Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Penguin Awareness Day Jan 20th

Did you know that yesterday was Penguin Awareness Day? (Not to be confused with World Penguin Day...April 25th)!

In recognition of Penguin Awareness Day, here's my little poem about Sir Nils Olaf, royal mascot of the Norwegian Guard.

Sir Nils Olav – Penguin King

Sir Nils Olav inspects his men.

He used to be like them.
Once a humble penguin,
he rose up through the ranks
of the Norwegian Guard.
Impressed by his valour, King Harald
this swimming bird deserved
the highest honour.
He touched a royal blade to feathered shoulders,
and up rose Sir Nils Olav, Defender of the Southern Seas.
Knighted by a northern king.
United by the Scottish soil.
A modern leader for a modern world.

Sir Nils Olav inspects his men.

He walks by rank and file
to bagpipes, cheers and adulation.
His men salute his regal waddle.
They patronize him
with wry smiles and their affection.
Their own Penguin King.
He marches by, head held high.
He looks them in the eyes
to recognise the men they really are.
Are they worthy of his leadership?
Worthy fighters of his cause?
Will they follow him?
Sir Nils Olav, their Once and Future King.

Sir Nils Olav inspects his men

Are they listening to him?
He raises up his battle cry.
Go forth, brave humans and defend
my kingdom
on which you depend, for your clean water and your air.
Scupper the ships, which rend the feeding and breeding grounds of fish.
Slash the nets
the ones that swallow up whole shoals,
and ones that lie discarded, collecting skeletons and ghosts.
Cut the long lines of the hooks and knots that down and drown the albatross.
Skim the floating scum that fills seabirds’ guts,
With a plastic bounty of dolls’ heads and bottle tops.
Plug the poison pipes and still the toxic flow into the sea.
Come, my brave men and follow me.

Sir Nils Olav inspects his men.

Will they fight for him?
For their knight in feathered armour,
Defender of the Southern Seas.
Will they safeguard his Ocean?
Or should he choose another army?
From men and women who do not lust for oil,
a long-dead life-form born beneath a different sun.

Sir Olav inspects his men

Who is with me, then?
Who will follow me into the waves?
Who will surf beside me in the Fast and Wild?
Who will bring life back into this world?

Sir Nils Olav inspects his men

But no one is listening to him.
Sir Nils Olav is a silent king.
A king without a kingdom,
a feathered puppet on a string.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Angel, the albino dolphin calf captured in the Cove

In the past 24 hours two hundred and fifty dolphins have been witnessed to have been driven into the killing Cove at Taiji in Japan. The dolphin slaughter at Taiji has been the subject of the powerful documentary, The Cove. Dolphins herded into the Cove are either slaughtered for their meat or captured for the dolphinaria trade. In this recent dolphin drive, a rare albino calf  has become one of its victims. Cove monitors have named the calf, Angel. Angel has already been separated from its mother and is being held by the Taiji Whale Museum. If the calf survives the separation stress from its mother then it faces a lifetime of incarceration in a small pool.

The dolphin hunting drives at Taiji have both environmental and ethical implications.

The high numbers of dolphins caught per year are simply unsustainable.
Dolphins live in highly advanced social groups. They display levels of intelligence and communication rarely seen in other species. They are sentient beings and form deep emotional bonds with family members. It cannot be assumed that the emotional trauma caused to the dolphins during mass slaughter would be any less than we as humans would feel if we were to experience the same slaughter of our family members. There is no place in this age for dolphins to be kept in captivity for our ‘entertainment’. Captive dolphins suffer severe mental and physical disease through their inability to express natural behaviour in a captive environment. 

This recent capture at Taiji has been even more poignant for me as the albino dolphin calf in my novel, White Dolphin, is also named Angel. In my story, it is the children who bring about change and make adults realise that their actions have detrimental effects upon the environment.

White Dolphin has been translated into many languages, including Japanese. I hope the young readers of White Dolphin will write to or email the leaders of their countries to protest against the cruel practice of dolphin slaughter and capture for the entertainment trade. Many voices can and do make a difference.  By helping Angel, maybe we can all put a stop to the hunting of wild dolphins.