My Greenpeace colleagues aboard our new flagship the Rainbow Warrior in the Indian Ocean shared a heartwarming experience when a frolicking group of humpback and minke whales put on quite a show. The excitement of their encounter just reverberated through their email and I can see from these photos why they were so pumped. Its not a stretch to say these whales were happy and playful. Why wouldnt they be as the entire Indian Ocean is a whale sanctuary where they can live in peace? What a contrast this is to other parts of the world where whales not only dont have protections but face a myriad of direct threats from humans. One huge emerging threat to whales, dolphins and other marine wildlife is happening now in the coastal waters of California.
[caption id="attachment_10916" align="alignright" width="389" caption="A humpback whale comes up for air in the Indian Ocean"][/caption]
Yep, I said California. Known for its laidback lifestyle, its like were living in some alternative universe. California where the state, at the urging of its citizens have created a network of marine reserves to protect Californias marine wildlife heritage. California where both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act should give whales and dolphins a safe haven. California where part of the area at risk is also one of their newly created marine reserves. You might be wondering who has the nerve to threaten whales, dolphins, sea otters and other marine wildlife in Californias coastal waters? None other than the nuclear power industry apparently.
In central California an antiquated nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, owned and operated by the Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) company is seeking to renew their operating license. This nuclear power plants sits adjacent to multiple earthquake faults and right on the coast. Was no one watching when Fukushima happened? As part of their effort to get relicensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) they need to map a newly discovered earthquake fault that runs past the plant in the inshore coastal waters. To map this fault, PG&E proposed to conduct seismic testing using powerful air cannons and blast sound waves into the sea floor. This type of seismic testing has proven to be not only tortuous but also deadly to marine mammals, fish and other marine wildlife.
Theres a growing movement to block this insane proposal by convincing the California Coastal Commission to deny PG&E a permit for this crazy seismic testing proposal. Add your voice this growing opposition and learn more about this issue and how you can get more involved by visiting this Facebook page.
Help us save Californias whales so they too can live in peace and join the Happy whales of the Indian ocean.
Phil is a senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace USA. He is a recognized expert on oceans policy domestically and internationally, and has represented Greenpeace U.S. at International Whaling Commission (IWC) meetings and Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meetings around the globe.