I go to bed at night knowing that someday all of us will learn that our role is to allow life to live to its fulfillment. And that a coat, or a blanket, or a meal is not the fulfillment of the life of any sentient being.
Cove Blue for Jiyu Archive
I go to bed at night knowing that someday all of us will learn that our role is to allow life to live to its fulfillment. And that a coat, or a blanket, or a meal is not the fulfillment of the life of any sentient being.
The International Marine Animal Trainers Association (IMATA) recently posted on its Facebook page a new video by Ski Dubai about “the most innovative Penguin Training Program in the world.”
I notice that the language in the video is, not surprisingly, the same used to describe the captivity of dolphins and whales in aquariums, marine parks and other captive “encounter” programs. This language is something spoken by every aquarium, any where. This language has been intentionally designed. Its purpose: to camouflage the truth that humans have ripped these creatures from their natural habitat and do not do well in captivity.
But what the aquarium industry and their minion, IMATA, whose purpose is the perpetuation of the aquarium industry, have underestimated is the ability of humans to hear the truth in between the words. As you watch the video, listen for certain words. Each time, insert its translation and hear the truth.
Keywords invented by the captive trade and their true meaning:
Please know that marine mammals are not suited to a life in captivity by virtue of their expansive habitat range (they migrate; they swim hundreds of miles in a short period of time; some dive to 1000′ in depth), their highly social and familial structure, and their high intelligence. Keeping these sentient and social creatures in captivity is an inhumane venture fueled by an outdated view of the “animal kingdom”.
Enter a new day, based in today’s ethics, learn the language of the captivity industry, and do not go to zoos and aquariums that keep the animals who have no “business” being there.
An aerial survey today from Inukjuak, Quebec, Canada, revealed no trace of the orca family that was trapped in one small breathing hole near the village of Inukjuak. Hopes that the whales were “free” have been given a boost among many, but at the risk of showing what a skeptic I am, I believe that our vigil has, in truth, just begun.
What this “vigil” will look like, what we can do, or how we can do it, is less certain. At a minimum, we must continue to, together, watch the weather and watch for the family, and be ready to move on a moment’s notice. Watching for the family involves someone continuing to do reconnaissance flights in the area. Or on-ground surveys for any sign of the family.
The need for this vigil is revealed by knowledge about the orcas and about Hudson Bay. If Hudson Bay is truly in ice lock-down with no path to open water available, as shown in this animated ice map, even accounting for scaling issues, there is no free path from the Inukjuak area or the grid flown today by the aerial survey to the open ocean, the orcas’ Winter habitat.
While more than several newspapers and news outlets picked up the story of the trapped whales, many reports leaned toward a hopeful outcome. And while hope may spring eternal, the facts on the ground after the aerial survey, however, revealed only: no sight of the whales in a 40- by 50-mile grid where patches of open water were seen, some as large as football fields.
The overflight told us nothing about the distance to truly open water, nor could it tell us about the weather that will descend upon the Hudson Bay. Will it see warmer than usual weather or will cold arrive, as it did this week, and as is more characteristic of the Hudson Bay area?
What we also know, with or without an overflight, there is no path of ice-free water for the whales to swim through between this area and the open ocean, with sign posts that the whales can read “This Way to the Open Ocean.” As David Kirby observed, the whales are usually not in this area at this time of year. “The whales, obviously, stayed too long, and when a cold snap arrived, they found themselves trapped in an ice-bound hell.” Without a road map. With no path through the Hudson Strait to the Atlantic Ocean, where they would normally be at this time of year.
As they did in the story underlying the movie, The Big Miracle, Kasco Marine was prepared to put boots and de-icers on the ground to keep the whales’ breathing hole open as a path was created to “open water.” But nowhere in the interior of Hudson Bay is it considered “open water” for this family of orcas. “Open water” is the Atlantic Ocean. So to reach “open water”, it may be necessary to follow the whales from breathing hole to breathing hole until the Spring thaw.
For now, with the family not being spotted, there is nothing to do but watch. Watch for the whales and for a change in ice conditions. Should the family reappear, however, a restart of a Herculean effort like the one coordinated on Facebook by Fins and Fluke may be necessary.
Many thanks to the groups and individuals who worked to establish contacts from the United States to Australia to Canada and back again and to make #SaveQuebecWhales trend on Twitter. While it may be a long Winter in Hudson Bay for this family of orcas, they will not endure this Winter alone. There are people all around the world standing at the ready if and when they are again sighted. Join us.
Many if not most of you have by now have seen the video clip on ITN, of the dolphin trainer from the Ukraine. In this perhaps infamous video, the trainer proudly demonstrates his dolphin-training prowess, having trained this dolphin a “trick” that is typically related to a dolphin’s demise. In this trick, the dolphin “strands” and crawls on his belly about 10 feet, on the hardscape of the pool deck.
A friend and writer, Elizabeth Batt,observed that there was little regulation in the Ukraine that would require that such dolphin shows have educational value, but immediately checked herself, and noted that the situation in the U.S. was hardly much different.
So that got me to thinking about the U.S. laws.
Let us imagine, just for the sake of discussion, that the language in the Marine Mammal Protection Act and its implementing regulations has significance. Let’s assume that when the MMPA says that any permits that NOAA issues under Section 104 may only be issued to a person whom NOAA has determined offers an educational program, Congress got it right in letting the aquarium industry set the standard of “educational program.”
What is that standard?
I have a feeling that it’s a little ill-defined, and perhaps we end up in the company of Justice Potter Stewart when he stated – in what is probably one of the most oft-quoted concurrences – that he may not know how to define pornography, “But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.” So, while I might be tempted to conclude this day’s observation with, “I know it when I see it,” and I’d bet that there are lots of aquariums that aren’t even coming close in these United States.
But let’s suspend that reality, as well, for a moment. And imagine that all aquariums were setting and meeting a standard of education that we would all accept as valid.
Even if we suspend that reality for a moment, and imagined that to be the case, there is one truth that each of you knows, that each of you recognizes as truth.
There is no education within the mind of man that can justify the enslavement of dolphins.
Happy Holidays. I was just given a brief lesson in bigotry, courtesy of one who shamed me and others for saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. And then, when challenged, realized the error and expanded to a grand total of two religions that were worthy of mention and suggested that instead of saying Happy Holidays, that it would acceptable to say Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas. Did I just Rip van Winkle but backwards in time, or did I just bump into someones who have the gift of time travel and were transported to the present from some more bigoted time in the past. Or is it really that bigoted now?
Do Christians really feel so insecure about their religion that if someone says, “Happy Holidays,” they are offended and wishing shame upon them? Or did I just bump into two bad apples? Do people think that referring to Holidays means that something is being celebrated “instead” of Christmas? Is that what is going on? People thinking that this is an either/or thing? Or that all the colored light “belong” to one group or another?
Others truly believe that this has something to do with political correctness.
To anyone who finds the phrase Happy Holidays to be unacceptable or inappropriate, maybe you can find your way to, instead of picking one and damning all the rest, celebrate them all.
I, myself, hereby declare that I am on permanent Holiday, starting today, Bodhi Day and the beginning of Hanukkah, through the Winter Solstice and a very special birthday, to Christmas, and rounding it all off with Kwanzaa for the remainder of the month and up through the New Year.
Unless the Mayans are right and we don’t make it past the Solstice.
There is a whole lot to be celebrating, to be joyful for, with, in and to. And isn’t that the point? If I need to squeeze it all in by the 21st, it’s gonna be a joyous 13 days.
Happy Holidays. Including those of you who think I’m going to hell. Peace.
Atlanta, Atlanta, Atlanta. And now Atlanta Now, a local advertisement for tourism and spending money in any number of ways in Atlanta, jumps on the captivity-is-cool at the Georgia Aquarium bandwagon. In their latest issue, they remind us that we can spend money encouraging captivity for dolphins. Because more and more captivity is what the ticket price purchases when one visits an aquarium that wants to import 18 beluga whales hunted and caught in the seas around Russia for a life of photo ops with Santa and friends.
Maybe the Santa doesn’t translate to your holiday tradition. So much the better for you, or at least the 11 dolphins held captive at the Georgia Aquarium. But regardless of your tradition and whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day (yay), Ashura, the Winter Solstice or another event – you might yet be attracted by the man in the red suit to think that he was involved with something that was friendly toward the dolphin shown in the photograph.
Let me just say, no, he is not. Scuba Santa is participating in an enormous marketing ploy to convince you that captivity is a-okay for dolphins, when, in fact, it is not. As the Humane Society of the United States and the World Society for the Protection of Animals and the marine biologists who have nothing to gain by keeping them in captivity have demonstrated, dolphins and other marine mammals are not suited for a life in captivity. Why?
What is a more appropriate holiday tradition? How about actually learning about dolphins and whales and how they arrive and fare in captivity by sharing the following books and films – especially if you have a budding young marine biologist living under your roof:
The Georgia Aquarium as the world’s largest aquarium, may feel that there is no better way to say, “Happy Holidays!” than a visit to a facility that keeps dolphins and whales out of their native oceans. But you won’t agree, once you know. In fact, I’m betting that there are lots of you who, knowing more about the plight of dolphins and whales in captivity, would never again frequent an aquarium who held these regal beings in captivity and away from a life to which they have a full and vested right, by being alive.
Share life and freedom this Holiday season. Happy Holidays to you and to all of life.
This week, the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association is holding its annual meeting in Hong Kong. And so, while dolphins are being hunted for capture for the aquarium industry (15%) or for their death (85%), both at the hands of 50-member Taiji Fisherman’s Union and assorted marine animal trainers, the trainers get together to talk about stuff.
But before you get into looking at what they’re going to be talking about, let’s consider the question, who is IMATA?
But let’s have IMATA tell us, in its own words:
The International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association was founded to foster communication, professionalism, and cooperation among those who serve marine mammal science through training, public display, research, husbandry, conservation, and education. Specifically, IMATA recognizes its role and responsibilities to the continued existence of oceanaria, aquaria, and laboratories housing marine mammals. (Emphasis added)
I really have little to add to IMATA’s statement, because it really says it all, does it not? IMATA’s mission is the preservation of the aquarium industry.
You see (by my oh-so-clever bolding) that I rather like something about that second sentence. But let’s step through both sentences, not just the second one, and read each clause, each bullet, slowly, savoring the meaning of each.
If you know me, you know I have words running through my brain about those clauses and the grand sum of reading them again, all together, having so savored. But I think the words speak for themselves. And so, today, in probably marked contrast to other days, you find me not interpreting so much. Not adding so much of my own, in black and white.
Now, how about that second sentence.
But if I may borrow a word from the first sentence, I just want you to know that you have been served something. It has been served on a platter, backed by millions of dollars of marketing, a colored sugar-water liquid whose brand name I shall not edify by using, and profits (or non-profits) tied extensively to the marine mammal exhibits and shows. A bloody and tainted platter. Brought to you by the aquarium industry and those whose mission it is to perpetuate it.
What about that is difficult to get?
Okay, so I just have to observe: education is the very last word in one sentence and “marine mammals” the last in the other. Education and dolphins don’t seem too high up on IMATA’s Mission totem pole. Jus’ sayin’.
By the way, there’s lots going on at the IMATA conference. Just ask Scubapro.
This blogger is bummed. Yes, it also bothers me when the Biebs sends a signal to millions of young girls that it is okay to keep wide-ranging creatures in a small concrete tank.
To Justin I would say, just because the dolphin tanks are bigger than your swimming pool, does not make it big enough for the dolphins. Just because the dolphin tank is way deeper than your swimming pool does not make it deep enough for dolphins.
But when Woody Harrelson visits the world’s largest aquarium, and the one which is seeking to reverse 20 years of U. S. policy and practice against the taking of cetaceans from the wild for use in aquarium “exhibits”, well, that is a different matter. Woody. Don’t you know this? Can’t you hear that in a world where it is wrong to remove the top of a mountain to get at its “resources”, it is also wrong to take wild, sentient, communal, far-ranging, deep-diving, echolocating, beings and treat them as “resources” and assets.
Woody. Call me. Call Naomi Rose. Call Dr. Lori Marino. Call Ric O’Barry. Call Hardy Jones. But please, call someone who is not financially motivated to keep dolphins in captivity. Call someone who will tell you the truth about the connection between dolphin captivity anywhere and the Taiji dolphin drive hunt, which you know about. Do the math. You can see that the protestation from the aquariums that “we don’t have dolphins from the drive hunt” is an empty platitude. Right?
But call. Issue a correction. Take the pledge that you will not go to a dolphin show. Or hold one’s hands. This is just plain wrong.
I keep this thought in my head, and generally somewhere on Facebook, and try to share it whenever the Fishermen’s Union in Taiji, Japan, is out hunting dolphins.
At the point that I think the FU “fishermen” may have located dolphins and are plunging their long metal poles into the water, to bang on them, to create the illusion of a “wall” of sound, I step up the focus on my thinking. You see, the dolphins use sound to locate stuff: family, prey, tools in some cases, and barriers. In their reality, they “know” that sound that is coming at them like this loud banging is a barrier.
But we know that it is not. The fishermen are only making noise. On poles. In the water.
Know this for its truth, for as you consciously recall and know that it is true, that thought is not restricted inside your head:
There is only freedom and a few men in loud boats. Noise is not a barrier.
Swim through. Swim through.
Smile, celebrating, as the dolphins learn something new.
Well done, America. Well done, World.
At 8,906, the Georgia Aquarium’s application to import 18 wild-caught beluga whales didn’t quite make it to . . . THE MOST COMMENTED-ON FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICE EVER. But it was most commented-on Federal Register notice of a National Ocean & Atmospheric Administration import permit at least as far back as 2000, according to Jennifer Skidmore, who is the NOAA Fishery Management Specialist managing the Georgia Aquarium’s import permit. NOAA is, as of this week, still receiving comments the old-fashioned way, via the mail system, so the count is actually even higher. Pretty rocking result.
But during this deliberation period, the infotainment machine keeps humming, turning out story after story that implies validity in the Georgia Aquarium’s efforts to import wild beluga whales from Russia. In one such story and video by 11Alive News, Billy Hurley, the Chief Animal Officer for the Georgia Aquarium, discounts the deep objection that the people have to ever capturing whales and dolphins for the aquarium biz. But of course he would. He likes to point out the millions of people come into the Georgia Aquarium. What he doesn’t say is that those millions are lured in by advertising, by telling them, like the little boy in the video shown on Friday, November 4, 2012, that the Georgia Aquarium keeps them “safe”. That little boy, like the millions, believe that.
In contrast to the aquarium industry’s story machine, Dr. Lori Marino, Emory professor, neuroscientist, and the Director of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, commented on yesterday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, reflecting the lack of understanding – on the part of either the reporter or Mr. Hurley – of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The article observes, inaccurately, that the “Marine Mammal Protection Act establishes that the display of belugas and other cetaceans can improve their welfare by educating the public about threats to the species, which can in turn promote conservation efforts. . .” Not so. The Act’s actual language – perhaps pesky for the Georgia Aquarium – states that permits may be issued, but only to those facilities that “offer a program for education or conservation purposes. . .” Whether the Georgia Aquarium’s dolphin show or exhibit fulfills the requirement of offering an educational or conservation program is a factual determination. At least two aquariums, the National Aquarium and Sea Life Center, stated their objection to the issuance of the import permit to the Georgia Aquarium.
Becky Pugh, of Free the Atlanta 11, notes another of the fallacies in the Georgia Aquarium’s reasons for wanting the import, but about which the full-court press doesn’t inquire, “For example; why is it necessary to replenish the captive beluga stock in the U.S.? The U.S. has had belugas in captivity for decades. If they do so well, what would be the need to replenish them?”
Dr. Naomi Rose, a marine biologist, also commented on the article, pointing out that, “Respected marine mammal biologists oppose this import proposal, not based on emotion but because of concerns about the animals’ welfare during capture and transport, the impact of captures on beluga matrilines (family groups), and the disruption captures cause to the groups’ social relationships. More than 30 scientists submitted a comment to the National Marine Fisheries Service opposing this import proposal.”
But if scientists know this, and more than 30 objected to the Georgia Aquarium’s import permit, why don’t Billy Hurley’s Millions know it?
Millions of people are lured by advertising into eating, drinking, smoking, and even wearing against their better interest. Anyone who survived the 80s knows that we can convinced of just about anything. 80s hair? Nuff said. That
Mister Hurley finds attendance numbers indicative of anything other than 80s hair marketing tells me that, once again, he is not thinking about the marine creatures who have been entrusted into his care, but is looking at numbers and box office and return on investment for their “assets“.
So, what is the Georgia Aquarium teaching? What is the 80s hair marketing, as pronounced at the Georgia Aquarium, teaching the public that crosses its doors?
By my count in the 11Alive news story, visitors at the beluga tank learned
An older home video shot at the Georgia Aquarium, but no longer available, showed that the Georgia Aquarium experience taught children that dolphin ownership was okayand that wanting to own one, to have one in his own pool, was acceptable. That’s what keeping whales and dolphins in captivity teaches our children – not conservation.
As to the Georgia Aquarium’s attempts to link research or conservation with this import, Dr. Rose pointed out in her comment ” . . . there is no logical link to [the Georgia Aquarium's] support for research and this import proposal. It can support field work and even captive research without actually displaying belugas itself.”
As we await the decision by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s decision on the Georgia Aquarium’s beluga whale import permit application, educate yourself about marine mammal captivity. Recognize that what people are learning is of insufficient value to offset the right of these self-aware creatures to continue to live in their families and community groups in the wide expanse of the ocean.
Continue to object to the beluga import. Write letters to your local newspapers, wherever you live. Leave comments on any newspaper articles – as did those who commented on the AJC article – so that the public has an opportunity to hear why the import permit is unacceptable. Speak out. Be heard. Or the full-court “press” will continue and Billy Hurley will throw you in with his millions, saying that you support keeping these majestic ocean-swelling beings in captivity.