Friday, October 9, 2009

The Taiwan Pink Dolphins make it into Time !

A Taiwan Pink Dolphin mother-and-calf pair: the original transect lines ran directly through critically endangered humpback dolphin habitat.

The Taiwan Pink Dolphins have made it into, the online version of Time Magazine. An article titled Is Ocean Seismic Testing Endangering the Dolphins? looks at the issue of ocean seismic testing and its impact on marine life. It is encouraging to see that the critically endangered Taiwan Pink Dolphins are making international news. However, some environmentalists here in Taiwan are disappointed at how the article seems to pitch the plight of the dolphins against the needs of humanity with regards to understanding earthquakes and sets it against the backdrop of the tragic September 1999 earthquake known as the 921 Quake in Taiwan and called the Chichi earthquake in the article. Chichi, more often spelt as Jiji in Taiwan, was the village closest to the epicenter of the 921 Quake. Jiji is situated in the landlocked county of Nantou in central Taiwan.

The tragedy of the 921 Quake is very real to environmentalists in Taiwan; the majority of whom experienced it first hand. Just like the recent tragedies associated with Typhoon Morakot, the likely cause of some fatal landslides largely points to poor environmental management policies. Environmentalists are not against seismic surveys. We want them done responsibly and environmental factors need to be considered and addressed. It should be remembered that those conducting this seismic survey planned to run their original transect lines ran directly through the habitat of an IUCN Red-listed critically endangered localised population of cetaceans. It was only when environmentalists started making a noise that the Taiwan Pink Dolphins were reconsidered. Knowingly going out and harassing critically endangered dolphins does raise questions about the ethics of surveyors with regards to their consideration of marine mammals*. Perhaps this article hasn't been entirely fair to environmentalists and has given those conducting the survey way too much credit for considering the plight of Taiwan's marine mammals.

*The LDEO listed the estimated number of cetaceans to be harassed during the survey as 71668, which included 68 Humpback Dolphins.

Also see:
Update and continuing concerns regarding Incidental Harassment Authorisation for L-DEO marine seismic survey in SE Asia

Correction made to the article concerning surveyors consideration of harassing Sousa dolphins (2009-10-11).

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