detect where you are weak or are acting in a manner that is unsuitable given your state of development. According to yoga philosophy, anything that is a regression from your standard of development is undesirable, and anything in line with your steps towards personal growth and improvement is desirable. So you need to constantly critically examine each component of your behavior and personality, and be honest and admit where an area needs to improve. You are realistic that it cannot all be done immediately and is a process, yet you are determined to work this process however long it takes. As such, nothing about you is accepted the way that it is. Yes, you accept yourself in your current state, because that is who you are, and you have to accept and love yourself. You are a work in progress and have already come an incredible distance just to be here in human form, but still have a way to go. If you accept yourself exactly as you are with a view of “I am never going to change”, well then, you may as well be dead. I say that because this life is nothing but an opportunity for you to grow and unfold and with that kind of stagnant outlook your growth will be negligible if anything. So, for example, I should accept that I am impatient but realize it as a fault and consciously try to improve my reaction to frustrating events and circumstances. When I am impatient and act in a manner that is inappropriate I need to be aware of it, watch myself doing it, be embarrassed and strengthen my resolve not to do it again.

There is that saying that goes along the lines of: When you change an action you create a habit, when you create a habit you shape your character. The yogis teach us that we are a culmination of our lifestyle practices and habits, and that we should be aware of each habit and its consequence on us. “I watch TV after dinner.” “I have a drink after work.” “I don’t eat vegetables.” These are common habits that people have without analyzing why they got stuck in it and what the consequence of this habit is on their lives. Does it contribute to their development, or improve the world around them? If not, why are they doing it? It is also surprisingly easy to change a habit – it comes down to changing that one activity at a time. Not buying that chocolate in the afternoon on this particular Tuesday afternoon is one action that can change a habit and change you.

So what does all of this have to do with culture? People perpetrate activities for the sole reason that it is part of their culture, without analyzing why did their culture have this activity and is it still relevant? Things have changed in 100’s of years and so must our actions. Some actions that may have been acceptable in the past, are no longer tolerable. Such an activity is the eating of shark-fin soup, and shark-finning.

Shark-finning is the despicable practice of taking a shark, “finning” it by cutting off its fins, and throwing the live shark overboard to die an excruciating death. It just sinks like a bleeding torpedo to the bottom and lies there, trying to swim but unable to move without its fins. Because only the fins are kept on board, and don’t take much space, countless thousands of sharks are slaughtered and stored on each ship.

I saw video footage of this ghastly and hateful practice on the incredible “Oceans” Blu-ray (not the censored Disney one, the French full version). It was the most disturbing thing that I have ever seen on the screen. Watching this splendid animal sinking to the bottom of the ocean after an Asian fisherman sliced off its fins, unable to swim and lying at the bottom bleeding grotesquely to death while it tried to move, unable to utter a sound. This image shocked me. Then I realized that this twisted and sadistic murder was not one special dramatic event, this was exactly what happened to thousands of sharks daily. All that had happened here was that I got a close up view. So I looked up how many sharks this is being done to. It is a truly horrific number. 140, 000 a day.

It is impossible for shark populations to stand up to this scale of mass slaughter. They are being decimated. For absolutely no purpose. Environmental degradation is always painful, but you can understand where it is coming from when there is a human need being satisfied. So when mines are built or grazing land made, it is sometimes wrong but you can understand the argument behind it. For example, in the Amazon we want the rainforest to exist but a poor family sees it differently if they see a chance to graze animals there or extract other resources.
Yet with Sharkfin soup, the reason is pathetic. The fin itself is tasteless cartilage. What shocked me is that it is not a fin or two in the soup, it is a bowl full of fins. Each serving is a massacre. I watched a documentary and read what I could find to try and understand it better. The senselessness is appalling. The only argument to support it, is that it is part of the Chinese culture, and that if you have a guest you must serve them sharkfin soup. It is a status symbol. Now that millions of Chinese are moving to Middle Class, the demand for shark fins has exploded. There is absolutely no thought of the damage incurred and the consequences thereof. It is a simple “it is our culture” without examining if it is a good practice. That is what initiated my rant against Culture. So sharks are being decimated so people can try to impress others.

Here is an actual quote from the documentary, “People say it is not humane what we do. But the shark is not humane, it eats the other fish, and kills them.”

Most of us accept that life will be harvested by humans, in the form of animal life and plant life being killed and used. The sickening part about sharkfinning is the waste. By throwing bodies overboard they can pack a ship high with only shark fins. I will use an example of Egypt. Egyptian fishermen never caught much sharks because they did not get a lot for a shark carcass. Then Chinese buyers taught them to just keep the fin and throw the shark overboard, and now sharks in that area are in the process of being wiped out. You don’t have to be brilliant to know that if you lose the top of the food chain, you are going to find some serious imbalances falling through.

The sharks are caught with long lines – the ocean is filled with lines with huge hooks that the sharks swim into and are hauled up and the fins sliced off and the bodies thrown in. Pure slaughter. The rate is truly alarming, and if we don’t do something soon, sharks will be gone because of the most stupid reason in the world.

I had the great privilege of diving with Sharks in Kwazulu Natal, reef sharks. I will return there to dive with the Tigers when it is warm enough for them to move, and am planning dives with 7-gill sharks and pelagic sharks. These are dives without a cage, just naturally seeing them in their element. You can not dive with them and not be moved by the experience. They are magnificent, powerful, perfectly designed creatures with a great dignity about them. This is what makes their mutilation so disgusting to me. See the link here to the photos of the sharks.
photos of sharks

I need to ask my Asian friends what it is with Asian people. There is so much of value in their philosophy, but the 4 most awful injustices being wreaked on animals in the world at the moment are due to beliefs and views that can only be described as fucking stupid.

1)Sharks being destroyed for shark fin soup to prove status
2)Rhinos being destroyed and their horns taken so little penises can try become erect. There are so many natural ways to achieve this – ginseng, guarana, etc.
3)Dolphins and whales being destroyed for meat that is high in lead and not needed by anyone – just to prove a point?
4)Seahorses being destroyed and dried and crushed so that the idiot eating it can try and get some of its magical properties

I am of the view that we should be taking a radical stance. Have you seen “The Cove”? Instead of a few hippies watching the fishermen, if a thousand people went there and beat the living daylights out of every fisherman that tried to kill a dolphin, it would stop.

Sea Shepherds should not stand and talk over the microphone. They should board ships where finning is done and slice off the right hand of everyone there. Do that across the world and I am sure that finning would stop.
I was seeing a client in the Cape Town harbour who was in the fishing industry. He told me that right there a few meters from us in the harbour was a ship piled with shark fins. Dogs were guarding it, and the local South African Harbour Police did not go there because the Chinese Mafia was too strong. This is just plain not acceptable, society should not be tolerating this. We should not be tolerating this.

We are the custodians of the planet, and I am ashamed to be human when I look at the disgraceful way that we are handling this responsibility. Scientists who expose global warming get death threats. Animal populations are destroyed for a quick buck with not one shred of care or compassion. We each have a role to play, and I pray that I find a way to play an effective role that makes a change in this planet and how we treat our fellow occupants of it.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 at 9:54 pm and is filed under Life. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Shared by a friend of Laura Halifax McKenzie

Stop using chimps for experiments

This week chimpanzees are much in the news -- in an op-ed in today's (Thursday) New York Times, on a CNN blog written by Peter Singer, and in movie theatres where the box office smash "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," and the stunningly reviewed "Project Nim" are both challenging audiences to rethink our relationships with the great apes.
>The Thursday, August 11, New York Times includes an op-ed by the Roscoe G. Bartlett, a Republican representative from Maryland, titled, "Stop Using Chimps as Guinea Pigs."
>It opens with:
>"Before I was elected to Congress, I was a physiologist at the Navys School of Aviation Medicine. For our successful missions to transport men to the moon and return them safely to Earth, I invented a series of respiratory support devices, which we tested on primates, including Baker, a squirrel monkey. Before humans were rocketed into space, Baker was the first primate to survive a trip into space and back; Able, her counterpart on the flight, died from an allergic reaction to an anesthetic during a procedure shortly after the landing.
>"At the time, I believed such research was worth the pain inflicted on the animals. But in the years since, our understanding of its effect on primates, as well as alternatives to it, have made great strides, to the point where I no longer believe such experiments make sense scientifically, financially or ethically. Thats why I have introduced bipartisan legislation to phase out invasive research on great apes in the United States."
>You'll find that full op-ed on line at
>The title of the piece (titles generally being chosen by NY Times writers, not the contributing op-ed writers) while meant to be humorous, points to a problem that we, as advocates for animals, will naturally have with this kind of battle. As Jeremy Bentham so beautifully put it, many years ago, "The question is not 'Can they reason?' nor 'Can they talk?' but rather 'Can they suffer?'" Animals other than chimpanzees truly suffer in laboratories. And even if we were to focus on reasoning and communication, the more we test that in other species, the more we realize our tendency to underrate it. In fact I am moved to share here an interview I came across this week with the captivating scientist Dr Neil DeGrasse Tyson in which he discusses the inappropriate hubris with which humans have traditionally treated members of other species. His discussions of the intelligence of dogs, and his half joking comments that the term "bird brain" is destined to become a compliment, are well
>worth listening to. I recommend you check out the interview at
>My intent here is not to detract from the legislation aimed at protecting chimpanzees or from the op-ed supporting that legislation. That legislation will be a blessing for chimpanzees. It will also open the door for future protection for other species. If we protect chimpanzees based on their similarities to us, then how can we fail to protect other animals in the face of increasing evidence that they too, regardless of their size, are like us in many ways? My intent is simply to make sure we don't lose sight of that ultimate goal, and also that we take every opportunity to move towards it. The op-ed in the Times makes way for letters supporting the article and the legislation, but it also gives us the opportunity to note that it is not only chimpanzee testing that is cruel and outdated.
>You can send appreciative letters to the editor to
>Note -- It is important that your letters do not use my words. Please use your own words to speak up for the chimps and for all animals suffering in laboratories. You will influence the thinking of other New York Times readers, plus legislators look to the letters pages as barometers of public opinion, so your letters matter.
>Today's New York Times piece is complimented beautifully by a blog on the CNN site by "Animal Liberation" author, Professor Peter Singer, titled "A Planet for All Apes." Singer discusses two films currently in theatres that deal with our relationships with chimpanzees. We lean that Rupert Wyatt's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" uses no live chimpanzees, with Wyatt noting, "To get apes to do anything you want them to do, you have to dominate them; you have to manipulate them into performing. Thats exploitative."
>We also learn that James Franco plays a scientist who experiments on chimpanzees while seeking a cure for Alzheimers disease. Singer writes:
>"Many films would have glorified a scientist seeking such a goal, and treated the use of animals for that purpose as obviously justified. Rise of the Planet of the Apes, however, portrays Rodman as, in Franco's words, 'a cold, isolated person.'"
>Sounds perfect! I am going to see that film on Saturday. Then on Monday I will see Project Nim, of which you can read the gorgeous reviews at
>Singer ends his piece with:
>"Perhaps the release of these two very different films will lead to a further push to bring great apes within the circle of beings with moral and legal rights. In that way, our closest relatives could serve to bridge the moral gulf that we have dug between ourselves and other animals."
>Note that Singer doesn't point to legal rights for chimpanzees as the end goal but rather as a bridge over the moral gulf. That is an idea explored fully in Steve Wise's classic book, "Rattling the Cage: Towards Legal Rights for Animals." Pick it up.
>You'll find Singer's piece on line at:
>It is well worth reading. Check it out, and please leave a supportive comment. Again -- feedback matters!
>Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Remember that shorter letters are more likely to be published.
>Yours and the animals',
>Karen Dawn
>(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts only if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line.)
>Please go to to check out Karen Dawn's book, "Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way we Treat Animals," which in 2008 was chosen by the Washington Post as one of the "Best Books of The Year!"

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Are all people cruel? Have everyone of us ruined the planet? No, we have not. I do what I can and hope that leading by example it will change things. I don't eat animals, one of the biggest problems on our planet today. Understand this, the pigs eat more fish than humans do. If humans stopped eating meat the rest of the planet would not starve to death! I get really annoyed when people that eat meat get up and say they are doing all they can. Bullshit. I was not always vegan. I understand now the effect it has on our planet.

A fair look at the evidence shows that humans are optimized for eating plant foods, according to the best evidence: our bodies. We're most similar to other herbivores, and drastically different from carnivores and true omnivores. The science shows that the more meat we eat, the sicker we get -- heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and every other major degenerative disease. It's hard to argue that meat-eating is natural given the negative effect it has on our health.

Our so-called "canine teeth" are "canine" in name only. Other plant-eaters (like gorillas, horses, and hippos) have "canines", and chimps, who are almost exclusively vegan, have massive canines compared to ours. (See picture below.)

Our early ancestors from at least four million years ago were almost exclusively vegetarian.

Our omnivorism means we're capable of eating meat (useful from a survival standpoint if that's all that's available), but our bodies aren't geared for it to be a normal, significant part of our diets.

The animals most similar to us, the other primates, eat an almost exclusively vegan diet (and their main non-plant food often isn't meat, it's termites).
Our teeth, saliva, stomach acid, and intestines are most similar to other plant-eaters, and dissimilar to carnivores and true omnivores.

Among animals, plant-eaters have the longest lifespans, and humans are certainly in that category (and yes, this was true even before modern medicine).

We sleep about the same amount of time as other herbivores, and less than carnivores and true omnivores.

The most common cause of choking deaths is eating meat. Real carnivores and omnivores don't have that problem.

The meat-eating reader already has half a dozen objections to this before s/he's even read the rest of the article, and I will address those objections specifically, but first let me address them generally: It's human nature to want to feel that what we're doing is right, proper, and logical. When we're confronted with something that suggests that our current practices are not the best ones, it's uncomfortable. We can either consider that our choices may not have been the best ones, which is extremely disturbing, or we can reject that premise without truly considering it, so that we don't have to feel bad about our actions. That's the more comfortable approach. And we do this by searching our minds for any arguments we can for why the challenge must be wrong, to justify our current behavior. This practice is so common psychologists have a name for it: cognitive dissonance.

Think about that for a moment: Our feeling that our current actions are correct isn't based on our arguments. Rather, our actions come first and then we come up with the arguments to try to support those actions. If we were truly logical, we'd consider the evidence first and then decide the best course of action. But often we have it in reverse, because it's too difficult to accept that we might have been wrong.

Vegan bodybuilders shatter the myth that vegans are skinny and malnourished.

This is particularly true when it comes to vegetarianism. It's easy to identify because the anti-vegetarian arguments are usually so extreme, compared to other kinds of discourse. A person who would never normally suggest something so fantastic as the idea that plants can think and feel pain, will suddenly all but lunge for such an argument when they feel their meat-eating ways are being questioned, and they're looking for a way to justify it. It's human nature.

I used to be in the same position as most readers probably are now. Long ago my eating habits were challenged by a an animal rights conference. I didn't want to consider it fairly, because I wanted to keep eating meat. I'd grown up eating it, and I liked it. So I came up with various weak defenses to justify my behavior. But deep down I knew I was kidding myself, and practicing a form of intellectual cowardice. When I considered the arguments honestly, I stopped eating animals. There was really no other logical choice. That was 9 years ago and it was absolutely the best decision I ever made.

So I challenge you: stop trying to figure out ways that I "must" be wrong even before you've bothered to read the rest of this article. Instead, read it, and actually consider it rather than reflexively trying to come out with ways to dismiss it out of hand. You can certainly still disagree after you've considered all the evidence -- but not before.

Most meat-eating readers will find it necessary to try to defeat me, at least in their minds, so let's agree that that would mean providing more and better evidence for your position. The evidence favoring a plant diet for humans is clear, convincing, and overwhelming. There is definitely some evidence for the other side, to be sure, but it's simply not nearly as strong.

Dairy farms, one of the most cruel hell holes on earth, beat and abuse animals that are giving their life for others. Veal calves are taken from their mothers at birth. The mothers that mourn the lose of their baby! The milk meant for their child is consumed by the only mammal on the planet that drinks another's milk. Mammals are meant to be weaned not meant to drink milk their entire lives! Got Milk is a farse!

So many teach their chidlren that animals are property and not living beings. They make a beautiful dog into killer and then the dog is killed for doing what it is taught! What kind of logic is that? My children have always been taught to respect nature. I spend more time trying to save a dog by the side of the road then I do trying to find a job! I have rescued everything from turtles, yes even snapping turtles, to horses. I usually do this on my own dime. People need to wake up and take responsiblilty for their actions. If you teach violence and hate that is what you will get.

Teach Love!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

If you never see another movie, see this one

In the award-winning documentary THE WITNESS, Eddie Lama explains how he feared and avoided animals for most of his life, until the love of a kitten opened his heart, inspiring him to rescue abandoned animals and bring his message of compassion to the streets of New York. With humor and sincerity, Eddie tells the story of his remarkable change in consciousness. To learn more, visit the official film site for The Witness

Shark Fin Soup Ban in San Fran?

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The push to ban shark fins in California has received a celebrity endorsement that could influence public opinion, especially in the Chinese American community.

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming is a super star on and off the court, especially in the Chinese community. So people listen when he makes a public service announcement, like the one he filmed in San Francisco Thursday.

The PSA is the second in a series of for the shanghai-born Yao, who is campaigning against shark finning, the practice of cutting off a sharks fins to use them in soup, a luxury dish in Chinese restaurants.

Yao has joined with the organization Wild Aid, promising he will never eat it again and he is urging others to do the same.

But an expert at the Chinese Historical Society says the soup has been an esteemed delicacy for centuries. A proposed ban on shark fins chips away at tradition.

"That sort of thing is one of the dozens of little things people use to erode someone's cultural identity," Charlie Chin said.

But it is Asian American Assm. Paul Fong, D-Mountain View, who is co-author of the legislation to ban the sale and possession of shark fins.

"A culture giving up a soup is minor compared to the major disaster that could happen to our environment if sharks leave the ocean," Fong said.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who has said he opposes a ban, was more open Thursday.

"I'm willing to learn what it is that people are suggesting is the objective of banning and I'm open to that," he said.

A statewide poll of Chinese American opinions about the ban is expected to be released Friday.