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Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

March 20, 2014 07:56AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,078

Why San Diego Airport Rejected PETA’s Anti–SeaWorld Ad

The advocacy group files a lawsuit against the San Diego airport authority.

San Diego International Airport rakes in big bucks through tourism ad revenues, but when PETA sought to buy wall space for an unusually wholesome poster, the terminal refused. The ad? A fully clothed Kathy Najimy, known for her role in Sister Act, asking people to keep away from SeaWorld “if you like animals like I do.”

The animal rights organization filed a lawsuit last week after the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority rejected PETA’s $17,500 bid for space. It turns out, the airport’s advertising vendor, JCDecaux, caters to several tourism businesses, including San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld—ads for which are plastered throughout the terminal.

PETA asserted in a statement that the facility earns hundreds of thousands from SeaWorld advertising—which likely prompted the airport’s rejection of the group’s anti-SeaWorld campaign. The Huffington Post reports that JCDecaux told PETA that “it was acting on internal guidelines.”

The American Civil Liberties Union is backing PETA. “While the government has some authority to regulate advertising, this is an example of the government abusing that authority and unfairly discriminating against the message of a specific advertiser,” says Sean Riordan, ACLU senior staff attorney, in the PETA statement. “The First Amendment stands to protect against this kind of viewpoint discrimination.”

When reached for comment, a San Diego airport authority representative said the agency "makes it a practice not to talk about issues concerning pending litigation."

Among other advocates, PETA has vehemently protested against the theme park chain and supports California’s recently proposed Orca Welfare and Safety Act. The legislation would outlaw the captivity and use of “wild-caught or captive-bred orcas for performance or entertainment purposes.” SeaWorld San Diego keeps 10 orcas in tanks.


Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

March 21, 2014 10:26PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,078

This Drone-Captured Video Shows Why Dolphins Don’t Belong in Theme Parks

Here's one use of UAVs we all can agree on.

As if we needed more proof that marine mammals don’t belong in tanks, here’s an amazing five-minute video of a "mega-pod" of dolphins, along with a few whales, thriving in their natural habitat.

Dave Anderson, owner of a California whale-watching company, launched a camera-equipped quadrocopter drone from a small boat to record ocean dwellers in action. The three-segment video he pieced together shows a mega-pod of common dolphins parading off Dana Point, Calif., and three gray whales migrating down the coast off San Clemente. The captain’s last foray, in Maui, produced dramatic moments of a newborn humpback whale calf huddling up to its mom as an escort whale stands guard.

Though one drone was sunk during his mission, Anderson said that it was well worth the loss. “My wife says no more drones if I lose this one,” he says on his website. “I learned so much about these whales and dolphins from this drone footage that it feels like I have entered a new dimension! Drones are going to change how we view the animal world.”

Though the technology has been controversial, conservationists are looking to unmanned aerial vehicles to keep tabs on wildlife in ever-widening contests. Nepal, to cite one example, recently celebrated 365 poaching-free days since it deployed its first drone to monitor the vast Himalayan foothills.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

April 08, 2014 05:27PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 2,405

Shares of SeaWorld Entertainment soared 5.4% Tuesday after a proposed ban on holding killer whales in captivity in California was delayed.

The decision, from a state panel that overseas wildlife issues, postpones the debate on keeping whales in holding facilities like the ones used at SeaWorld’s theme parks for a year.

The proposed rules would take away SeaWorld’s ability to showcase killer whales in its shows at its theme park in San Diego. Orcas have long been the parks’ biggest draws over other marine animals such as dolphins.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

April 11, 2014 09:25PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,078

Update: California Bill Would Free Orcas at SeaWorld

Read more: []

Update: California residents packed the State Assembly today to show support for The Orca Welfare and Safety Act. The Assembly’s Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee decided to further study the issue before voting on the bill. The writing is on the wall. The public has learned how orcas suffer psychologically, die prematurely, and lash out in frustration and aggression in SeaWorld’s prisons, and consumers have responded with lower attendance levels, public protests, and legislation. SeaWorld can take the time between now and when the bill comes to a vote next year to figure out how to release the orcas into ocean sanctuaries.

Originally posted on March 7, 2013:

The captive orcas at SeaWorld San Diego may soon be headed for freedom in spacious ocean sanctuaries.

Today, California State Assembly Member Richard Bloom introduced the Orca Welfare and Safety Act, which would make it illegal to “hold in captivity, or use, a wild-caught or captive-bred orca for performance or entertainment purposes.”
The bill would also put a damper on SeaWorld’s breeding operation by banning artificial insemination of captive killer whales within the state and blocking the import of orca semen from other states.

If the bill passes, SeaWorld San Diego will be forced to work to rehabilitate the orcas and return them to the wild when possible or transfer them to protected ocean sanctuaries. In the 21st century, it’s time to recognize that the orcas and dolphins held captive at SeaWorld do not belong there at all. Their containment in pitiful swimming pools instead of great oceans and in isolation instead of pods reflects our own species’ greed and obliviousness. At SeaWorld and other animal abusement parks, these magnificent beings are separated from their families—including babies who are torn from their mothers’ sides—and can swim only in endless circles between concrete walls, the constant stress of confinement driving them to lash out violently in frustration at each other and their human captors.

PETA and kind people around the world have called on SeaWorld to retire these deprived orcas to a seaside sanctuary, but the park continues to defend its overt cruelty. This bill has the potential to end the deep injustice of exhibitions of captive marine life.

Animal advocates, we can’t afford to let this opportunity pass us by. If you live in California, please e-mail Assembly Member Richard Bloom and thank him for introducing the Orca Welfare and Safety Act. And please contact your own California State Assembly members and urge them to support the bill.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

April 11, 2014 09:32PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 78

SeaWorld Loses Appeal Of Ruling On Death Of Orca Trainer Dawn Brancheau


Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

April 12, 2014 03:50PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,078

Here's All the Places Around the World That Ban Orca Captivity

Killer whales belong in the open ocean, not stuck living in cramped tanks performing tricks for human amusement.

ore than 2,100 dolphins and whales are being held in captivity at 343 facilities in 63 countries around the world, with the highest numbers of dolphinariums located in Japan (57), China (44), the United States (34), Russia (24), and Mexico (24), according to the Born Free Foundation.

This week, a vote on a California bill that would ban orca captivity was delayed by 18 months, pending an interim study. But, if it passes, California will join a growing list of U.S. states and localities and at least 14 countries that have outlawed the captive display of orcas, dolphins, and in some cases, all wild animals.

Herewith, all the locales around the world that forbid the keeping of orcas in tanks for the amusement of paying customers.

United States


On Feb. 24, 2014, a proclamation declaring that all dolphins should have the right to freedom was passed by the Malibu City Council and subsequently signed by Mayor Joan House. “Whales and dolphins are known to be highly intelligent and emotional creatures,” it declared, “and therefore deserve the right to their own freedom and lives.”

On March 6, California state Assemblymember Richard Bloom made international headlines by introducing the Orca Welfare and Safety Act, which would make it illegal to “hold in captivity, or use, a wild-caught or captive-bred orca for performance or entertainment purposes.” The bill would also ban captive breeding and artificial insemination of captive killer whales in California.

New York

State Sen. Greg Ball surprised anti-captivity activists by introducing a bill in February to ban “the possession and harboring of killer whales in aquariums and sea parks” in the state. On March 25, the Senate Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation voted in favor of the bill. New York has no captive orcas, but the symbolic measure is nonetheless being closely watched by animal welfare activists.

South Carolina

In 1982, activist Mark Berman, now at the Earth Island Institute, home to Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, helped pass the first and only U.S. state law to ban marine mammals in captivity. In 2001, state officials amended the law, limiting protections to just cetaceans after Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia announced plans for a sea lion exhibit. “We will work very hard to defend the law if there’s any attempt to change it further,” Berman said in November 2013.


When a developer proposed in 2002 to construct a dolphinarium at a Maui shopping center, the Pacific Whale Foundation and other groups successfully lobbied the Maui County Council to ban the display of any captive whale or dolphins.

Other Countries


The Bolivian government made history in July 2009 by enacting the world's first ban on all animals in circuses and other public performance venues. The law was passed following an investigation by the U.K.’s Animal Defenders International, which found widespread abuse in Bolivian circuses, according to The Guardian.


Chilean law was amended in January 2005 to prohibit the capture or import of any cetacean species, “for public exhibition or any other objective associated to its utilization by man.”

Costa Rica

The government of Costa Rica decreed new cetacean regulations in July 2005 making it “strictly forbidden” to catch and kill marine mammals, keep cetaceans and other marine mammals captive, or touch, feed, or trap any marine mammal.


In July 2009, Croatia’s State Institute for Nature Protection enacted a regulation banning the keeping of cetaceans in captivity for commercial purposes. The only exemption would be for the rehabilitation and return of sick or injured animals to their natural environment.


The nonprofit group Animal Responsibility Cyprus won a campaign to ban the importation of cetaceans in June 2011. The group says it was also successful in shutting down the Ayia Napa dolphinarium, the only one in the island nation, in 1999. “Subsequent applications to open captive dolphin shows were refused by the authorities,” according to the ARC website. “In spite of Cyprus being a popular holiday spot, you will not see any so-called dolphinariums here.”


A campaign by Animal Defenders International and the Greek Animal Welfare Fund prompted the Greek government to enact a ban in February 2012 on not only dolphin captivity but the use of all animals in circuses. Greek law now forbids using animals in “recreational games, car racing platforms, musical concerts, exhibitions, fairs or other artistic or entertaining festivities.” In January 2014, the law was overwhelmingly upheld by Parliament following a challenge by the Attica Zoological Park in Sparta.


This country’s last dolphinarium was closed down and a ban on dolphin imports was imposed in 1992 after “one of the five illegally-imported dolphins from Ukraine died during the transfer, and another within a week of its arrival,” according to the Armenian Weekly.


On May 20, 2013, India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests banned the keeping of captive dolphins for public entertainment. A statement from B.S. Bonal of the Central Zoo Authority declared that cetaceans do not in general survive well in captivity. “Confinement in captivity can seriously compromise the welfare and survival of all types of cetaceans by altering their behavior and causing extreme distress,” he said. The ministry even declared that dolphins “should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and as such should have their own specific rights.”


On Feb. 2, 2003, Jorge Salazar Cardenal, then Nicaragua’s minister of the environment, confirmed in a letter to the World Society for the Protection of Animals that his country had “banned the use and exploitation of bottlenose dolphins indefinitely.” Salazar added that the law “guarantees that in Nicaragua, these animals will be fully protected.”


According to WDC, Slovenian law “explicitly prohibits” the display of captive dolphins.


The country’s House of Representatives handed a major victory to captivity opponents when it outlawed the “keeping of dolphins in aquariums or for entertainment purposes” in March 2012. The Swiss Senate also banned the importation of dolphins. Meanwhile, the last two dolphins remaining in the country were sold to a facility in Jamaica in December 2013.


A few countries have standards so strict that it is nearly impossible to keep cetaceans in captivity, including Brazil, Luxembourg, Nicaragua, Norway, and the United Kingdom, where the last dolphinarium was closed in 1993. No company has been able to open in the U.K. since then, “because imposed standards exceed the viability of establishing a dolphinarium in the country,” according to the Born Free Foundation.


Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

May 02, 2014 07:32AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,078

SeaWorld Arms Orca Trainers With Inflatable Air Vests

But critics contend the device wouldn't save lives in an encounter with a killer whale.

Four years after the orca Tilikum killed SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau, and just two weeks after a federal appellate court rejected the company’s attempt to overturn government-imposed safety measures, SeaWorld unveiled an inflatable vest for its killer whale trainers. The safety device is equipped with a small scuba tank to provide the trainers with air in case of emergency.

Critics say the vest would not have saved Brancheau—who died from trauma and not a lack of oxygen—and decry the move as window dressing that will be of limited value when a killer whale goes on a rampage.

SeaWorld dismissed the criticism. The devices “provide trainers with buoyancy and on-board air, and they are the result of three years of collaborative effort between safety experts, engineers, and my own training team," Kelly Flaherty Clark, curator of animal training at the Orlando park, told WESH-TV.

Earlier this month, a federal appellate court ruled against SeaWorld and upheld an Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandate that trainers stay out of the water and maintain minimal distances from the whales during shows.

SeaWorld has also adopted new rules requiring trainers to remain 18 inches away from the whales while standing poolside, and three feet away while kneeling near them. The company does, however, allow trainers to touch the animals in the slide-out area, as long as they approach from the side and stay away from the mouth and the tail.

SeaWorld officials said previously that they wanted to return trainers to the water, but Flaherty Clark denied that assertion this week. "Right now, that's not something we're even considering,” she said. “This is just a piece of equipment to maybe make that environment a little bit safer.” The only apparent explanation for the vests, then, is SeaWorld’s concern about what might happen if a trainer fell into a pool or was dragged underwater by an orca, as was the case with Brancheau in February 2010.

John Hargrove, who worked at SeaWorld in San Diego and San Antonio until 2012, said he trained with the vest since its conception in late 2010. “I immediately brought up the concern that they created a drowning hazard because you could not break free from the device if a whale chose to grab it and pull you in,” Hargrove, who was featured in the documentary Blackfish, wrote in an email.

“I knew this system was flawed, and they finally went back in and made adjustments making some, but not all, of the device able to break free," he wrote.

In December 2010, four other former SeaWorld trainers, including Samantha Berg, sent affidavits to OSHA expressing concern about the spare air system.

“The depth of the main show pool at Shamu stadium is 36 feet which translates to a pressure of two atmospheres,” wrote Berg. “This means, if you take a breath at that depth, the air expands to double the volume on ascent. Anyone who is trained to SCUBA dive will know that the key to avoiding a lung over-expansion injury is a slow, steady ascent while exhaling or breathing normally.”

A trainer dragged to the bottom of the pool would be subject to this pressure. “If, by some miracle, the trainer was even capable of getting access to their air, he or she would be in serious danger,” Berg wrote, “if the whale suddenly decided to make a rapid ascent with the trainer still in his mouth.”

Like many critics, Berg pointed out that an inflatable vest and scuba gear would not have spared the life of Brancheau. “A marginally conscious, hypothermic, badly injured trainer in shock in the jaws of a 12,000 pound whale would be just as dead if he or she were carrying extra air or not.”


Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

May 02, 2014 08:37AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,078

A court in the Netherlands Wednesday upheld a 2011 decision to transfer Morgan, a female orca rescued in a stranding off the Dutch coast, to an entertainment park in the Canary Islands, Spain, where she will remain indefinitely.

Two animal welfare groups, Dolphinmotion and Sea First, had filed suit in the Council of State, an independent administrative court, seeking to overturn the Dutch minister for agriculture's November 2011 decision to send Morgan to the Loro Parque theme park and release her instead.

But the council, claiming there were no viable options for Morgan, said the orca should remain in Spain, writing that “returning the killer whale to the ocean, as proposed by the animal welfare groups in the Morgan Release Plan, was found not to be an alternative, satisfactory solution because Morgan's native pod had not been found and she belonged to a population with a highly complex social structure.”

The council added that Loro Parque “has a long history of keeping killer whales and conducts various research and educational activities.” But critics note that orcas have only been at the park for six years, and that no published studies on killer whales have been conducted there.

Morgan was found alone and hungry in the Wadden Sea in 2010. She was sent to a dolphinarium in Harderwijk, the Netherlands, for rehabilitation. Activists almost immediately began campaigning to return Morgan to the sea.

But she remained in Holland, in a tiny glass tank in which she could barely turn around, until the following year, when she was flown to Loro Parque, where five orcas on a “breeding loan” from SeaWorld were housed.

Freedom Denied: Dutch Court Condemns Morgan the Orca to Continued Captivity

The legal effort to free a young killer whale from captivity fails for now.

Forced Inbreeding and Bloody Battles—Killer Whales Live in Horror at Spanish Theme Park

Activists contend that Morgan should be living in the ocean, not only because she was born there but because conditions at Loro Parque are subpar. They say Morgan is harassed and assaulted by other whales in the park’s tanks, the scene of the brutal killing of a Spanish trainer in 2009 by the orca Keto.

Last June, a 10-month-old female killer whale named Victoria died at the park. She had been rejected by her mother, Kohana, a young orca who was ripped from her own mother’s side at just 19 months and eventually shipped off to Spain.

But the council was unmoved by reports of conditions at Loro Parque. “Today’s verdict only dealt with the validity of the export license,” its statement said. “Morgan's present state of health was not the subject of the legal proceedings.


Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

May 14, 2014 09:39AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,078

Granny, the World’s Oldest Orca, is Still Going Strong at 103

Whale watchers were treated to an exciting spectacle on Friday when they spotted J2, who is more affectionately known as “Granny,” the oldest known orca in the world.

Granny, who was spotted by members of the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA), is estimated by the Center for Whale Research to be 103-years-old. By all accounts, the matriarch is still looking healthy and strong. Just over a week ago, Granny was believed to be with her pod near the Russian River in Northern California, which means she traveled an estimated 800 miles with her family in about a week.

The great grandmother is a member of the J-pod and southern resident group of orcas, who live in Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca during the summer months and migrate to the open ocean in the winter.

“We were thrilled to see her. And it’s mind-blowing to think that this whale is over 100 years old. She was born before the Titanic went down. Can you imagine the things she’s seen in her lifetime?” said Capt. Simon Pidcock of Ocean EcoVentures.

Granny’s history hasn’t just fascinated and inspired whale advocates who have celebrated her life, it has also shown the resilience of orcas and a pod that has, and continues to face, numerous threats, along with crushing some of the captivity industry’s claims about what we know about orcas.

SeaWorld, for one, has claimed that we don’t know how long orcas live and “the most recent science suggests that the life spans of killer whales at SeaWorld are comparable to those in the wild,” previously citing lifespans at 20-25 years. Yet, we clearly have a pretty good idea about how long the live in the wild and it far exceeds how long they live in a tank.

The PWWA’s executive director Michael Harris, explained to the Seattle Post Intelligencer that, “The average lifespan of a wild orca is between 60 and 80 years, and yet the Southern Residents – despite being listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act – have some extraordinary longevity stories, including the female K7, or Lummi, who died in 2008 at the age of 98. Another Southern Resident female, L25, or Ocean Sun, is thought to be 85 years old.”

According to Stefan Jacobs, who put together the numbers for the Center for Whale Research, “Of the 159 captive killer whales that have died, more than 2/3 didn’t make it past 10 years in captivity. Less than 30 orcas survived more than 20 years in captivity. Average time in captivity has improved steadily over the decades, but is still very low.”

Granny somehow survived the era of captures when family members were taken from the wild for display and has shown us all what can happen when we leave them be in the wild. Orcas like Lolita and Corky, the last surviving orcas who were captured were not so lucky. Both are still living in tanks at the Miami Seaquarium and SeaWorld San Diego, respectively, while their advocates continue to fight to get them out.

While most wild orcas might not live to reach Granny’s impressive age, they should have the opportunity to enjoy what time they do have wild and free in the ocean with their families where they belong.

Read more: []

Links: Please see - Life expectancy of orcas in captivity: []

In 1970, seven Southern Resident orca whales were captured in the notorious Penn Cove roundup in Washington’s Puget Sound to be sold into the entertainment industry for display.

The violent roundup, and subsequent coverup of orcas and calves who died and had their bodies weighted down to keep them hidden and avoid having them counted in the “take,” caused public outrage and led to the passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972, which bans the capture of marine mammals in U.S. waters and it’s not hard to see why.

You can hear haunting cries in the video below, as the orcas are rounded up and separated. Even some who participated still regret what they’ve done.

By 1987, all of the 45 orcas who had been kidnapped from their families in the wild had died in captivity except for Lolita. She has spent more than 40 years in an unacceptably (and illegally) small tank at the Miami Seaquarium where she has been entertaining curious onlookers. She has been alone since 1980, when her companion Hugo committed suicide by ramming his head into the tank wall, which caused an aneurysm.

Animal advocates have been fighting for Lolita’s freedom for decades and have finally had some success with an announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that it has accepted a petition filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation, the Orca Network and individuals to extend Endangered Species Act protection to Lolita.

The Southern Resident orcas, which include three distinct pods (J, K and L) that live in Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, were listed as endangered in 2005. As of now, there are only 84 of these orcas in the wild.

Lolita is from the L-pod and, and according to the Orca Network, she still calls out in the unique language used only by her family members. She remembers.

The Orca Network’s co-founder and president Howard Gannet told the Times Colonist that it’s a step in the right direction, but noted that it’s only one of many hurdles in the battle for Lolita’s freedom. He added that if she is successfully listed, it’s likely she would be freed.

“They can’t hold a member of an endangered species captive for business reasons,” he said.

However, Brian Gorman, spokesman for the NMFS in Seattle said that it may not mean her freedom, and may only result in other actions such as making improvements to her living conditions.

In the event that she does get her freedom, there is an extensive retirement plan in place for her new life in the Pacific. Some argue that she may suffer a similar fate to Keiko, but unlike Keiko, Lolita still has family in the wild. There are believed to be at least six Southern Residents still alive who were at the Penn Cove roundup, one of whom may be her mother.

At the very least, Lolita’s advocates hope she will be returned to a sea-pen on San Juan Island, where she will at least be able to hear the calls of her pod and communicate with them. Her advocates hope she can be reintegrated into the wild, but if she is unwilling or unable to go back, they will provide care for her indefinitely.

Any decisions about Lolita’s future are still a long way off. The NMFS has until the end of next January to decide if the petition is warranted, and if they do their decision will be followed by a public comment period.

However, there is a conflicting petition that seeks to remove all ESA protection from the Southern Residents, which will be decided in August

Read more: []

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

May 14, 2014 10:14PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,078

If SeaWorld Is About Educating the Public, Why Doesn’t It Have Any Porpoises?
By David Kirby

The absent species reveals much about aquatic theme parks’ real purpose (sorry).

Marine mammal “theme parks” often boast that educating the public about whales and dolphins is just as important to their core mission as entertaining people. But when it comes to acquiring animals, it seems that some marine species are more equal than others.

Consider the lowly porpoise, whose name originates from the Latin for “pig fish.” Thousands of cetaceans are held in captivity around the world. But the vast majority are bottlenose dolphins, followed by other members of the dolphin family, including common dolphins, pilot whales, false killer whales, and orcas. Only a handful are porpoises.

Why so few members of this dolphin relative? SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs did not return an email asking why the company counts zero porpoises among its vast collection, but then, he’s not one of my biggest fans. The question was especially pertinent because harbor porpoises can be found off the coasts of California, Florida, and Texas, where SeaWorld operates. Shouldn’t visitors be learning about local species?

Critics say the industry generally considers porpoises undesirable because they don’t draw crowds in the same magnitude as killer whales or the iconic bottlenose dolphins popularized by the TV series Flipper.

Perhaps even more important, critics contend, porpoises are just not well suited to show business.

“It could be that their ‘crowd-appeal’ or lack thereof, has discouraged facilities from trying to display porpoises,” Courtney Vail, campaigns and programs manager at Whale and Dolphin Conservation, wrote in an email. “Facilities only have room for so many individuals, and it is the more common bottlenose that is the favored species for captive display.”

Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist at Animal Welfare Institute, noted another reason. “They are ‘shy’ and less acrobatic—that’s probably the main reason they aren’t frequently held,” she wrote in an email.

Perhaps most significant, porpoises “can’t be trained to do much in the way of shows, and that’s what people come to see,” wrote Rose.

Historically, captive porpoises have not survived for long, but that may be because many were acquired through rescues or strandings—they were already sick, aging, or injured before being put in a tank.

But the survival argument is no longer valid; the Dolfinarium Harderwijk in the Netherlands has shown that porpoises can be maintained in captivity. It houses six harbor porpoises; three were rescued more than seven years ago, and one was rescued in 2011. The other two were born at the facility in 2012.

But there are no backflips, no porpoise-riding trainers, and no loud music. “Curious about what porpoises look like? Come soon and take a look,” the facility’s website suggests.

In Denmark, Fjord & Bælt, which describes itself as “a combined research and experience center that communicates knowledge about marine life in the waters of Denmark,” invites patrons to “observe our daily routines of training and feeding our three porpoises.”

Education, conservation, and research are major components of the park’s activities. “We intend to preserve and protect—through research and information—the only member of the whale species to breed in Danish waters,” the website says.

One porpoise, Freja, is estimated to be about 19 and has been in captivity for 17 years. Eigil, also in captivity for 17 years, has been trained for and taken part in “quite a few research projects, including studies of porpoises’ ability to identify fishing nets,” according to the website. The third porpoise, Sif, was rescued in 2004 and is now about 11.

At least two aquariums in Japan also have porpoises on display. Captive porpoises have not fared as well as, say, captive bottlenose dolphins. But even then, as Rose pointed out, “in most facilities globally, captive bottlenose do very poorly. It’s only in the ‘best’ facilities that they match wild mortality rates.”

Of course, just because porpoises can be kept captive doesn’t mean they should; in any case they, like all wild animals, ought to be provided with enclosures of a size and level of enrichment indicated as appropriate by the latest research. Their absence from SeaWorld just shows that the company is less about informing the public than about lining its own pockets.


Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

May 14, 2014 10:27PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,078

A look at killer whales in aquariums and parks
Current number of known orcas in captivity: 53

Please see this site: []

Incidents between humans and killer whales in captivity - a longer list than the parks would like to tell you!

A point often leading to heated discussions when it comes to the pros and cons of orcas in captivity is whether the animals have a chance to live as long as in their natural environment.

Researchers have determined an average life exptectancy for wild killer whales of about 30 years for males and 50 years for females. Some individuals even double these averages. Despite those facts, which are commonly accepted within the scientific community, marine park officials still declare publicly that orcas don’t live much longer than 20 years.

Of the 159 captive killer whales that have died, almost 2/3 didn’t make it beyond 10 years in captivity. Just 30 orcas survived more than 20 years in captivity. Average time in captivity has improved steadily over the decades, but is still very low.

Do orcas in captivity have a chance to reach the same age as their free counterparts? Here are the numbers as of May 1, 2014:

average time in captivity for all whales in captivity (deceased and alive, n = 212):
8 years, 6 months

average time in captivity for all whales deceased in captivity (n = 159):
6 years, 5 months

average time in captivity for all whales currently alive in captivity (n = 53):
14 years, 6 months

average time in captivity for all whales captured or born between 1964 and 1973 (n = 54):
6 years, 10 months

average time in captivity for all whales captured or born between 1974 and 1983 (n = 58):
10 years, 1 month

average time in captivity for all whales captured or born between 1984 and 1993 (n = 40):
13 years

average time in captivity for all whales captured or born between 1994 and 2003 (n = 29):
8 years, 8 months

average time in captivity for all whales captured or born since 2004 (n = 31):
3 years

average time in captivity for all whales deceased between 1964 and 1973 (n = 28):
1 year, 2 months

average time in captivity for all whales deceased between 1974 and 1983 (n = 47):
3 years, 9 months

average time in captivity for all whales deceased between 1984 and 1993 (n = 29):
7 years. 1 month

average time in captivity for all whales deceased between 1994 and 2003 (n = 29):
10 years. 1 month

average time in captivity for all whales deceased since 2004 (n = 26):
12 years, 10 months

average time in captivity for all captive born whales (n = 67):
8 years, 2 months

average time in captivity for all whales caught in the wild (n = 145):
8 years, 9 months


Within in the initial years of killer whales in captivity there was substantial improvement in keeping the animals alive, but in average orcas in captivity are still far away from reaching their natural life expectancies. This is quite astonishing if you consider the amount of medical treatment and observation put into those animals. It is difficult to prove but the quality of life might be the deciding factor in this puzzle.


Ford, John K.B., Ellis, Graeme M., Balcomb, Kenneth C. 2000.Killer Whales. UBC Press, 104 pp.

Hoyt, Erich 1984. Orca - The Whale Called Killer. E.P. Dutton, New York, 226 pp.

Back to Orcas in Captivity
Back to my Homepage

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

May 15, 2014 11:55AM

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"For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other; they all have the same breath,
and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from dust, and all turn to dust again."
--Ecclesiastes, 3:19-20.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

May 17, 2014 12:25PM

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SeaWorld is finally putting its mouth where its money is.
May 16, 2014 By David Kirby

On June 5 at La Jolla’s Museum of Contemporary Art, a representative from SeaWorld will take on two prominent critics of the park to “talk through the issue” of keeping killer whales in captivity, according to Voice of San Diego, organizer of the unprecedented event.

“As far as we’ve seen, this will be the first time SeaWorld answers questions and offers its perspective directly to the public,” says VOSD’s website. In the past few years, SeaWorld has dispatched staff members to participate in panel discussions on captivity at a few marine mammal conferences, and company representatives have testified before Congress and a recent California Assembly Committee considering a bill to ban orca display in the state.

Now members of the general public will have an opportunity to grill a company rep as well as two captivity critics: Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, and Susan Gray Davis, a former UC San Diego professor who wrote the 1997 book Spectacular Nature: Corporate Culture and the Sea World Experience.

Rose predicted that the SeaWorld representative, still unnamed, would offer many of the same arguments the company has put forth recently, including at the “Truth About Blackfish” Web page. It’s possible that the staff member “will say something novel,” she wrote, “but 1) I doubt it and 2) I’m sure it will be easily rebutted.”

Even so, the event offers an opportunity to contrast the two sides, Rose said, one based on “ad hominem attacks and emphasizing jobs (when the debate is about animal welfare) and rhetorical flourishes” and the other based on “facts, empirical evidence, and ethics, in front of an audience that is directly affected by the economics involved.”

Rose hopes that people “who are hostile to my position” will show up as well. “It’s always more challenging and productive to be on a panel in front of a mixed audience,” she wrote, “rather than simply preaching to the choir.”

Stay tuned for a major development in the 50-year-old debate over killer whales in captivity.

Tickets are $20; the event is free for VOSD members. To register, click here.

The panel discussion is the culmination of a major VOSD series on SeaWorld California that, according to the website, “dove into the ethics, economics, and fate of the park.” The outfit describes itself as a “member-based nonprofit investigative news organization that gives concerned citizens the tools they need to engage in important conversations about their community.”

SeaWorld “has long had a big impact on our region’s economy and national reputation,” the site adds. But that legacy “took a hit when filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite released her damning documentary Blackfish. SeaWorld was forced to deal with a heightened degree of scrutiny from a growing base of critics.”

The dissent reached a critical mass “where it might pose an existential threat to the theme park,” Scott Lewis, VOSD’s CEO, wrote in an email. VOSD thought, he continued, “that it was best for San Diego to begin grappling with what that means. What are the ethical concerns actually? What is SeaWorld’s actual economic and public policy impact, and what are the practical implications of various demands and proposed laws?”

Lewis’ group hopes for a “frank, respectful and enlightening conversation,” he wrote, adding, “We’re delighted that SeaWorld has chosen to confront the most difficult questions in public, unrehearsed.”

SeaWorld California’s publicity office did not respond to an email seeking comment.

But panelist Rose, a leading marine mammal expert who has taken on SeaWorld executives at private conferences and congressional and California Assembly hearings, wrote in an email that “accepting that this is a major breakthrough for the debate—a highly publicized public debate directly with SeaWorld, in a SeaWorld city—I am very much looking forward to it.”



Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

May 18, 2014 09:14AM

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"The Humane Society International and the World Society for the Protection of Animals have stated that they believe that "the entire captive experience for marine mammals is so sterile and contrary to even the most basic elements of compassion and humanity that it should be rejected outright."

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/18/2014 09:58AM by Alana33.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

May 24, 2014 11:22AM

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Zoochosis: The Disturbing Thing That Happens to Animals in Captivity

Blackfish already made a splash in the animal captivity scene, and now Zoochosis, a short documentary about the very unnatural behaviors that captive animals exhibit in artificial zoo environments, is adding more waves.

Since the whole Marius the Giraffe fiasco, zoos have probably felt been feeling some heat from concerned citizens. This new documentary continues to let zoos know that they are being scrutinized and that activists probably won’t stop until the animal captivity tide turns.

What is Zoochosis?

The documentary didn’t invent the term “zoochosis.” According to the organization Circus Watch WA, “In 1992, Bill Travers first coined the term zoochosis to describe this obsessive, repetitive behaviour, and described zoo animals behaving abnormally as zoochotic.”

Zoochosis can be disturbing to watch. According to Born Free, the following behaviors are symptomatic of zoochosis: pacing and circling, tongue-playing and bar-biting, neck twisting, head-bobbing, weaving and swaying, rocking, overgrooming and self-mutilation, vomiting and regurgitating and coprophilla and caprophagia. Coprophilla and caprophagia relate to unnatural activities involving feces, e.g. eating it, playing with it or smearing feces on walls.

‘Zoochosis‘ Highlights

In the film, zoo professionals, science and research professionals and animal welfare professionals all weigh in to paint a complete picture about zoochosis in relation to captivity.

While the scientific community has been talking about zoochosis since the early 1990s, there’s still no consensus about what causes it. Some think that it’s a type of coping mechanism while others believe that it’s a brain dysfunction caused by stress.

Stress is a prevailing theme throughout the documentary. As one science professional explains, everyone has stress. The thing is that while humans can have stress, it usually doesn’t mean that their welfare is in jeopardy, partly because humans can remove themselves from stressful situations and have things to look forward to. For the most part, animals live in the present. If their present is a small caged enclosure, then that is a stressful existence from which they cannot escape. Ultimately, you have to wonder, do all animals experience the stress of captivity the same? According to some points of view in the documentary, they don’t.

Whatever an animal’s stress level, any amount of stress that humans impose on them isn’t right. Let’s say that zoos could create better ways for an animal to cope; that’s great, but coping feels like surviving and just getting by. I’d rather see a captive animal let loose in the wild where they have a fair chance to thrive. Although, as Zoochosis points out, is there a true wild left anymore?

Zoochosis highlights that there are 10,000 zoos in the world and 175 million people visit them every year. While zoos should be more upfront about the abnormal behaviors that their animals are displaying, zoo patrons should also speak out if they see something. Tell the zoo professionals and tell people in your circles. And if you don’t like what zoochosis looks like, or what one conservationist called the “zombie look of zoochosis,” then don’t frequent zoos.

I was fascinated by the suggestion that some animals can thrive in captivity while other animals can’t because it wasn’t something that I had ever thought about that way. Let me know in the poll and comments: do you really think some animals can thrive in captivity?
See the video:

Read more: []

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

May 27, 2014 10:01AM

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Suit Against Japanese City to Shed Light on Slaughter in the Cove

Activists say denying them admission to a museum housing a rare albino dolphin violates the law.

Ever since the Oscar-winning 2009 documentary The Cove horrified international audiences with blood-drenched images of the annual massacre of dolphins in the Japanese town of Taiji, animal-welfare advocates, celebrities, and even a high-profile U.S. diplomat have raised their voices in protest. Yet the killing continues. A recently filed lawsuit may ensure that opponents of the hunt, and the dolphins, will have their day in court.

Earlier this month, Australia for Dolphins, Earth Island Institute’s Dolphin Project, and Save Japan Dolphins “initiated legal proceedings on behalf of dolphins caught in the bloody drive hunts in Taiji,” a joint statement from the three groups said. The main focus of the unprecedented lawsuit is a rare albino bottlenose dolphin calf named Angel, who, according to the statement, is “kept in appallingly inadequate conditions.”

The legal complaint, dubbed by plaintiffs “Action for Angel,” “will for the first time compel the Taiji government to defend its globally condemned dolphin hunts,” the statement said.

The suit, filed in Wakayama District Court in Japan, targets the municipal government, which owns the Taiji Whale Museum, where Angel is being held. Each year, the museum brokers the sale of dozens of dolphins rounded up in the cove (but not killed) to aquariums around the globe.

Taiji is home to the world’s largest drive hunts, in which some 2,000 dolphins typically are driven by boats into a cove and killed for food. About 250 others are sold to aquariums. In the 2013–2014 season, the numbers fell; an estimated 1,400 dolphins were driven into the cove. About 834 were killed, and 164 were taken captive. The rest were released. This marked a decline from the previous season’s figures, in which roughly 900 dolphins were killed and 250 captured.

The lawsuit accuses the museum of breaking Japanese law by blocking access to the museum’s animal collection by dolphin welfare experts and other observers, based on “their opinion and race,” the statement alleged. “This conduct is in breach of the Japanese constitution, which protects equal access to public places for all law-abiding people.”

Ric O’Barry, a former dolphin trainer and star of The Cove, told Bloomberg News, “If I tried to get in [to the museum], they would hold up a sign saying ‘No Westerners Allowed.’ We have proof of this. It’s racist and it’s illegal.”

O’Barry, who was not available for comment before publication, flew to Japan along with Australia for Dolphins CEO Sarah Lucas to personally serve Taiji officials with the legal papers on May 15. Lucas did not return emails requesting an interview.

Last January, Angel made worldwide headlines and brought renewed energy to the fight against the hunts when the pinkish-white calf (her exact age is unknown) was forced into the cove, along with 250 other bottlenose dolphins, by fishermen in speedboats. Forty were killed, 52 were taken for sale to aquariums at a hefty premium, and the rest were released.

Angel was taken from the side of her mother, who is believed to have perished in the cove.

The massacre and captures sparked a fresh round of indignation around the world, most notably from U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, who tweeted in January that she was “deeply concerned by inhumanness of drive hunt dolphin killing” and reasserted the U.S. government’s opposition to the hunts.

Soon after, a star-studded list of entertainers, politicians, and activists signed a letter to President Obama, drafted by hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons and Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian Simone Reyes, who works for Simmons, urging Obama not to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement “until Japan bans the slaughter and capture of dolphins in Taiji.”

Sean Penn, Cher, Susan Sarandon, Oliver Stone, Ellen DeGeneres, Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Jesse Jackson, and Ingrid Newkirk, head of PETA, were among the cosigners.

Today, the albino dolphin is “a highly valuable ‘freak’ show on display in a cramped, abusive show tank. Eyewitnesses report she floats lifelessly with her eyes closed, or swims in small distressed circles,” the plaintiffs’ statement said.

“Angel is living in hell,” O’Barry added in the statement. “This one small dolphin has become a global representative of the thousands of dolphins slaughtered and captured each year in Taiji.”

Taiji is not the only Japanese location where cetaceans are hunted and killed. Around the country, up to 20,000 dolphins, porpoises, and pilot whales are butchered each year. In the past 70 years, more than a million dolphins have been killed.

If one dolphin can symbolize that staggering figure, activists believe, it is the orphaned albino languishing in a museum by the cove.


Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

May 27, 2014 12:26PM

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"Our task must be to free ourselves by widening the circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

--Albert Einstein, physicist.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

May 28, 2014 12:29PM

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The Real Story on Seismic Blasting in Our Oceans

Published on Feb 5, 2014

The ocean is a world of sound. Seismic airgun testing, a method of searching for offshore oil and gas, threatens to turn that world upside down.

Seismic blasts can injure or kill marine life, threaten the health of regional fisheries, and risk the jobs of those who depend on the ocean for their livelihood. This month, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) on seismic testing's potential expansion into the Mid and South Atlantic, and its recommendations will reach the White House. BOEM needs to consider the latest and best science on seismic, which exposes its many risks.

Share the truth about seismic blasting and increase awareness about this deadly practice!

For more info, visit: []

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

May 29, 2014 08:51AM

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Jane Goodall Speaks Out for Captive Whales and Dolphins

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The practice of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity at aquariums and marine parks has come under intense scrutiny while the public seemingly continues to change its views in favor of the animals when it comes to whether or not it’s acceptable. This month world-renowned conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall added her voice to those in opposition of confining these large, intelligent species in tanks at the Vancouver Aquarium.

In a letter written to the Board of Parks and Recreation, Goodall asked both the board and the aquarium to stand up for the welfare of cetaceans by phasing out its whale and dolphin exhibits. The park is currently home to belugas and Pacific white-sided dolphins, who were imported from Japan.

In her letter, Goodall noted that the aquarium became an industry leader when it stopped keeping cetaceans who were captured in the wild for display in 1996, but that its continued confinement and captive breeding programs, including partnerships with SeaWorld, are “no longer defensible by science,” as evidenced by the high mortality rates and the fact that they continue to be used in shows purely for entertainment.

She goes on to state that, “The idea that certain cetaceans ‘do better’ in captivity than others is also misleading, as belugas, dolphins and porpoises are highly social animals which can travel in large pods and migrate long distances. In captivity, these highly vocal and complex communicators are forced to live in a low-sensory environment, which is unable to fully meet the needs of their physical and emotional worlds.”

Approval for a $100 million expansion for the aquarium by the board in 2006, which is currently in the works, previously raised concerns from scientists and the public that more marine mammals would be brought there.

The debate about the future of the aquarium heated up again this spring when Mayor Gregor Robertson and Park Board Members Constance Barnes and Sarah Blyth spoke out in favor of phasing out marine mammals at the aquarium.

Animal advocates who continue to protest have asked that the issue be brought to voters this November, but according to the Globe and Mail, Vancouver residents won’t get a chance to weigh in. A motion to put it on the ballot was rejected by councillors, “largely over concerns that city council would be stepping on the jurisdiction of the city’s park board.” The responsibility to end captivity lies with the park board because the aquarium is built on public land. Now the aquarium will undergo a review that’s expected to be finished in July.

Meanwhile, aquarium officials continue to defend keeping whales and dolphins and insist that what it’s doing is playing an important role in conservation efforts. Aquarium president and CEO Dr. John Nightingale said he disagrees with the opposition and was surprised by Goodall’s letter, stating that she is “clearly operating under information provided by the activist community.”

Goodall may be known largely for her work with primates, but at this point it’s probably safe to say that she knows a thing or two about animals and can come to her own conclusions about the downsides of captivity without the help of activists. In her letter, she concludes:

As society at large and the scientific community now reflect on the keeping of highly cognitive species like primates, elephants, and cetaceans in entertainment and research, I ask the Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Aquarium to do the same. The phasing out of such cetacean programs is the natural progression of human-kind’s evolving view of our non-human animal kin. I hope the Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Aquarium will be a leader in compassionate conservation on this issue, as you have done before.

Hopefully the Vancouver Aquarium will listen to the reasoned arguments of concerned scientists, residents and politicians and become the next to stop keeping whales and dolphins.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 01, 2014 10:22AM

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In 2002, the U.S. Department of Agriculture asked the public to comment on proposed updates to standards for captive marine mammal operations. Comments poured in from interested parties ranging from animal exhibitors to animal-rights folks and scientists. A dozen years later, the USDA still hasn’t updated the standards.

On Thursday, members of Congress took notice, and took action. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif.; Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; and 38 others signed a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, calling for his agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to adopt the long-overdue rules, which would cover facility design, water quality, space requirements, and more.

“Sound, modern science should inform our regulations on marine mammal captivity,” Huffman and Schiff said in a joint statement. “Unfortunately, USDA has refused to act for nearly two decades, endangering humans and orcas alike. It’s unacceptable that our regulations protecting orcas and other marine mammals have not been updated to reflect the latest science. It is past time for USDA to address this issue.”

The representatives cited “the public interest in humane treatment of orcas and other marine mammals, especially in light of the death in 2010 of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau by the orca Tilikum, and the film Blackfish” as the motivating factors behind the letter. (Just one of the 40 who signed the letter was a Republican: Walter Jones of North Carolina.)

According to the letter, the USDA has failed to update the regulations under the Animal Welfare Act for nearly two decades.

The USDA’s failure to act, along with scientific advancements in marine mammal biology, “means that the information USDA currently has on the proposed rule is likely outdated,” the letter said.

In 1995, a USDA advisory committee suggested revisions to the marine mammal sections of the AWA. It took seven years to propose final language on the new regulations. In 2002, the public comment phase began, during which time the USDA received more than 300 messages, the letter to Vilsack noted.

For decades, animal-welfare advocates have issued formal complaints against SeaWorld and other U.S. dolphinariums, alleging that many tanks did not meet federal minimal standards, that many facilities were deteriorating and therefore a hazard to the animals, and that marine mammals are not given sufficient protection from sun exposure, among other alleged AWA violations.

TakePart has reported on these issues, including stories on the orca Lolita, whose Miami Seaquarium tank is clearly too small to house her according to federal law, and on one occasion when USDA inspectors investigated conditions at SeaWorld Orlando and issued violations.

Growing awareness of subpar conditions at marine mammal parks “has garnered great attention by the general public,” the letter said, “especially with the release of the documentary film Blackfish that calls into question the feasibility of keeping orcas humanely in captivity due to the enormous physical and psychological impact on orcas kept in confinement.”

Captivity opponents cheered the members of Congress for demanding that overdue reforms to the way captive marine mammals are handled finally be implemented. The news followed an announcement this month by the National Aquarium in Baltimore, which said it would review its policy of keeping dolphins on-site and explore the possibility of retiring those animals to sea-pen sanctuaries.

Naomi Rose, an orca expert and marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, was a member of the 1995–1996 rule-making committee that suggested the upgrades. “Representative Huffman reached out to my organization and we helped clarify some elements of the regulatory process for his staff. I am very happy to have a congressional office focused on this at last,” she said in an email.

“We are,” Rose added, “most certainly on a mainstream roll.”

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 04, 2014 04:02PM

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In a major breakthrough in the debate on marine animals in captivity, Sea World is willing to “talk through the issue” and answer questions from the public on keeping orcas captive.

As a supporter of our marine and wildlife work, we thought you may be interested in catching the discussion live this Thursday, June 5 at 6.30pm-8.30pm PT, on the Voice of San Diego website. An open discussion is a great step forward in bringing an end to the needless suffering of these iconic creatures. Dr. Naomi Rose, a leading marine mammal scientist with the Animal Welfare Institute, one of our Whales Need US coalition partners, is on the panel.

We’ll continue to keep you up-to-date with the latest developments in the debate on killer whales in captivity. In the meantime, help keep the momentum to move the state of California to pass a groundbreaking bill to end the captivity of orcas there for good. Please ask your animal-loving friends and family to take action today.

Together, we can create lasting change for marine animals.


Elizabeth Hogan
Oceans and Wildlife Campaigns Manager

P.S. Don’t forget, as of June 16 we will be changing our name to World Animal Protection.
Learn more here: []


It is going to be live-streamed on the Voice of San Diego website – []. If you go to the link to “upcoming events” at the bottom of the page, you’ll see the event listed.

It starts at 6:30pm Pacific Time, which is 9:30 pm in the VI. Naomi Rose is the person Fiona Stuart of VI Dolphin Voices has liaised
with for over two years in our fight against Coral World's dolphinarium . She is one of the leading experts in this field and this should
be a very interesting discussion. Rose even wrote an editorial to the VI Daily News to oppose the creation of Coral World's

Here's the direct link to the upcoming event which is sold out:

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 05, 2014 08:54AM

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The Tide Continues to Turn Against SeaWorld: Now Even Congressmen Are Mad

Read more: []

The tide of public opinion appears to be taking a serious turn against marine parks like SeaWorld as concerns about the consequences of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity continue to grow. Now members of Congress have added fuel to the fire with a letter criticizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for failing to address regulatory upgrades for marine mammals in captivity for almost two decades.

In a bipartisan letter sent to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Congressmen Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and 38 members of Congress called on the agency to take immediate action to adopt long-overdue rules addressing the care of captive marine mammals.

“Sound, modern science should inform our regulations on marine mammal captivity,” said Huffman and Schiff in a joint statement. “Unfortunately, USDA has refused to act for nearly two decades, endangering humans and orcas alike. It’s unacceptable that our regulations protecting orcas and other marine mammals have not been updated to reflect the latest science. It is past time for USDA to address this issue.”

According to the letter, in 1995 a committee advised the USDA on revisions for marine mammals regulations, but it never came to a consensus for sections about indoor and outdoor facilities, water quality, space requirements and swim-with-the-dolphin programs.

In 2002, the USDA asked the public to weigh in on proposed updates to standards for the care of captive marine mammals and received input from “the animal exhibitor industry, animal welfare groups, scientific community and the public” recommending improvements. Yet, twelve years later it still hasn’t taken any action to update regulations or implement changes.

Animal advocates have been raising concerns about the facilities and conditions whales and dolphins are kept in at marine parks and aquariums for decades, citing complaints that range from insufficient protection from the sun, hazards in the environment, and tanks that are too small or don’t meet minimum standards for size.

One well known case is Lolita’s; advocates argue that Lolita is being kept in a tank that’s not just too small for an animal her size, but illegally small under federal guidelines, at the Miami Seaquarium.

In their letter, lawmakers also noted the increase in attention these issues are getting, thanks in part to the documentary Blackfish, which they point out “argues that keeping orcas in captivity and regularly requiring them to perform for the public is cruel and causes enormous physical and psychological pain.”

According to the results of two recent opinion polls, public sentiment is shifting against captivity for public display, particularly for orcas, to reflect what we’ve learned about the dark side of the industry and the harmful effects removing them from their family groups and denying them the opportunity to engage in natural behaviors.

A poll commissioned by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) shows that fully half of Americans now oppose keeping orcas in captivity, while only 21 percent were in favor. According to AWI, there was a significant increase of 11 percentage points in the number of Americans opposed, as well as a 5 point drop in those expressing support since the last opinion poll was conducted in 2012.

“It is clear from the poll that the arguments supporting the maintenance of orcas in captivity have lost their luster and are increasingly failing to convince the American public of the value of this practice,” Courtney Vail, campaigns manager for WDC, said in a statement. “The poll clearly indicates the public’s ever-growing disaffection with captivity.”

Fortunately, opinions aren’t just changing in the U.S. A similar poll conducted in May on behalf of and the Born Free Foundation also showed that the majority of British tourists are crossing seeing whale and dolphin shows off of their vacation to do lists. A whopping 86 percent of people surveyed said “they would not wish to visit a marine park to see whales and dolphins as part of an overseas holiday.”

Seaworld continues to deny the Blackfish effect and the growing public opposition, but people are protesting, artists are refusing to perform there, its attendance and profits are dropping and major shareholders are getting out.

With lawmakers pushing on one side and the public pushing on the other, long-overdue change is in the air, or really the water, for the captivity industry. Members of Congress are now urging the USDA to take swift action to update humane standards of care for marine mammals to reflect the latest science by bringing the proposed rule back to the public for comment and quickly finalizing it.


It's not too late for STT's Coral World to step up and change their plans for the proposed Dolphinarium.
Create a Water Park not dependent on Marine Mammals exhibitions or even a rehabilitation center for captive Dolphins to be reintergrated back to the wild, without the endless captivity and being put on display for amusement and greed. It would be the wise, morally, ethically correct thing to do and based on present scientific studies.

The Humane Society International and the World Society for the Protection of Animals have stated that they believe that "the entire captive experience for marine mammals is so sterile and contrary to even the most basic elements of compassion and humanity that it should be rejected outright."

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/05/2014 09:39AM by Alana33.

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 07, 2014 10:15AM

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SeaWorld has issued yet another critique against the film, Blackfish. This critique is more detailed, yet equally specious and misleading. So, once again, the Blackfish production team has crafted a rebuttal. What makes this effort unique is the timing. It comes on the heels of AB2140, the groundbreaking legislation that seeks to bring an end to "Orcas for Entertainment" in California. Although Blackfish served as a portal of entry for many controversial issues surrounding whales in captivity and trainer safety, the bill was introduced because MILLIONS have since chosen to seek their own answers. And they have largely come to the same conclusions as the film:
"Killer Whales are not suited to captivity and the trainers that work in close proximity to them aren't safe" (a conclusion reaffirmed by a recent U.S. Court of Appeals rejection of SeaWorld's appeal of OSHA'a citations).

Furthermore, Blackfish exercised considerable discipline in its storytelling, choosing not to cover many issues now surfacing about SeaWorld:

The administration of Benzodiazapine (valium) to killer whales said to be experiencing grief, stress or anxiety.
The circumstances surrounding the deaths of multiple whales
The circumstances involving the injuries of multiple trainers
The scant amount of revenues (roughly 0.06% of $1.5 BILLION a year) that SeaWorld puts toward conservation
SeaWorld's ongoing methods of obtaining marine mammals from the wild.
Although the attention paid to these issues seems to be growing daily by an increasingly informed public SeaWorld continues to deny despite the evidence that trainers assume an inappropriate amount of risk and that the welfare of its killer whales is compromised by captivity.

The issue is not whether SeaWorld has a world class facility as it insists at every turn.
The issue is whether the care and environment SeaWorld can provide its killer whales can meet their needs and whether trainers left to administer their care can do so safely.

Blackfish, by documenting the health issues, the whale on whale and whale on trainer aggressions, as well as the compromised lives and social experience of SeaWorld's killer whales makes it clear that SeaWorld CANNOT give its whales lives that are in any way adequate.

That is the core issue raised by Blackfish, and that is an issue that SeaWorld never directly addresses in its critiques of Blackfish or in its public relations campaign in response to Blackfish. That said we look forward to the day when they do.

Then we can stop these back and forth exercises and search for a solution together. We continue to invite SeaWorld to be partners in open discussion about a new business model. one that EVOLVES away from animals for entertainment toward more dignified and sustainable models.

See this link :[]

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 07, 2014 11:40AM

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Posts: 12,078

Interestingly enough, when the STJ Film Society recently held their presentation of "BLACKFISH", Lee Keller, the General Curator at Coral World sent a 32 pg. rebuttal of the film to be read prior to the showing of the film. Due to time constraints, just his preamble was read and the 32 pg. document presented by Keller/Coral World was made available by e-mail to those wishing to read it.

The way the preamble was crafted was misleading as it did not offer a link to the origination of the document nor attribute its actual authorship, leading some to think that is may have been crafted by Mr. Keller on behalf of Coral World. The Document that was to be presented is actually taken directly from SeaWorld propaganda for "damage control" to the backlash from the film. It seems that Coral World is attempting to do a little of it's own "damage control" for the small audience in attendance, viewing "BLACKFISH!
Wonder why they felt the need?

I sent Mr. Keller the above rebuttal ( BLACKFISH RESPONDS TO SEAWORLD'S LATEST CRITIQUE) that was written by the Blackfish team in response to SeaWorld's rebuttal that he presented. (This was after a couple back and forths between us, none of which were satisfactory nor actually answered the questions I asked him directly. I then asked if he would like to comment on the above but he has not. Nor do I believe he will, (to me, anyway). Plus, I was then e-mailed and asked by their marketing director to please remove her from my e-mail list. She had been copied our communications by Mr. Keller so I copied her my responses. Mr.Keller did not ever attribute the document sent to the STJ Film Society as being taken directly from SeaWorld as their ongoing rebuttal to the controversies raised by BLACKFISH.

The tide is turning!
People, worldwide, are becoming more and more aware of the dismal, sterile lives these magnificent marine animals must endure and suffer for the sake of entertainment, the almighty dollar, corporate profit and greed. Coral World would do well to consider its stance and the moral and ethical obligations it has. It should also consider the opinions of the tourists who are now saying they will NOT attend these types of attractions any longer.

St. Thomas can use a great Water Park. One that does not include displays of marine mammals.(That goes for those poor Sea Lions in their tiny, sterile tank, swimming around and around, day in and day out, when not made to swim with clients or put on display doing tricks for food.)

Coral World does not need to continue to perpetuate the keeping and breeding of Dolphins in captivity or any other marine mammals for "entertainment." They could actually do the right thing and actually make money on it with a Water Park that everyone, locals and tourists alike, could and would enjoy. I would support them 100% if that were to become a reality.

As HSI & WSPA says: "the entire captive experience for marine mammals is so sterile and contrary to even the most basic elements of compassion and humanity that it should be rejected outright."

Re: 'Blackfish' Backlash: Fan Pressure Leads Willie Nelson to Cancel SeaWorld Concert

June 07, 2014 01:51PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,078

Dolphins in Tanks? No, Thanks, Say Brits
By David Kirby
June 2, 2014

Poll finds a large majority of U.K. citizens have zero interest in visiting tourist attractions like SeaWorld.

The marine-mammal captivity industry may have to rethink its strategy of labeling opponents as “fringe,” “radical,” and “extreme” if a new poll of U.K. citizens is any indication: Nearly 90 percent of Brits asked said they would not want to visit a site that keeps whales and dolphins in tanks.

On Sunday, the wildlife charity Born Free Foundation and the ecotourism company Responsible Travel released the results from a survey of 2,050 people in the U.K. According to a news release announcing the poll, it showed that “watching dolphins and killer whales perform tricks in small tanks is no longer on the travel bucket list of the average British tourist.” The survey was conducted by Censuswide, a London-based polling and public relations company.

As part of the poll, respondents were asked their opinions on captivity before and after learning damning truths of whale and dolphin life in aquariums.

People in the U.K. are known for supporting animal welfare issues generally, and no cetaceans are kept on display in that country. So perhaps it’s not too surprising that 61 percent of respondents agreed that they “would not wish to visit a marine park to see whales and dolphins as part of an overseas holiday.”

That was before they read the statement, which included facts about wild cetaceans, such as that they “live in family groups called pods of up to 100 individuals,” live “considerably” longer than captive animals, can swim more than 100 miles a day, and dive “to depths greater than the height of Niagara Falls.”

In contrast, the statement continued, animals confined to tanks “are fed dead fish and commonly develop problems such as abnormal repetitive behavior and aggression. They are trained to perform tricks and stunts, often to loud music and a cheering crowd.”

After reading the statement, nearly half the original industry supporters changed their minds, with 87 percent of respondents saying they would not visit captive facilities.

Some might quibble with the validity of a poll that prompts people to answer a certain way, but it is hard to dismiss the depth of opposition to captivity that permeates British society, which surpasses anything found in the United States. A July 2012 poll revealed that just under half of U.S. respondents opposed killer whale captivity.

((NOTE: A poll commissioned by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) shows that fully half of Americans now oppose keeping orcas in captivity, while only 21 percent were in favor. According to AWI, there was a significant increase of 11 percentage points in the number of Americans opposed, as well as a 5 point drop in those expressing support since the last opinion poll was conducted in 2012) - see: []

Captivity opponents hope these new survey results will help change public opinion around the world and deflate the “radical extremist” label that industry leaders try to pin on anyone who disagrees with their business model. The times, critics say, are changing.

“Visionary governments, tourism companies, and even some of those involved in the captive industry itself must respond to this sea change in public attitudes and plan for the humane closure of such facilities,” Born Free president Will Travers said in an email. “Without doubt we are in the process of redefining our future relationship with these magnificent animals.”

On this side of the Atlantic, whale and dolphin activists were thrilled with the news.

Alex Dorer of the group Fins and Fluke expressed “sheer happiness and excitement” at the results. “It’s a sure sign of changing times when the public is given scientific facts about captive and wild dolphins/whales and are easily able to make an ethical decision not to visit a marine park,” she said.

Dorer, who is originally from England, said that books like Death at SeaWorld and the documentary Blackfish are likely “causing tourists to choose a better and more responsible option for their vacations. I’ve seen that many British tourists are simply opting for whale-watching cruises and tours instead of a dolphin show.”

Dr. Jeff Ventre, a former SeaWorld orca trainer and Blackfish cast member, said the poll heralded the beginning of “the collapse of support for marine mammals in captivity, analogous to the collapsing dorsal fins caused by orca incarceration.”

At least 14 countries have banned dolphin captivity.

“When SeaWorld is forced to evolve,” Ventre said, “it will accelerate the process on this issue globally.”


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