Saturday, February 27, 2010

Orcas, Earthquakes and the News: Listen to the Animals

 Image of Keiko, public domain

Strange Planet has a good post about the recent earthquakes, including yesterday's 8.8 earthquake in Chile. As Strange Planet points out:

 An 8.8 compared to Japan's 7.0 is not a quake 1.8 times the intensity, as many of you know. It's exponentially horrific. A 7.1 is ten times the power of a 7.0, a 7.2 is ten times a 7.1, and so on.

When the sea lions left the San Fransico area, I posted that they left for a reason, and I said that they left because of soon to be witnesses earthquakes. Strange Planet also wonders, as I did last night when I heard the news, if the OCR attack on his trainer wasn't in some ways due to the earthquakes. Giant squid washing up on beaches all up and down the coast, and other unusual marine life behaviors --- we've been witnessing this recently. A combination of factors, including global warming/climate changes, which the earthquakes are a part of.


As to the orca Tilkumat and the death of his trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld and that tragedy, part of that tragedy is that whales and other creatures (big cats, elephants, etc.) are kept in captivity in the first place. Strange Planet comments:

 Several days ago, there's the sad incident at Sea World in Orlando, Florida, where a trainer was killed by a 12,000lb. OCR. Reps for the park called it a deadly misstep on the trainer's part, leaving her ponytail wagging in the water, signaling the animal to seize it as a 'toy'. Could be. Could also be that he wants out of this bathtub and back into the wild, and that he also sensed something out there. Because if you remember, in the interviews that followed with the staff, they said all of the animals were behaving strangely, were agitated, and just weren't performing as they know how. There's something deeper there. [italics mine]

There certainly is "something deeper there."


The tragic end of Keiko (the orca known as "Free Willy" and kept at the Newport, Oregon aquarium until his release into the ocean) is not something I want to see happen again. I don't know if releasing Tilikum the orca (I will not use the exploitive and titillating term "killer whale") back to the ocean is the right thing to do. Maybe it is, I honestly don't know. A start to prevent these tragedies, and, to simply prevent the imprisonment of sentient beings like orcas in the first place, is to make it illegal to keep these creatures in captivity.

As to the events occurring now, local news (Eugene, Oregon, about 50 miles inland) tells us of tsunami warnings on the Oregon coast because of the earthquakes in Chile and Japan. According to the KEZI news website:
The National Weather Service has issued a tsunami advisory for the Oregon coastal area.  Coastal residents are advised to stay out of the water, off the beach, and away from harbors and marinas.

This is not a watch or warning. No significant coastal flooding is expected to  be produced by this wave.  However, some areas of the coast could experience dangerous currents and surges in harbors and bays due to this tsunami. [a href=”http://kezi.com/news/local/164262”> Massive Quake Prompts Tsunami Advisory For Oregon Coast

I heard about the earthquake in Chile from Ian Punnett on C2C. He said there weren't any details but that the news was, an 8.5 (at the time, that's what was reported; today's paper said it was 8.8) earthquake in Chile. So I turned on the TV, with our roughly 250 channels, and I couldn't find one news program. 11:30ish pm, and not one news program. I mean news, like the old CNN, where you had simple, straight forward information coming in about what was going on in the world. What I found were "news" shows having to do with entertainment, news shows, of a sort, with a host or two but clearly the show was about them, and what they wanted to focus on, which seemed mostly to be the tragedy at SeaWorld. The most news I got was from the Weather Channel.

In an odd bit of juxtapositioning, the following item was in today’s local news about Oregon’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport: State OKs money for Oregon marine mammal center:
Assuming Gov. Ted Kulongoski signs the bill, researchers at Hatfield hope that amount will be enough to win $16 million in federal funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, also called NIST. Combined, that would be $25 million, enough to build the new center.

"This would establish a unique center, a university-based center for the study of marine mammals," said Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute. "It would be the largest in the U.S.

"It will give us the unique capacity to advance technology for the study of and protection of marine mammals, including satellite tagging, advanced studies of life history and analyses of genetics diversity."

As with the people of Haiti, my prayers and thoughts go to those in Chile as well.

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