For kids who love animals by a kid who loves animals
Two recent pieces of news relating to cultural traditions and marine life have caught my attention lately..and made me think of the bigger general problem at hand with tradition versus experimentation!
The first comes from my kind stepmom Suzette, who shared with me an interesting article she read about the unintended consequences of “mercy releases” of turtles in Hong Kong.
Mercy Release is traditional buddhist practice meant to bring good fortune and will to believers by freeing hundreds of frogs, small birds, and fish–a favorite being the red-eared slider turtle. However local animal conservationists in the area are attempting to raise awareness for the mass death and animal injury it causes by releasing domesticated, nonnative creatures out into the wild ecosystem they are not prepared to live in. Unfortunately this often ends with many animals dying and suffering–and the spread of parasitic disease as many animals end up crowded in the same waterways. Although it is important, as always, to honor the religious and cultural practices of other people, it seems as if the local municipality and believers alike would benefit from mutual understanding to reach the best conclusion to keep the ecosystem and community giving blessings in a safe way.
The other deals with a similar situation–this time taking place in the Faroe Islands off the coast of Iceland and Norway. Each year during Grindadrap celebration, a mass amount of whales are rounded up by boat and hunted down to the last one by the local tribe. This year the series of rituals attracted particular chagrin as over 1,400 dolphins were rounded up and killed in a single night–slaughtering many more than could be naturally restored by the ecosystem even in a long period’s time. Although cultural tradition should be respected and maintained when possible, it is undoubtably also pertinent that avoiding disease, animal cruelty and extinction should all reign supreme over other concerns.