Tag Archives: Dolphin Tales

Shaka: Wild-caught and housed at the Georgia Aquarium

Shaka Georgia Aquarium phinventory

Shaka, wild-caught, approximately 27 years old

Shaka was wild-caught.

On May 27, 1988, she ceased living with her pod, and became M88-F1, aka NOA0003745, and the hope of a captive dolphin breeding program for Dolphin Quest and other dolphin display, show and encounter organizations, like the Georgia Aquarium, where she is housed today.

She arrived at either Dolphin Quest Bermuda or Dolphin Quest Hawaii on August 20, 1988.  Where was she for those 86 days?  The lack of clarity arises in the inadequacy of record-keeping, and I’m not certain how one really discovers the facts of dolphin capture, breeding and transport.  Ceta-base is fundamental to research about dolphin birth, transport and death.

Estimated to have been born in 1985, Shaka has been used to breed dolphins for the captive industry.

At least two of her offspring are now living in captivity.

If the records are accurate, it appears that Lokahi and Kolohe are twins, born four days apart.  It is possible that Shaka’s keepers did not realize that she was still carrying Kolohe.  And it is not impossible that the twin birthing process can proceed over this period of time.  Twinning is dolphins is rare, no greater than 1% of pregnancies.  It is a testament to Shaka’s strength that both boys lived, if indeed, the records attributing both boys to Shaka and their dates of birth are accurate.

After the births of Kolohe and Lokahi, Shaka is reported to have lost at least two calves in this effort to breed and supply more captive dolphins:

  • a female stillborn calf was born on September 26, 1996, sired by Hobi, and
  • a female calf, also sired by Hobi, born on November 3, 1997, who lived 16 days, and died on November 19, 1997.

No records indicate that Shaka subsequently became pregnant or gave birth to more dolphins.   Dolphins generally breed only once every five years, because in the wild, the calves nurse from three to 10 years and stay with their mother continuing to learn how to be a dolphin.

So Shaka was busy.  Too busy, I’d say.  Let’s see.  In the wild, they generally give birth only once every five years.  Shaka gave birth to four calves in three years.

Let’s see:

  • July 8, 1994 – Lokahi
  • July 12, 1994 – Kolohe
  • September 26, 1996 – stillborn female calf
  • November 3, 1997 – female calf, died November 19, 1997

Does that sound like care was taken of Shaka to ensure that her health and vitality were safeguarded?

Nah.  It doesn’t to me either.

So now, she is held at the Georgia Aquarium, where she gets to do stuff like get filmed by CNN picking the Superbowl winner.

And remember, it is the dolphin show that REQUIRES that dolphins like Shaka keep churning out babies.

Ready to take that pledge not to go to a dolphin show?

For more information about the 11 dolphins housed at the Georgia Aquarium, and future educational events, “like” the Facebook page of Free the Atlanta 11.

Thanks to Ceta-base and Alltomdelfiner.se and the other linked sites for the information in this story.

No difference between dolphins and dogs, Georgia Aquarium?

It is amazing to me that the United States allows people who do not understand the fundamental nature of dolphins to be their caretakers. But that is exactly what is happening right this minute at the world’s largest aquarium. The organization that is entrusted with the lives of “its” eleven dolphins doesn’t see the difference between them and dogs. Or horses.

Now, if you have dogs and horses, you already know that even those two species shouldn’t be lumped. And those two species have been living under the care of humans for over 10,000 years. But let’s get to what the Senior Vice-President of Husbandry (I dare ya not to say “Ew!” when you read the definition of husbandry in the context of the Aquarium’s dolphins. Hey! I didn’t write it!) and Chief Animal Officer, Billy Hurley, at the Georgia Aquarium actually said (listen up beginning at 18 seconds):

Maybe this is gilding the lily, but Mr. Husbandry, I mean, Hurley, also said, in a piece by Access Atlanta, to announce the opening of its dolphin extravaganza:

I look at people playing with their dogs in the park and see the dogs jumping really high in the air to catch a Frisbee and say, ‘That dog is having a lot of fun.’ That’s exactly what you would see in the training of our dolphins; our trainers are playing with them every day.

So, Mr. Hurley thinks that a wild creature living in captivity is having fun. Sayin’.

As is the case with most corporations, they make assertions to sell a product, or rather, to sell an idea which will imprint something on your brain that will then inform your decision to buy that product again and again. So, when the world’s largest aquarium says, with casual authority, that the dolphins could be dogs or horses, it doesn’t really matter, they are counting on that idea – that image of your wagging lap dog or your favorite jumper who likes you but hates your brother (grin) – creating a warm and fuzzy in your brain somewhere. It tells you that dolphins-in-an-aquarium is natural, just like your dog curled up beside you on the sofa while you drink egg nog and listen to premature Christmas carols. Are they ever really premature?

But here are some facts:

Let’s recap that: Dogs always liked table scraps, so they may have sought us out, and live longer with us than in the wild. Horses, same story, except it seems we don’t know much about how or when we domesticated horses. Dolphins are not “domesticated” animals; they are merely wild animals held in captivity, like a lion or an elephant. And how do dolphins fare in the wild-to-captivity transition? Not well. Not well at all. They live longer in the wild. Plain and simple. Ergo, the comparison to dogs and horses is misplaced, Mr. Georgia Aquarium Man.

So, if the Georgia Aquarium almost succeeded in creating that lap dog-dolphin connection in your brain, I’m trusting that you now can begin to see that the comparison is grounded in marketing more than fact. Until the Georgia Aquarium appreciates that a comparison of dolphins to dogs or horses is inappropriate, their ownership of these wild creatures is, likewise, inappropriate.

But to borrow, and modify, an old country expression, that dolphin can’t hunt. Because you won’t let him.

One last thought: while David Kimmel, Georgia Aquarium President and Chief Operating Officer (they don’t get any bigger than that, well, except for Bernie Marcus, CEO and Chairman of the Board) and the rest of us “go about [our] lives,” the Atlanta 11 remain captive in a set of tanks that are morbidly small compared to their natural range and removed from the natural rhythms of the ocean to which the dolphin has been connected for 50 million years.

In an ethical society, these are beings with an inherent right to go about their lives and not be considered someone’s “actor” in an extravaganza, or someone else’s amusement, or even curiosity, or a human-named ambassador for the ocean.

Sign the Pledge: Say No! to the Dolphin Show.

Note to self: Blog for another day is the point that Mr. Hurley also doesn’t see the difference between the dolphins and “other mammals.” Hey, PETA!! I think Mr. Hurley agrees with you! Sounds like you may have a hostile witness.

Whether dolphin shows are educational – a matter of definition?

Congressman Young’s (R-AK) point, during a hearing regarding marine mammal captivity, that whether the dolphin shows are educational or not educational is a matter of definition, might be a valid one.  What specific kind of information any particular dolphin exhibit imparts can certainly be varied: one exhibit might focus on dolphin life span and intelligence while another addresses family structure and habitat range, while still another describes what we understand and do not understand about dolphin communication.

But saying it’s a matter of definition is a convenient cop-out, and not altogether true.  Because one should look, that is, Congressman Young should look, at the actual content of shows that justify keeping marine mammals in captivity, before cavalierly speaking of something being a matter of definition.  And so should we all.  So, here, for your convenience, Congressman Young (and the minute numbers of you who are actually reading this), is an example:

And more:

I’m just wondering what you learned about dolphins in those videos, shot at a real dolphin show.  That they can jump?  I’m thinking, just thinking, that you already knew that.

I’m also thinking that you didn’t need to see a dolphin in captivity to know that it can jump, or that it can jump in perfect timing with other dolphins, or that it can jump in perfect timing with other dolphins 15 feet into the air.  Or that it can be trained to tail walk.  Or splash.  Or make noises on command.

Here’s what I’m guessing you didn’t learn at the dolphin show: that the high-pitched noise, flashing lights, constant noise (encouraging the audience to be loud?!), explosion simulations – where to stop with this list – not to mention being deprived of legitimate natural behaviors  – like catching it own prey, swimming in the natural rhythm of the ocean and its seasons, swimming fast, swimming far, and swimming deep – puts a constant stress on the dolphin that nature does not.  And I know that you know what stress does to the health of a living being.

So, in the end, none, I repeat, none of the show is about education.  Its sole imperative is to entertain.  To entertain you so that you will come back, and you will tell your friends to go to the entertaining dolphin show.  And your friends will tell their friends.

Here’s what I’m hoping.  That you’ll recognize the moral bankruptcy of the dolphin show.  And you won’t go.  And you’ll tell your friends not to go.  And your friends will tell their friends.

And just one short post-script: be on your guard against being lulled, fooled or warmed by current dolphin and whale movies into supporting captivity by going to a dolphin show.  Here’s a dolphin and whale movie that you can watch on your computer that will allow the warm-and-fuzzies you get from those Hollywood movies not to send you straight to the Georgia Aquarium or SeaWorld to watch dolphins that were not saved, but enslaved.

Let the dolphins be free; watch a documentary, go to the beach, hug your dog.

Playmobil – Dolphin toys teach that captivity is A-OK

Accurate: Taken out of their natural habitat

Accurate: Taken out of their natural habitat

Here is the true educational impact of dolphin captivity: Kids love the dolphin shows. They want to be trainers or aquarium vets so that they, too, can capture dolphins and show how much they love them. In the meantime, Playmobil makes its few beans by capitalizing, in between multiple aquarium visits, on the children’s love of this amazing creature.

Now, there are those who went to the shows as children and became dolphin advocates, but I’m not focusing on that itsy-bitsy minority right now.  I’m focusing on the 99% of people (based on my personal observation of how many people go to the dolphin show, versus how many of us are standing on the sidewalks or in The Coves around the world trying to protect them) who continue to think that dolphins in captivity is natural.

The Georgia Aquarium and its ilk, including the garishly commercial SeaWorld chain and/or minion claim that dolphin captivity programs have an educational or conservation purpose (convenient, because otherwise it would be illegal in the United States to keep marine mammals in captivity).  The actual text of the Marine Mammal Protection Act notes, however, that the aquarium industry, itself, gets to set those standards.

Thanks to Playmobil, those standards are clear for anyone, including the child that a parent unwittingly exposes to a most cruel and inhumane captivity industry, to see.  The standards (I’ve paraphrased, if you will), plus a few

Accurate: Taken out of their natural habitat

Can you spot what’s wrong with this picture?

informal ones, are :

  1. Display the animals regularly (if you only do it once in a while the customers might stop coming).
  2. Make people think these dolphin tricks are “natural behaviors” even though our own training manual is about training “new” behaviors for the show.  Don’t worry about the logic failure there.  Just keep saying “behavior” over and over and work in “free” and “freedom” a few times, too, and keep smiling all the while at the paying customers.
  3. Train the dolphins to ensure that they do the trick, I mean behavior, during the shows for paying customers (it’s embarrassing when the tricks don’t play out).  Tell the customers that even though dolphins don’t  routinely jump through hula hoops in the ocean, they would if they could.
  4. Tell the paying guests that the dolphins are protected from mean predators that live in the wild, and don’t tell them that dolphins are at the top of the marine food chain and don’t really have predators.
  5. Keep the chlorinated water clean.
  6. Keep a vet handy for those annoying upper respiratory issues that seem to occur more frequently in the dolphins that we own than in the ones we haven’t caught yet.
  7. Whatever happens, keep on smiling.

The facts that the Georgia Aquarium does not reveal to their paying guests, during their educational extravaganza are:

  1. Dolphins in the wild swim to depths of 850 feet.
  2. The deepest tank we have is somewhere around 30 feet; the shallowest is 12 feet.
  3. Dolphins in the wild swim up to 70 miles per hour.
  4. Dolphins in the wild swim up to somewhere around 100 miles per day.  They may do this just in a local area or they may travel for miles and back.
  5. The dolphins in our tanks can swim a few body lengths before having to turn around to do it again, over and over and over for the rest of their lives.
  6. Dolphins in captivity have an average shorter life span than in the wild, despite the position taken by the captivity industry.
  7. Many dolphin babies in captivity die in the first few days.
  8. Dolphin babies in the wild stay with their mothers and their extended families.
  9. Dolphin babies are separated from their mothers for the captivity industry (whether from wild capture/slaughter or from a dolphin breeder).
  10. Dolphins are trained with food deprivation.  That’s right.  These highly intelligent creatures know that food comes with doing the trick.

Don’t buy your children this toy.  Watch a couple of documentaries about the truth of dolphin captivity.

And don’t go to the dolphin show.

To let Playmobil know that they are teaching our children to disrespect the very animals that they love, and either knowingly or unwittingly contributing to dolphin captivity and slaughter, please contact them:

PLAYMOBIL® USA, INC.
P.O. Box 877
Dayton, NJ 08810
Voice: (609) 395-5566
Fax: (609) 395-3015
Customer Service e-mail address: service@playmobilusa.com
Non-Customer Service e-mail address: webmaster@playmobilusa.com

Thanks to Amanda Faughnan for the foundation of this piece.

 

Dolphin Dance

This isn’t a new video, but the Women for Whales posted it on Facebook today.  And I’m so glad that I happened to see it.

Here’s what I saw.  I saw life at its purest, most self-expressed.  I saw freedom.  I saw play.  I saw love and family and glee.

This is what dolphins do when they are in control of their own lives.   They dance.  They hold hands.  They flap their fins in some kind of gleeful signal.  All in the wide open ocean.

Shame on the Georgia Aquarium, SeaWorld, Miami Seaquarium, Marineland, Resorts World Sentosa, and all dolphinaria and aquaria for capturing and enslaving a creature who deserves to be free and in control of his or her own life.

If something stirred in you, like a sense of your own freedom, and how precious it is to be free and fully self-expressed, please contact Save Japan Dolphins, the Oceanic Preservation Society, Free the Atlanta 11, Save Misty the Dolphin on Facebook or Saddest Dolphins.com (I’m sure there are many others, too) to find out how to make a difference in the lives of dolphins today, and forever.

Become part of a growing community that celebrates and demands self-determination and freedom for these extraordinary creatures.

No AT&T? No problem. No dolphin extravaganza either.

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Where dolphins are home

Just a short status update on my transition from a supporter of dolphin captivity, AT&T.  In case you have missed it, AT&T is a proud supporter of dolphin captivity.  And I am not.

So, the relationship was doomed.  No matter how great the service was, or wasn’t, where there is an alternative, I knew one choice was right for me: leave AT&T and its Dolphin Extravaganza.  As Georgia Aquarium says, the most amazing show this side of Broadway.  Are you kidding?  Those dolphins, 10 of the 11 born into captivity, one wild caught, have a life that should look like the one above, but they live in small concrete tanks.  And will until they die, either prematurely, because dolphins do not live as long in captivity.  Or unmercifully, at an old age.  I am just not sure how the people who make a living from dolphin captivity sleep at night.  But one thing I’ll guarantee ya: the pillow where they rest their head each night was purchased by dolphin captivity; every night, 365 1/4 days a year.

And it gets worse than captivity, if death is worse.  The jury in my head is still out on that one.  But I’m leaning toward captivity being the far crueler and more unusual.

So now, instead of an iPhone3 with AT&T, I have an iPhone4 and FaceTime (!!!!), with Verizon.

Fewer dropped calls.  Truth.

And no dolphin extravaganza on my conscience. Or my pillow.

Now, how about that 2X4 from Home Depot?  Yep.  I’ve switched to Lowe’s.