Dolphin Times: Issue 2


This issue will explain to you the differences of dolphins in captivity and in the wild, as well as connections of dolphin captivity and slavery. At the end, there will be an update on the latest dolphin news.  If you have any concerns, suggestions for the next issue or private comments, please email me at dolphindefender@me.com.

DIFFERENCES OF DOLPHINS IN THE WILD AND CAPTIVITY 

Dolphins in the wild:

  • Have large home ranges (e.g. orcas can dive as deep as 60m and travel as far as 160km in a day and bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Cornwall, UK, have been recorded travelling up to 1076km in 20 days.Are almost always in motion, even when resting and spend less than 20% of their time at the water’s surface.
  • Orcas and Dall’s porpoise are two of the fastest animals in the sea (Dall’s porpoises can reach swimming speeds of up to 35mph).
  • Live in highly complex societies; with some individuals holding key roles within a specific group (e.g. communicator with other pods, nursing).
  • Choose to form strong, long-lasting social bonds with certain other members of their pod.
  • Are intelligent and can demonstrate problem solving and abstract concept formation, e.g.. utilise tools – female bottlenose dolphins in Australia have learned to use natural sponges to protect their beaks while foraging among sea urchins on the sea bed.
  • Are altruistic, some species have been witnessed helping other members of their pod, other species and even humans in trouble. They are self-aware and display highly responsive behavior.
  • Have culture i.e. they teach and learn traditions (e.g. Patagonian orcas partially strand themselves to catch sea-lions).
  • Demonstrate a high degree of vocal adaptability e.g. orcas in different parts of the world
  • have completely different dialects from one another.
  • Live up to 90 years (female orcas) and 60 years (male orcas), and average life span is 40-50 years.

Dolphins in captivity:

  • Are separated from their natural habitat and enclosed in a totally alien environment.
  • Have to undergo medication and fertility control.
  • Aquatic Mammals 2005, 31 (3) lists 199 facilities worldwide. More have established since then.
  • Have to put up with an artificial diet, unusual noise, strange tastes in water, and the proximity of people and other unfamiliar captive animals.
  • No longer have free will to choose social bonds.
  • May suffer aggression from other pool mates more dominant than them.
  • Are sometimes kept on their own (some in hotel swimming pools), e.g. four orcas are currently held in captivity on their own.
  • Suffer from stress, reduced life expectancy and breeding problems.
  • The Marine Mammal Inventory Report, maintained by the U.S. government, lists a variety of causes of death including drowning, ingestion of foreign objects and aggression from pool mates
  • Don’t live past the age of 50 and average life span is 30 years.

To demonstrate these differences, please watch the following 6 minute video that I made about this (warning…first two minutes is sad):

DOLPHIN CAPTIVITY/SLAUGHTER, SLAVERY, AND THE HOLOCAUST: THE SIMILARITIES ARE SHOCKING

For marine parks like SeaWorld and Miami Seaquarium, they obviously need to have dolphins (including Orcas and Pilot Whales). How do they get these dolphins? They go out, take them away from their families, and enslave them in an unrealistic concrete (or other man-made material) barrier. They then work those dolphins to perform for us until they die. Then, they go and get new ones. In Taiji (aka…Hell on Earth), dolphins are selected by trainers (playing the part of Hitler), particularly young female bottlenose dolphins. The ones that aren’t selected are brutally, barbarically, and mercilessly slaughtered.

How does this relate to slavery? I think the reasons are pretty obvious…We are taking intelligent beings (more intelligent than us…for more click here and here), treating them as property and buying them for money to…make money? When slavery was still going on in the U.S, wasn’t that what was happening? Our country took African Americans away from their home, and bought them to make more money off of cotton, tobacco, and other crops. After a while, half the country believed that was wrong, and eventually it was banished…or so we thought. True, dolphins aren’t degraded to working on a farm all day to make money, but they’re degraded as circus clowns all day to make money. If we think that 18-19th century slavery is wrong, then why is enslaving animals more intelligent than us right?  As we’ve all recently heard, PETA has sued SeaWorld for violating the Thirteenth Amendment, which states, ” Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The term slave is defined as “An individual who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them against their will.” Let’s see, there’s nothing in either of those two terms that says this applies only to man, and even if it did, that should be changed. Are dolphins “legal property” and are they “forced to obey their owners?” Hmm…sounds like it.

In the Holocaust, Hitler posted propaganda that Hebrews were why there was problems in the world, when in reality, it was them and others like him that were causing the problems. In Taiji, the fisherman say that they’re slaughtering dolphins “for pest control.” According to them (and what they said in The Cove), dolphins are the reason that fish levels are dropping; but in reality, humans (and mostly Asia) are the reason that fish levels are declining. Furthermore, in the Holocaust, Hitler wanted to “make the world perfect.” He did this by taking the Hebrews that “did not fit his conditions,” meaning that if their eyes aren’t blue, their hair isn’t blond, they weren’t in shape, or if they had a disease, to concentration camps. In Taiji, we can look at this in two different, but connected, directions. For example, dolphins that aren’t selected by the trainers that come to capture them (they have even been seen assisting in the drive) are slaughtered viciously. The reasons they are not selected is because trainers do not see them “fit for entertainment.” Hebrews that Hitler found unfit were slaughtered in various ways as well.  In contrast,  those trainers that come and do capture dolphins and take them back to their marine parks are doing the exact opposite.

Now, I know what some of you may be thinking, That’s good isn’t it? Or more commonly, but then they’re saving the dolphins, right?  The answer to both of those questions is no.  The only reason those dolphins usually cooperate in captivity is, WHAT ELSE ARE THEY GOING TO DO? That is their only form, and I find it to be a fake form, of fun. Like many things, fun is not something that people can make. Fun is something that, and I know this sounds cliche, but it’s felt from the heart. People ask me at school, “What’s the difference between a dolphin jumping at SeaWorld and a dolphin jumping in the wild? There is none, right?” Well, if you look at the videos below, you can see that the jump performed by the Orca at SeaWorld is perfect. A perfect flight, perfect arc, perfect height, perfect splash, and a perfect dive. In the wild, it’s not perfect. Why? Because it doesn’t have to be; they don’t care in the wild whether the jump is perfect or not. So, who’s the luckier dolphin? Would you rather spend your whole life doing stupid tricks that have no purpose whatsoever or die? The one that’s imprisoned for life, or the one that’s slaughtered? Honestly, however painful that death may be, I would rather die free than die a slave.

Jump in Captivity: Watch how everything is perfect in the jumps.

Jump in the Wild: Watch how everything is more relaxed and careless in the jumps

COMMON CAPTIVITY QUESTIONS:

Aren’t dolphins in captivity educational?
The primary justification for the public display of marine mammals is the educational benefit of these exhibits. Whale and dolphin displays significantly distort the public’s understanding of the marine environment. Educational messages often take second place to the whale and dolphin performance, which are the main feature of dolphinariums. The tricks that are displayed are exaggerated variations of natural behaviors and do little to further the public’s knowledge of cetaceans and their habitats. In addition, the complex nature of the lives of whales and dolphins cannot possibly be illustrated with reference to animals in a tank. Educational materials offered by captive facilities often blatantly omit facts about a species’ unique social structure and acoustic repertoire, as well as its remarkable extended families and natural tendency to range freely over vast areas. Visitors to captive facilities may be subject to mis-information, and leave with a distorted perception of cetaceans and their marine environments.

Isn’t captivity safer than life in the wild?
Whales and dolphins have evolved over millions of years to live in the ocean; it is their natural habitat. The way to solve hunting, pollution and other threats is to tackle the point sources of these problems, not to take these animals out of the seas.

The idea that dolphins (or any wildlife) must be saved from the threats and challenges they face in the wild by being placed in artificial settings is a terrible conservation message. The fact is that while life IS tough for these animals in the open ocean, it is also complex, challenging, engrossing, and beautiful. It is never going to be a solution to the growing number of threats dolphins face to try to preserve them in the ‘ark’ of dolphinariums (and no legitimate zoological facilities promote the ‘ark’ theory for zoos and aquariums anymore either). If people think that captivity IS a solution to habitat threats the focus is then taken away from reducing the threats to wild dolphins. This potentially means that wild dolphins don’t stand a chance of long-term survival! If people believe that it’s better for dolphins to be in a cage rather than in the wide open ocean, this only emphasizes how dolphinariums miseducate the public.

Captive-born dolphins are happy in captivity, aren’t they?
Another argument suggests that dolphins born in captivity are domesticated. However, dolphins are STILL wild animals, even if they have been kept in captivity for some time, even if they were born there.

Animals born in captivity are domesticated, so they’re not wild anymore?
Domestication is the modification of an animal over a significant number of generations through selective breeding in captivity. Certain characteristics are either enhanced or eliminated and the animals become adapted to a significant extent to a life intimately associated with man (i.e. dogs).

Whales and dolphins are wild animals. In captivity they may develop strong social bonds with their human trainers however this is correctly known as being socialized or habituated, not domesticated. Domestication happens over a very long period of evolutionary time, while an individual is habituated during its lifetime. Breeding in dolphinariums is rare, let alone breeding that occurs between individuals with the most docile personalities or smallest number or size of teeth. Dolphins are tamed, they are not domesticated.

Wouldn’t dolphins in “open” sea pens escape if they were not happy?
This can be addressed on two different levels: Dolphins that have been taken from the wild have been removed from their social group and natural habitat. Finding themselves in an alien environment far from their natural home, these animals may fear venturing out into an unknown sea, away from the facility that provides them with food. Young animals are often selected who may not have learnt all the skills needed to survive in the wild. The captives are also habituated to human company – this does not mean to say that they are happy.

It is also important to remember that these individual dolphins have been conditioned. If you have been to a show- have you ever noticed that the performing animals are fed fish each time they complete a routine or a trick? They may be performing so that they receive fish or other rewards.

 Dolphin’s smile, so they must be happy…
Dolphins have a natural smile. They are born this way (i.e. it’s physiological). Similarly, they do not frown when upset, distressed or angry. Marine biologists study the behaviour of dolphins, using an ethogram (a known repertoire of behaviours used for particular purposes e.g. tail slapping is known to be a warning). It is by studying the behaviour of an animal that we can begin to tell how it may be feeling. Dolphins or whales that swim listlessly around their tanks, using the same route are showing stereotypical behaviour. This is similar to when you see polar bears or elephants rocking back and forth in a zoo. These animals may be suffering a great deal of mental distress. In fact, many dolphins have to take a form of stress medication, Tagumet, because of these conditions.

Aren’t whales and dolphins happy if they do tricks and eat fish?
People always think that if the dolphins were unhappy they would not ‘work’ or would refuse to eat. It is true that some dolphins survive better than others, much like humans do in difficult circumstances. Some dolphins will just get on with their training and shows – and as I said before, what else is there for them to do in these boring bare tanks?

for more questions, please visit my FAQ page.

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DOLPHIN NEWS UPDATES:

This week in Taiji, so far the 30th of October and the 3rd of November are the only days that the dolphin murderers have slaughtered dolphins. The other 4 days, the dolphins either escapes, were nowhere to be found, or the boats could not go out at all. For more updates from Taiji, please visit here.

The deaths of five more dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico was found out to be caused by a bacteria called Brucella, according to CNN. One scientist, Teri Rowles, states that they may be infected due to “environmental stress” which could possibly be related to the BP oil spill. The other explanation that the scientists believe is that the bacteria itself has changed, causing disease. For more on this, click here.

Presidential commission seeks 'to give voice to the region'

An independent commission formed by President Barack Obama to look at the root causes of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster and the proper process for combating such catastrophes in the future holds its first public hearing Monday in New Orleans.

The hearing at the Hilton Riverside downtown begins at 9 a.m. More information is available at the commission’s website, http://www.oilspillcommission.gov.

President Barack Obama was photographed June 1 with the leaders of the BP Oil Spill Commission: former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, left, and former EPA Administrator William Reilly.

The seven-member commission is led by former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham and Republican former Environmental Protection Agency Director William Reilly, who said in a joint interview Friday that they want to determine why advances in safety, cleanup and government oversight haven’t kept pace with the technology that allowed oil companies to drill deeper and farther offshore.

Graham said Monday’s hearing will mainly be a status report from Coast Guard and BP representatives about the progress and challenges of the cleanup and containment efforts that have dragged on for nearly three months.

The second meeting Tuesday will focus on fishers, oil industry workers, hotel operators and others in coastal communities hurt by the spill and the resulting forced stoppage of deepwater drilling.

This image from video provided by BP PLC late Friday, July 9, 2010 shows oil continuing to leak from the broken wellhead, at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. Undersea robots manipulated by engineers a mile above will begin work Saturday removing the containment cap over the gushing well head in the Gulf of Mexico, the first part of a plan that could lead to the containment of all the oil as soon as Monday. The cap now in use was installed June 4 to capture oil gushing from the bottom of sea, but because it had to be fitted over a jagged cut in the well pipe, it allows some crude to escape into the Gulf. The new cap, dubbed "Top Hat Number 10" is designed to fit more snugly and help BP catch all the oil. (AP Photo/BP PLC)

Also Tuesday, the commission plans to take testimony from government officials, mainly those at the state and local level, so they can describe what’s happening from their perspective. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and coastal parish leaders have repeatedly expressed frustration at the federal red tape and BP delays that they say have impeded their response, particularly their efforts to protect hundreds of miles of delicate coastal marshes.

In addition, the seven commission members were to have toured the Gulf Coast over the weekend to see the response and cleanup work first-hand.

“The hearing is to give voice to the region,” Reilly said.

When hearing from people who work in the offshore oil industry and local government officials, the commission is sure to get an earful about the effects of the president’s deepwater drilling moratorium, imposed May 28 and now on hold in a contentious fight in federal court. An appeals court panel is expected to rule this week on whether U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman was correct in blocking the ban.

Obama initially suggested the commission could act more quickly than its six-month charge to provide interim recommendations that could help bring back safe drilling sooner. Reilly showed an interest in that, but by Friday he had cooled on it considerably. He said it was unlikely that the commission would come to sufficiently solid conclusions about industrywide drilling processes to be able to persuade the Department of Interior to allow work to resume before the moratorium expires in late November.

Besides, he said, a top Interior Department official made it clear to Reilly that the agency will chart its own course on the moratorium.

Graham said the commission will have some investigative functions, too, and will draw heavily from the findings of a Marine Board investigation started in early May and from sworn testimony given by eyewitnesses and oil company executives before various congressional committees.
Besides the co-chairmen, members of the commiission are, from top left, Frances Beinecke, Donald Boesch, Terry Garcia, Cherry Murray and Fran Ulmer. The video image of oil spewing from the Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico was recorded June 13.

Besides the co-chairmen, members of the commiission are, from top left, Frances Beinecke, Donald Boesch, Terry Garcia, Cherry Murray and Fran Ulmer. The video image of oil spewing from the Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico was recorded June 13.

The commission may be limited, however, by a lack of subpoena power, which congressional committees and the Marine Board use to compel witnesses to testify. For example, Reilly said a BP meeting in London conflicts with the New Orleans hearings and the commission was having trouble getting top executives to come. But he said the day after he was appointed, he called BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward, who pledged his support.

Graham said the House of Representatives has passed a bill granting the commission subpoena power and they’re hopeful the Senate will follow suit soon.

The commission is seeking $15 million to pay a staff of more than 30 researchers and investigators and to finance hearings and other activities. Graham said the House reduced that to $12 million, but it’s still pending Senate review. In the meantime, the commission is using $4 million from the Department of Energy’s budget to operate and hire staff.

The commission and its staff are a mix of environmentalists and energy industry insiders, although critics say it’s slanted toward anti-drilling types. The key staff includes research director Jay Hakes, the former head of the Energy Information Administration and the author of the book “A Declaration of Energy Independence,” and science adviser Richard Sears, a visiting scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Shell’s former vice president for exploration and deepwater technical evaluation.

Along with Graham and Reilly, the other members of the commission are: Frances Beinecke, head of the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council; Don Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; Terry Garcia of the National Geographic Society; Cherry Murray, dean of the Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and Fran Ulmer, chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage and a former Alaska state legislator.

Coast Guard trains spotters for Gulf oil blimp duty

A helicopter takes off from Lakefront Airport as Navy blimp MZ-3A comes in for a landing Thursday. The blimp will be used in spotting oil from the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Coast Guard has begun training spotters to work aboard a slow-moving, 178-foot-long Navy blimp that will add another airborne tool to the search for petroleum slicks and distressed wildlife from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Coast Guard’s observers aboard the MZ-3A Airship, at least temporarily based at an airport near downtown Mobile, will help guide skimming vessels and wildlife rescuers responding to the massive crisis, officials said.

The all-white blimp, with a gondola that can carry as many as 10 people, cruises at a comparatively leisurely 55 mph at lower altitudes, and it can come to an almost complete stop if needed.

It’s expected to be far more effective than the Coast Guard’s HC-144 cargo airplane that often is used for Gulf flights. The plane has an average speed of 155 mph and flies at a minimum of 1,000 feet above the water, making it difficult to pinpoint oil or see animals on the surface of the water.

“This is another asset in the effort to respond to what is going on in the Gulf,” said Duane DeBruyne, a spokesman for the spill response command in Mobile.

DeBruyne said Coast Guard members who will work on the airship must undergo a day of safety and observer training on the ground before beginning additional training in the air.

“They have to be qualified just to go up,” he said. Training started Friday and was continuing Saturday.
View full size
Chuck Cook, The Associated Press
The Navy’s MZ3A airship descends to land at New Orleans Lakefront Airport on Thursday to support the largest oil spill response in U.S. history.

The Navy's MZ3A airship descends to land at New Orleans Lakefront Airport on Thursday to support the largest oil spill response in U.S. history.

Spotting oil from a blimp isn’t as simple as it sounds: It can be difficult to distinguish between streamers of burnt-orange oil and masses of brown seaweed from the air, and the shadows of clouds sometime resemble dark patches of oil in the water. Also, dead or dying marine animals on the Gulf surface can appear as mere dots from aloft.

The airship, manufactured by Oregon-based American Blimp Corp., arrived in Mobile on Friday after a one-night layover in New Orleans. A crew from Integrated Systems Solutions Inc., the Maryland-based company that operates the blimp for the Navy, drove stakes into the ground around a truck that has a tall, red-and-white mast used for mooring the airship on the ground.

The blimp bobbed in the afternoon breeze before training flights began. DeBryune said it was unclear when the aircraft would begin operating over the Gulf.

The blimp can stay aloft and work for 12 hours at a time, far longer than airplanes or helicopters. The Coast Guard said it also is more economical because it can monitor a far larger area than conventional aircraft. Normally based in California, the blimp is being outfitted with additional sensing equipment and communications gear for its time in the Gulf.

Dead zone in Gulf linked to oil

A dead hermit crabs lies in the water on a beach on Dauphin Island, Ala. An unusual low oxygen zone in Gulf of Mexico waters off the Alabama shore has lasted for more than a month.

An unusual low oxygen zone in Gulf of Mexico waters off the Alabama shore has persisted for more than a month, and evidence points to the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill as the cause.

Oil spills can deplete oxygen in water by providing a source of food to microbes that grow on oil and consume oxygen in the process.

Researchers can’t say how low oxygen levels will affect the region’s ecosystem in the long term, but for now, most animals that can swim away have left the area. Plankton in the zone have died.

The researchers measured low oxygen levels along the entire 40-mile stretch they sampled around Dauphin Island, Ala., from about 40 miles offshore to within a mile or two of the shoreline. The bottom layer of water was oxygen-depleted at depths of about 30 feet close to shore to 100 feet further out, along the continental shelf — a rim of shallow water tracing the coast from Mississippi to Florida.

“It’s not little local pockets,” said Monty Graham of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, who is tracking the zone. “It’s over a regional scale. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a band of low oxygen over that entire area between the Mississippi River and Apalachicola, Florida.”

“The low oxygen was pushing up very close to the shore,” he added.

His team trawled the waters to survey wildlife.

Gulf Oil Spill: Cap Removed From Gushing Well, Oil Flows Freely


In this image taken from video provided by BP PLC, the arm of a remotely operated vehicle works at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill site in the Gulf of Mexico.

NEW ORLEANS — Robotic submarines removed the cap from the gushing well in the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, beginning a period of at least two days when oil will flow freely into the sea.

It’s the first step in placing a tighter dome that is supposed to funnel more oil to collection ships on the surface a mile above. If all goes according to plan, the tandem of the tighter cap and the surface ships could keep all the oil from polluting the fragile Gulf as soon as Monday.

BP spokesman Mark Proegler said the old cap was removed at 12:37 p.m. CDT on Saturday.

“Over the next four to seven days, depending on how things go, we should get that sealing cap on. That’s our plan,” said Kent Wells, a BP senior vice president.

It would be only a temporary solution to the catastrophe unleashed by a drilling rig explosion nearly 12 weeks ago. It won’t plug the busted well and it remains uncertain that it will succeed.

The oil is flowing mostly unabated into the water for about 48 hours – long enough for as much as 5 million gallons to gush out – until the new cap is installed.

The hope for a permanent solution remains with two relief wells intended to plug it completely far beneath the seafloor.

Engineers now begin removing a bolted flange below the dome. The flange has to be taken off so another piece of equipment called a flange spool can go over the drill pipe, where the sealing cap will be connected.

The work could spill over into Sunday, Wells said, depending on how hard it is to pull off the flange. BP has a backup plan in case that doesn’t work: A piece of machinery will pry the top and the bottom of the flange apart.
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On Friday, National Incident Commander Thad Allen had said the cap could be in place by Monday. That’s still possible, given the timeline BP submitted to the federal government, but officials say it could take up to a week of tests before it’s clear whether the new cap is working.

The cap now in use was installed June 4, but because it had to be fitted over a jagged cut in the well pipe, it allows some crude to escape. The new cap – dubbed “Top Hat Number 10” – follows 80 days of failures to contain or plug the leak.

BP PLC first tried a huge containment box also referred to as a top hat, but icelike crystals quickly clogged the contraption in the cold depths. Then it tried to shoot heavy drilling mud into the hole to hold down the flow so it could then insert a cement plug. After the so-called “top kill,” engineers tried a “junk shot” – using the undersea robots to try and stuff carefully selected golf balls and other debris to plug the leak. That also met failure.

The company is also working to hook up another containment ship called the Helix Producer to a different part of the leaking well. The ship, which will be capable of sucking up more than 1 million gallons a day when it is fully operating, should be working by Sunday, Allen said.

The plan had originally been to change the cap and hook up the Helix Producer separately, but the favorable weather convinced officials the time was right for both operations. They have a window of seven to 10 days.

The government estimates 1.5 million to 2.5 million gallons of oil a day are spewing from the well, and the existing cap is collecting about 1 million gallons of that. With the new cap and the new containment vessel, the system will be capable of capturing 2.5 million to 3.4 million gallons – essentially all the leaking oil, officials said.

In a response late Friday to Allen’s request for detailed plans, BP managing director Bob Dudley confirmed that the leak could be contained by Monday. But Dudley included plans for another scenario, which includes possible problems and missteps that could push the installment of the cap back to Thursday.

And the latest effort is far from a sure thing, warned Louisiana State University environmental sciences professor Ed Overton.

“Everything done at that site is very much harder than anyone expects,” he said. Overton said putting on the new cap carries risks: “Is replacing the cap going to do more damage than leaving it in place, or are you going to cause problems that you can’t take care of?”

Containing the leak will not end the crisis that began when the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded April 20, killing 11 workers.

The relief wells are still being drilled so they can inject heavy mud and cement into the leaking well to stop the flow, which is expected to be done by mid-August. Then a monumental cleanup and restoration project lies ahead.

Some people on Louisiana’s oil-soaked coast were skeptical that BP can contain the oil so soon.

“This is probably the sixth or seventh method they’ve tried, so, no, I’m not optimistic,” said Deano Bonano, director of emergency preparedness for Jefferson Parish.

He inspected beaches at Grand Isle lined with protective boom and bustling with heavy equipment used to scoop up and clean sand.

“Even if they turn it off today, we’ll still be here at least another six weeks, on watch for the oil,” he said.

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Associated Press Writer Kevin McGill in Grand Isle and Mary Foster in New Orleans contributed to this report.

Shell-Shocked Angler Catches Giant Turtle


An angler was left with a nasty surprise when he caught a giant turtle in a Midlands reservoir.

Huge turtle is now in quarantine

Steve Bellion, 23, was angling for carp when he hooked the 57lb (25kg) reptile at Earlswood Reservoir, near Birmingham.

He eventually hauled the 2ft-long creature on to the bank, and it was identified as an 80-year-old alligator snapping turtle, normally found in the eastern corner of the US.

The catch has solved a long mystery in local fishing circles – tales had abounded for a decade of a giant creature biting through lines and savaging ducks.

The ancient female was transferred by British Waterways to West Midland Safari Park, where it is being kept in quarantine for 30 days and checked by vets.

The turtle – which has yet to be named by its new keepers and can live to 160-years-old – will be housed in a vivarium with a male companion.

Bob Lawrence, director of wildlife at the safari park, said: “It’s looking fine, but so it should be having had half of Britain’s fish stocks at its mercy.

They have been known to attack small domestic pets or children, but I don’t think this one would have drifted too far from the water.
Bob Lawrence, director of wildlife at the safari park

“If it grew any larger it would have been a danger to shipping.”

He said it highlights the danger of introducing alien species into Britain’s waterways, in the same way that American signal crayfish have caused such depletion to fish stocks and the UK’s native crayfish.

And he said the problem is only likely to get worse with global warming.

“Thankfully alligator snapping turtles are a rarity in British waters – they can create havoc for native species,” he told Sky News Online.

“It was probably dumped by its owner after it grew too big or became a nuisance.

“They have been known to attack small domestic pets or children, but I don’t think this one would have drifted too far from the water.

“Because it has no natural predators, it could have lived to a ripe old age and grown to up to 80kg. I just hope there was only one and it didn’t have any offspring.”

1970s BP Board Game: Offshore Drilling Is Fun! (Which is a bunch of Bull, in my opinion)

“The thrills of drilling, the hazards and rewards as you bring in your own …”

Sound like the mantra of BP execs? Actually, it’s the tag line of an eerily prescient 1970s board game called “Offshore Oil Strike,” recently unearthed by the UK websiteMetro. The game, marketed by BP (naturally), sought to glamorize offshore drilling by positioning players as tycoons, pitted against against one another to gouge the most oil from their country.

Even the environmental and safety risks of the game were presented as something titillating. Players who drew “hazard cards” faced a rig blow-out and subsequent $1 million in fines (a price tag BP no doubt wishes it could get away with paying now). One imagines participants drawing the card and shaking their heads, as their teammates blithely chuckled nearby

The game has come out of the woodworks because a rare copy was passed along to The House On The Hill Toy Museum in Stansted, Essex. Museum owner Alan Goldsmith was intrigued by the game’s striking acumen, saying “‘The parallels between the game and the current crisis… are so spooky.” As he pointed out, the picture on the front of the box is particularly unnerving, with its isolated rig in a newly black sea, positioned above the words “an exciting board game for all the family.”

In the grand scheme of things, of course, the revelation of the game is an afterthought, a trivial and even humorous anecdote that provides some much-needed levity to the real-life oil spill devastation. But it also says something about the cavalier culture that BP—and its fellow tycoons in the oil business—have long perpetuated, through games, ads and pure PR spin: the powerful idea that oil drilling is a risky but fun adventure, bound up in the Wild West myth of exploration and conquest. The board game apparently wasn’t that popular, a fact which surprises me. After all, our culture has always been drawn to the the heat of danger. Just look at the success of Monopoly, a wildly popular board game predicated on reckless investments that has also taken on a creepy tone of late.

The fact of the matter is people (and corporations in particular) have always been intrigued by the idea of risk-taking because the reward always seems so satisfying. That’s why it’s easy to understand why players would be willing to face the penalty of a spill: If they avoided it, they could also collect a cool $120 million and score a win. BP may have just drawn a “hazard card” in real life, but something tells me they’ll keep fighting for that greenback victory.

Photo credit: Ebay.com