SeaWorld reprised its 1976 rhetoric to oppose 2014 legislation

SeaWorld has the potential either to earn the support or the opposition of conservationists.  It has the potential for conducting genuinely educational work, but the evidence to date suggests that the business rather than the educational interests are dominating management decision . . .

This statement of the Florida Audubon Society does not refer to California’s proposed legislation, AB2140, the Orca Welfare and Safety Act, proposed by Assemblyman Richard Bloom.  Rather, it was written in the Lakeland Ledger nearly 40 years ago when, as federal legislation was proposed in 1976 for the protection of orcas, SeaWorld took the same position then as now in opposition to legislation which would limit and even end the practice of exhibiting orcas.  SeaWorld’s familiar refrain is from the same songbook that we heard them consult during this week’s hearing in the California Assembly conference room, despite the evidence of increased mortality and health risks among captive orcas.

The effect of this legislation will be to prevent you and your children from experiencing, enjoying and learning about marine animals.  It would prohibit the valuable research and educational activities carried on by SeaWorld and other zoos and oceanariums. – SeaWorld flyer distributed to patrons

The Florida Audubon Society foretold this outcome, not as a prediction, but as a justification for the precautionary steps that supported the passage of the 1976 legislation:

If, despite careful veterinary care the whales die prematurely, as has happened at SeaWorld, the possibility should be faced that the Orlando area is not a suitable habitat for the species.

Unfortunately, we did not heed that warning.  Instead, the Congress did not pass the legislation and many lives have been sacrificed just so we could see an orca in a concrete tank.  The truth is, this only allowed 40 more years of SeaWorld teaching us to teach our children that we “deserve” to see them in the morbidly small and barren tanks, to teach humans that we have an “entitlement” to see them and have them splash us, as our innocent children giggle while being corrupted to accept without realizing it a worldview of domination and exploitation.

What is more disturbing in 2014 than in 1976 is that the last 40 years have borne out what we feared might be the case in 1976: increased mortality, ill-health and denial of a birthright to live in the ocean are the costs paid by an unwilling orca to line the pockets of SeaWorld with money and children’s mouths with cotton candy.

Not all the orcas on the following list were captured by SeaWorld.  They are included because they were either captured by/for or sent to United States aquariums.  But what if the legislation had been passed in 1976?  What if other countries had followed suit with similar protections in 1976 and the years preceding the captures of the ensuing years?

The following list includes those orcas captured in or after 1976 (information from Orca Home and Ceta-base) or born (including stillborn/miscarriage/fetus) to mothers or out of fathers captured in or after that year, who might not have been in captivity if the 1976 legislation had passed not only the Senate, but also the House.  For comparison, the oldest known orca living in the wild is Granny, the oldest member of the J pod, and is estimated to be 103 years old.  Deceased orcas are shown in bold text.

Dedicated to all the orca mothers and fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, sisters, brothers who have found themselves in captivity and have lost children, parents and siblings, or seen them live only to be taken away and shipped to another tank in another city or country as a result of the morbid thing that is orca captivity:

  • Kenau (F, captured in 1976; died after 15 years of captivity)
    • Baby Shamu 2 (F, died in 1986 at 11 days old)
    • Kayla (F, born in 1988; has lived 26 years in captivity)
      • Halyn (F, born in 2005; died after 2.5 years of captivity)
    • Unnamed, unborn child  (both Kenau and her baby died in 1991 during Kenau’s 12th month of pregnancy)
  • Gudrun (F, captured in 1976; died after 19.5 years of captivity)
    • Taima (F, born in 1989; died after 21 years of captivity)
      • Sumar (M, born in 1998; died after 12 years of captivity)
      • Malia (F, born in 2007; has lived 7 years in captivity)
      • Stillborn child, in which Taima also dies during labor, 2010
    • Nyar (F, born in 1993; died after 2.5 years of captivity)
    • Unnamed stillborn child, 1996
  • Canuck 2 (M, captured in 1977; died after 4 years of captivity)
  • Kona 2 (F, captured in 1977; died after 10 years of captivity)
    • unnamed fetus discovered during Kona 2′s necropsy
  • Kandu 5 (F, captured in 1977; died after 12 years of captivity)
    • Unnamed stillbirth, 1986
    • Orkid (F, born in 1988; has lived 26 years in captivity)
  • Winnie (F, captured in 1977; died after 24.5 years of captivity)
  • Shawn(?) (F, captured in 1978; died after 1 year of captivity)
  • Katina (F, captured in 1978, has lived 36 years in captivity)
    • Kalina (F, born in 1985; died after 25 years of captivity)
      • Keet (M, born in 1993, has lived 21 years in captivity)
      • Keto (M, born in 1995; has lived 19 years in captivity)
      • Unnamed (Stillborn in 1997)
      • Tuar (M, born in 1999; has lived 15 years in captivity)
      • Skyla (F, born in 2004; has lived 10 years in captivity)
    • Katerina (F, born in 1988; died after 10.5 years of captivity)
    • Taku (M, born in 1993; died after 14 years of captivity)
    • Unna (F, born in 1996; has lived 18 years in captivity)
      • Unnamed (F, stillborn in 2006)
    • Ikaika (F, born in 2002; has lived 12 years in captivity)
    • Nalani (F, born in 2006; has lived 7.5 years in captivity)
    • Makaio (F, born in 2010; has lived 3.5 years in captivity)
  • Kasatka (F, captured in 1978, has lived 36 years in captivity)
    • Takara (F, born in 1991; has lived 23 in captivity)
      • Kohana (F, born in 2002; has lived 12 years in captivity)
        • Adan (M, born in 2010; has lived 3.5 years in captivity)
        • Vicky (F, born in 2012; died at 10 months old)
      • Trua (M, born in 2005; has lived 8.5 years in captivity)
      • Sakari (F, born in 2010; has lived 4 years in captivity)
      • Kamea (F, born in 2013; has lived 5 months in captivity)
    • Nakai (F, born in 2001; has lived 13 years in captivity)
    • Kalia (F, born in 2004; has lived 9.5 years in captivity)
    • Makani (M, born in 2013; has lived 1 year in captivity)
  • Kahana (F, captured 1978; died after 12.5 years of captivity, six months after miscarriage of only child)
    • Unnamed child (died during miscarriage, 1990)
  • Kotar (M, captured in 1978; died after 16.5 years of captivity)
  • Surfer Girl (F, captured in 1979; died after 9 days of captivity)
  • Vigga (F, captured in 1980; died after 19.5 years of captivity)
  • Bjossa (F, captured in 1980; died after 21 years of captivity, originally captured by Vancouver Aquarium)
    • Unnamed (F, died in 1988 at 22 days old)
    • K’yosha (F, died in 1991 at 96 days old)
    • Unnamed (F, died in 1995 at 1 day old)
  • Ulises (M, captured in 1980; has lived 34 years in captivity)
  • Tilikum (M, captured in 1980; has lived 34 years in captivity)
  • Nootka 4 (F, captured in 1982; died after 12 years of captivity, originally captured by Marineland of Ontario)
    • Unnamed (M, died in 1992 at 33 days old)
    • Unnamed stillborn child, 1994
  • Haida 2 (F, captured in 1982; died after 19 years of captivity)
    • Kyuquot (M, born in 1991; has lived 23 years in captivity)
    • Unnamed (F, died in 1994 at 38 days old)
    • Unnamed fetus dies in 2001 with his mother in her fifth month of pregnancy
  • Samoa (F, captured in 1983; died after 8.5 years of captivity)
    • Unnamed near full-term baby dies in 1992 during labor with his mother
  • Splash (F, born 1989 to Nootka  5 (captured 1981) at Marineland of Canada; taken from her and transferred to SeaWorld of California in 1992, she died in 2005 after 15.5 years of captivity)

The shame of these lives and deaths should sit heavy on all our hearts.  When we have an opportunity to support legislation, whether federal, state or local, to limit and ban marine mammal captivity, we owe it to these and many other marine mammals all efforts to secure them as much of their birthright as we can.  We have denied it for far too long.

orca

They each and every one of them had the right to live this life, but the captivity industry and its patrons took it away. Photo by the Center for Whale Research.

 

 

Deadline today to comment to NOAA: Ship-Strike Rule

Dead Northern Right Whale with the propeller marks of a ship strike. Photo by wheelock.edu

Dead Northern Right Whale with the propeller marks of a ship strike. Photo by wheelock.edu

TODAY, March 3, 2014, is the deadline to comment (click “submit comments” on link) on the “petition” to  create exceptions in the “Ship-Strike Rule” that exclude Federally-maintained dredged entrance channels and pilot boarding areas for ports from New York to Jacksonville from Vessel Speed Restrictions.

As the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) finalized the Ship-Strike Rule in 2013, it received comments expressing concern for the safety of ships and pilots.  While it was not required to do so, NOAA treated those comments as a petition for rule-making, resulting in this public comment period, ending TODAY.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) provided an opportunity to add one’s name to its comment, but this opportunity ended Friday, February 28, 2014, and just in case folks missed that or if they would like to write an individual comment, I just wanted them to know that comments can be submitted by today’s deadline of March 3, 2014.

My comment, which is quite short, is far from exhaustive, and even though I am pretty certain that I signed WDC’s statement, I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to send a few words and participate in the really lovely review and comment process of U.S. Federal rule-making.

I urge NOAA to not proceed with a rule-making that will undo the protections of the “Ship-Strike Rule,” that is, to “Exclude Federally-Maintained Dredged Entrance Channels and Pilot Boarding Areas for Ports From New York to Jacksonville From Vessel Speed Restrictions.” As noted in the Federal Register notice, the purpose of the original rule was “to reduce fatal vessel collisions with North Atlantic right whales.” Specifically, NOAA enacted the ship strike speed rule requiring vessels 65 feet and larger to slow to 10 knots or less during the seasons right whales are expected to be present in designated areas along the East Coast

Since the rule was initially promulgated, ship-strikes have reduced and may have been instrumental in a mild rebound of the Northern Right Whale population (although NOAA in this petition might have retained its 2008 number of 300-400, at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/shipstrike/pressrelease_effective.pdf, instead of less than 500), since it reached its ebb in the mid- to late-1990s. Since the petitioner makes no credible demonstration that the recall of the Ship-Strike Rule (1) will not result in undermining the very purpose of that Rule and (2) is necessary for safety of ship navigation, NOAA is without basis for a termination of the Rule.

The following study links ship speed directly to injuries to whales, in particular, the North Atlanta Right Whale: http://www.phys.ocean.dal.ca/~taggart/Publications/Vanderlaan_Taggart_MarMamSci-23_2007.pdf

The existing rules for governing navigational safety, Rule 2(b) of the International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea, 1972 (72 COLREGS), provide sufficient flexibility to deviate from the ship speeds for purposes of safety.

Any undoing of the Rule without a clear demonstration that its rescission is necessary for a clear purpose factually supported by as a direct cause and effect relationship and that will not result in a significant resurgence of ship-strikes would be arbitrary and capricious and not in accordance with law.

I therefore urge NOAA to deny the petition to create exceptions for Federally-maintained dredged entrance channels and pilot boarding areas for ports from New York to Jacksonville from Vessel Speed Restrictions.

Write a comment.  Give the Critically Endangered Northern Right Whale as much of a fighting chance as we can muster, so that we truly support their chances at avoiding extinction and making a successful annual migration from the Bay of Fundy, where they mate, to the border of Florida and Georgia, where they calve.  We owe it to them.

Northern Right Whale mother and calf. Photo from biology-blog.com

Northern Right Whale mother and calf. Photo from biology-blog.com

What other comments are outstandingWe can and should all begin to flex our review-and-comment muscles. Currently open is the comment period for the Petition To Include The Killer Whale Known As Lolita In The Endangered Species Act Listing Of Southern Resident Killer Whales. Comments for Tokitae’s inclusion on the listing with her family are due by March 28, 2014.

Thankful that the 2013/2014 Taiji Drive Hunt Season has ended

2013/2014 has been a horrid, but “point-tipping”, Taiji Dolphin Drive Hunt season.

Much gratitude to the heroes that are the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians, led by campaign leader Melissa Sehgal, who on a daily basis documented for all the world to see the truth of the hunt, the facts of the hunt, the CHOICES of those who support the hunt: not only the fishermen who conduct the hunt, but also the legal system that provides a “color of law” to shield the hunt, and the captivity industry in any country that provides the financial incentive for the hunt.

Much gratitude to the press with special thanks to Jane Velez-Mitchell and CNN, Reuters and other media outlets who covered the horrific nature of the hunt and made the connection between the hunt and the captivity industry.

Many thanks to the celebrities who took a clear stand against dolphin hunting and captivity, focusing on both Taiji and SeaWorld, including the very special Sam Simon, Russell Simmons, Susan Sarandon, David Crosby, Shannen Doherty, Barenaked Ladies, Joan Jett and Heart.

So proud of the individual activists who daily write letters and emails, make phone calls, stand on the front lines to protest, and use social media to spread the message: the Voice of the Orcas, the Blackfish Brigade, Sandy McElhaney, Paige Nelson, and so many others – thousands – that I could not mention them all without leaving too many out.

Finally, much pride and gratitude for the statement of U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, whose tweet heard ’round the world gives significant hope that the world conversation has been forever changed by this season.

U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy

The Tweet Heard ‘Round the World

Be part of the solution to end dolphin hunting and captivity.  Join the communities on Facebook and Twitter to find opportunities to join the movement, to put your voice and your feet to work to free these creatures from exploitation by humans and to restore them their birthright.

Do not go to a dolphin park, aquarium or swim-with program anywhere in the world.

 

The “Hope” of the dolphin captivity industry

While not news, a story reported this week in the Tampa Tribune Online reminded us of the ways that monies move around to support the institutions dedicated to dolphin captivity.  The story recognizes that the movie industry often demands, or perhaps expects, tax incentives to arrive in “your town” to film its highly lucrative product.  These incentives do not appear out of thin air.  They are accomplished by funneling the hard-earned money of taxpayers to support selected corporate endeavors.

About midway through the article, is a recognition of how this was accomplished to support both the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and the makers of the upcoming film, A Dolphin Tale 2.

The movie sequel “Dolphin Tale 2” faced a similar dilemma last year. Producers wanted to film in Clearwater but tax credit money was an obstacle.

So backers persuaded the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott to sign off on $5 million in state money for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The aquarium turned over the money to producer Alcon Entertainment.

It isn’t clear whether the real shame here is that the aquarium industry is being supported, or, rather, whether it is that the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA), in particular, is.

Winter who will forever reside amid the noise and crowds of a movie

Winter who will forever reside amid the noise and crowds incited by a movie

The shame is that the CMA and Hollywood use Winter, a dolphin whose tail fluke was so damaged by being caught in a crab trap that her fluke was removed, to make money. It really isn’t complicated.  Winter pulls on the heart-strings of people who rightly feel compassion for this unique, handicapped dolphin.  Of course she does.  All dolphins should.  But rather than have our compassion support an industry whose primary goal is to maintain captivity, we should open our eyes and find those institutions whose goal is to end the notion that captivity teaches us anything like respect for the wild ones.  That the CMA is willing to pass the $5 million to the film-maker should tell you something.

The new movie, paid for in part by that $5 million in taxpayer monies, will focus on yet another dolphin, this one named Hope, who was reportedly rescued three years ago as a baby after she stranded in the Indian River.  The rescue of stranded dolphins is a noble undertaking.  But rescue should come with the remainder of the “Rs” : Rescue, Rehabilitate and Release.

But one should consider that the same industry that wants us to believe its commitment to all three of the Rs, has seen – and been a proximal cause  for – the deaths of  91% of orcas captured since 1961 by and for their industry.  The numbers of dolphins who have died in captivity is mind-boggling when one considers that their captivity only became significant during this human generation’s lifetime.  In its defense, the CMA has released a significant number of dolphins that it has rescued. Far more, however, have died at CMA, likely because once stranded, the odds against successful rehabilitation of dolphins are low.

But it is also undeniable that Winter’s “uniqueness” is being used as capital for those who charge admission, whether to aquariums or to movies.  So, is Hope also “unique”?  Does Hope have an infirmity that prevented her release to a wild Indian River pod? Or does she, like Winter, merely “‘have that . . . something particularly interesting and readily visible’ to keep attracting visitors?

The fact remains that each dolphin is unique.  While we may not know their real names, it has been demonstrated that dolphins do know each other by something that we call “names.”  In the meantime, we call them “Winter”, “Hope”, “Tilikum”, “Lolita”, “Shaka” and we use whatever “uniqueness” we can invent via our language to justify their retention in the captive quarters of concrete tanks.

The “hope” that we should have for the dolphins is not found in a movie, the aquariums that those Hollywood productions support, or even in the successful rescue of a flukeless individual.  The real hope for the dolphins is in their freedom from captivity and in safeguarding their passage through life in an uncontaminated habitat.

While those who would put tax monies on the production of a movie, perhaps those tax monies should be utilized to find the reason that dolphins are dying in record numbers in Florida’s Indian River, to clean up the mess that has been made by years of discharge into that water body, and to stop the polluted run-off from pesticide- and fertilizer-enhanced agriculture-water.

Instead of being hope for the dolphin captivity industry, that would provide real hope for the dolphins.

Dolphin in Indian River. Photo Credit: discoverelc.org

Dolphin in Indian River. Photo Credit: discoverelc.org

To learn more about the captivity industry, go see Blackfish (available on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon), winner of the 2014 Genesis Award for outstanding reporting and creative portrayals of animal-protection issues.

For JerryLee.  Thank you for your unwavering support for the real welfare of dolphins.

For Marius: an honest conversation about domination

Perhaps some of you are being accused of being ignorant in our objection to the execution-of-convenience of Marius by the Copenhagen Zoo.  Some accusations hurl the moniker “hypocrite” for objecting only to Marius when “this kind of things goes on all the time in zoos.” Others say the ignorance is of the very essence of animal husbandry in collections.

Of course it isn’t only about Marius; but just as clearly, if we don’t object to the execution of one, we lose the right to object to the execution of many, because then we have become like them. We will have lost sight of the individual and become a mere zookeeper ourselves, who judges when and how many it is acceptable to kill, or in perhaps the one accurate use of the word, to cull.

I will never defend zoos or aquariums, except to save a species; and only then if we are also waging the war to save their habitat, to push the humans off their land and out of their water, to have the humans stop cutting their trees, to criminalize the act of stealing another’s habitat.

To Marius and all the others, I apologize for our unhealthy ability to cloak our racist and ethnist expressions of domination in the control of you.

I highly recommend that you read the very interesting article by David Samuels in Harpers referenced in my blog post, Animal rights, animal captivity, slavery and racism, to end the real ignorance about zoos and aquariums: they are rooted in values that, if exposed to the light of day, no healthy person would want.

Marius at the Copenhagen Zoo. Photo credit Scanpix Reuters Denmark

Marius at the Copenhagen Zoo. Photo credit Scanpix Reuters Denmark

For Marius. It’s time to have an honest conversation about zoos and aquariums, about their roots in an unhealthy need for domination, an acceptance of distinguishing other beings as inferior, a willingness to exploit other beings, and begin a robust and aggressive conversation about actually preserving and restoring habitat for the wild ones so that we return to them what is rightfully theirs, not ours.

For Marius. For Jiyu. For the Longleat lions. For Anne. For the Southern Residents. For the dolphins who are dying in the Indian River and along the eastern U.S. seaboard. For all the creatures who died, and those who are trying to survive, in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater/Corexit debacle.

For Marius. For Jiyu. Let’s have a conversation about replacing our current conversation based in domination with one based in respect and love.

Because as long as we just export to the rest of the animal kingdom – or even to the vegetable and mineral ones – our ability to distinguish-and-dominate, nothing is safe. No gay person, no person of color, no religious belief, no belief of any kind: NOTHING is safe.

For Marius. For Jiyu.  An end to zoos and aquariums as we know them.

What you can do:

Honoring another creature recognizes the divinity in all

Recognizing the divinity in all

SeaWorld still doesn’t understand how the SRKW became endangered?

SeaWorld still doesn’t understand how the Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) population became endangered  Either that, or they do understand full well, but fly the balloon of uncertainty for reasons of their own.

Reading this just might make you gasp.

SeaWorld's claim that it is not known why the Southern Resident Killer Whale population became endangered, for all the world to see

SeaWorld’s suggesstion that it is not known why the Southern Resident Killer Whale population became endangered, for all the world to see  From seaworldparks.com.

Oh, SeaWorld.  No study on captive orcas is needed to understand that the horrific and massive extraction of the young orcas for the aquarium industry coupled with the birth-age of females and their gestation cycles is largely responsible for the SRKW population’s being placed,  and very little recovery since being so placed, on the list of Endangered Species.

As of September 2013, the SRKW population totaled 81 individuals ( J Pod = 26, K Pod = 19, L Pod = 36). The size of all three Southern Resident pods was reduced in number from 1965-75 as a result of whale captures for marine park exhibition. At least 13 whales were killed during these captures, while 45 whales were delivered to marine parks around the world. Today, only Lolita (Tokitae) remains alive in captivity at the Miami Seaquarium.   - From the Center for Whale Research

But for SeaWorld to suggest that it is still apparently a mystery reveals little more than its agenda; I’m not sure if that is “at best” or “at worst.”  As with other similar situations with SeaWorld and other aquariums <guess who>, I honestly don’t know if it would be better if they knew the truth and infused uncertainty, or if they truly didn’t know, but were entrusted with the lives of these magnificent beings.

Either way, looks like a Catch-22 for the orcas, both captive and free.

The rest of us can understand that studying orcas in concrete tanks has not translated significantly to conservation of the wild ones and will not tell us why the wild ones became endangered.  In contrast, organizations like the Center For Whale Research, whose mission is the study and conservation of the SRKW population, is where the daily scientific study of this wild population actually occurs, study that may yield important information on how to protect them and their habitat from further assaults.

Perhaps SeaWorld “may someday” understand how the Southern Residents became endangered.  If it really is “someday”, that day will be after SeaWorld has been forced to retire its “collection” of living beings to sea pens where they can once again, or for the first time, enjoy life in real seawater, with real tides, and a real sun, moon, and stars, and a real shore, and people who really get the right of orcas and all beings to have that life, to experience their birthright.

What you can do: Become a member of or donate to the Center for Whale Research and contribute to real protection of the wild ones.

Orcas K14, K42 and K26 - Sept. 17, 2009, known by and photo credit to the Center for Whale Research

Orcas K14, K42 and K26 – Sept. 17, 2009, known by and photo credit to the Center for Whale Research

For Jiyu, Faith, Hope and all the captives of the aquarium industry

Humans have created an unnatural world in which they, or some of them, think they can tell others who they are. It just isn’t true that humans have that power or that right: others aren’t food, aren’t clothing, aren’t entertainment, aren’t research projects. They are who they are. They are their birthright, not some small fraction of it that we say we have the power to allow them.

This is why Jiyu is so important to me. Jiyu was an individual. Jiyu was a failure in the human machine. Jiyu didn’t do what we told her to do. And Jiyu died because of the arrogance of man, that he thought he could control her.

I think of her and honor her life every day, as do others who worked to try to save her and continue to work to save the rest. Those on the ground working to save Jiyu were Heather Hill, Rosie Kunneke, Martyn Stewart and others whose names I do not know.

Heather Hill, whose image of Jiyu inspires me every day, has made this beautiful reminder of that very principle: The All-One – many call that God – tells them who they are, not we newcomers to this vast and wondrous Universe. Thank you, Heather, for this perfect tribute to those who would not go gentle into that dark, not good, night of captivity.

For Jiyu. Forever.

Open letter to Gretchen Wilson: our choices make a difference

This HARLAN COUNTY gal (which I reckon qualifies as good as any as being a Redneck Woman) knows that some artists will play at venues that don’t reflect the ethic of respect for animals to fulfill their birthright.  Other artists, however, make choices that lift us all up higher than the exploitation and abuse of withholding that right.

When an artist or performer makes the CHOICE to play at SeaWorld, she is making a CHOICE that perpetuates and supports a company and a system that misleads the public, that misleads our children into thinking that captivity is an acceptable 2014 institution.  We “didn’t know no better” in 1964 when SeaWorld was founded.  We do know better now, although not everyone has been involved in the issue of captivity enough to come to their own, and very personal, realization.

Gretchen Wilson's choice.

Gretchen Wilson’s choice: taking her FANS down the garden path that leads to the witch’s cabin in the woods

When an artist makes the CHOICE to listen to the company that pioneered captivity and which the rest of the world parrots when they open new aquariums in their countries, this is a downfall in a moment of CHOICE, and it leads so many others who then act out their own bolstering of that outdated and unethical system by spending their dollars to keep alive something that should be retired.

Gretchen Wilson relies upon having fans to follow her CHOICE to play at SeaWorld

Gretchen Wilson relies upon having fans to follow her CHOICE to play at SeaWorld

Every CHOICE we make today builds the future.  And Ms. Wilson is building a future that is unethical, inhumane and unsustainable.

This isn’t about FANS or NOT-FANS, Ms. Wilson; this is about whether you are serving as a point of mirroring ethical values or merely profit-at-any-cost.  Either is your CHOICE. And because of your career, when you make a choice that results in the suffering and death of untold numbers of marine mammals, you take others with you down that unethical garden path to the witch’s cabin in the woods.  Choosing to ignore the fact that captivity is a morbid experience for innocent creatures who have been denied their birth-right is, after all, one of the choices you had before you.

Our choices makes a difference.  The future will hold us all to account for our choices, including those who, at the moment of choice, made the one you just did.

Ms. Wilson says that she did her research.  We obviously don’t know what that effort entailed.  But she told her fans that she had, and for some or even for many, that will be good enough for them to walk through the ticket turnstyle at SeaWorld.  This, aside from the travesty of captivity itself, is the real failure in the act of choice which was served up to her “fans”.

For one’s own research, a very good starting point is watching (not hearing about) the award-winning film, BlackfishIf you have not yet seen Blackfish, it will be aired again on CNN this Sunday, February 9, 2014, at 9pm and 11pm ET.  Over 1 million people watched it when CNN first aired it over about a two-week period in October and November 2013.

Because everything is about choice, do your own research, and do it well.  Imagining that a profit-center has your or our or even their best interests at heart is giving up your choice to them.

More information for one’s own research:

SeaWorld is coming for your children

SeaWorld is coming for your children.

SeaWorld's Fairy Kingdom

SeaWorld uses cute pictures to create a happy sea wonderland. Who could resist? Hmm. How about YOU!

It will use pop music and pretty, clapping, spandex-clad youths riding and standing on captive wild creatures to create a living fairy tale that only a few of your children will understand is actually a lie.

Don’t let your children become a trussed up Hansel & Gretel to a dressed up, but very hungry, witch.

And lest one imagine that it is any better at other aquariums with captive marine mammals, stop it.  You’re about to enter the fairy tale again. Which is exactly what they want.  The Georgia Aquarium expressly entices you with the promise of magic:

It’s Broadway theater. With dolphin stars! Original music! Amazing choreography! And soaring action!

Be part of something magical.

Only at the world’s largest, most magical aquarium. Georgia Aquarium, where imaginations go to play.

I might have added, “And belugas go to die” if I didn’t want to extract you from that “most magical” wonderland of dolphin domination and alternating cycles of sensory deprivation/sensory overload. Take a moment to think about that. Just a moment.  You can handle it.

Dolphins in barren concrete tanks, where they have ceased using much of their echolocation because it bounces around the concrete in a confusing manner that does not occur in nature.  Alternate that with the aquariums’ cueing their horrific music. Every day. A never-ending cycle of silence-loud-silence-loud-silence-loud. “Three shows daily!” For the rest of the dolphins’ restricted and unimaginably empty lives.

At the risk of losing you to the “most magical” kingdom, here is the Georgia Aquarium’s ad to lure us in with our children, not to mention our secret and just-as-innocent inner child.  Remember, it is not true. It is a constructed, “most magical” facade of domination and deprivation.  Deep breath – now go on in.

Ugh. I suspect that you can see that it is hype, very well-made hype.  But please, see behind that hype to the horrid existence for captive dolphins and whales and know that you’ve been had for your entire life if you thought that dolphin shows were okay. Had. Conned. By hype. To believe that you were doing something good for dolphins if you went to their show. Guess again.  You weren’t. You were had.  We were all had.

Georgia Aquarium Dolphin Tales

There are so many things wrong with this picture. How many can you find?

But don’t let them have your children.  Take a pledge that you will not go to the dolphin show.

And if you see this post in time, watch Blackfish on CNN this Sunday, February 9, at 9pm and 11pm ET.

The Taiji dolphin drive hunt is not a “cull”: ALERT THE MEDIA

The Taiji dolphin drive hunt is not a cull.  Alert the media.

If the captivity industry found that they had “bad breeding stock” and decided to kill the bad ones in order to “improve” their stock, that would be a cull.

If SeaWorld decided that it needed to separate orca mothers from calves, the chief husbandry officer might, indeed, “cull” his collection.  But of course, SeaWorld says that it doesn’t do that. <WINK>

If a “wildlife manager” found that one species was diseased or was truly overtaking another species, that might be a cull.

The Taiji drive hunt has nothing to do with removing dolphins for the fishing industry, rumors by the dolphin hunters to the contrary.  AND EVEN IF IT WERE TRUE that they were killing dolphins to restore fish stocks, it is human overfishing that has impacted the fish stocks of Japan, not the activity of dolphins.  And the response of humans to restore a balance among wildlife that we caused (when we really need to stop the offending human actions) should not be termed a “cull”.

Even if properly used, the term “cull” is just another of those words we’ve made up to insulate ourselves from the reality of our actions.  “Cull” is just another name for “kill” when we don’t want to see the blood on our opposable-thumbed hands.

Striped dolphins captured, not culled, for the aquarium industry.  Photo credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Cove Guardians

Striped dolphins captured, not culled, for the aquarium industry. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Cove Guardians

But, of course, the reality of the drive hunt is that it is financed, underwritten and generally made lucrative by the large sums paid by the aquarium industry for a few men to capture, kidnap and otherwise steal dolphins, to prop up a 20th Century industry that should be dying and dwindling, instead of swindling us all by taking the lives of the wild ones.  ALERT THE MEDIA.