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

November 11, 2014 11:55AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,078

Shocking Video of SeaWorld Attack

August 3, 2012

See video here:

The release of a video showing Kasatka, a wild-caught orca enslaved at SeaWorld, exploding in extreme frustration at trainer Ken Peters in front of visitors to the theme park is sending shockwaves of outrage and dismay through the media and the public over the appalling pressures of captivity on orcas and other wild marine mammals—and the danger to those who come into contact with them.

As David Kirby describes in his book Death at SeaWorld, when Kasatka heard her calf’s distress calls for her from another tank, she dragged Peters underwater repeatedly, shaking him about before the stunned audience. Eventually gaining his freedom, Peters required surgery for his injuries. But SeaWorld ignored the risks, permitting the perilous situations to continue.

This video footage was previously shown during the Secretary of Labor v. SeaWorld of Florida LLC trial, which resulted from the horrific death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau during a disturbingly similar episode involving another captive orca, Tilikum. Judge Ken Welsch, who called the video “chilling,” held SeaWorld liable for permitting hazardous interactions between humans and the huge, dangerously stressed animals.

What You Can Do

Please join PETA in asking The Blackstone Group—the company that owns SeaWorld—to release its animal captives into sanctuaries. And if you know people who are planning a trip to SeaWorld, encourage them to visit PETA’s new website,, to learn what kinds of cruelty their dollars would support.

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

November 13, 2014 07:54AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,078

Update on the case for non-human personhood and the rights of whales and dolphins.

Dear signatories to the Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans: whales and dolphins.

No doubt you will have seen the growing media interest in the rights of non-humans, and here we provide you with an update on some developments in the field of whale and dolphin rights over the last year.

For example, in a bold move SEA LIFE, a major aquarium chain, have announced a very progressive position on whale and dolphin captivity:

SEA LIFE believes that the highly evolved sensory abilities and complex social structures of whales and dolphins makes them unsuited to captivity and that they should never be taken from the wild for the purpose of captive display or entertainment.’

Thank you for your support. Please don’t forget to forward the Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans: Whales and Dolphins to your colleagues and friends for them to sign and add their voice to this growing movement.

Philosopher, Professor Thomas I White, has been an advocate for recognising the rights of whales and dolphins for over two decades and is one of the founding signatories to the Declaration for the Rights of cetaceans: whales and dolphins.

In a new essay ‘Whales, Dolphins and Ethics: A Primer’, White lays down the gauntlet to marine mammal scientists, asking them not just to languish in data collection and analysis, but to also reflect on the ethical significance of some of these new scientific insights. He notes: ‘The fundamental challenge for marine mammal scientists who want to explore the ethical implications of what marine mammal science has discovered about whales and dolphins is to move from the description of facts about whales and dolphins to the evaluation of what those facts say about human behavior towards these cetaceans’.

White argues further that beyond the basic right to life, whales and dolphins deserve the right to flourish in their natural environments. In a presentation he gave in July this year, he outlines the conditions required to enable these species to flourish.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/13/2014 07:59AM by Alana33.

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

November 13, 2014 08:35AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,078


Professor Thomas I White argues that dolphins are non-human persons. Like humans, then, they have moral rights appropriate to their nature. White argues that the scientific data of the last thirty years makes it quite clear that the slaughter and captivity of dolphins are ethically indefensible. He argues further that anyone who doesn't recognize this is either unfamiliar with the full body of relevant scientific literature or doesn't understand the ethical significance of the data.


Professor Thomas I. White, Ph.D., Conrad N. Hilton Professor in Ethics, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA

Fellow, Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics

Author, In Defense of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007). Whale, Dolphins, Ethics: A Primer (2014).

Recent discussions about the philosophical implications (especially the ethical implications) of the scientific research on whales and dolphins have shown that a variety of claims can be easily misunderstood: 1) that whales and dolphins are “nonhuman persons”; 2) that they are entitled to “rights”; 3) that these rights are violated by such human activities as whaling, drive hunts and captivity; and, therefore, 4) that these activities are ethically indefensible. This short essay attempts to clarify these claims and to point to the scientific research that underlies them.



The concept of a “person” as opposed to a “human” is a standard part of metaphysics, the part of philosophy that the most fundamental features of existence. “Personhood” has a long history in philosophy and is closely connected to the discussion of “personal identity.” (For a couple of good, basic articles, see the entries to “personal identity” and “persons” in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy.)


The simplest answer is that a person is a who, not a what. The more technical answer is that a “person” is any being, no matter what their species, who has the traits that imply a sophisticated level of intellectual and emotional sophistication. The set of criteria used in my In Defense of Dolphins sets the bar quite high: being alive; aware; the ability to experience positive and negative sensations (pleasure and pain); emotions; self-consciousness and a personality; self-controlled behavior; recognizes and treats other persons appropriately; and a series of higher order intellectual abilities (abstract thought, learning, solves complex problems and communicates in a way that suggests thought). Other sets of criteria for personhood have less to them.

The distinction between “human” and “person” leads immediately to two questions: Are all humans persons? And, are there any persons who are not human?

The first question has come up repeatedly in medical ethics. For example, is someone “brain dead” a person? Or, is a fetus a person? If we were to say that the answer to one or both of these questions is “no,” what does this say about the ethical character of an action to end the life of a “human non-person”?

The second question is discussed in animal ethics. Scientific research has continued to uncover impressive intellectual and emotional abilities in such nonhumans as chimps, gorillas, elephants, whales and dolphins. If these abilities are sophisticated enough to suggest that these mammals are “persons,” what does that say about the ethical character of human treatment of these animals: use in medical experimentation, willful killing, captive breeding, confinement in captivity for the sake of research, human therapy, entertainment, generating profit and the like?


One of the most important reasons is to limit the amount of species-bias that can color discussions of the treatment of nonhumans. Ideally, ‘person’ is a species-neutral term.


From an ethical perspective, personhood matters because persons have what philosophers refer to as “moral standing.” If you’re a person, then you’re entitled to be treated in certain ways. To have “moral standing” means that in any calculation about what the right thing to do is in a situation, you count. Your pain, happiness, rights and interests matter. Also, you count as an individual.

This is one of the most important implications of the fact that nonhumans like dolphins are persons. They count as individuals—the same way that you and I count as individuals. Conservationists, however, talk about dolphin “stocks” and “populations.” One of the most disappointing things about the letters that the Society for Marine Mammalogy have sent to the Japanese government opposing the drive hunts is that they referred only to “stocks” and fail to take up the issue of the welfare of individual dolphins. The underlying assumption is that the drive hunts kill too many dolphins for the population to sustain itself. Unfortunately, this implies that if the hunts kill fewer dolphins, it would be OK. This would be like saying that—if we take a small human community as an example—as long as the number of people we kill doesn’t have a significant, negative impact on reproduction rates in the village, then the deaths are acceptable.


No. To say, “If A is a person, then A has moral standing” does not imply that “If A is not a person, then A does not have moral standing.” That’s the logical fallacy of denying the antecedent.

Unfortunately, a common objection to the “personhood” argument is that it encourages people to think that other animals deserve proper treatment only if they’re “just like us.” As Diana Reiss has commented, “Since dolphins are, like humans, intelligent, self-aware beings with personalities, emotions, and the capability to govern their own behavior, [Thomas White] proposed they be viewed as ‘nonhuman persons’ . . .. I worry about this argument, however—does it mean that other species may be mistreated?” [248-9]

My answer is that if people are looking for an excuse to mistreat nonhumans, they’ll find one. And they may use the “personhood” argument as a rationalization. But that just means that animal rights advocates need a different argument for nonhumans. It’s important to recognize, however, that the personhood argument is the strongest case to use with average people if we’re talking about how we should treat cetaceans better. In my experience, the “personhood” argument explains even to someone with anthropocentric biases why it’s wrong to kill dolphins or keep them captive.

Also, it’s appropriate to use the distinction between “persons” and “nonpersons” because they have different capacities for pain and harm. For example, if I mock and berate a friend in public for the purpose of cruelly humiliating him for my own pleasure, I’m sure he’ll experience pain. If I say exactly the same thing to a squirrel I may come across, I doubt that my words will have any impact on him. He doesn’t have this particular vulnerability to being hurt in this way.


Corporations are “legal persons” not, shall we say, “moral persons,” which I’ll discuss shortly. I appreciate that there is a legal tradition that thinks this makes sense, but I’m not one of them. Legally, a legislature could make my toaster a ‘person.’


Personhood implies moral standing. The way that I describe the next step is to say that this is a recognition that the complexities that go with being a person mean that the conditions that we need in order to grow, flourish or experience life in even a rudimentarily satisfying way are more complicated than the conditions nonpersons need; it also means that these complexities make us vulnerable to harm in a way that nonpersons aren’t.

But notice that I’m talking about “needs” not “rights.” That’s deliberate because I maintain that rights are derivative from basic needs.


First of all, we aren’t talking about “legal rights” at all. So set aside any thought about how we enforce any of this or enshrine it in laws or treaties until we can get everyone discussing this through at least one conversation at the simplest level and stay on track.

We’re talking about “moral rights,” and they’re grounded in the idea that the fact that someone’s a person means that the only way they’ll grow, develop fully, flourish and experience even a basic sense of satisfaction with life is if they experience certain conditions. This approach says that a person has a right to something because he or she absolutely, positively needs it in order to fully grow, develop, etc.


That depends on the species, which is why this is all “species-specific.”

For humans, look at any of the various statements of “basic human needs” or “basic human rights.” What we get is something like these: Life; Physical health and safety; Emotional health and safety; Freedom of choice (actions, beliefs); Education (way to get necessary skills); Fairness, care, equality, respect for our dignity as persons; Access to meaningful emotional relationships; Rest.

The most logically fundamental piece of this, then, is the idea of “basic human needs.” This then lets us say that there are such things as “basic human rights,” or, if you like, “inalienable rights.” We have a right to them because we need them. If we don’t get them, we’re in some way harmed.

The logic would be the same with cetaceans—except we know so much less than we need to about what their “basic needs” are. But we do know that they need: life; a rich and complex social life; the liberty to operate in a way that individuals and communities are able to operate successfully enough in an environment to survive in both the short and long term.

The Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans, then, is a statement meant to describe what we have to do in order to allow cetaceans to get these needs met.

That’s why it’s a Declaration of Cetacean Rights, not human rights.


Yes and no. On the one hand, if it were possible, it would seem as though no cetacean is being harmed. However, what we’ve learned about the social lives of wild dolphins makes it clear that we can’t replicate those conditions in captivity. Your facility would have to be at least as big as, say, the Sarasota Bay.

However, one of the most important needs that persons seem to have is to be treated with dignity, with respect for their autonomy and ability to determine their own fates. This is the idea that persons have inherent worth, that they’re somehow special in and of themselves, and that it’s intrinsically wrong to treat them as objects. Hence, the Declaration’s statement that cetaceans have a right not to be treated as property.

Even among humans, we’d say that it’s simply fundamentally wrong to own another person or to treat them as though were simply an object. Even if we treated slaves well, we still say that it’s wrong.


No. I’ve been doing presentations on this to all sorts of audiences for more than 20 years. When most people hear the evidence (which, minimally, takes about an hour to lay out even the most basic case), they understand that it makes sense. They recognize that putting this into practice is going to be complicated. But when they understand the concept of “person,” when they hear the evidence and when they hear what the philosophical and ethical implications of the evidence are, they’re basically OK with this.

They recognize that there will inevitably be conflicts between human rights and cetacean rights that we’ll have to resolve—just like we have to resolve conflicts between the rights of one human and the rights of another human now. But not all of this is impossibly complicated. For now, I’d settle with everyone recognizing that the deliberate killing of cetaceans is wrong, that captive breeding is wrong, and that we have to figure out what to do with the cetaceans who are in captivity. (Can they go to preserves? Can some be released? What’s appropriate?)


Yes. Personhood is neither the only nor, probably, the best philosophical argument for treating cetaceans in an ethically acceptable fashion. It still has problems with species bias. But it’s the best one to use with the general public, and it’s probably the only approach the courts will eventually listen to.

Personhood has major weaknesses, however, because of how anthropocentric the criteria are. This is especially evident in the way “intelligence” gets defined and studied, and in the human fixation on “language.” (It’s beyond the current scope of this piece to go into this, but I’m beginning to think that the best evidence for “cetacean intelligence” lies in “cetacean culture.”) I’m currently developing an approach that tries to address the weaknesses of personhood by making central the species-specific conditions related to “flourishing.”

I’m adapting a new approach to animal ethics pioneered by philosopher Martha Nussbaum (a philosopher at the University of Chicago). She calls it the “capabilities approach.”

The central idea I’m advancing is that we need to begin with what cetaceans need in order to flourish—that is, what they need in order to develop the physical, emotional, social and intellectual capabilities inherent in their species which allow them to have a successful and satisfying life. I’ll explain this perspective in my next book. As a way of illuminating the biological foundation of the claim that cetaceans have moral rights, I’ll describe what marine scientists have discovered about the conditions cetaceans require in order to grow and develop fully. I’ll argue for a broader understanding of what constitutes harm for cetaceans than has traditionally been used in discussions about how marine mammals should be treated. For example, it is obvious that we can harm humans by subjecting them to a life which, while physically safe, is barren in many other ways and prevents the development of certain capabilities (e.g., literacy). I’ll argue that it is similarly harmful to limit captive cetaceans to a life which, while physically safe, deprives them, for example, of the opportunity to learn the social skills needed to manage the many and varied relationships which are central to the lives of wild dolphins and orcas and which are critical to their well-being.


I’d like to be able to put this more diplomatically, but, in my opinion, at least, what strikes me as “mainstream thinking” in the marine mammal science community is obsolete and philosophically uninformed. (To be fair, most of the discussion by philosophers is scientifically uninformed. This is one of the challenges of multi-disciplinary work. And I never make a presentation to philosophers without stressing the importance of concentrating on a specific species [not “animals”], having a thorough familiarity with the scientific literature and having some serious exposure to field-work.) The evidence for the personhood of dolphins—and what the ethical implications of that are—are so clear that this is not really a controversial issue any more. Anyone challenging it (or saying they ‘aren’t sure’) either hasn’t studied the scientific evidence closely enough, or, if they have, they don’t understand the philosophical and ethical implications of the data. This is no more debatable than the fact that global warming is taking place. People can spin things to make it sound as though it’s debatable. But if you really know the facts and understand what they mean, there’s nothing to debate.

The best recent example of this is the 2012 letter that the leadership of the Society for Marine Mammalogy sent to the Japanese government objecting to the ongoing killing of dolphins in the annual drive hunts there. Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that dolphins, like humans, experience life as self-aware individuals, the letter employs an obsolete perspective that discusses only the sustainability of “stocks” or “populations” of dolphins. The letter fails to offer the strongest ethical argument—that the killing of any individual dolphin is indefensible. In my opinion, the traditional, “conservation” outlook in which these senior scientists were trained makes it difficult for them to appreciate fully the ethical significance of the empirical research in their field.

Another common example is the idea that captivity is defensible because the benefits to a large number of wild dolphins outweigh the costs to the far smaller number of captive dolphins. This is the classic weakness of “utilitarianism.” In my opinion, the only way you can make this argument work is to advance the claim that a minority is less important than the majority, and a smaller number of people can be used, in effect, as tools to advance the welfare of the majority.


The other problem is that I think that much of what is presented in captive facilities is “mis-education.” What’s described about dolphins is carefully edited to omit, for example, the research that suggests that dolphins are individual, nonhuman persons whose welfare depends on social conditions that couldn’t possibly be replicated in captivity.

In my opinion, when it comes to education, anything less than “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” is unacceptable.
Take a look at the websites of the major captive facilities. They’ll give lots of detailed information about many aspects of dolphins—except intelligence, self-awareness, individuality, etc. It can reasonably be argued, then, that captivity doesn’t “educate,” but “perpetuates a stereotype”—Lassie of the sea.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/13/2014 08:38AM by Alana33.

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

November 13, 2014 08:54AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 12,078

There are all sorts of odd and unexpected pairings in the animal kingdom: cats and birds, hippos and turtles, chimps and pumas. Every day in the small Irish town of Tory Island, Ben the yellow lab runs down to the harbor and jumps into the water.

He doesn’t have to wait long for his dolphin friend, Duggie, to show up, and the two then go for a swim. Locals say the pair will swim for anywhere up to three hours (depending on Ben’s schedule), and Duggie will make sure Ben gets back to shore if he’s tired. Though the two have very different lives, they are inseparable when it comes to play time.

See video:


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

November 20, 2014 10:00AM

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Could This Beautiful Attraction End Marine Animal Captivity for Good?

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Blackfish already made waves in the cetacean captivity debate, but one of the former trainers featured in the documentary has done more for the cause. We met Christopher Porter, the former Sealand trainer, early on in the film; when Tilikum the Killer Whale was being transferred to SeaWorld, Porter was happy for the orca because, as he describes in the film, “it was like, ‘OK, Tilly, you’re going to Disneyland. Lucky you.” But Porter couldn’t delude himself much longer about Tilikum’s situation or the situation of marine animals in captivity, so he’s doing something to change that — and it’s called OceanWall.

OceanWall Makes its Debut

As reported in Times Colonist, Christopher Porter’s OceanWall made its grand debut on November 8 at the Hillside Centre. The huge attraction – complete with nine screens, each 3.7-meters high and 2.1-meters wide — resides in the middle of the shopping center’s food court and plays videos of the ocean and its surrounding wildlife.

As Porter told the Times Colonist, the goal of his project is to “get the general public to focus on the wild and the state of the wild as it is.” Instead of getting up close and personal to marine wildlife at a sea circus or aquarium, Porter brings the wildlife to us with the hope that we’ll still come to appreciate and protect the animals without ever drawing a picture with them, swimming with dolphins or making them perform tricks. While there will be no narration, his images are important because they capture wildlife in their normal activities; for example, the endangered polar bear hunting for salmon, instead of the abnormal stereotypic behaviors that we’ve come to accept as normal. In this way, the animals will tell their own stories.

There’s also a nuance of citizen science in Porter’s project. Everyday people can submit their own encounters with wildlife to WildVision Edutainment, of which Porter is one investor. The screens will be updated with new content regularly, and Porter hopes to bring in marine wildlife experts to “edutain” the shopping center’s visitors. While OceanWall is still getting used to its sea legs, Porter envisions it going to spas, hotel lobbies, schools and gymnasiums. I’d definitely take OceanWall over an aquarium any day.

What About the Cetaceans in Captivity Now?

While Porter’s project could address one half of the problem of cetacean captivity by preventing the need for it, it doesn’t answer the other whale of a problem: what are we going to do with the cetaceans currently stuck in captivity? While we’d love to see all of the tanks empty and every killer whale and dolphin back with their pods, realistically that’s just not going to be possible in every case. But the good news is that there is an option that gets the cetaceans back in the ocean: sea pens.

As marine mammal scientist for the Animal Welfare Institute, Naomi A. Rose, Ph.D., wrote in CNN, sea pens are netted-off bays or coves in the ocean that act as sanctuaries for the retired animals. There’d be no people gawking at them and no foreign sounds or lights. They’d live in pods, but incompatible members wouldn’t be forced to stay together like Tilikum had to and was repeatedly bullied because of it.

The only human contact would be in the form of veterinary care because captive whales are generally more unhealthy and live shorter lives compared to their wild counterparts. Captivity does kill with the host of obesity-and stereotypic-related illnesses, including bad teeth from chewing on the gates. And the most important difference between a sea pen and a sea circus: there would be absolutely no breeding. This way, the cetaceans that have had their freedom stolen from them get a piece of it back, and no future generations have to go through it again.

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

November 21, 2014 09:05PM

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Hyundai Motor America is the latest company to sever its ties with SeaWorld.

Hyundai was a sponsor of the theme park’s 50th anniversary celebration and its 2013 Epic Voyage promotional campaign, but the company’s president told PETA that the carmaker has ended its association with SeaWorld.

How many partners must jump ship before SeaWorld admits that its business model is failing? Virgin America, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines,, STA Travel, Vacation Resorts International, Taco Bell, and many more have severed ties with the park.

And SeaWorld’s stock has taken another nose dive—the abusement park announced that its third-quarter earnings were down 28 percent ($120.7 million) from this time last year, in addition to a decline in attendance, profit, and revenue.

What You Can Do

Keep the pressure on AAA to join the growing list of companies that have dumped SeaWorld.

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

November 21, 2014 09:12PM

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How Many Dolphins Have Died at SeaWorld in the Last 10 Years?
October 22, 2014

The next time you hear someone try to wax poetic about SeaWorld’s “conservation efforts,” hit him or her with this fact: 62 bottlenose dolphins have died at SeaWorld parks in the last 10 years alone. The oldest dolphin lived to be 37 years old, but most were far younger when they died. In nature, dolphins can live to be more than 50 years old, but in captivity, their average life span drops to 4 years of age. Sixteen of the 62 dolphin deaths at SeaWorld were stillborn babies.

And the dolphins aren’t the only ones in danger. More than half of marine mammal workers have been injured by the frustrated captive animals they interact with—and more than one-third of those injuries were considered severe.

The dolphin “smile” is one of nature’s greatest illusions. Marine mammals suffer every minute of their circumscribed lives in captivity, and their time on Earth is cut drastically short. It’s time to shut down marine-mammal parks and aquariums for good.

Read more: []

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

November 22, 2014 03:30PM

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‘Swim-With-Dolphins’ Programs'

In tourist-driven “swim-with” programs, dolphins are denied everything that is important to them. People are captivated by these fascinating marine mammals, but dolphins used in swim-with programs continue to live in misery long after travelers return home with their pictures and memories. Most captive dolphins die prematurely and live to only half the age of their wild brothers and sisters.

Dolphins have distinct personalities, can recognize themselves in mirrors, and can think about the future. Scientists at Emory University performed brain scans on dolphin species and found that the cerebral cortex and the neocortex of bottlenose dolphins were so large that dolphins’ cognitive capacity is second only to humans. Thomas White, professor of ethics at Loyola Marymount University says, “The scientific research suggests that dolphins are ‘non-human persons’ who qualify for moral understanding as individuals.”

In the wild, dolphins swim together in family pods up to 100 miles a day. They navigate by bouncing sonar waves off objects to determine location and distance. In captivity, their ocean worlds are reduced to claustrophobic swimming pools.

Laws: Few and Far Between

Although captive dolphins in the United States are afforded bare minimal protections, programs outside the U.S. are often governed by few, if any, laws. Throughout the Caribbean, dolphins are kept in small pools or polluted sea pens. Debris and trash left in or near these pools, such as plastic bags, sunglasses, or the paper used to wrap the “fish food,” can be ingested by the animals, causing acute gastrointestinal problems and sometimes even death. Driven by greed, many facilities operate almost continuously, giving the animals little respite from a constant stream of tourists.

Cruise Line Culpability

Cruise liners are a significant source of customers for swim-with-dolphins programs because most cruise lines promote these offshore excursions. Revenue generated from these side trips is considerable.

In 2005, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises ended its “dolphin encounter” excursions on its Caribbean itinerary citing concern for the dolphins’ well-being.

What You Can Do

Review PETA’s factsheet to learn more about the marine mammal industry.

The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association strongly defends this cruel moneymaker. Please let the organization know that you disagree.

Contact Information
Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association
11200 Pines Blvd. Suite 201
Pembroke Pines, Florida 33026
Phone: (954) 441-8881
Fax: (954) 441-3171
General Information:

Michele M. Paige - President
Adam Ceserano - Sr. Vice President
Terri Cannici - Vice President, Operations
Omari Breakenridge - Director, Communications & Design
Carlos Santamarina - Director, Membership Events & Programs
Justin Paige - Manager, Marketing, Research & Communications
Jessica Lalama - Executive Assistant
Raquel Nales - ?Administrative Assistant

Never patronize one of these programs, and ask every cruiser you know not to buy a swim-with excursion.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/22/2014 03:51PM by Alana33.

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

November 22, 2014 04:05PM

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Sign the Pledge

Nature's cruelest deception is the dolphin's smile especially when it serves as a false justification for continued captivity. Around the world dolphins and orcas are kept in small tanks to perform circus tricks for our entertainment. Industry leaders defend the educational merit of holding marine mammals in captivity, but what values are conveyed by dolphins jumping through hoops, particularly when the health and safety of those animals and their trainers are at risk.

Are Marine Parks Safe?

In recorded history not one orca has killed a human in the wild but since 1991 four people have died at the hands of orcas in captivity, and there are dozens of others that have nearly died over the last forty years. More than half of marine mammal workers and trainers have been injured by the animals they work with on a daily basis. More than one-third of the injuries are classified as severe – deep wounds, fractures, or requiring stitches. Of the 200 orcas now in captivity, two dozen (10%) have injured or killed people.1

To View Timeline see:

Dolphin and orca life expectancies are cut drastically in captivity. Dolphins will live for upwards of 40 and 50 years in the wild, but in parks their survival rates are staggeringly low. At SeaWorld San Antonio, the average lifespan of a captive-bred dolphin is four years2 and at SeaWorld San Diego, 24 dolphins perished from pneumonia in 25 years.3 Less than twenty orcas are known to have survived more than 20 years in captivity, while maximum life expectancy in the wild is 60 to 90 years.4 Nonetheless the captive industry continues to downplay higher mortality rates and claim that marine mammals are safer and healthier in their care.

What is US Policy?

Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (1994) any entity offering “an education or conservation program based on professionally recognized standards of the public display community,” can legally import, breed, and take from the wild, marine mammals and use them with little to no further oversight. And because any person holding marine mammals for the purpose of public display is also a member of the public display community, they can legally set said, 'standards' – a classic case of the fox guarding the hen house. After the recent killings of two trainers within two months by SeaWorld orcas, a Congressional Subcommittee convened in April 2010 to bring into question the educational merit of marine mammals in captivity and the conflict of interest that exists when commercial entities (in this case, the captive dolphin industry) self-regulates.

Members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums as well as the international Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (the body currently advising Congress), U.S. industry leaders, were complicit in the Taiji dolphin capture until the law’s passage in 1994. It is hardly a bold assertion to make that it is not appropriate for members of the captive dolphin industry to now be regulating the legal provision, which allows them to capture and hold marine mammals in the first place. OPS contends that this track record constitutes an ethical conflict of interest.

1, 4 Naomi A. Rose, E.C.M Parsons, and Richard Farinato, Humane Society of the United States, World Society for the Protection of Animals. The Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity, Fourth Edition. May 2009.
2 Jeffrey Wright. So wrong, but thanks for all the fish, A SeaWorld ethics primer, San Antonio Current. April 14, 2010.
3 Sun Database: U.S. Marine Mammal Inventory.

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

November 25, 2014 08:19PM

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

November 26, 2014 05:38PM

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

November 27, 2014 09:17AM

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Another Rare Albino Dolphin Captured in Japan’s Cruel Dolphin Drives

Alicia Graef
Nov 26, 2014

It’s been almost a year since the plight of a rare albino bottlenose dolphin calf named Angel made headlines after she was torn from her mother’s side and taken for captivity during one of the dolphin drives that takes place every year in the small coastal town of Taiji, Japan – made famous by the documentary The Cove.

Sadly for her and hundreds of others like her, these brutal drives continue, and this year has netted hunters another rare find: a second extremely rare albino.

albino-rissos-dolphin Awaiting their fate netted in the cove, the pod and albino Risso’s dolphin huddle close together. Credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Despite growing global outrage that continues to spread, hunters continue to roundup entire families of dolphins, porpoises and small whales and drive them into the infamous cove where many are either killed or taken for captivity.

These drives start every September and run through the spring, with the quota set for the 2014-15 season allowing for 1,938 animals from seven species to be taken in the drive hunts in Taiji alone. This year’s death toll has been lower, but lower numbers have raised concerned that it’s because species are being depleted.

According to Sea Shepherd, this new albino is a Risso’s dolphin and part of the fifteenth pod of Risso’s dolphins captured in the cove this season, bringing the total number of Risso’s dolphins mercilessly killed this year to approximately 170.

Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians reported that hunters drove the entire family of about 16 dolphins into the cove and trapped them with nets before moving them under tarps where 11 members of the family were slaughtered.

Two dolphins were taken into captivity, including the albino, while three other calves were taken back out to sea and dumped to fend for themselves. Their advocates fear that the trauma of the drive and being left without their families leaves them little chance for survival.

Those protesting these drives are also afraid the latest albino will end up in living in misery on display like others who have been taken before and Angel, who is being kept in questionable conditions at the Taiji Whale Museum.

“It is horribly sad to see another albino dolphin taken by the killers here in Taiji. These rare, beautiful, and unique animals will spend the rest of their days confined to small tanks, where they will live out their shortened lives performing tricks for food,” said Karen Hagen, the Cove Guardian’s Leader on the Ground.

Still, whether it’s a rare white find, or one who blends in with the others, the heartbreaking plight of each individual who has to endure the terror of a roundup, separation from their family members, death or a life sentence in a tank, is the same and each deserves advocacy on their behalf.

Unfortunately, our demand for captive dolphins at marine parks and other tourist destinations around the world hasn’t declined enough to stop the dolphin drives or other captures yet. The fact that they continue highlights the importance of avoiding places that keep dolphins and whales in captivity as many continue to argue that the profits brought in from selling live dolphins who are taken during these drives is the only thing that keeps them going.

Cynthia Hernandez, Cove Monitor for the Dolphin Project who witnessed the albino’s capture and latest bloodbath, writes:

Please, don’t buy a ticket to any facility that holds captive dolphins. And, do your part to spread the word to others. The word IS getting out – the “Blackfish Effect” is real – so let’s keep the momentum going and shut down the global trade of captive dolphins. Maybe then, the dolphins that pass through the waters of Taiji will have the peace and safety that they deserve.

With more victories for cetaceans piling up — including cities recognizing their right to live free, and a recent resolution from the UN encouraging nations to end live captures of whales and dolphins for commercial use or public display and encouraging an end to international transport of live cetaceans — it looks like the tide is continuing to turn in favor of respecting these incredible species and their place in the ocean.

For more information on ways to help protect whales and dolphins visit the Dolphin Project, Sea Shepherd’s campaign Operation Infinite Patience and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

Please view these links:

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 11/27/2014 09:46AM by Alana33.

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

November 28, 2014 11:01AM

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Speak out against the horrendous continuation of dolphin slaughters!


Don't let this happen anymore!


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/28/2014 11:03AM by Alana33.

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

November 28, 2014 12:30PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 286

Speak out against the horrendous continuation of dolphin slaughters!


Don't let this happen anymore!


If only mankind knew the truth,.........
Edit: link doesn't seem to work. Google youtube "so long and thanks for all the fish"

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/28/2014 12:45PM by Pdmargie.

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

November 28, 2014 01:42PM

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

November 29, 2014 11:06AM

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Jean-Michael Cousteau


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

November 29, 2014 05:03PM

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A Dolphin Truth

Meanwhile, we are still awaiting the Army Corps of Engineering desicion on Coral World's permit application for their dolphinarium here in St. Thomas.

As you all know from this thread, I am in complete opposition to this and to the continued culling, killing, CAPTIVITY, breeding, and exploitation of marine mammals, especially Dolphins and Orcas.

I want to thank everyone that has PM'd me thanking me for the information I have posted. It keeps me going and the more I am educated, the more appalled I become.

I hope that thru these posts we gain insights and "real education" about the dismal lives these magnificent, self aware and sentient creatures must endure in captivity and do our best to see that is a thing of the past and not a continuation into the future.

"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 11/29/2014 05:09PM by Alana33.

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

December 02, 2014 09:52AM

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Former Orca Hunter Faces Temptation to Capture Killer Whales for Big Money

December 01, 2014 By David Kirby

Jeff Foster once hunted orcas for SeaWorld; now he works to free the marine mammals.ast week on CNN’s AC360 With Anderson Cooper, viewers witnessed never-before-seen footage of killer whales captured in the 1980s off the coast of Iceland. The images were disturbing and heartbreaking. The marine biologist who took them, Jeff Foster, once captured orcas for SeaWorld and other marine parks; today he works to free them, turning down multimillion-dollar offers to resume the hunt.

In some videos, Foster speaks in the background as boats corral orca families into a net and remove the youngest ones—wailing in panic—from the water in a sling. Other videos show juvenile whales in concrete pools, apparently crying out for their mothers.

Over the past decades, Foster has undergone a gradual transformation from hunter of orcas to prominent opponent of keeping them in tanks.

Foster, 59, grew up in the Seattle area, the son of a prominent zoo and aquarium veterinarian. “My father was noted for being the first veterinarian to push for naturalistic exhibits for multiple species, so I kind of grew up with that kind of animal background,” he said in a phone interview. “My interest has always been in the water. I started diving at a very young age and collected octopus and fish for the Seattle Marine Aquarium.”

At 15, Foster was offered a job by the aquarium, where he quickly moved up through the ranks. Before long, in the 1970s, he was taking part in the infamous roundups of Southern Resident killer whales in Puget Sound. Between 1972 and 1976, Foster took part in “about a dozen” captures, he said.

Many of the animals taken during that period were sold to marine parks; only two—Corky at SeaWorld San Diego and Lolita at Miami Seaquarium—are alive today.

In 1976, the state of Washington sued SeaWorld for violating its permit to take orcas from local waters. That didn’t stop the company—Foster and other orca hunters simply moved their operations to Iceland, where Foster shot his videos.

The newly caught animals were given Icelandic names, most of which were changed after they were purchased by aquariums, so he is unsure if any orcas now in captivity were taken by his operations.

But one whale he caught, Gudrun, captured in 1976, retained her name after going into captivity.

Gudrun died a miserable death at SeaWorld Orlando in 1996 during a stillbirth. The unborn calf was winched from her body with a cable. Gudrun began hemorrhaging, her dorsal fin collapsed, and she died four days later.

By 1990, Foster had had enough of whale hunting. The cries of young orcas being separated from their mothers and the thought of large predators confined for life to small pools was too much to bear.

“There was no aha moment,” he said. “But I came to realize that when you take an animal that’s highly intelligent and social, like a killer whale, it’s difficult to meet their needs in a captive situation, and it just took a long time to finally recognize that.”

Foster began his transformation from a hunter of whales to a champion for their release. He worked on the Free Keiko project, an eight-year, multimillion-dollar effort to rehabilitate and return the orca, the star of the hit movie Free Willy, to the ocean. After 18 months of living at sea, Keiko died in Norway in 2003 of unknown causes. The project remains controversial to this day.

Foster later began work in animal conservation. Today he is a contractor for private and governmental research outfits, helping to tag animals for scientific study, among other activities.

He has worked to free other captive marine mammals, including two dolphins at a Turkish aquarium who were successfully released into the Aegean Sea two years ago.

Foster also worked on the international effort to free Morgan, a female orca who was found alone and disoriented off the coast of the Netherlands in 2010. Morgan was sent to the SeaWorld-affiliated Loro Parque, in the Canary Islands, where she remains.

Foster testified in two court hearings in Europe to win Morgan’s release. Judges in both cases said she was best off at Loro Parque.

Morgan’s saga inspired Foster to offer his videos—which he had never viewed—to CNN.

“I wanted to raise awareness for Morgan,” he explained. “She has a really poor quality of life. She’s in the most dysfunctional group of killer whales that have ever been around, and she doesn’t speak the language, doesn’t fit in. She’s not going to live long, the way things are going.”

Despite Foster’s anti-captivity credentials, the industry still beckons. He recently received a $7 million offer by a Chinese company to capture orcas in the Sea of Okhotsk. After much soul searching, he rejected the job, leaving it to others to catch Russian whales, two of whom are now being prepared for display in Moscow.

“It took a couple of months to make a final decision,” he said. “When somebody offers you a huge chunk of money that you know you could be set for life, you have to think about it. But I looked at myself in the mirror one day and realized that I just couldn’t take these highly intelligent animals and turn them into circus clowns.”

See Footage and article on this link:

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

December 05, 2014 09:13PM

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SeaWorld Protesters Jump Barricade at Macy’s Parade
November 27, 2014

Inspired by 13-year-old Rose McCoy—the New Yorker who jumped the barrier at last year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to protest its SeaWorld float and who was arrested while protesting the SeaWorld float in California’s Rose Parade (which won’t feature the SeaWorld float again this year)—PETA supporters, including young Rose, scaled the barriers at today’s parade and displayed posters proclaiming, “SeaWorld Hurts Orcas.” The protesters were dragged away by police from the parade route.

“SeaWorld can try to change its ugly image by putting floats in parades, but everyone knows that orcas are suffering in its tiny concrete tanks,” says Rose. “I hope people who saw me or hear about my story will join us in refusing to go to SeaWorld as long as orcas and other marine mammals are imprisoned there.”

After the release of the documentary Blackfish—which reveals how orcas at SeaWorld are deprived of everything that’s natural and important to them, leading them to become frustrated and to exhibit deadly aggression—attendance at SeaWorld parks dropped, sponsors cut ties with the park, and the company was named one of the most hated in the U.S. in a Consumerist poll. At least 25 orcas have died in U.S. SeaWorld facilities since 1986—and not one died of old age. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—is calling on SeaWorld to fund the creation of coastal sanctuaries where the orcas can live in as natural a setting as possible.

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

December 05, 2014 10:01PM

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PETA Asks Officials to Investigate SeaWorld Veterinarian
November 18, 2014

Dr. Christopher M. Dold, the vice president of veterinary services at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, could be in hot water for making an apparently false and deceptive statement about the health of animals at SeaWorld. In a Florida Today guest column, Dodd wrote: “I can unequivocally state that our whales, along with every other animal in our parks, are thriving, both mentally and physically.”

This claim is ludicrous and is also an apparent violation of Florida’s veterinary medical practice regulations, which prohibit veterinarians from making false and misleading statements in relation to the advertising and practicing of veterinary medicine. PETA has filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and is asking officials to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary action against Dr. Dold.

As Dr. Heather Rally, a veterinarian who has experience working with marine mammals, pointed out when she visited SeaWorld San Diego, orcas, dolphins, walruses, and other animals are suffering—not thriving—at SeaWorld. Other expert observations and SeaWorld’s own records prove that being kept in a virtual bathtub at SeaWorld is physically and psychologically devastating to orcas and other animals, many of whom have persistent health problems and/or have been seen displaying abnormal, neurotic, and aggressive behavior.

Orca calves are torn away from their mothers in captivity, although in their natural ocean home, mothers and calves would stay together for many years and often for life. The orcas at SeaWorld parks are given psychotropic drugs to try to reduce the aggression caused by captivity so the frustrated animals can be confined together. Dolphins have been spotted at SeaWorld with open wounds on their lower jaws, likely caused by unsafe enclosures. Some dolphins have been forced to perform with potentially serious skin conditions that indicate depressed immune systems.

SeaWorld’s own records—and Dold himself—have documented some of these problems, proving that Dold’s assessment of the animals as “thriving” is patently false.

Few people would go to SeaWorld if they understood what was really going on at the abusement park. If you’re one of the many people who feel duped by SeaWorld’s misleading ads and statements, please e-mail us your story. Please note that the contact details and other information you provide may be shared with our international affiliates and other third parties. Read our full privacy policy here.

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

December 08, 2014 09:38AM

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6 Things SeaWorld Can Do Instead of Holding Sea Animals in Captivity[/b

By Catherine Gill
Dec 7, 20145:30pm

Anyone who hasn’t lived under a rock is fully knowledgeable of the Blackfish effect that the documentary has had on SeaWorld. Since the documentary told the story of an orca whale named Tilikum, who was stolen from his mother in their home of the wild when it was just a wee tot, consumers have become well aware of the cruelty that had been hidden by the ocean captivity conglomerate.

We also know that the sea animals in their care suffer greatly, as their health problems range from minor infections to major self-inflicted death.

Besides killing themselves because they are so miserable being crammed into a small tank when their instincts want the vast ocean, their confinement is driving them mad to the point where they attack humans. Killer whales are not known to attack humans in the wild. In fact, an attack on a human from an orca has never been reported besides the stories documented from sea parks. Many of these attacks have been near fatal and even deadly. Tilikum alone has killed three people.

Campaigns all over the world have been urging SeaWorld and other aquatic parks to #EmptyTheTanks, but if it did so, that would mean shutting down the company, and it is big business after all. We also understand that by closing down the SeaWorld franchise, people would lose their jobs. By liquidating the brand, yes the captive oceanic animals would benefit, but the humans wouldn’t, and that is why SeaWorld won’t release their slaves.

What if we had an idea that would be in everyone’s favor? What if there was a solution that would not only rescue the cooped up cetaceans, but also create more jobs, opportunity and profits for SeaWorld, while turning them into a true organization for animal lovers?

The orca prison can truly turn itself around by releasing the orcas and using its facilities for other things. Here are some ideas that SeaWorld can capitalize on:

1. SeaWorld can host and teach marine biology classes and other ocean-life themed programs. They can even turn the tanks into stadium-style seating to utilize the SeaWorld experience. There are many colleges and universities that are successful with such programs, and the programs prove to be profitable and in demand, as many students want to learn about the ocean and its inhabitants.

2. SeaWorld can use its facilities for rehabilitation and release only. They can use the tanks and equipment to only rescue hurt or orphaned animals and prepare them for life back in the sea. They can still charge people to watch their veterinarian care, rescue and releases, and they can even make big events out of setting the animals free and back into the ocean. Many animal lovers and activists would take part in this and feel good about the fact that their admission money is going towards helping the animals. Getting a brief up-close glimpse at the animals that are rehabbing would just be a bonus.

3. SeaWorld can host aquatic-themed birthday parties and screen sea-themed movies like Jaws or Titanic. I would rather sit in an empty tank that is turned into a movie-viewing experience than know that a huge whale is living a pathetic life in that tank rather than in the ocean. By hosting these events, SeaWorld can still make money, entertainment is happening but in a much kinder way, and the whales can be swimming freely in the sea, where they belong.

4. SeaWorld can use modern technology to hologram the animals in at the park. Think of all of the money that will be saved rather than used on food, care and services for the whales and other animals. It will be a true 3D experience and a way to view the animals in a magnificent and unique light. It worked well for Tupac Shakur at Coachella and for Michael Jackson at the Billboard Music Awards. In fact, people were even fooled by how real the holograms seemed. SeaWorld can still have animals do tricks, expect the entertainment will be performed by electronic remotes rather than abused animals.

5. SeaWorld can host charity events and concerts with partial proceeds benefitting wildlife conservation. Big names that once boycotted SeaWorld, like musicians such as Joan Jett or Bare Naked Ladies, might decide to work with them again by letting them use their music or by performing. If SeaWorld were to release the captive animals, I bet that celebrities would likely jump at the chance to be a part of this new and animal-loving organization.

6. SeaWorld can replace the animals with amusement park rides, a water park, laser tag and arcades. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid I would rather run around shooting lasers than watch sad, enslaved animals behind a thick piece of glass. Heck, most adults would rather do that! Point is, there are so many other forms of entertainment that can be sea-themed, and all of them do not include the captivity and enslavement of tormented animals that really do belong in the wild.

Basically, SeaWorld can offer big fun at their parks while keeping the animals out of them. This would also prevent injuries to humans by these animals. These ocean natives do not belong on land in a tank filled with just a tiny percent of the water that they can experience in their natural habitat, which is practically endless and boundless. The possibilities of transforming SeaWorld into a place of good rather than a place of abuse are endless, too!

Only a few ideas have been touched on; there are so many other forms of amusement that work well. Doing so would not only create a better life for the captives and for future captives, it would also mend broken relationships while setting a positive example. Severed relationships with partners like Virgin America, Southwest Airlines, Taco Bell,, and many others can possibly be fixed, celebrities can once again support the organization, and even activists might want to be a part of this huge display of goodness. In fact, SeaWorld can make such a splash with a decision like this, that they would truly make history while changing the game for captive entertainment animals. Just something for them to consider.

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

December 12, 2014 09:49AM

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BREAKING: SeaWorld CEO Can't Take The Heat, OUT As Backlash Mounts

Amid a storm of rising backlash over SeaWorld's treatment of its captive orca whales, CEO Jim Atchison is stepping down.

Atchison will serve as vice chairman of the board and chairman of the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, as well as a consultant to the company. In the same statement, SeaWorld also announced major plans for corporate restructuring, which will result in the elimination of positions within the company.

A spokesperson for SeaWorld would not say whether Atchison's decision was voluntary, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

A statement released by the company says that David D'Alessandro, the company's chairman, will step in as CEO until another candidate is chosen. SeaWorld detailed a restructuring program across its entire 11-park enterprise:

This effort will centralize some operations, reduce duplication of functions and increase efficiencies and accelerate execution. The restructuring will result in the loss of some positions, and the Company will offer severance benefits to those impacted.
"In order to achieve the goals of our business realignment, we regret that some positions will necessarily be eliminated,” Atchison said in a statement. “However, our cost savings effort is part of a broader program to position us for long term growth."

The move comes amid a time of financial crisis for the company.
On Wednesday, the SeaWorld's stock hit a new all-time low, dropping below $16 per share for the first time since its April 2013 initial public offering. Its market CAP has fallen by over $1 billion, and its stock has dropped over 50 percent since that time.

The backlash created by the documentary “Blackfish” likely contributed to the company’s nosedive. The film revealed disturbing animal care practices at the park, including safety risks for trainers as well as psychosis, inbreeding and physical injuries among the whales.

SeaWorld has not responded to The Dodo’s request for more information about Atchison’s departure.

This story is developing...


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

December 12, 2014 10:44AM

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Orcas suffer another heartbreaking loss

Alicia Graef
Dec 10, 20141:00pm

Critically endangered orcas in the Pacific Northwest continue to face threats that put their future survival in question, and now they’ve suffered another heartbreaking loss with the confirmed death of a pregnant female.

These orcas, otherwise known as the southern resident killer whales (SRKW), live in three distinct pods (J,K and L) and travel through Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca during the summer months before migrating to the open ocean in the winter.

Even with live captures being banned, federal protection and millions spent on research and recovery efforts, they’ve yet to make a comeback. The latest blow comes with the confirmation that the most recent death was Rhapsody (J32), an 18 year-old female member of the J-pod who was found near Courtenay, BC in northwest Georgia Strait. Her loss was compounded by a necropsy that confirmed she was pregnant with a full-term fetus.

Some experts suspect her death was related to complications with her pregnancy, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

“The fetus was decomposing,” Ken Balcomb, Director of the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor, who also assisted in the necropsy, told CBS News. “The tests will be able to tell whether the fetus was already dead before the mother died, and therefore may have been the cause of her death.”

Rumors swirled this summer that she might be pregnant, raising hope that these orcas would be welcoming a new family member soon, which makes her death twice as heartbreaking and raises even more concerns about how another loss will affect them.

They have already lost two adult members this year. In August it was reported that 37-year-old L53 (Lulu) and 13-year-old L100 (Indigo) had not been spotted and are presumed to have died, which brought the population’s number down to only 78 members – the lowest it’s been since 1985. In September, orca advocates and researchers celebrated the birth of a calf who was the first to be born to the L pod in two years, but the calf tragically did not survive.

Even though they were protected under the Endangered Species Act in 2005, with the recent loss of Rhapsody there are only 77 left of these orcas left in the wild – which leaves them with 11 fewer members than there were when they were declared endangered.

While they continue to face a variety of threats from boat traffic and noise to toxic pollutants, many believe that the biggest problem is now a lack of food. Their main food source, Chinook salmon, is also endangered due to habitat loss, overfishing and dams. Balcomb, previously stated that addressing their food source is what matters most now if we want to help these orcas recover.

To address this issue, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) recently started Don’t Let Our Orcas Be Dammed, a campaign that is focused on the rivers the salmon rely on and efforts to remove four dams in the Klamath River – JC Boyle, the Iron Gate, and Copco No. 1 and Copco No. 2. – which runs through Oregon and out to the Pacific in Northern California.

According to WDC: ”Commercial fishermen, native tribes, PacifiCorp (the electricity company that owns and operates all four dams), farmers, fish biologists, and environmentalists have all agreed that taking these dams down is the best thing to help restore the Klamath River Basin. And, it saves money – it will cost less to tear the dams down than it would to upgrade them to today’s standards (including regulations involving fish passage).”

Now WDC is pushing Congress to pass the Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act, which will ensure funding for dam removal.

Here's how you can help:

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/12/2014 10:51AM by Alana33.

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

December 13, 2014 08:36AM

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‘Blackfish’ Backlash: SeaWorld Chief Resigns

Years of controversy over the company’s treatment of killer whales and other marine mammals takes a toll on profits and attendance.

December 12, 2014 By David Kirby

David Kirby has been a professional journalist for 25 years.
His third book, Death at Seaworld, was published in 2012.

SeaWorld’s annus horribilis is ending on a particularly sour note.

The company on Thursday announced the departure of chief executive officer Jim Atchison, who has presided over a steady decline in the company’s stock value and reputation.

Atchison will leave his job in mid-January with a $2.4 million payout, but he will stay on as vice chairman of the board and consultant to SeaWorld’s international expansion and conservation programs.

SeaWorld said in a statement that it would cut other jobs to reduce operating costs by $50 million by the end of 2015.

In October, SeaWorld announced a 28 percent drop in third-quarter earnings and a 5.6 percent decline in attendance over the same period last year. Meanwhile, its stock value continues to tank, falling from a high of about $35 per share shortly after the company went public in April 2013 to less than $16 today.

SeaWorld’s misfortunes began in earnest in February 2010, when the orca Tilikum dragged trainer Dawn Brancheau into his pool and bludgeoned her to death.

That tragedy set off a chain reaction of high-profile woes, including negative media scrutiny, a testy congressional hearing on trainer safety, a protracted legal battle with the United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration (which SeaWorld ultimately lost) and the 2012 release of my book, Death at SeaWorld.

Then came Blackfish, the documentary by Gabriella Cowperthwaite that excoriated the company for its treatment of captive orcas and exposure of trainers to safety hazards.

After a successful theatrical run in the summer of 2013, the film aired several times on CNN, sparking an international outcry that persists today. The documentary led to the cancellation of several prominent musical acts at the company’s Orlando Park and, last March, the introduction of a California Assembly bill that would effectively ban orca captivity in that state.

“Clearly, 2014 has been a challenging year, but I am confident we are taking the necessary steps to address our near term challenges and position the company to deliver value over the long term,” Atchison said in a statement last month.

SeaWorld critics said SeaWorld has only itself to blame for its problems—and Atchison’s departure.

“SeaWorld doesn’t have a PR problem,” said Samantha Berg, a former orca trainer who was featured in Blackfish. “They have a business-model problem. The real tragedy is that SeaWorld’s financial instability, which is a direct result of them not addressing the root cause of their problems, potentially jeopardizes the future health, safety and well-being of their whales and their employees.”

Another former trainer profiled in Blackfish, Jeffrey Ventre, said in an email, “A big problem is with the ‘happy Shamu culture’ perpetuated by the animal training curators and managers who blame trainers when whales go off behavior, selectively bury serious incidents, and don’t share all relevant safety information with the training staff.”

So what does the future hold for SeaWorld if attendance continues to fall?

Many anti-captivity activists want the company to retire its whales to enclosed ocean sanctuaries, where they can live out their lives in a relatively natural milieu.

A more likely scenario, however, is that the company will expand its operations overseas to Russia, China, and the Middle East, where opposition to captivity is not nearly as strong.

SeaWorld Won’t Free Its Whales, but It’s Building Them Bigger Tanks

“This could still go either way—a new CEO could improve the animal welfare situation at SeaWorld or make it worse, and we need to be prepared for either,” Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, said in an email.

But overseas expansion may not be the balm that SeaWorld seeks, according to Courtney Vail of Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

“Even as the company pursues interests abroad, global opinions against the capture, confinement, and maintenance of whales and dolphins in captivity continue to grow,” Vail said in an email. “SeaWorld’s corporate clout and reputation may not be as strong as they expect it to be.”

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

December 13, 2014 08:54AM

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World’s Rarest Cetacean Could Be Gone in 4 Years

Alicia Graef
Dec 12, 2014

Conservationists are calling for immediate action to help save the rarest cetacean in the world, who new research suggests could disappear forever in as little as four years.

The cetaceans at the center of these calls are vaquitas, who are elusive little porpoises only just discovered in 1958. They are the smallest known cetacean, measuring around four to five feet long, and can only be found in a small area in the Gulf of California, off the coast of Mexico.

They are protected under the Endangered Species Act and listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, but today there are estimated to be fewer than 100 individuals left in the wild, leaving the outlook for their future grim at best. Concerns have been raised about threats including low genetic diversity and pollution, but their biggest threat now is commercial fishing.

According to a report released this summer by the Mexico-based International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), which was established to protect these cetaceans, if immediate action isn’t taken to stop their decline they could be gone by 2018.

Just two years ago there were believed to be 200 left, but according to CIRVA about half of them have been killed as bycatch in gillnets used to catch shrimp and other fish.

A refuge area was set up in 2005, but it only covers about a fifth of their habitat, and aerial photos taken earlier this month show there is still extensive fishing with gillnets in the area.

Unfortunately, vaquitas are now also paying the price for illegal fishing that is reportedly being undertaken at the hands of drug cartels and wildlife traffickers targeting endangered totoaba, which is now in demand for its swim bladder which is used in Chinese medicine.

According to CIRVA, if actions previously recommended by marine scientists had been implemented vaquitas might not be in the dire situation they are in today. Now the committee believes nothing short of a full ban on gillnets is going to save vaquitas and enforcement against illegal fishing in Mexico and other countries involved in the trade, including the U.S. and China, needs to be ramped up.

Over the summer, conservation organizations filed a lawsuit in the U.S. to enforce the “foreign bycatch” provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which could result in a ban on all shrimp imports from Mexico that are not vaquita-safe. They also petitioned the Obama administration to impose trade sanctions on Mexico for failing to enforce the international ban on trade in totoaba under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

“The resurgence of illegal totoaba fishing for the Chinese market has increased the speed at which the vaquita hurtles towards extinction,” said Clare Perry, head of Oceans Campaigns at Environmental Investigation Agency. “This species could be pushed to the point of no return in a matter of months unless Mexico significantly steps up both at-sea and shore-based enforcement efforts and works together with the United States and China to combat the organized criminal networks that perpetuate the trade.”

While Mexico was expected to announce plans for new conservation measures at the end of November, the country still hasn’t come out with anything. Now conservationists are calling for immediate action and are urging Mexico to enact emergency regulations establishing a gillnet exclusion zone that covers the vaquitas full range.

While we wait, we can help by signing and sharing the Center for Biological Diversity’s petition urging the Obama administration to act on behalf of vaquitas.

See link:

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/13/2014 09:06AM by Alana33.

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