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Blue Recycling: How Reducing Ocean Trash Can Help Save Our Blue Planet

Untitled

Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, but the oceans that inspired the name “Blue Planet” are under serious threat today.

What is Blue Trash?

Blue Trash is a term used to describe marine pollutants and contaminants with man-made origins, such as plastic, paper, metals, crude oil and by-products, etc. This debris flows into the ocean through streams, rivers and other waterways, as well as land runoff, overboard dumping, etc.

How Does It Affect Marine and Human Life?

Marine trash is a killer. Small debris is mistaken for food by fish, turtles, birds and marine mammals, blocking their digestive systems or choking them. They also get strangled or trapped by larger items floating in the water, such as six-pack drink holders or old nets.

Plastic waste accounts for over two-thirds of all manufactured material found in oceans. It decomposes at an extremely slow rate, but disintegrates into tiny particles that are swallowed by fish, birds and marine animals.

Hundreds of marine species are already at risk, and we might be next. Chemicals in plastic and crude oil products have been linked to birth disorders, cancers and weakened immune systems in humans and animals alike. When we eat seafood or swim in contaminated water, we’re ingesting these toxins as well.

8 Ways to Make Blue Recycling Part of Your Life

Blue recycling can minimize our impact on the oceans, and here are 8 tips to follow:

  1. Reuse Plastic Items – Plastic is everywhere, so reuse whatever you can. Use takeout containers as food storage at home and carry them for leftovers while dining out. Avoid buying bottled water, and refill bottles you already have.
  2. Recycle Your Trash – Almost 90% of plastic packaging never makes it to the recycling bin! Check the labels on bottles, jars and containers. Plastics marked PET or #1 are recyclable, but #2 and #5 may also be accepted.
  3. Buy Biodegradable – Instead of disposable cutlery and shopping bags, choose eco-friendly products. Shop around for biodegradable plastic products, which look and feel like plastic but are made with organic materials.
  4. Support Bottle Bills – Also known as container deposit laws, these encourage recycling among consumers, retailers and distributors. A deposit is paid while buying beverages and refunded when containers are returned.
  5. Clean Your Home – We’re talking about pollutants here, especially toxic cleaning products and chemical-based fertilizers or pesticides. Use organic solutions in your kitchen, bathroom, yard and garden. The oceans will thank you for it!
  6. Spread the Word – Most people don’t litter intentionally, but may not realize the damage it causes. Discuss it with them. If you notice litter, especially near beaches, pick it up and drop it into the appropriate bin.
  7. Join Cleanup Drives – If you live near the ocean, stay updated with shoreline cleanup drives and join in as often as you can. Also, consider organizing your own drive with family and friends, to de-litter a local beach or seaside paths.
  8. Go Green – Every step toward reducing your carbon footprint helps with Blue Recycling too. For instance, crude oil spills can be minimized if more people use energy-efficient lighting and rely on renewable energy sources!

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Author Bio

erichErich Lawson is passionate about saving environment by effective recycling. He has written a wide array of articles on how modern recycling equipments can be used by industries to reduce monthly garbage bills and increase recycling revenue. You can learn more about environment savings techniques by visiting Northern California Compactors, Inc blog.

 

 

Alex Lewis-Dorer

Alex Lewis-Dorer is a 27 year old activist. Having watched The Cove during its initial release and learning about the capture practices and the dangers of captivity, she felt compelled to stand up and voice her concerns to others. Since then she has dedicated her time and energy to working towards educating others about ocean conversation. In 2012 Alex joined forces with Wendy Brunot to have a lone killer whale named Shouka, moved to an alternate marine park to be with other orcas. Following the news of a planned Beluga Whale import, Alex hosted a protest in Atlanta In July 2012 together with Free the Atlanta 11 and GARP which attracted significant attention to the issues behind such an initiative. Alex has also played a large part in being a strong voice against Marineland, Canada, holding a demo at the facility in May 2014 in honor of Kiska, Canada’s last captive whale. She has dedicated much of her time to bringing attention to Marineland’s suffering animals. She also voices her concerns over many other captive marine faculties and lends her hand on campaigns regarding this issue. Alex’s love is not limited to cetaceans – she sees the beauty in all marine life. She is excited to be part of the movement that will end captivity for all marine mammals. Alex is also a proud team member for Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project.

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Ocean Pollution and it’s Affect On Humans

The oceans are mankind’s lifeline, they are the lifeblood of earths ecosystem’s and without them, we would not be here today. The world’s ‘Global Ocean’ covers over 71% of the planet’s surface. It is so grand that it has been divided into 5 individual oceans, all of which are connected.

The ocean is the most mysterious, expansive and diverse ecosystem on the planet and to our detriment; the oceans and its inhabitants are being threatened by pollution, not only by natural causes, but also from humans. More and more areas within the oceans are becoming ‘dead zones’ and the loss of marine life is becoming extensive. Did you know that there are over 405 ‘dead zones’ throughout the oceans, where nitrification has exhausted the amount of oxygen in the water, rendering it inhospitable? If we don’t act now, then this can severely impact life, on earth, as we know it.

Throughout history, the thought was, that the ocean is so large, that dumping huge amount of rubbish, would not effect us or the oceans, however little did they know how it would affect us in modern times. Even to this day, it is recorded that humans dump approximately 8 million tons of plastic into the ocean every year. Over the past few decades, the speed of which the oceans are suffering has accelerated, this is due to oil spills, plastic and toxic waste being pumped into the oceans at an alarming rate.

Plastic is the biggest killer of marine life, in 2010, over 215 million metric tons of plastic had found its way into the oceans. Not only is plastic harmful for the environment, it is also mistaken for food by marine wildlife. It takes on average 400 years for plastics to degrade in the ocean.

The largest source of pollution found in the ocean, comes directly from land-based sources. These include, factories, farms, vehicles, sewage tanks, as well as much larger industrial operations. The chemicals produced by these sources include; oil, petrochemicals, asbestos, lead, phosphates, mercury and nitrates all of which can severely impact both marine life as well as our food chain. We as humans consume over 14% of our protein, from fish.

Even though, the dumping of waste takes place hundreds of miles away from land, the ocean has a funny way of spitting it out again. However, this trash ends up on our beaches and coastal areas and has a huge effect on the coral and wildlife that it comes into contact with, on its journey to these places. This build up of pollution on the beach can also affect humans. Coming into contact or mistakenly ingesting the water surrounding this pollution can result in some nasty side effects such as stomach-aches, diarrhoea or even skin rashes. Did you know that there is a floating ‘Garbage Island’ also known as the ‘Pacific Garbage Patch’ or the ‘Pacific Trash Vortex’, which is located in the north Pacific, just off the coast of California? It is the largest oceanic rubbish patch in the world.

Crude oil is the most dangerous and fastest cause of oceanic deterioration. However, only 12% of oil entering our oceans comes from oil spills. 36% of the oil found in our oceans actually comes from land run-off, and it is this, that is causing most damage to oceanic ecosystems. Crude oil can suffocate marine life, cause disorientation and poisoning if ingested. To those creatures that survive, this can cause long-term issues which may result in them never returning to their natural habitats.

Toxic metals also pour into the oceans, from surface run-off. These metals can destroy the biochemistry, reproductive systems and behaviour of marine life. Plastics and plankton can absorb these toxic metals. Unfortunately, smaller sea creatures mistake these toxic plastics for food, or eat their regular diet of plankton. Once they have ingested these plastics or infected plankton, the food chain then continues, meaning that larger fish then consume the smaller creatures, which then ends with those larger fish being eaten by humans and so, pollution directly affects each and every one of us. Mankind has a direct impact on what happens off shore and what could be a tiny mistake can be detrimental to the health and safety of life on earth.

Mercury is one of these toxic metals found in the ocean and for humans, having a prolonged exposure to mercury can cause all sorts of neurological and systemic diseases; these include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

We have so much to thank the oceans for. The oceans provide over 70% of the oxygen that we breathe as well as over 97% of the world’s water supply. The oceans are also home to some of the most magnificent wildlife and plants in the world. Medical scientists have studied certain marine plants and have found that they have helped to reduce inflammation, pain and have even been known to help combat certain types of cancers, in humans.

Protecting our oceans is essential and learning about them, is the first step. If you would like to learn more about the oceans and the effect that pollution has on its wildlife and us, then take a look at the incredible infographic below…

How ocean pollution affects humans How ocean pollution affects humans – Graphic by the team at DIVE.in

Torben

Alex Lewis-Dorer is a 27 year old activist. Having watched The Cove during its initial release and learning about the capture practices and the dangers of captivity, she felt compelled to stand up and voice her concerns to others. Since then she has dedicated her time and energy to working towards educating others about ocean conversation. In 2012 Alex joined forces with Wendy Brunot to have a lone killer whale named Shouka, moved to an alternate marine park to be with other orcas. Following the news of a planned Beluga Whale import, Alex hosted a protest in Atlanta In July 2012 together with Free the Atlanta 11 and GARP which attracted significant attention to the issues behind such an initiative. Alex has also played a large part in being a strong voice against Marineland, Canada, holding a demo at the facility in May 2014 in honor of Kiska, Canada’s last captive whale. She has dedicated much of her time to bringing attention to Marineland’s suffering animals. She also voices her concerns over many other captive marine faculties and lends her hand on campaigns regarding this issue. Alex’s love is not limited to cetaceans – she sees the beauty in all marine life. She is excited to be part of the movement that will end captivity for all marine mammals. Alex is also a proud team member for Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project.

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12
Jun

The Distorted Truths of John Stossel’s… “Green Tyranny”

Many of you may not be familiar with John Stossel, that’s probably because he works for Fox News (sic) and you prefer to get your facts from journalistic news sources.

This coming Sunday, June 14th, Fox is airing a made for TV special called: Green Tyranny, the premise being that animal welfare activists and specifically the film Blackfish, have distorted the truth about Sea world and its practices.

Mr. Stossel says: “I don’t presume to know if it’s moral to keep animals in captivity. But I do know that the activists distort the truth.”

I came across this article written by John Stossel that advertises his upcoming TV special. The same distortion of truths that he vilifies in Blackfish is, ironically, replete throughout his writing.

I can’t decide if John Stossel is:

A. Gullible
B. An owner of deflated Sea World stock.
C. Sensationalizing a controversial topic to gain viewers.
D. All of the above.

Here are a few examples:

Stossel: “I asked SeaWorld why they separate whales from their mothers.” “We haven’t done that in 35 years,” says Kelly Flaherty Clark, SeaWorld head trainer. “We have no plans to do it again, and the film (Blackfish) implies that we’re doing it yesterday.

SeaWorld’s curator of zoological operations, Chuck Tompkins had stated to Fresh Air, NPR:

We’ve never moved a calf from a mom. … A calf is an animal young enough who is still dependent on the mom, still nursing with the mom, and still requires the mom’s leadership … We think they’re probably dependent [at] 4 to 5 years. After that, they start to gain their independence.

Given that males remain with their mothers for life; a fact that Sea World doesn’t acknowledge on their website; though, they do admit that the calves are born in the water , There are six instances in the list below that clearly contradict Tompkins statement.

Here are some of the early separations of children from their mothers at Sea World, within the last 25 years, not Flaherty Clarks: “We haven’t done that in 35 years.”

CAPTIVE BORN (still alive)

F – Kayla- SW -separated from mother at 2 years, 5 months in 1992 (23 years ago)
M – Keet – SW -separated from mother at 1 year, 8 months in 1994 (21 years ago)
M – Trua – SW -separated from mother when he was 3 years, 2 months in 2009 (6 years ago)
M – Tuar – SW -separated from mother at 4 years, 10 months in 2004 (11 years ago)
F – Unna – SW -separated from mother at 6 years in 2002 (13 years ago)

CAPTIVE BORN (deceased)

F – Halyn – SW -separated from mother immediately due to mother’s rejection (Oct. 2005)
F – Kalina – SW -separated from mother at 4 years, 4 mos in 1990. (25 years ago)
F – Katerina – SW -separated from mother at 2 years, 5 months in 1991. (24 years ago)
M – Splash (Katak) – SW -separated from mother at 2 years, 6 months in 1992. (23 years ago)
M – Sumar – SW -separated from mother at 10 months old in 1999. (16 years ago)

(Statistics from www.orcahome.de)

Another glaring example of distortion told by Stossel is: “Blackfish also claims captive whales’ droopy dorsal fins indicate that the whales are miserable. But whale expert Ingrid Visser says killer whales in the wild have collapsed dorsal fins, too.”

What Blackfish says is that it’s miserable to see killer whales with a dorsal fin in such an unnatural, pathetic looking state. It’s a visible statement on the physical impact that captivity has on their body.

While Stossel is correct when he writes that Dr. Visser knows of killer whales in the wild with drooped dorsal fins, known as dorsal collapse, Dr. Ingrid Visser’s research was focused on a specific population of killer whales in the waters off New Zealand. This population group that showed an unusually high percentage (~23%) of damaged/collapsed dorsal fins. In all other populations that have been studied, the percentage of killer whales with dorsal collapse ranges from: .57% observed in Norway, to 4.7% for the Southern Resident killer whales, though the total  rate of collapse among the killer whales observed in British Columbia, Canada averages at 1%.

At Sea World, 100% of their males have dorsal collapse.

But this fact doesn’t serve Stossel’s purpose and he prefers to promote Sea Worlds half-truths and distortions of fact.

Another glaring distortion from Stossel is: “Finally, Blackfish claims that captive whales die young. But Dold (SW Vet. Chris Dold) points out, “We have a 50-year-old whale living at SeaWorld… Our whales’ life parameters are the same as whales in the wild. Government research confirms this.”

Sea Worlds web site describes killer whale longevity as being: “When factored in at birth, the average life expectancy of southern and northern resident killer whales is about 29 years for females and 17 years for males.”

A quick reference to the NOAA Fisheries “government” web site and page on killer whale lifespans reads:

Lifespan: Up to 50-100 years:

– males typically live for about 30 years, but can live as long as 50-60 years.
– females typically live about 50 years, but can live as long as 100 years.

“J2”,also known as “Granny”, is a well-known female member of J pod; of the Southern Resident killer whales in the Pacific Northwest, , Granny is estimated to be 104 years of age. More than double what Sea Worlds claim as the average lifespan of a female of the southern resident killer whales”.

It’s obvious that John Stossel had no intention of making an objective verification of the facts as presented by Sea World. From the very start his intent was to make a controversial television presentation that took an opposite opinion from what is now mainstream thinking; that killer whales should not be in captivity.

You may be curious to view Stossel’s “Green Tyranny” on Sunday night but if I can offer some advice… don’t bother.

All you will be seeing is a TV personality, desperate for ratings and eagerly lip-syncing whatever Sea World hucksters as its truth.

So, unless you have a strong stomach and the firm self-control not to throw something at your TV…

The less viewers of Stossel’s Green Tyranny… all the better.

money dolphin
21
May

A begrudging acceptance and the Taiji cultural tradition of dolphin ranching?

There’s been some well deserved cheers following the announcement that the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) have voted to comply with a demand from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) that Japanese facilities stop buying dolphins from drive hunts, or face expulsion.

While I happily join in the chorus, my good cheer is tempered by the knowledge that JAZA member facilities begrudgingly ceded to WAZA’s demands, and the fishers of Taiji have no intention of giving up on the Japanese industry of providing live dolphins to whoever will buy.

JAZA chairman, Kazutoshi Arai, was quoted as saying: “We do not think it is cruel to take wild dolphins…but as we have reached this kind of conclusion in relation to WAZA, we need to steer (our policy) toward breeding,”

An abundance of markets still exist for the dolphins captured in Taiji.  Australia for Dolphins, states that approximately 40% of the dolphins caught for the live dolphin market are slated for Japanese facilities, leaving a majority going to overseas zoos and aquariums.

Dolphins captured in Taiji have been exported to  China, Korea, Ukraine, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

Buyers of wild caught dolphins still exist among the WAZA membership and the executive of the world body have enforcement work to do. WAZA cannot selectively enforce its mandate that requires all 50 member countries and territories to “adhere to policies that prohibit participating in cruel and non-selective methods of taking animals from the wild.”

Australia for Dolphins chief executive Sarah Lucas was quoted in The Guardian as saying that Australia For Dolphins “would continue its legal action against WAZA because other members of the organization continue to buy dolphins from Taiji and other inhumane hunts.”

Captive breeding takes place in a small number of Japanese zoos and aquariums, representing an estimated 12 to 13 percent of the captive dolphin population in Japan. Many of the facilities lack separate breeding pools to accommodate nursing females; a clear indication that those facilities are substandard and inappropriate for the ongoing care of dolphins.

The Taiji cultural tradition of dolphin ranching?

In an article from the New Straits Times (Reuters, 21 May, 2015), Taiji mayor Kazutaka Sangen told reporters that consideration was being given to set up a dolphin breeding centre in a partitioned area of the notorious cove. Sangen was quoted as saying: “We plan to protect our fishermen, who have authority from both the nation and the local government.”  “We believe it can become the world’s main provider. I believe in 10 years our town will have changed its role in all this.”

Sangen added. “My justification is that the government recognizes the catches and so does the prefecture, there’s absolutely nothing wrong.”

The majority of the Japanese people, and most assuredly- their protectionist government, do not believe that dolphins and other cetaceans are suffering in captivity and there is little chance that they will suddenly develop an empathy for the dolphins and the meagre existence that captivity affords them.

We can’t shame the Japanese people into changing how they feel about dolphins and whales. They’ll resent the insult and it will push them away. We can pressure their government but… historically, when pushed, they look for a lessor path of resistance to do whatever they want.

We need to patiently and politely help the the citizenry of Japan to understand the depth of emotion that dolphins possess, that they enjoy their freedom and can only truly thrive as they should, in their natural home.

I suspect that as time goes on and other nations acknowledge the injustice that is being done and change their laws to reflect the recognition that as intelligent and emotional beings, dolphins and whales deserve to live as they should; the people of those nations who’ve lagged behind in that understanding… will shame themselves.

 


Effective Communications in Online Advocacy.

“The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.”

I’m a relative newcomer to the animal advocacy movement and will admit that I’m a social media neophyte as well. However, I’m not naïve about human behaviour and given the anonymity of a keyboard and screen, I recognize that people will say almost anything to support their opinion or belief. Far too often, it is vitriolic, and ugly.

For example: When it was discovered that dolphin trainer, Jose Luis Barbero; who was accused of mistreating the dolphins in his care, had committed suicide; I read through some of the comments made by animal welfare advocates and was disappointed to read comments such as:

I’m glad he killed himself… good!!”, and: “Good… burn in hell.

Can you imagine the pain and horror that a member of his family would feel if they read those comments? Can you imagine what hateful thoughts they might have toward you?

If your reply to me is: “I don’t give a damn what they think of me!

Well… you should.

By crowing in delight that a person committed suicide; a person who is sure to be loved by friends and family, you’re telling the online world that you are without sensitivity or empathy… none! What does that level of insensitivity and cruelty tell the world about animal welfare advocates?

We are supposed to be the sensitive and empathic ones; able to see clearly the suffering of another animal. We have the empathy to imagine how it feels to live the boring, frustrating and constraining lifetime of captivity suffered by animals.

A common remark I’ve read from pro-captivity proponents, is that we should be more focused on human suffering and when they see an anti-captivity advocate expressing pleasure that someone is dead, they are vindicated in their belief that we’re all insensitive extremists.

If you don’t display the same empathy and compassion toward our own species, whether it’s Jose Luis Barbero, or an anonymous someone who disagrees with you on Facebook, you call into question your credibility, and your motivation for being an advocate.

As I became more involved with efforts to end the holding of cetaceans and whales in captivity, I grew frustrated with the aggressive “us against them” mentality that pervades, on both sides of the captivity issue. I realize it’s inevitable but I don’t see any advantage in widening the gap.

It’s bad enough that those who favour captivity resort to insults and name calling, but when my fellow advocates resort to the same tactics, I cringe at the damage they do. When you make an aggressive comment, aimed at someone who disagrees or holds a different opinion, there’s only one outcome; they fight back and as the saying goes: “In a pissin’ war, everyone gets wet.”

One sarcastic comment or a single insult, and you aren’t being listened to any longer and will probably get blocked from the conversation. The short term satisfaction of what you feel is a clever put-down of your “opponent” is, in actuality, a lost opportunity.

 

If it talks like an extremist, acts like an extremist and attacks like an extremist… it’s an extremist.

 

There should be no pride in being labelled an extremist. An extremist is on the fringe, whereas we want our opinions to be understood and adopted by the mainstream of society. Those who support having animals in captivity want, and need, to label you as an extremist.

When engaging in online conversations, every insult you spew, every derogatory statement you hurl; no matter how clever you think it is, reflects on your character and credibility, it quashes any likelihood that those reading what you’ve said, will understand your perspective or believe anything of what you have to say.

In effect… you’re doing more harm than good, and probably delaying the success of our efforts. You are simply disengaging people from the conversation and proving the contention that you are indeed an aggressive extremist.

Those who are opposed to ending captivity will say just about anything to defend their beliefs. Eric M. Davis, editor of Awesome Ocean, has labelled Dr. Naomi Rose as an extremist. Anyone familiar with Dr. Rose knows her to be one of the most rational, fact based and balanced thinkers in advocacy; and I’m sure that Mr. Davis knows it. Ironically, by labelling Dr. Rose as an extremist, Eric Davis is making an extremist claim.

The more extreme the statements you make; the more you are exactly what you are accused of being.

Trying to share our understanding with the uninformed, misinformed or the contrarians, can be challenging and frustrating. However, I can tell you with absolute certainty that no one is going to be listening, once you’ve insulted them, or their opinion.

The people you are talking with will have expectations that you are going to say just about anything to advance your cause and given what I’ve read from some of the anti-captivity proponents, they have good reason to expect so.
Educate, don’t berate.

My advice to you is this: Be a model of intelligent, fact based, rational behaviour.

Rather than shaking your fist in the air with righteous indignation and a: “You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, you f*#&@#g idiot!!”, instead… be reasonable, rational and factual.

By communicating in an intelligent and respectful manner, it demonstrates that you are thoughtful, carefully consider what you say and therefore, more likely to be seen as credible and believable.

It’s wise to remember that there may be someone reading through the online conversation that is undecided on the issue; someone who is not sure which side of the debate they are on. They will hear your reasonable and rational comments, compare them with the aggressive ranting of a pro-captivity supporter, and it might make the choice of the undecided… a little clearer.

 

Road-blocks to communication.

 

Insults and name calling: This should be self-explanatory.

Extreme statements: E.g. “Shut down SeaWorld!” or “Free the whales.” This is unrealistic and will only result in defensive responses. Such statements are simply a call to arms for SeaWorld supporters, and Sea World employees will fear the loss of their jobs; to say nothing of the thousands of jobs from those businesses that support and supply SeaWorld.

As well, if SeaWorld were to shut down, who would acclimatize the animals back into the wild or provide long term care for those animals that can’t return to their natural environment? Many of the animals currently in captivity were born in captivity and cannot be set free.

Judging, criticizing:You are not thinking maturely…” or “The trouble with you is….” On hearing a statement like this, whoever you are talking with, will stop listening or go on the defensive. In either case, you’ve lost an opportunity to have a positive influence.

Sarcasm: This is nothing more than a sneaky means of insulting someone. The moment a sarcastic statement comes off of your fingertips, you can be assured that you’ve lost credibility.

Character assassination: For example: This comment was excerpted from a pro-captivity Facebook page. “This man is truly a pathetic, despicable, cowardice scum. How dare he have the ability to get in front of a camera and talk like he has some sense of moral values and intelligence. He is total filth. EFF him. Period.” Never make comments like this!

Perpetuating the “Us vs Them”: Making statements like: “We’re going to defeat all you pathetic pro-caps. Soon you’ll have nowhere to watch your abusive shows. Anti-caps rule!!” This only stimulates a defensive-aggressive response and in reality, bonds the pro-captivity side of the debate.

 

Effective communication

 

Be polite and respectful: This is rule No. 1

Be non-judgemental: This includes refraining from subtle insults, such as: “Perhaps you labour under the limitations of an inadequate education, so… let me put it in simple words for you.”

Have facts and references at your finger-tips: Very few people are going to right out accept what you say. Back up your statements with a link to factual and credible sources.

Facilitate understanding: They are not your enemy… they’re your students.

Be an active listener: Let the other person know that you’ve heard what they had to say: “You’re quite right, Sea World does have an effective rescue program that has rescued many manatees and turtles. All the same, holding killer whales in captivity is not related to their rescue program and is a separate issue altogether.”

Aside from being respectful, letting the other person know that you are listening, may open them to being more receptive to what you have to say.

Active listening is the first of 5 steps to having someone see your point of view and hopefully change their behaviour, and what they believe.

1. Active Listening: Listen to their side and make them aware you’re listening.

2. Empathy: You get an understanding of where they’re coming from and how they feel.

3. Rapport: Empathy is what you feel. Rapport is when they feel it back. They start to trust you.

4. Influence: Now that they trust you, you’ve earned the right to present your knowledge and, hopefully, influence their understanding.

5. Behavioral Change: They act and re-evaluate their thinking.

 

Use the power of the paraphrase: When the person you are talking with doesn’t understand the point you are making, take a moment to think and re-phrase what you are saying. It doesn’t always work but it’s a better course to take then calling them stupid for not understanding the point you make.

Apologize: You are trying to be patient and calm but a comment just rubs you the wrong way, you lose your composure and fire off a nasty at the other person. A few moments later, you cringe, knowing that it’s too late to delete.

Your only recourse is to come clean and do damage control. It’s time to get all Canadian on them and … say you’re sorry.

There’s been three occasions over the past couple of years when I’ve had to apologize after I lost my self-control. In each case I swallowed my pride and made an apology. In two of those cases I could tell that the other person was taken off- guard. They accepted my apology and the conversation continued with the other person reflecting what I was saying and perhaps, learned from my perspective.

 

What if you’re wrong?

It is incredibly important that you take great care to ensure the information you are offering is factual. Even if it means taking a moment to leave the conversation to double check your facts. If you are in doubt, say nothing at all.

If you say something or make a claim that proves to be wrong… admit it… always… no matter how painful.

If you don’t, and you’re caught defending an obvious error, it weakens the validity of everything you’ve said, and ever will say. As well, all anti-captivity advocates will all be painted with the same brush that you’ve charged with the wrong colour of paint.

 

You’re under attack.

You’ve been polite, rational and factual but you’ve come up against someone who is intent of insulting you and raising your ire. There are only two steps to follow in this circumstance.

1. Set limits: Clarify your concern. E.g. “Calling me names and insulting me isn’t helping this conversation, I am simply trying to share my perspective. I’ve been polite and respectful. Could you please do the same?

2. Bow out with grace and dignity: When it becomes obvious that the person you are talking with is entrenched in their opinion, blind in their faith and unwilling to explore or hear your viewpoint and the facts you present, it’s time to bow out gracefully. It’s very important to end your part of the conversation as respectful as you entered.

A terse: “You’re a f*#@$&g idiot. I’m done with you.” will reflect on your character, not the other persons.

It’s frustrating when we present documented facts or widely accepted opinion and whoever we are talking with refuses to explore the possibility that they are labouring under a misunderstanding.

There’s the possibility that they enjoy being an online bully and are spoiling for an opportunity to exchange insults. There are those who thrive on acrimony and by denying them the chance to do what they enjoy… you win!

When you encounter someone who is spoiling for an argument or is an online bully, take the high ground; be polite, respectful and state the reason why you are leaving the discussion.

• “I can’t be a part of this conversation any longer, your insults are unacceptable.

• “I can see that you aren’t able to hear my side of this issue. Please, take the time to read this.” (Provide a link to reputable information that supports your discussion point.)

Like you, I shake my head in dismay at times. It’s difficult to fathom why pro-captivity supporters can’t relate to, or understand, the injustice that is done to animals. Perhaps it’s due to brand loyalty, objectification, or perhaps they lack empathy because they have an AA gene variant on their oxytocin receptor.

Whatever the reason, the chances are slim to none that you are going to change the thinking of someone who supports Awesome Ocean, Stand With SeaWorld or Anti-Blackfish Movement, and in my opinion, it’s simply not worth the effort to hover over those pages and attempt to sway opinion.

Even so, I do take the opportunity to visit their pages every so often, if only to gauge the strength of their following and what conversations are current. At times, when I see an obvious piece of misinformation or a badly skewed perspective, I will make a polite comment or post a link offering a different perspective on what’s being said. I’m able to do so because in the past, I’ve been polite and careful not to offend.

To my way of thinking, being banned from a pro-captivity page is not a “badge of honour”. Instead, I see it as a lost opportunity to observe, teach and share information.

For the most part, I feel that spending any significant amount of time on pro-captivity pages will not make any converts.

Your time can be better spent by putting your energy, compassion and knowledge to more valuable use by educating the unaware, the undecided and those people who care but haven’t yet raised their voice for the animals.

In the end, it’s not how loud you yell… it’s the multitude of voices, in concert, that wins the day.

 

Mail to: stevehuxter@finsandfluke.org           Follow me on Twitter: @StevenHuxter