The Atlanta community is no stranger to dolphins. But whether it is aware of the issues surrounding keeping dolphins in captivity or the hunting of dolphins for the aquarium industry is another matter.
The local animal rights community is always ready to stand up to provide the information, which is often lacking elsewhere, in support of the notion that dolphins should be allowed their lives in the wild. Even before the 11 dolphins and four beluga whales currently held in captivity at The Georgia Aquarium (four beluga whales that have been housed at the Georgia Aquarium have since died) were brought to this land-locked city, activists have stood up for dolphins. This coming Sunday September 1, they will join over 100 events worldwide and do so again.
Japan Dolphins Day is an event created by Save Japan Dolphins and organized this year by the Facebook community Save Misty the Dolphin. Launched in 2005, Japan Dolphins Day, was an idea that preceded the release of the Academy Award-winning documentary, The Cove, but followed many years of efforts to make inroads into dolphin capture worldwide.
Why should Atlanta care about what happens in a small village in Taiji, Japan, especially since none of the dolphins at the Georgia Aquarium were caught in Taiji? The most straight-forward answer to that logical question is that while dolphins have not been intentionally caught in U.S. waters for its aquarium industry in many years, the indirect connection between the U.S. industry and countries where wild dolphins are caught is obvious.
- The aquarium industry of the rest of the world is recreating the aquarium model developed by that in the United States. One need only to look at the Georgia Aquarium’s own past (via its other property, Marineland) to see that the industry was built on capturing wild dolphins.
- Members of International Marine Animal Trainers Association – soon to have its annual meeting in Las Vegas – work directly with dolphins captured in Taiji.
- The Georgia Aquarium is spearheading an effort to import wild-caught marine mammals (beluga whales) into the United States. Though its application was denied by NOAA, it remains to be seen whether the Georgia Aquarium considers the issue resolved. It is up to the decision-makers at the Georgia Aquarium and its partners whether they will listen to both the public outcry and the decision of NOAA or will continue to listen exclusively to themselves.
- As a world community, where dolphins know no borders, it makes little sense to impose our borders on activism.
One local activist, Vivian Liu, had, only a couple of years ago, a season pass to the Georgia Aquarium. She has come to understand and to teach her children “why we no longer visit places where they hold captive animals for human entertainment. . . Children are innocent and will certainly become what’s being taught.” This understanding was echoed by former SeaWorld orca trainer John Hargrove in the documentary, Blackfish, now playing at the Midtown Art Cinema, who said that he would never take his three-and-a-half-year-old to the orca show at SeaWorld. What is being taught, more consistently than anything else at these establishments, is that captivity is cool. Stephanie Voltolin, an instructor at Georgia Piedmont Technical College, “wouldn’t be anywhere else on September 1” because she knows that “we can make a difference if we can get this information to those who don’t know what’s happening.”
What you can do:
- On September 1, come stand with us in Virginia-Highlands from 11:00am to 1:00pm and be part of letting the world know about the dark underbelly of an industry (and enter a drawing for Behind the Dolphin Smile or Death at SeaWorld!!)
- Sign the pledge that you will not go to an aquarium that houses marine mammals
- Sign the petition to IMATA to dissociate themselves from the Taiji dolphin hunt