Attempted life in Europe. "Calderones Cetaceans"

Attempted life in Europe.

By Dr. Marcos Sommer

- The world is unaware of this attempt on life in the Faroe Islands - Denmark - Europe.
- The pilot whale, whose scientific name is (Globicephala melas or Globicephala macrorhynchus) is a cetacean of the dolphin family and is classified as a threatened species of special interest, also appearing on the Red List of the World Conservation Union - IUCN - as low risk.
- No nation can claim the moral right to kill them.

- The world is unaware of this attempt on life in the Faroe Islands - Denmark - Europe.
- The pilot whale, whose scientific name is (Globicephala melas or Globicephala macrorhynchus) is a cetacean of the dolphin family and is classified as a threatened species of special interest, also appearing on the Red List of the World Conservation Union - IUCN - as low risk.
- No nation can claim the moral right to kill them.

The Faroe Islands, with 1,117 kilometers of coastline, are a platform of 18 isolated volcanic islands in the North Atlantic between Scotland and Iceland, which make up the Faroese archipelago, in the middle of the migratory routes of the pilot whales. The islands feature numerous straits, fjords and deep valleys where 47,000 people live in total, of which almost a third reside in the capital, Torshavn. There are ferries between the larger islands and bridges have also been built between the two larger islands.

Fig. 1. The Faroe Islands with 1,117 kilometers of coastline, are a platform of 18 isolated volcanic islands in the North Atlantic between Scotland and Iceland.

These islands belong to Denmark, it is an autonomous region, where planes did not arrive until the 1970s.

Every year a bloody massacre is carried out against pilot whales, an extremely intelligent species, in danger of extinction, which naturally approach human beings due to their docility and sensitivity. This tradition dates back 1,200 years, as an initiation ceremony for adolescents who reach adulthood. In this ceremony, about 1,000 to 2,500 pilot whales are killed (annual captures have ranged from 1,500 to 3,000 individuals). This traditional slaughter of every year is certainly bloody and turns out to be a regrettable spectacle that nobody stops.

Fig. 2. Unfortunately this species has traditionally been captured for its precious meat, which is said to be "extremely tasty". In a full season, up to 3,000 whales can be killed.

Before agriculture played a very important role in the islands, but currently only 1% of the population is dedicated to agriculture. Pilot whale meat accounts for about a quarter of your total meat consumption.

Fishing, the fishing industry and the export of fish are the most important business activities today. In addition, fishing gear is produced for export, and boat building is also quite important. But wool garments are also exported thanks to their extensive sheep farming.
A pilot whale (Globicephala melas or Globicephala macrorhynchus) in zoology is an odontocete cetacean, of the dolphin family (Delphinidae). It is also called the black globicéfalo or long-finned pilot whale.
It is found in temperate and subpolar waters (0 - 25 ° C), of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, on both sides of the equator up to the 30th parallel.

Fig. 3. Distribution: Globycepahala macrorhynchus, in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters. Source: (Olson and Reilly, 2002; Carwardine, 1995)

There are an estimated 1 million pilot whales in the North Atlantic, with numerous herds passing during the spring and early summer following their annual migration. They live well offshore or near the coast, generally on the edge of the continental shelf, and sometimes even enter estuaries in search of food. There is an Antarctic and an Arctic population, estimated at about 90,000 individuals. Outside its limits, the pilot whale (Globicephala melaena) occupies the territory.

The calderon is a species of gregarious habits, lives in groups of hundreds of individuals. The nucleus of the group is the family (of about 15 or 20 members), although sometimes several hundred are concentrated, made up of females with their offspring and generally a single adult male.

Fig. 4. Calderon cetacean lives in flia. from 15 to 20 members.

Males can measure up to 7 meters and weigh 2,500 kg, the female being generally smaller. Its main characteristic is a head with an exaggerated melon, more marked in males, with a slightly marked or non-existent bill separated from the melon by a fold.

Fig. 5. Head - shaped like a melon used as an echolocator.

In the mouth it has 8 to 13 conical and sharp teeth anteriorly in each of the 4 mandibular bones. There is no constriction in the neck and from here the body is cylindrical to the dorsal fin; It is located in the anterior half of the body and has an elongated base: in males it is bulbous, very arched backwards, with a long base and a wide and thick leading edge, while in females it is less arched. The pectorial fins are located closer to the head and are quite long (almost 30 percent of the length of the body), with a kind of elbow and ending at an acute angle. The caudal peduncle is thick, and the caudal fin has a mesca that forms two lobes with a concave edge with sharp ends. Juveniles are brown or light gray, and adults blackish or dark gray; In the ventral area they present a large anchor-shaped spot of light tones, from the throat to the anus, behind the dorsal fin there is another saddle-shaped spot.

Their cruising speed is around 6 km / h, although they can reach 45 km / h in case of danger. They can dive to a depth between 800 and 900m (it has been discovered that they dive up to 1,200 meters), in search of food, although most dives are carried out at 30-60 m depth, their daily consumption being 50 to 60 kg of calms (Illex sp.) And cod (Gadus morhua), plus a wide range of other fish.

Unlike other cetaceans, such as beaked whales or sperm whales, pilot whales ascend and descend rapidly, with short dives of up to 22 minutes.

Between dives, they take "a short rest" on the surface that sometimes does not exceed 5 minutes to take another dive in the dark and cold deep waters at average speeds of between 2 and 3 meters per second.

It finds its prey in the depths thanks to its prominent melon, which mode of sonar it uses as an echolocator. Its main natural predators are orcas and sharks, large groups are often stranded on the coast making it almost impossible to return them alive to the sea.

They are believed to be polygamous, with a fairly marked social structure. They choose warm waters for reproduction, which although it can occur at any time of the year, there seem to be peaks in summer and fall. Something similar happens with childbirth.

Fig. 6. A carnage that is certainly bloody and turns out to be an unfortunate spectacle that no one stops in this 21st century.

It seems that the determining factor to reach sexual maturity is body size, and not age, in both males and females, reaching it with a height of 3.5-3.7 m, at 6-7 years ( males at 12-14 years approx.). After a gestation of 12-13 months a calf is born that measures 1.7 m, without teeth and weighs approximately 75 kg, which will spend a long lactation period of 23 to 27 months. The interval between calving is long, around 4.5-5 years, although younger females can shorten it and can sometimes get pregnant while still producing milk for their previous calf. It is believed that females over 40 are unlikely to be reproductive.

Given the climatic and geographical conditions of islands such as the Faroe or Shetland, the local population has always had to resort to what nature had to offer to survive ... and pilot whales have been one of those natural offerings.

Fig. 7. Hunting pilot whales in the Faroe Islands is one more form of livelihood which is also strictly regulated by local laws.

The Faroese population has consumed whale meat as part of their local diet for generations. However, recent research has shown that, due to various polluting processes, pilot whale meat has a considerable mercury content that can seriously damage the neural development of children who consume it. It is, in short, another indicator of poor health that our planet has been showing in recent times (

The problem of contamination from cetacean products and its impacts on human health is not restricted to Japan. The consumption of the meat, fat and organs of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala malaena) by the inhabitants of the Faroe Islands is equally concerning, since this species has been identified as one of the main sources of organochlorines (POPs) and PCBs in the Faroese diet.

Fig. 8. Pilot whale cetacean with high concentrations of organochlorines (POPs) and PCBs.

In this sense, the presence of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is a cause of special concern because they are toxic substances that accumulate in animal tissues and are also highly resistant to natural degradation processes, that is, they persist in the environment for several years before degrading (Table 1). Due to the fact that POPs have a high solubility in fats, they are normally present in higher concentrations in meat and animal fat, especially in that of marine mammals, a process called 'biomagnification'.

Table 1: Decomposition time of materials dumped into rivers, streams and seas. Sommer, 2004.

Most POPs do not come from nature and are the result of industrial activities, which release large amounts of pollutants into the environment. Because they travel long distances through river beds, ocean currents and the atmosphere (where 98% of POPs enter marine ecosystems), they are responsible for a global pollution problem.

In 1995, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) identified a list of 12 POPs as substances of particular concern according to the Precautionary Principle. 100% of these substances belong to the group of organochlorines, which include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and pesticides such as DDT, aldrin, and dieldrin.

All these pollutants are associated with risks to human health and have been detected in high concentrations in the meat, fat and organs of marine mammals, as a result of the active processes of atmospheric and marine pollution.

Currently, there are approximately 1.2 million tons of PCBs on the planet, of which 31% have been discharged into the environment. Of these, 20% of this total are found in the oceans and 11% in terrestrial ecosystems.

Around 100,000 tons have been dumped in the North Atlantic, making this ocean the most contaminated with PCBs on the planet.

According to studies conducted at the site, the daily intake of PCBs is twice the tolerable daily intake established by the US Food and Drug Administration. Tissue samples from long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala malaena) also revealed the presence of high concentrations of pesticides such as DDT and its main residual product, DDE; as well as dieldrin, and lindane.

Additionally, the concentrations of mercury and other pollutants are so high that the Institute of Hygiene of the Islands called on the population to restrict the consumption of pilot whales.

On the other hand, a study started in the late 1980s to evaluate the long-term neurological and behavioral consequences of methyl mercury in pregnant women and their children, revealed that mothers have constant concentrations of methyl mercury in the body due to habitual consumption of fish; occasional high concentrations due to intermittent consumption of long-finned pilot whales; and maternal exposure to PCBs due to the consumption of pilot whale blubber. Subsequent neurobehavioral analyzes performed on the children of the analyzed women revealed dysfunctions in language, degree of attention, memory and performance of visual-spatial tasks, hearing damage and, to a lesser degree, motor damage.

In an attempt to protect public health, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have established acceptable intake limits for various toxic substances, known as Acceptable Daily Intakes. (IDA) and Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake (ISTP). According to the FAO / WHO, the consumption of contaminated products that do not exceed the established limits should not represent a risk to human health during the life cycle. Both the ADI and the PTWI refer to the maximum amount of milligrams of the chemical - that could be consumed with relative safety - per kilogram of body weight (µg / kg).

Table 2. Values ​​of Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for organochlorines - FAO / WHO. Source: Cetacea Conservation Center, 2003.

The ADI values ​​established for certain organochlorines have been compared to the concentrations of organochlorines found in the diet of consumers of pilot whale dolphin products. For example, studies carried out in the Faroe Islands revealed that the estimated daily consumption of dieldrin (0.3 µg / kg / day), exceeds the ADI value established by FAO / WHO (Table 2).

On the other hand, various nations concerned about the high concentrations of POPs in marine products and the health problems associated with their consumption, have implemented acceptable intake values, which can be compared to the concentrations of toxins found in the fat of various species of cetaceans (Table 3).

Table 3 .: Acceptable ingestion values, which can be compared to the concentrations of toxins found in the fat of various species of cetaceans. Source: Cetacea Conservation Center, 2003.

The ignorance of humanity is putting the pilot whales of Faroe Island in danger. We have created this problem due to the false impression that cetaceans are infinite and that the oceans must dissolve, absorb, purify and render harmless everything that humanity produces.

The case of the pilot whale allows us to illustrate the economic and ecological implications of the exploitation of free or public renewable resources, especially to illustrate different negative externalities related to this slaughter.

Humanity is discovering in the worst way that the oceans are not infinite, much less invulnerable. Apart from man, pilot whales are the only species that still migrate freely through the oceans of this planet and occupy an important place in the structure and functioning of the seas and oceans. Most of these animals are the last link in complex food chains and can therefore serve as indicators of the health of an entire ecosystem. They are also certainly mysterious and interesting mammals, since many things about them are unknown.

The alarming problems facing many populations of dolphin and porpoise whales reflect the severity of the crisis facing the oceans. Not only are species and populations such as the right whale in the North Atlantic, the Vaquita or the gray whale in the Western Pacific facing possible extinction in this century, but also fish populations (currently more than 70 percent of the world's fish stocks are at or near overexploited, overexploited or recovering). Some fish stocks that were supposed to be inexhaustible, such as the Newfoundland cod, have almost disappeared and show no signs of recovery. All over the world, marine ecosystems are degrading and in some cases have undergone major changes that affect their functioning.

More and more scientists are recommending the establishment of marine reserves, areas where catches are not allowed, in order to repair the damage done over decades by overfishing. Japan argues that it is necessary to kill more whales than so far to prove that they are responsible for the decline in fish stocks.

There are scientific works in which there is no evidence that the fishing grounds and the areas where the whales feed are overlapping. These mammals also eat mainly plankton, deep-sea squid and small crabs.

Cetaceans have an almost incredible ability to enrich the lives of those with whom they come into peaceful contact. They exert a unique universal attraction on the human spirit. They are incomparable generators of wonder and admiration. There is a mystique around them that inspires a sense of wonder and happiness in people of all races and nationalities, something that no other animal group has come to equal to such magnitude. Cetaceans hold such a fascination for people that they have become powerful tools for the education of people of all ages. Furthermore, they seem to have a special affinity for humans.

Despite their threatening size and strength, and despite centuries of human predation, whales in their natural environment prove time and again to be exceptionally tolerant of human proximity, not only tolerating but also they often deliberately initiate positive interactions with people.

The living space of whales, unlike that of land animals, is not delineated by clearly defined national boundaries. Their territories belong to a large extent to the globality of nations: they are the seas of the world that do not belong to any particular nation, constituting a particularly global resource. Thus, whales are under international control, and since they are not legally a resource of any country, no nation can claim the moral right to kill them (Tab.:4). Decisions on the exploitation or protection of whales logically and legally must be made through an international body such as the International Whaling Commission.

Fighting for the conservation and survival of species, regardless of their beauty or size, is, neither more nor less, fighting for our present and future. It is a monumental task that pursues the very survival of the human being.

…… what happens to animals will also happen to man. Everything is linked. They must teach their children that the ground they walk on is the ashes of our grandparents. Instill your children that the earth is enriched with the lives of our fellow men so that they know how to respect it. Teach your children that we have taught ours that the earth is our mother. Everything that happens to the earth will happen to the children of the earth. If men spit on the ground, they spit on themselves. This we know-: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know, everything is linked, like the blood that unites a family. Everything that happens to the earth will happen to the children of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is just a thread. What he does with the plot he does to himself.
Letter from the Indian Chief Seattle, to Mr. Franklin Pierce, President of the United States.

* Oceanographers Without Borders

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Video: Ocean Stories 3 - Dolphins and Whales. Free Documentary (July 2021).