Sea Lions in Galapagos, Sea Lions in Chile

I returned recently from Galapagos, where I was filming the problem of stray dogs and cats, and the NGOs working to minimize it.

During my time on the islands, I was fortunate to experience awe-inspiring biodiversity, albeit threatened. What struck me most on the positive side, was the trusting nature of the animals. Birds flying within inches of my head and landing close, so close you could almost touch them. Iguanas you almost stepped on if you weren’t paying attention. And Sea Lions sleeping within inches of people moving about. There was something idyllic in the idea of such communion and tolerance.

I returned to Oregon weighted with the knowledge of just how threatened the Galapagos are (posts to be published ). Having just spent time with Sea Lions and witnessing their gentle nature, this shocking photo came with an added blow. The Sea Lion’s face, photographed on the coast of Chile, is disfigured as a result of being beaten – a sign of tragic things to come, unless the outside world intervenes.

The Chilean government is moving towards authorizing a hunt of Sea Lions, allowing them to be clubbed and shot, their parts sold to Japan and the Asian market so that a few gluttonous individuals can turn a profit. Chile’s closed season on Sea Lion hunts is meant to last until 2012, but a simple resolution in congress can nullify this. Politicians speak of “management and control” of a species they have declared a plague, much like Chile’s dogs.

Protest is being silenced and government censorship imposed, but still people are leaking out information to the international community. An international boycott of Chilean fisheries is what frightens the profit mongers most. First we need to galvanize. Please spread this information and let the Chilean embassies know of your opposition.

Contact information for the campaign:
http://www.facebook.com/operacionmayachka
Email: operacionmayachka@gmail.com

Please send polite letters of protest to the following:

Javier Valencia, the biologist supporting the hunt, from Chinquihue Fundation – javiervalencia@fundacionchinquihue.cl
Chinquihue Fundation (supported by Japan): informaciones@fundacionchinquihue.cl
Subsecretaría de pesca (chilean authority for fishing): oirs@subpesca.cl

For a list of Chilean embassies: http://chileabroad.gov.cl/en/

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