Saturday, October 8, 2011

Seal hunting, past, present and future

Most people probably think that seal hunting has gone the way of whale hunting in that only a few small countries still practice it. That maybe somewhat true......but only somewhat.

The Farallon Islands, off the coast of California had a huge colony of seals until hunting almost wiped them out. Then the International North Pacific Fur Seal Treaty of 1911 between the United States, Russia, Canada and Japan put a stop to it. But it has taken almost 100 years for the seals to comeback but the population is still nowhere near what it was prior to the horrible hunting wipe outs before then.

The Farallon Islands are a success story but seal hunting is still very much alive in Canada. They even have a Canadian Sealers Association which is very active in promoting seal skin products to Russia. They are the ones who are promoting the killing of harp seal pups for their own financial gain.

Harp seal pups are born on the ice flows each February. Their mothers feed them for about 12-14 days and then leave them to fend for themselves until they are old enough to swim, which is about 10-12 weeks. During that time is when seal "hunters," and I use that term loosely, go out the ice and bludgeon the poor pups to death and skin them.

Why cant those "hunters" find another way to make a living? Try moving out of the area and find something else to do like equipment leasing, being a tour guide or perhaps educate others to stop the seal hunt altogether.

The future is up to us, yes you and me. Only we can shape the population of the seals of the future.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pearls and other precious gems from the ocean

For thousands of years, pearls and other shells have been valued by the human race. Shells were sometimes used as a form of currency in some cultures. I must assume that only the rarer shells were used that way, otherwise everyone would have been rich...........LOL.

Pearls are formed by oysters when they get a bit of sand in their shell and can't seem to get it out. They form a protective coating around the sand because it is irritating to them. Over time, the pearl gets larger and larger. A "cultured" pearl is created by putting a large bead in the oyster and letting it put a few coats of "pearl" around the plastic. You can see that natural pearls are considered much more valuable than "cultured" pearls. Natural pearls are often called "wild" pearls.

Abalone has its own special value. It is the shell you often find inlaid in all kinds of items. See the photo below:

The pearl necklace below is a strand of cultured pearls from scott kay jewelry and is priced at nearly $2K. It is apparent that pearls prices are not based on their original location or if they are cultured or not but the price is merely where they are bought from.