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About Whale of a Time
Whale of a Time is riding the wave of change, promoting successful stewardship of our planet to create a peaceful, morally just, humane and sustainable culture, while ensuring survival of all species and their natural habitats. Whale of a Time organises creative and fun, inspiring and empowering events on environmental issues to encourage active participation living a sustainable lifestyle inspired by a positive attitude. We engage young and old from all walks of life through the Whale of a Time Community, the Whale of a Time Festival and the Whale of a Time Workshop. Our work has been recognised by many national and community and environmental awards schemes.
Whale of a Time Tweats
Monday, 15 April 2013
North Pole, April 15, 2013 — Four young people on a mission with Greenpeace have planted a flag on the seabed beneath the North Pole, at the same spot where a submarine planted a Russian flag claiming the Arctic for Moscow. (1) The young people planted their ‘flag for the future’ four kilometers beneath the ice at the top of the world and called for the region to be declared a global sanctuary.
The campaigners (2) held a ceremony this weekend at the geographic North Pole, led by two Arctic Indigenous ambassadors. There they cut a hole in the ice and lowered a flag designed by a child (3) from Malaysia, through the freezing waters to the seabed.
The flag is attached to a glass and titanium time capsule (4) containing the signatures of nearly three million people, including actors, musicians, artists and business leaders (5) who asked for their names to be taken to the Pole when they joined Greenpeace’s campaign calling for the Arctic to be protected from exploitation.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu this weekend joined the call for a global sanctuary, saying: "I offer my full support to these young people who travelled to the North Pole on behalf of those whose lives are being turned upside down by climate change." (6)
Hollywood actor Ezra Miller — star of We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Perks of Being a Wallflower — is one of the youth ambassadors who planted the flag and the names. Another is 26-year-old Josefina Skerk, an Indigenous activist and Sami Parliament member in Sweden.
"By coming to the top of the world and planting this flag, we’re hoping to inspire young people everywhere. We’re here to say this special area of the Arctic belongs to no person or nation, but is the common heritage of everyone on Earth," Skerk said. "Our names and those of millions more are now planted on the seabed beneath the Pole. Together we're asking that this area be declared a global sanctuary, off-limits to oil companies and political posturing. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, in the whole of the Arctic, whose way of life is now being threatened by the unchecked greed of industry."
The expedition coincided with the first ever meeting at the North Pole of the Arctic Council, the governing body comprised of foreign ministers and senior officials from Arctic states. As the expedition started, Skerk requested a meeting with the group, but was refused.
The week-long expedition to the Pole is part of a global campaign to protect the Arctic, under threat from climate change, oil companies, industrial fishing and shipping. As global warming melts the sea ice, companies such as Shell, Gazprom and Statoil are moving in to exploit the region's oil as nation states lay claim to areas previously covered by ice.
The youth ambassadors and Greenpeace campaigners have challenged the companies and nations seeking to profit from climate change. By planting the time capsule and flag, they have drawn a line in the ice, telling the polluters and oil companies: you come no further.
The young people are part of a Greenpeace team that trekked for one week across the frozen ocean in freezing winds and temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius. They traveled around 10 km a day, each dragging heavy sleighs weighing 80kg behind them. In a remote and dangerous environment their supplies dwindled as the shifting ice took them further from the Pole. The team then hitched a ride with a helicopter that was flying in from the nearby Barneo Base, to put them within striking distance of the Pole, allowing them to ski and drift a shorter final distance and complete their journey to the top of the world.
ADDITIONAL QUOTES FROM THE YOUTH AMBASSADORS – USE AS APPROPRIATE:
Kiera-Dawn Kolson, youth ambassador and outreach campaigner for Greenpeace Canada:
"The Arctic Ocean is one of the great wonders of the world and its purity and beauty has struck me deeply this past week. We must keep reckless industry away from this purity, when these people have no idea how to clean up spills under the ice or protect this incredibly fragile place. This week I’ve realised that regardless of where we live in the world, we all rely on each other to survive, and it is this unity and respect that we need to protect our earth for future generations. As an Indigenous person, I absolutely oppose those industries that seek to exploit nature for profit against the subsistence needs of the community."
Renny Bijoux, youth ambassador, member of the Youth Parliament from the Seychelles:
"Though we are in the Arctic and I live in the Seychelles, on a global level it is my homeland too. Whatever happens here affects my people, from rising seas to growing storms. Sustainable development is the key. We must respect our environment and develop within its limits, because if we destroy our climate, we cannot sustain our development for future generations. The damage is clear and it is apparent. It’s time for those in power, like the Arctic Council, to realise this and to see that protecting the Arctic is a global necessity."
Ezra Miller, youth ambassador, actor and musician from New York:
"I can’t feel the tips of my fingers or toes but my head and heart are filled with a newfound determination. Melting ice is a catastrophe, not a profit-making opportunity. To see it as such is utter madness. Three million people have now joined this movement to declare their commitment to save this vital part of our earth; I feel honoured to be a part of this team, which was chosen to represent all of them at this critical moment in history. This is a collective responsibility. It’s up to all of us, and especially the youth, to change the way that humanity treats this amazing planet we love and rely on so completely."
For more information or to speak with one of the team, please call:
Jessica Wilson, Greenpeace International Arctic campaign, +44 7896 893118
Anna Jones, Greenpeace International Arctic campaign, +44 7717 311103
Aaron Gray-Block, Greenpeace International media relations, +31 6 4616 2026
 A Russian submarine, piloted by explorer Artur Chilligarov, planted the Russian flag beneath the Pole in 2007. Before embarking on his expedition Chilligarov said: "The Arctic is Russian. We must prove the North Pole is an extension of the Russian landmass." Wikileaks cables later revealed he was acting on the instructions of the Kremlin.
 The Team Aurora youth ambassadors include 20-year-old musician and Hollywood actor Ezra Miller, star of We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Perks of Being a Wallflower; Renny Bijoux, member of the Youth Parliament from the Seychelles; Kiera-Dawn Kolson of the Tso’Tine-Gwich’in nations in Northern Canada, and Josefina Skerk, an Indigenous activist and member of the Sami Parliament in Sweden.
 The ‘flag for the future’ was designed by 13-year-old Sarah Batrisyia from Malaysia, who won a global competition run by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and Greenpeace. The contest was judged by fashion icon Dame Vivienne Westwood
 The time capsule was designed and made in Amsterdam by Joris Laarman Labs. More information on the construction of the time capsule can be found here.
 Among those who asked Greenpeace to take their names to the bottom of the ocean at the top of the world are boy band One Direction, Paul McCartney, Penelope Cruz and dozens of other actors, musicians, artists, and members of the business community such as Richard Branson.
 Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: "I offer my full support to these young people who travelled to the North Pole on behalf of those whose lives are being turned upside down by climate change. The melting of the Arctic matters to every person on earth, and I believe that we must work together to create a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the North Pole. We owe it to future generations to protect the Arctic and keep destructive industry away from this fragile and beautiful place."
Images can be viewed at the link below and are available in high resolution from the Greenpeace picture desk. Please contact John Novis at +31 (0) 629001152 or email@example.com
Various video elements can be downloaded from our publicly accessible ftp server.
passw: 0utput (first digit is a zero)
For further assistance please contact Maarten Van Rouveroy at +31 646 197 322 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, 7 April 2013
UPDATE: Trekkers depart on North Pole expedition, aim for Arctic Council meeting Young campaigners will plant flag, declaration on sea bed beneath pole
London, April 7, 2013 — A group of young campaigners set off today on an expedition to help save the Arctic, aiming to also hold an unexpected meeting with a delegation of influential Arctic officials at the North Pole later this week.
Sixteen people, including four international youth ambassadors (1) — Hollywood actor Ezra Miller, two Arctic Indigenous representatives and a young man from the Seychelles — set off from Barneo Base on a ski trek across the sea ice with Greenpeace to the geographic North Pole.
Shortly before setting off, they learned that members of the Arctic Council — the governing body comprised of foreign ministers and senior officials from Arctic states — will also be at the North Pole this week.
One of the explorers, Josefina Skerk, a 26-year-old member of the Sami Parliament in Sweden, sent a letter to Gustaf Lind, Swedish chair of the Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials, requesting a meeting with the Arctic officials. Mr. Lind accepted the invitation and the groups now hope to meet at the North Pole, weather permitting.
The trekkers are carrying with them a time capsule (2) that contains a declaration with 2.7 million signatures calling for the Arctic to be made a global sanctuary. They plan to lower the capsule and a 'Flag for the Future' through 4.3 km of freezing water to the seabed beneath the North Pole.
"I'm here with three young people from across the world who each have connections to the Arctic and it's a great honour to deliver our message to the council at the place we all wish to protect for future generations," Skerk said.
"This will be a really grueling expedition and we're all a little bit nervous right now. But this is a unique chance for us to talk with the people responsible for protecting the Arctic and we know our supporters around the world would want us to go for it."
The activists say no one nation should own the Arctic or be allowed to exploit the melting Arctic sea ice, a crisis created by climate change, for more of the fuels that caused the melt in the first place.
The campaigners now plan to use the unexpected meeting with the Arctic Council to challenge the council and put forward their demand that the uninhabited areas around the North Pole be declared a global sanctuary.
Contact / interview requests Jessica Wilson, Greenpeace International Arctic communications, +44 7896 893 118| Anna Jones, Greenpeace International Arctic campaigner, +44 7717 311 103
Saturday, 6 April 2013
Wednesday, 3 April 2013
Population disappearing fast
The population in the mainstream of the Yangtze River was less than half of what a similar survey found six years ago, with food shortages and human disturbance such as increased shipping traffic major threats to their survival. The study also found that the rare species annual rate of decline now stands at 13.7 percent, which means that the Yangtze finless porpoise could be extinct as early as the year 2025.
The report comes after a 44-day and 3,400-kilometre round-trip research expedition on the Yangtze River between Yichang in Hubei Province and Shanghai. Led by China's Ministry of Agriculture and organized by the Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, WWF and the Wuhan Baiji Dolphin Conservation Fund, the expedition first set sail on 11 November 2012.
The crew visually identified 380 individual Yangtze finless porpoise in the river's mainstream during the 2012 survey. Based on this observation, scientists determined through analyses that the population in the Yangtze mainstream is about 500, down from 1,225 in 2006. In October 2012, research was carried out in two adjoining lakes, the Poyang and Dongting, where the population was about 450 and 90, respectively, according to the report. In a sharp contrast, 851 individuals of Yangtze finless porpoise were visually identified in the mainstream of the Yangtze during the 2006 survey. That research, however, did not cover the two lakes.
"The species is moving fast toward its extinction," said Wang Ding, head of the research expedition and a professor at the IHB. Attempts to find traces of the Baiji Dolphin, another rare cetacean and close relative of the finless porpoise, failed during the 2012 survey. The Baiji dolphin was declared "functionally extinct."
According to data captured by acoustic equipment onboard the observation ships, the largest numbers of finless porpoise were found in the river sections east of Wuhan, with 67 percent recorded between Hukou in Jiangxi Province and Nanjing in Jiangsu Province, the report shows.
There is a notable sign of scattered distribution pattern which could be the result of "shipping traffic that made migration harder, projects that altered hydrological conditions in the middle and lower reaches and habitat loss," said Wang with the IHB.
Wharf and port areas more popular
The report also cautions that small groups of Yangtze finless porpoise living in comparative isolation may have a negative impact on their ability to reproduce. There are fewer finless porpoise in the mainstream of the Yangtze while more discoveries were made in wharf and port areas, scientists found.
"They may risk their lives for rich fish bait resources there. But busy shipping traffic close to the port areas poses a threat to the survival of finless porpoise," said Wang.
"Lack of fishery resources and human disturbances including shipping traffic are among the key threats to the Yangtze finless porpoise survival," Lei Gang, director of freshwater programme at WWF-China, said.
Some hope and more threats
Researchers found dense distributions of finless porpoise in waters that are not open to navigation and attribute this to less human disturbance. Less optimistic was the discovery of illegal fishing practices in these areas, including traps that could affect finless porpoise.
A set of enhanced measures that include in-situ conservation and ex-situ conservation approaches are essential for efforts of saving the species from its distinction, said Lei. Given that, the report calls for all-year-round fishing ban for all river dolphin reserves, establishment of a national reserve in Poyang Lake and ex-situ conservation reserves along the Yangtze.
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There is a “plastic soup” of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean and it is growing at an alarming rate. Maybe you heard it was the size of Texas? Yes, it was at one point. But now scientists believe it covers an area twice the size of the continental United States, and is still growing. The vast expanse of debris – in effect the world’s largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting “soup” stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan.
Charles Moore, a former sailor, came across the sea of waste by chance in 1997, while taking a short cut home from a Los Angeles to Hawaii yacht race. He had steered his craft into the “North Pacific gyre” – a vortex where the ocean circulates slowly because of little wind and extreme high pressure systems. Usually sailors avoid it.
He was astonished to find himself surrounded by rubbish, day after day, thousands of miles from land. “Every time I came on deck, there was trash floating by,” he said in an interview. “How could we have fouled such a huge area?”
Mr Moore, the heir to a family fortune from the oil industry, subsequently sold his business interests and became an environmental activist. Back then he warned that unless consumers cut back on their use of disposable plastics, the plastic stew would double in size over the next decade. It’s far exceeded that prediction.
Most debris consists of small plastic particles suspended at or just below the surface, making it impossible to detect by aircraft or satellite. Instead, the size of the patch is determined by sampling. The “soup” is actually two linked areas, on either side of the islands of Hawaii, known as the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches.
The Garbage Patch formed gradually as a result of marine pollution gathered by oceanic currents. The gyre’s rotational pattern draws in waste material from across the North Pacific Ocean. As material is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move floating debris toward the center, trapping it in the region.
About 20% of the junk is thrown off ships or oil platforms. Ship-generated pollution is a source of concern, since a typical 3,000-passenger cruise ship produces over eight tons of waste weekly, a major amount of which ends up in the patch.
The other 80% of the garbage comes from land-based sources. Rivers carry garbage out to sea, which then makes its way into the patch. Currents carry debris from the west coast of North America to the gyre in about six years, and debris from the east coast of Asia in a year or less.
The biggest problem is our addiction to plastic. According to National Geographic, more than 200 million tones of plastic are produced each year, of which about 10% ends up in the oceans. And once plastic is made, it NEVER breaks down.
All of this plastic in the ocean is having a devastating effect on Marine life.
This statistic is grim—for marine animals, of course, but even more so for humans. Why? Because just like the marine life, we’re now ingesting plastic toxins constantly.
Plastic has made it’s way into the food chain. All sea creatures, from the largest to the microscopic organisms, are, at one point or another, swallowing the seawater soup instilled with toxic chemicals from plastic decomposition. The world population is eating fish that have eaten other fish, which have eaten toxin-saturated plastics. In essence, humans are eating their own waste.
267 marine species are affected by plastic garbage already. All sea creatures are threatened by floating plastic, from whales down to zooplankton. We are the last in the food chain, and we are definitely experiencing the consequences of our actions.
You could take your blood serum to a lab right now, and they’d find at least 100 industrial chemicals (INSIDE OF YOU) that did not exist in 1950.
If that doesn’t deeply disturb you, then you have your head buried in the plastic.
What we can do:
As sad as it is, this is such a monstrous problem that it will be very hard to stop and reverse the damage. Our world is addicted to plastic. But here is what you can do to try and help.
1) Although recycling makes only a small impact, everyone should do it, period. And more importantly, we need to push for and support more robust recycling programs, because right now they are pathetic.
2) Stop using plastic. That’s the only way we can eliminate all the toxic products that harm the animals and us human beings. This is clearly easier said than done. Not using plastic is currently impossible, but each person CAN reduce plastic use.
To make the biggest impact, minimize your consumption of bottled water, bottled soda, and plastic bags.
3) The BIGGEST thing we can do to help this problem is make the transition to biodegradable plastics. Biodegradable plastics will decompose in natural aerobic (composting) and anaerobic (landfill) environments.
The biggest challenge here will be getting the plastic companies like Dupont to transition to biodegradable plastics. That is about as challenging as trying to get the oil companies to pursue clean fuel alternatives.
As with many of the problems of our day, this one seems hopeless. I hate to leave a blog post in a pessimistic light, but to be honest with you, I am losing faith that enough people will evolve the consciousness required to fix these problems fast enough to make a difference.
Let’s hope I’m wrong.
Some interesting links:
Some good videos:
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Tuesday, 2 April 2013
In August 2011, scientists did a comprehensive examination of a 16-year-old male bottlenose dolphin. This dolphin — dubbed Y12 for research purposes — was found near Grand Isle, a Louisiana barrier island that was hit hard during the Gulf oil disaster.
Like many of the 31 other dolphins examined in a recent study, Y12 was found to be severely ill: underweight, anemic and with signs of liver and lung disease. The dolphins’ symptoms were consistent with those seen in other mammals exposed to oil; researchers feared many of the dolphins studied were so ill they would not survive.
Seven months later, Y12’s emaciated carcass washed up on the beach at Grand Isle.
More than 650 dolphins have been found stranded in the oil spill area since the Gulf oil disaster began. This is more than four times the historical average.
“Three years after the initial explosion, the impacts of the disaster continue to unfold,” said Doug Inkley, senior scientist for the National Wildlife Federation and lead report author. “Dolphins are still dying in high numbers in the areas affected by oil. These ongoing deaths — particularly in an apex predator like the dolphin — are a strong indication that there is something amiss with the Gulf ecosystem.”
Restoring a Degraded Gulf of Mexico: Wildlife and Wetlands Three Years into the Gulf Oil Disaster looks at how different species of wildlife across the northern Gulf are faring in the wake of the oil disaster.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called the dolphin die-off “unprecedented” a year ago. More than 1,700 sea turtles were found stranded between May 2010 and November 2012 — the last date for which information is available. For comparison, on average about 240 sea turtles are stranded annually. A coral colony seven miles from the wellhead was badly damaged by oil. A recent laboratory study found that a mixture of oil and dispersant affected the ability of some coral species to build new parts of a reef.
Scientists found that the oil disaster affected the cellular function of the killifish, a common baitfish at the base of the food web. A recent laboratory study found that oil exposure can also harm the development of larger fish such as mahi mahi. “Despite the public reations blitz by BP, this spill is not over,” said David Muth, Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Mississippi River Delta Restoration Program. “In 2012 six million pounds of tar mat and contaminated material from the BP spill were cleaned up from Louisiana’s coast. Justice will only be served when BP and its co-defendants pay to restore the wildlife and habitats of the Mississippi River Delta and the Gulf of Mexico.”
Two ways to help:
Take action: The high number of dolphin deaths is concerning, and wildlife across the Gulf continue to feel the effects of BP’s massive oil spill three years later. Residents of the Gulf and its wildlife need full restoration! Tell the Dept. of Justice to hold BP fully accountable for its actions>>
Donate now: You can also help NWF protect wildlife, like bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf, by donating today.
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The report, “Restoring a Degraded Gulf of Mexico: Wildlife and Wetlands Three Years into the Gulf Oil Disaster,” found that dolphins were among the hardest hit animals. As of just earlier this year, infant dolphins were dying six times faster than they did before the spill. Scientists aren’t even yet sure of the extent of the massive spill, given that it was impossible to fully clean up the chemical-laden, carcinogenic oil.
Photos: Devastating Oil Spill Disasters
“Three years after the initial explosion, the impacts of the disaster continue to unfold,” Doug Inkley, senior scientist for the National Wildlife Federation and lead author of the report, said in a press release. “Dolphins are still dying in high numbers in the areas affected by oil. These ongoing deaths — particularly in an apex predator like the dolphin — are a strong indication that there is something amiss with the Gulf ecosystem.”
An infographic summarizes some of the findings.
The NWF also highlighted these findings:
* Dolphin deaths in the area affected by oil have remained above average every month since just before the spill began. (The infant dolphin data was gathered in January and February of 2013.)
* NOAA called the dolphin die-off “unprecedented” — a year ago. While NOAA is keeping many elements of its dolphin research confidential pending the conclusion of the ongoing trial, the agency has ruled out the most common causes of previous dolphin die-offs.
* More than 1,700 sea turtles were found stranded between May 2010 and November 2012 — the last date for which information is available. For comparison, on average about 240 sea turtles are stranded annually.
* A coral colony seven miles from the wellhead was badly damaged by oil. A recent laboratory study found that the mixture of oil and dispersant affected the ability of some coral species to build new parts of a reef.
* Scientists found that the oil disaster affected the cellular function of the killifish, a common baitfish at the base of the food web. A recent laboratory study found that oil exposure can also harm the development of larger fish such as mahi mahi.
Gulf Hit with Dirty Blizzard After Oil Spill
“The oil disaster highlighted the gaps in our understanding of the Gulf of Mexico,” said Ian MacDonald, professor of Oceanography at Florida State University. “What frustrates me is how little has changed over the past three years. In many cases, funding for critical research has even been even been cut, limiting our understanding of the disaster’s impacts.”
BP and other companies responsible for the disaster are now on trial in federal court for violations of multiple environmental laws. BP on its website says it has a “commitment to sustainability worldwide” and that it has been meeting the challenges of the spill.
“Despite the public relations blitz by BP, this spill is not over,” said David Muth, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Mississippi River Delta Restoration Program. “In 2012 six million pounds of tar mat and contaminated material from the BP spill were cleaned up from Louisiana’s coast.”
(The oil slick as seen from space by NASA’s Terra satellite on May 24, 2010; NASA image)
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