A 12-minute film about the journey which led to the Declaration.
In late 2014, representatives of the original people of La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta came down from their sacred mountain in Colombia to deliver an urgent message and sacred invitation to Humanity on behalf of Mother Earth.
Elders of Munvwameke and Numaka, Nabusimake sent representatives (including spiritual leader, or ‘Mamo’, Miguel Arroyo – Iku and leader of the Iku Nation, Ñankwa Chaparro) to join with elders and wisdom keepers of other tribes and lands, including representatives from the Otomi and Mexica in Central America and Diné from North America, to initiate a ‘Unification Process for the awareness in collective consciousness of Life Originating Principles’. They came with the focus of activating healing in key sacred sites and to call forth humanity to realize that it is time to reclaim our connection to the Original Constitution of Mother Earth. The Earth is calling for our help and it is time for us all to answer.
The group journeyed to sacred sites in Durango, Colorado in the US; Mt. Fuji, Japan; and Uluru, Australia, with two fundamental aims: to bring healing and activation to these key energetic centres of the planet and to raise human consciousness toward the need for unification; calling forth humanity to join them in a deep personal commitment to heal and restore Mother Earth.
During their time in Uluru, the group together wrote a formal invocation to humanity which has been titled The Declaration to Restore Mother Earth. From Uluru, the group journeyed to the eastern most point of Australia in Byron Bay, where they were greeted by members of local and regional indigenous tribes and welcomed to UPLIFT 2014. On Sunday the 14th of December, UPLIFT festival participants and webcast audience around the world paused in a moment of profound silence, joining hands in a great circle as The Declaration to Restore Mother Earth was read aloud. Each person was invited to listen deeply to their own unique calling and to recognise the critical role we each play in bringing about the healing and restoration of our planet.
The plan to build a Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea
has resulted in a worldwide protest movement and a very interesting hashtag
At first glance, the notion of colonialism having anything to do with astronomy or science seems far fetched, but as you peel back the layers, the story becomes quite interesting. Science, as a method of inquiry and discovery is most potent when it isn’t influenced by politics, yet it has benefitted greatly from the moral injustices of colonialism towards indigenous communities over the centuries. Today indigenous perspectives are often excluded from the scientific discussion, but we have an unprecedented opportunity to heal this history and elevate the conversation to benefit all of humanity.
By claiming “survival of the fittest” or “might makes right” Social Darwinism, is an example of how science has been inappropriately used to justify the colonial power dynamic. The concept has very little to do with Darwin, it ignores the research that values cooperation as a component of evolution, and it conveniently implies supremacy and domination of one species or culture over another. This perspective permeates our economics, politics, foreign policy, and has unfortunately permeated science as well. Many indigenous perspectives sees things differently, as inter-connected in a larger web or circle, and do not view life-forms or cultures in a hierarchy.
This difference in world-view is at the heart of many struggles on the planet and is especially apparent in Hawaii where scientists are proposing to place a 30-meter telescope on top of the watershed which is the sacred mountain of Mauna Kea. Background here. This week on social media voices in the scientific community spoke up about the ethical issues surrounding the telescope. Though Hawaiians hold Mauna Kea as their sacred and ancestral site, they are also voicing concern over their watershed and fragile habitat on this island eco-system. Any holistic scientific inquiry would value the top of a watershed for the health of all life-forms including humans, yet this argument has barely been heard in what is being viewed as a clash between culture and science.
When science gains by oppressing the Sacred, then Science becomes The predator of moral balance.. it is critical that our collective lesson teaches aloha pono: respect my boundary, as i respect yours. We have an obligation to build science on dignity, respect of each other first. That being the standard, please, please see what is sacred to us is not sacred to this project. Kapu Aloha , Do not take what is not yours Sacred. Science, and industry, and government are feeling the violation of disrespecting. I am sorry that is happening to you. Please forgive me should you understand it might be a failure of mine. Thank you for respecting me . WE lOVE YOU, NOW, BEFORE AND AFTER THIS CONFLICT!. We see you bigger than your moral immaturity. I See We Hawaiians Challenged to meet the intellectual and moral imbalance prevailing. Were all going to the mountain, just from the No Risk Side. Aloha pono! Love prevails all trauma . Peace first, not after you take. -Harry Uhane Jim
I created the image of the telescope on Mt. Rushmore above to illustrate a perspective that many westerners are too quick to ignore. What if your water source, your sacred site was the chosen spot for this telescope? Mt Rushmore itself (without a telescope on it) is symbolic in that it is a sacred place to the Sioux Tribe. To have the faces of the white foreigners who invaded their land and killed their ancestors on that mountain shows the insensitivity and disrespect of colonial attitudes towards indigenous people that most westerners fail to notice. It is no surprise that Lakota Chief Arvol Lookinghorse has expressed solidarity with Hawaiians in their fight to protect their sacred mountain.
Wherever you stand on this issue we can all celebrate that this conversation is becoming part of the public discourse across cultures. Mutual respect and open dialogue between opposing viewpoints is the only way to heal and grow our understanding of each other. We live in a time when every voice matters. We must continue to embrace and include all perspectives if we want to heal the traumatic history we all inherited and create a better future.
Crew of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Operation Milagro Captures Rare Footage During First View Since 2013 of Critically Endangered Vaquita Porpoise in Sea of Cortez
The lone vaquita documented by Sea Shepherd’s crew is one of only 97 remaining members of its species.
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Carolina A Castro
Taken under Aviso de filmación CNANP-00-010On April 18, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society captured rare footage of the elusive and endangered vaquita porpoise in the waters of Mexico’s Gulf of California, the small cetacean’s only home on Earth. The sighting marks the first time since 2013 the shy creature has been spotted and filmed in the Sea of Cortez. The vaquita documented by the crew of Sea Shepherd USA’s Operation Milagro (Operation Miracle) campaign is one of only 97 remaining members of its species, considered by many to be the rarest marine mammal in the world.
The Sea Shepherd crew filmed and photographed as they encountered the lone porpoise on April 18, while documenting within the vaquitas’ marine refuge. The footage will be shared with the scientific community to contribute to the vitally important study and understanding of the dwindling vaquita population.
Sea Shepherd has been present in the Sea of Cortez for more than a month, with an international crew of volunteers aboard the research sailing vessel, R/V Martin Sheen. Captain Oona Layolle and her crew are documenting the plight of the vaquita population, collecting data in order to collaborate in efforts dedicated to vaquita conservation. Sea Shepherd has also been conducting outreach in the region, meeting with marine biologists, vaquita experts and other NGOs working locally to save these endangered porpoises from the irreversible fate of extinction.
The crew of Sea Shepherd USA research vessel, R/V Martin Sheen watches as the elusive vaquita swims within its marine refuge.
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Carolina A Castro
Taken under Aviso de filmación CNANP-00-010The smallest of all seven porpoise species, the vaquita is also the smallest cetacean in the world. These petite porpoises are particularly vulnerable to population decline, with a slower rate of reproduction than that of other porpoises – giving birth to only one calf every two years. They have a comparatively short lifespan of approximately 20 years, and have never been held in captivity. Of the less than 100 remaining vaquitas, only 25 are believed to be females of reproductive age.
According to a 2014 report from the Comité Internacional para la Recuperacíon de la Vaquita (CIRVA), a committee that includes government agencies, marine biologists and NGOs, the vaquita population drastically plummets by 18.5 percent every year – and it is estimated that the vaquita could be extinct by 2018 if they continue to fall victim to by-catch in legal and illegal fisheries.
The biggest threat to the vaquita’s survival may now be the gillnets of illegal poaching operations aimed at catching the prized totoaba fish – a critically endangered species itself. The fish are highly sought after for their lucrative swim bladders, exported from Mexico – often sent through the United States – and sold on the black market in China, where they are served in soup. CIRVA reports that fishermen can receive as much as $8,500 USD for just one kilogram of swim bladder. Destructive gillnets are set on the bottom of the sea, leaving a deadly trap not only for the totoaba but for the vaquita as well. The porpoises become trapped in the nets – and unable to reach the surface for air, they drown.
The vaquita sighting during Sea Shepherd’s Operation Milagro marks the first time since 2013
the shy porpoise has been spotted in the Sea of Cortez.
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Sandra Alba
Taken under Aviso de filmación CNANP-00-010Sea Shepherd commends the Mexican government for the vital actions it is taking to prevent the extinction of the vaquita. Along with a two-year moratorium on gillnet fishing in the vaquita’s habitat, the government provided speedboats to the Navy for patrols of the marine reserve. In addition, Mexico is spending more than $30 million USD on efforts, including a net “buy-out” program to compensate fishermen who agree to stop using gillnets. Mexico will also strongly encourage the use of other, less destructive fishing methods that will not harm the dwindling vaquita population. Sea Shepherd hopes to work with Mexico in the effort to save the world’s last vaquitas and help their endangered species to recover.
“Seeing one of the 97 vaquitas alive in the sea with our own eyes was an incredible experience for all of us onboard the R/V Martin Sheen,” said Captain Oona Layolle. “To see one of the critically endangered marine animals we are here to protect has invigorated and inspired us and reminded us of why this campaign is so important. Sea Shepherd will continue our work for this imperiled species and we hope to assist local and national efforts here to protect it. It is Sea Shepherd’s hope that one day the beautiful sight of a living vaquita in these waters will no longer be a miracle.”
A dolphin is lifted via crane into the tanks
at Taiji’s Dolphin Resort
Photo: Sea ShepherdOn this Earth Day 2015, there is major news to report from The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). The organization has today announced that it has suspended the membership of the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) because JAZA has refused to prohibit its member aquariums from taking dolphins captured in Taiji, Japan’s brutal drive hunt.
In a statement released today, April 22, 2015, WAZA writes, “The basis for the suspension is a determination that JAZA has violated the WAZA Code of Ethics and Animal Welfare. Moreover, WAZA Council re-affirmed its position that members of WAZA must confirm that they will not acquire dolphins from the Taiji fishery.”
Each year since 2010, Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians have been on the ground in Taiji daily throughout the six-month drive hunt season – which spans from September 1 until March – documenting and live streaming every capture and slaughter of dolphins and small whales as part of our Operation Infinite Patience campaign, ensuring the eyes of the world remain on Taiji’s infamous killing cove. Our Cove Guardian volunteers have documented time and time again the inextricable link between captivity and the slaughter. In Taiji, dolphin killers and trainers work side-by-side to hand-pick the “prettiest” dolphins (those without visible scars) to be sold for captivity. This occurs simultaneously to the slaughter process, and newly imprisoned captive dolphins must witness the murder of their family members before their very eyes. Those taken captive are transported to Taiji Harbor’s holding pens or are immediately taken to one of three captive facilities in Taiji. Some are ultimately sold to other aquariums in Japan or overseas to end up in China, the Middle East, and elsewhere.
The captive trade is the true reason for the drive hunt in Taiji, the economic fuel that drives the hunting boats each day. Just one captive dolphin can be sold for $100,000 USD or more.
A bottlenose dolphin struggles during
the violent captive selection process
Photo: Sea ShepherdSea Shepherd supports WAZA’s decision to suspend the membership of JAZA for its role in Taiji’s horrific massacre of wild cetaceans. While we are elated to hear this long-overdue announcement, we also stand in firm opposition to the confinement of highly intelligent and socially complex whales and dolphins in captivity at WAZA aquariums, swim-with-dolphin programs and other captive facilities that continue to drive the demand for captive dolphins, and the wild captures still occurring around the world. These highly intelligent, sentient and socially complex marine mammals belong in the open ocean where they can engage in their natural behaviors and live in their natural family groups — not performing tricks for food in concrete bathtubs while being subjected to loud music and noisy crowds.
Still, WAZA’s suspension of JAZA’s membership is a major step toward ending Taiji’s inhumane hunt that so brutally claims the lives of thousands of wild, migrating dolphins and whales each year. Even as an entity that is all about the captivity industry, today WAZA has taken an important step to distance itself from the slaughter that turns the waters of Taiji red with blood – blood that WAZA does not want on its hands. The tide is turning. One day, the cove will be a permanent and peaceful blue and profiting from the suffering of these familial and intelligent beings will be a practice driven into the past.