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The Beat of Gaia's Heart

Life and Death Among the Dolphins: We Need to Act!

Dolphins were in the headlines this week in ways that were both scary and awe-inspiring.

The first piece of news, terribly sad and, in my opinion, indicative of the depth to which we are being deceived about the results of the Gulf oil crisis, is the number of dead baby dolphins that have washed up on Gulf beaches this spring. As of last Thursday, since the beginning of January, 59 dolphins had been reported dead throughout the Gulf. Of those, 34 dead dolphins have washed up on the beaches of Alabama and Mississippi alone, 25 of them calves, or babies. Five more were found just yesterday.

Experts are concerned, not just about the quantity -- which they say is abnormally high: 12 times the number usually seen -- but also at the number of babies among the dead. While it may be difficult for folks to feel an emotional reaction to the deaths of some sea creatures suffering from something that's killing them in the Gulf -- dead horseshoe crabs, for instance, are “too many to count,” but people may find it hard to relate to them because they're so primitive and different from us -- dolphin deaths usually hit us on a more emotional level because of their intelligence and their apparent amity toward man, reported over centuries of seafaring.

Dolphins are apparently more altruistic than we know, and if you know people who aren't yet concerned about what mankind as a species is doing to them, perhaps they need another example of the care that other species can exhibit for creatures not like them.

Some of you may have seen the news about Turbo, the 11-year-old Doberman who decided to have a little adventure last Sunday night. He slipped out of his Florida yard through a gate that had been left open by accident, and somehow found himself in the canal about a half mile from his home.

His owner, Cindy Burnett, said that she had been driving all over the area looking for him; altogether he was missing for about 15 hours. But it wasn't until a neighbor by the canal heard a lot of splashing in the water that the elderly Doberman was found -- being kept afloat by dolphins until he could be rescued.

The dolphins attracted enough attention by their splashing to draw humans, and kept the tired and shivering dog from drowning. Burnett said that he was "shivering and in a lot of distress...if he had to tread water all night long, I know he wouldn't have been able to."

To see the news report, see below:

Dolphins saving an elderly dog from drowning. People short-circuiting environmental protections to pollute the ocean so that dolphins are dying and washing ashore by the dozens. What's wrong with this picture?

Corporate greed. Disregard for the environment and the other creatures with whom we share this planet. Worry over what it will cost to halt our polluting ways.

While constant reports about lax environmental safeguards and corporate misdeeds, not to mention economic worries, have conspired to make many people feel helpless about the situation, there is plenty we can do. If we turned to solar, hydro, and wind power as alternatives, retrofitted our homes so that we used less energy, and invested in research to find more efficient ways to run the myriad comforts of home that we all hold so dear, we'd not only solve the environmental and regulatory issues, we'd open up a whole new field of jobs for all those people currently out of work thanks to outsourcing, offshoring, and downsizing. We'd be less dependent on foreign oil -- wouldn't it be nice not to worry about whether gas goes above $4 a gallon? -- and we'd be able to look ourselves in the eye and know we'd done something good, not just for ourselves, but for the earth and all its species and for future generations.

Call your congressional representatives. Demand that we treat our planet with respect, and that we look for alternate sources of energy so that we can stop destroying the only home we've got.

Do it now.
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