Tag Archives: Georgia

Baby beluga at Georgia Aquarium dies – despite Maris’ having “stood up to her end of the bargain”

I am almost speechless. So I’ll be brief.

Beluga Whale Maris and Baby at the Georgia Aquarium

Maris and “her end of the bargain” at the Georgia Aquarium, unattributed photo from Georgia Aquarium facebook page

Georgia Aquarium’s official statement, as quoted in the Atlanta Journal & Constitution, notes that the baby beluga whale, born on May 18, 2012, in the Georgia Aquarium, died today, despite Maris having “stood up to her end of the bargain.”

What bargain was that, Georgia Aquarium?

I’m just curious as hell. What was Maris’ bargain with you?

I have to say it again: Billy Hurley, Chief Zoological Officer at the Georgia Aquarium, said today, when interviewed about the death at the Georgia Aquarium of the baby beluga whale, “Maris stood up to her end of the bargain…”

The crassness of that statement – while not truly surprising, since Mr. Hurley doesn’t know the difference between dolphins, on the one hand, and dogs or horses, on the other – crossed the line.

What line is that?

It’s the line that reveals that the people who are entrusted with the care of these highly intelligent and sentient beings are incapable of appreciating this intelligence and sentience. It’s the line that reveals that the Georgia Aquarium views its dolphins, beluga whales and whale sharks as merely assets to grow a bottom line. It’s the line that reveals the aquariums’ willingness to tell only part of the story to preserve that “asset”. It’s the line that reveals the call for an immediate rehabilitation and release of these creatures to their god-given life in the wild.

If you had any doubt about these issues before, I trust that Mr. Hurley’s revealing comment got through to you and that you will sign a petition, sponsored by the Born Free Foundation, to end captivity for whales and dolphins.

So, to Mr. Hurley. Back to that bargain that you struck with Maris, what did you promise in return? Another chance to reproduce a baby that would either live its life in captivity, or die as your organization predicted it would? More captivity? Or did you promise something more lofty, like, you would continue to feed her in a small tank of salitified chlorinated artificially-cooled water?

That must be comforting to Maris, in this time of a mother’s grief.

I know, you and I are on the other side of that line, so I could stop there. But then Mr. Hurley said, after complimenting Maris on holding up her end of the bargain, “We will not give up.” Another question, Mr. Hurley. Not give up on what? Having Maris impregnated again, when you know the odds are against the baby’s, or babies’, survival?

Just sign the Born Free Foundation petition to end whale and dolphin captivity. You know he’s wrong.

Live in Georgia? Kiss some constitutional rights goodbye

Three monkeys see hear and speak no evil SB469

These quintessential lackadaisical citizens see and hear nothing wrong with SB469 and actively keep their mouth shut when they should speak

Senate Bill 469 is an attack on labor, no doubt.  But it is also an attack on our ability to speak, and thus, an infringement on our right to speak.  So, if you’re feeling all warm and cozy in your non-labor-related First Amendment Rights, I’m thinking you may be in avoidance mode.

Because it is an attack on labor, SB469 attacks workers.  Each worker in the state of Georgia.  Even though it exempts from some aspects of its attack the few organized under the Railway Labor Act and all educators, and the fraternal or brotherly orders (the latter two, as long they are behaving themselves), it attacks  us all, organized and represented or not.

This morning, I don’t have the energy to explain why.  I just want to say, if you really need, and want, an explanation for how this works, please ask me directly and we can talk over coffee.  Seriously.  But my writing fingers are wanting to be hiking fingers, or even laundry fingers, this morning.  So.

Suffice it to say, the bill does this in a few ways:

  1. By devoting lots and lots of words to telling workers that they have a right to work in Georgia without being a member of a union.  Really?  We had that right (not a right to work, mind you; just a right to not join a union), you misleading mother crunchers.  So don’t go telling innocents, the ones who don’t understand this legislation, that you have done something for them.  You haven’t.  You just wanted to poke labor in the eye.  Good use of my tax dollars, Senator Balfour and your 33 cronies.  Although maybe all of them didn’t really understand this.  I’ll give them that.  Section 2. 34-6-9(a)
  2. By making employees have to do more than make a decision once that they want to be a member of a union in order to have dues deducted from his or her paycheck.  In fact, as an employee, I must now provide a written notification every year that I want to remain in the union and want my dues deducted to make this happen.  Imagine that if you had to, in writing, authorize your health insurance every year or your coverage would be cancelled.  You get that, don’t you?  Come on.  They know that there are others out there like me, who will forget to turn in the annual written authorization.  I’d forget to get health insurance every year if Open Season didn’t default to continuing the same coverage.  I do believe that I, like most people, would remember if I didn’t like my coverage.  Just as an employee would remember to disavow his or her union if he or she were unhappy.  Come on.  Oh, I said that. Section 3. 34-6-25(a)
  3. By sweetening Number 2 for the employers, by making it unlawful for employers to contract with a union which utilizes this payroll-deduction form of payment without this annual written authorization.  Section 4. 34-6-26(a)
  4. By being a clear kowtow to management (if employers whine about it, they don’t have to post the message that my new bill says they should but don’t have to post). Section 2. 34-6-9(c)&(d)
  5. By expanding criminal prosecution to being able to be convicted of both conspiring to commit trespass and committing criminal trespass.  I’m not a criminal procedure expert, but suffice it to say, they expanded this, in this labor bill, so they’re just trying to whack labor with as much as they can.  And the icing on the cake is that, if convicted of both, the conspiracy is characterized as a misdemeanor of “high and aggravated nature.”  Section 5. 16-7-21(d)(2)

The bottom line for Georgians is:

Don’t organize.  Don’t picket.  Don’t suggest to someone else that they picket.  Don’t carry a sign on the public street lest you interfere with someone’s cocktail party or trunk show.  Your 4th Amendment Rights might be safe here in Georgia.  But the ones you need if your Fourths – or any of the others – start being eroded by your government, that is, your Firsts?  Not so much. 

For more information on this and other rights and how to protect them.

Join in finding freedom from captivity – A New Show

Ric O'Barry after release of The Cove

Ric O’Barry after release of The Cove, photo from The Examiner

For years, Ric O’Barry and Hardy Jones have spoken out against marine mammal captivity.  They have pointed out in movies, such as The Cove and A Fall from Freedom, that whales and dolphins do not belong in captivity.  Recently a group of former Sea World trainers have created an interactive website, where they speak out about the life of captivity for marine mammals.

Mr. O’Barry, as a former and probably the world’s most famous dolphin trainer, learned from being with them on an ongoing basis, that training them to perform and keeping them in captivity was not an ethical undertaking.  He learned that dolphins in those settings can become dispirited and depressed.  He learned what Jacques Cousteau admonished, that

No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal.  – Jacques Yves Cousteau

In response to that realization, Mr. O’Barry and others have devoted their lives toward securing the release of dolphins and orcas from a captive, for-human-entertainment life.

Rehabilitate the captives.  Mr. O’Barry has suggested an ethical alternative for the trainers and the captive facilities, like SeaWorld and the Georgia Aquarium.  That alternative is to provide real education about whales and dolphins by rehabilitating for a life in the wild the cetaceans whom the aquarium industry has captured or bred for captivity.  And making that the show. There are over 50 cetaceans at Sea World Orlando alone, and hundreds in the United States.  The international situation mirrors the United States one, with worse conditions than the meager protections afforded by U.S. laws.

Wouldn’t rehabilitation of former “performers” be a fine undertaking and a show that you’d be proud to attend?  And a wonderful memory for your children?  Of having been part of and been there on the front row of finding freedom for the world’s dolphins and whales.

You have, perhaps, seen the videos of dogs who had spent their entire lives chained to a post and then become free from that chain.  While dogs and dolphins are not an apt special comparison because dolphins are actually wild, undomesticated animals, watching even a dog experience freedom from a chain, unsuitable for its normal activity and range, may give us some sense of what an orca or dolphin, far more intelligent than a dog, would experience in the same situation.

We would need to be very responsible in that endeavor to release these highly intelligent mammals in a way that took into account their intelligence, their lifestyles, their instincts, their native habitat.  We could do that.  And if we humans are ethical and moral creatures, we will do that.

Rehabilitate the stranded.  After we succeeded in rehabilitating the captive-bred or captured dolphins and orcas, there would be ongoing work to rehabilitate whales and dolphins who strand, generally en masse, for reasons that still elude the human species.  Instead of finding reasons to retain the stranded, Sea World and the rest could re-focus the effort that they now expend in training for jumping, splashing, ball-throwing shows on caring for the stranded, locating the still-free remnant of the pods, and reuniting them.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to share with your children an experience of restoring a free life to these magnificent creatures?  As a comparison, if we desired to design a depressing life for dolphins and whales, we would wind up with a design like the current Sea World and The Georgia Aquarium.  Of course, that is not our desire.  That is, I feel certain, not the desire of the aquariums.  But the apparently willful blindness of the aquarium industry to the egregious, depressing life that they have designed for whales and dolphins is no excuse.  It is not an excuse for any of us, any more. We and they must step beyond the Mid-Twentieth Century mentality of dolphin and whale captivity.

The great news is that there is an alternative. An ethical alternative.  An alternative that will allow us all to participate in making a difference for life.  But we must together create that alternative.  How?

By being part of a demand for A New Show.

And, meanwhile, by taking a pledge not to go to the current one.  Be part of building an ethical outcome to the captivity dilemma.  Never again allow a dolphin to die as Jiyu, whose life will forever remind us that dolphins should be free.

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn't withstand captivity Taiji Cove

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn’t withstand captivity, photo by Heather Hill of Save Japan Dolphins

Namaste.

Are you pro-captivity or anti-captivity? There’s really nothing in between.

As the video makes pretty clear, there is really nothing in between, except indecision.  If you do not yet find yourself either standing for marine mammal freedom or against marine mammal freedom, I have one question for you.

What will it take for you to make up your mind?

Maybe learning the truth about the marine mammal captive industry would help?  The documentary, A Fall from Freedom, is a content-rich work that includes interviews with marine biologists who have performed research on marine mammals in the wild, executives with Sea World, brokers in the orca and dolphin-acquiring business, and advocates for the position that marine mammals cannot be provided a normal life in captivity.

No, wait.  One more question.

How many orcas and dolphins have to die in captivity, in the process of being taken captive, or in the drive hunts where often there is no attempt to capture them – but only slaughter them – before you stand on one side or the other?

Perhaps it would help you to know that there are already-existing ways to learn about and advocate for the freedom of marine mammals here in the United States and abroad, such as:

  • groups on Facebook that organize for marine mammal freedom (some great ones are Save Misty the Dolphin, Save Japan Dolphins and Free the Atlanta 11);
  • advocates on Twitter that you can follow for information (I am @mobrock,  and there is @MrHolise, @SaveMisty, @Misty_Dolphin, @janice_oceans, @blog4cetaceans, @livenbothworlds, @shortbus1, @AustinLynch1, @edatthebeach, @Luv_Dolphins, @SJDolphins, @RichardOBarry, @LincolnOBarry, @SeaShepherd, @earthisland, @earthrace, @PeteBethune, @orkacoalitie, @BlueVoiceOrg, and many others)
  • signing petitions (e.g., to stop a dolphin expo in MississippiPuerto Rico, the Maldives or St. Maarten);
  • signing pledges not to buy a ticket to a dolphin show;
  • watching the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove;
  • watching a film created by the dolphin “fishermen” for how they handle dolphins;
  • calling the consulates and embassies of Japan to voice your opposition to the dolphin hunt; or
  • leaving AT&T who has its name on the dolphin extravaganza at the Georgia Aquarium and write them letters to tell them about your decision.  AT&T can be reached at AT&T, 32 Avenue of  the Americas, New York, N.Y., 10013-2412.

The fight for all marine mammals, including Morgan who has lost the first round in regaining her freedom, continues, and will not stop until they are all given a chance to be rehabilitated and returned to the ocean. For right now, I hope you will follow Morgan’s story and the community in Norway who is eager to rehabilitate her in a sea pen near where her pod has been identified and then to release her to live with her pod, instead of being condemned to life of ownership by Sea World.

I hope you find yourself on this path with us, for a sustainable future that  recognizes that freedom and enlightenment for one species cannot be purchased by the enslavement of another.

Namaste.

A few words and a moment of silence for Jiyu

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn't withstand captivity Taiji Cove

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn’t withstand captivity, photo by Heather Hill of Save Japan Dolphins

To those who think that dolphin captivity is a benign enterprise, meet Jiyu, one of its latest casualties.  To those who go to the dolphin show, whether Sea World, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, or another, the dolphins you see in the show are the ones who made a successful transition from living in the wild to captivity or the progeny of those who made that transition.

What is central to this transition?  Force-feeding.  Wild dolphins catch and eat live fish.  Once they have been deprived of the ability to feed themselves, they must be motivated by food-deprivation (hunger) followed by force-feeding to accept dead fish as food.

Hand down the throat

Hand down the throat, photo by Martyn Stewart

What does force-feeding of a dolphin look like?  In a nutshell, the first trainers these dolphins will ever see must “break” them to accept a small enclosure.  The trainers, or most appropriately called “breakers”, force their hands down the throats of dolphins pushing dead fish to the point in their throats where the dolphins are unable to spit it out.  Over and over and over, until the dolphin accepts dead fish from the hands of people as their food.

You won’t see that from the trainers at Sea World or the Georgia Aquarium, because the first trainers somewhere else performed that ugly task.  The show trainers may still need to perform force-feeding, but they don’t typically do that in front of you.  They save that for the back-tanks.  After the show.

But what about the dolphins that do not make the transition from a free life to captivity and become a casualty?  Meet Jiyu, who was snatched from the wild, languished, unable to make the transition, unable to accept dead fish as food.

The trainers, realizing that she was a “lost cause” for the show or breeding in captivity, stopped caring for her.  And now she has disappeared from this miserable pen, and is likely in a grocery store, in the human food chain.

I am sorry, Jiyu.  Someday there will be no more dolphin shows or trainers whose  job it is to dominate and force-feed you.  Someday there will be trainers whose job it is to teach your kind to learn how to fish and be returned to the ocean where you deserved to live out your life.

And now, reader, please have a moment of silence to honor the life of Jiyu and the others who have fallen due to the captive dolphin industry.

Thank you to Martyn Stewart for the images of the breaker and Heather Hill for the video of Jiyu.  For more information, see Champions for Cetaceans, My Porpoise Driven Life and Suite 101.

The knee bone of dolphin killing

It is a sad morning around the world today because of

  • 26 men in Taiji, Japan,
  • a network of dolphin brokers,
  • aquarium owners, such as SeaWorld (Orlando, San Antonio, San Diego) or the Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta), and their member organizations, for instance, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums,
  • trainers and their organization, the International Marine Animals Trainers’ Association,
  • individuals who have made a business of “wildlife”,
  • the customers who attend “the dolphin show,” and
  • a lot of silent men and women.

Even here in Atlanta, where the Georgia Aquarium has “only” one wild-caught dolphin in its possession while the other ten were bred in captivity, the impact comes home to roost.  Why?  Because it is the dolphin show, ultimately, whether with wild-caught or captive-bred dolphins, that creates the market for dolphins that causes the slaughter.  Kinda like, the shin bone being connected to the thigh bone via the knee bone.  While some aquariums may suggest that they are not connected directly, they’re kinda like that thigh bone.  The Taiji hunters: they’re the shin bone.  The knee bone of this operation, the thing that holds it all together, that keeps it moving, that keeps it on its feet, running like gang busters, that is to say,  killing dolphins, is the show.  Without the dolphin show, there would be no slaughter.

In A Fall from Freedom, Brad Andrews, Chief Zoological Officer of Sea World Parks & Entertainmet, makes the case that it is the dolphin show that saves the dolphins; that twenty years ago, we were shooting them as a menace.  He states that the show has elevated them to our awareness such that we want to protect them.   Let me repeat.  Chief Zoological Officer.  Not Chief of Marketing.  I could maybe handle that statement from the Chief of Marketing.  It would be his job to say whatever he needed to get us paying dollars for dolphins.  But I expect science from a scientist.

Mr. Andrews, there are over 110 dolphins, including the 8 Risso’s that were killed last night, who have been killed this year alone in just one small cove in Japan.  The love factor isn’t saving them.  It’s killing them.  Intentionally.  Premeditatedly.  By design.  Because of the dolphin show.

So this morning, after 8 more were killed yesterday in Taiji, I am having one of those mornings, where I am deeply saddened by the collective effort to kill dolphins, that is to say, the collective effort of a few who whether they like it or not benefit from dolphin death, and then the silence of the rest.

This morning, I do not want to see a video of a person swimming with even a wild dolphin.  To me, at the risk of offending some of you, it is just the other end of the aquarium spectrum.  The dolphins are free, but we are still intruding.  When the few who are responsible intrude, there are thousands behind who are not responsible.  There are those who will hire the “Sea Worlds” of tour boats of less responsible people.  We will go to them, call it research, call it education, put the money in their pocket, and leave behind them a wake of petroleum and trash.  We will go to the dolphins, and teach them that they can trust us, when they cannot.  Not now.

This morning, the morning after yesterday’s tragedy in Taiji, I am wanting, more than anything, for us to truly respect them.  They are neither our entertainment, nor our therapy, nor a curiosity to be studied, nor a language to learn.

Can we not simply leave them alone?

To stop being part of the silence, for starters, you can attend on April 14 from anywhere there is dolphin captivity and sign a pledge that you won’t go to the dolphin show.

For more information:

  • http://savejapandolphins.org/blog/post/eight-rissos-dolphins-killed
  • http://holisecleveland.wordpress.com/ aka Cyber Whale Warrior
  • http://championsforcetaceans.com/
  • http://savemistythedolphin.blogspot.com/

Found Two Dogs 10-10-11 Clarkston, GA

I found two thirsty canine traveling companions this morning as I returned from work at about 8:00 a.m. (yes, I went to work only to realize that the shuttered building meant that today was a holiday).  Please call me at (404) 731-5841 to describe your lost pet (in case they weren’t originally together) or pets.

But since I can’t leave even a found dog blog without an editorial:  Ain’t it a hell of a note that posting a picture of a found dog/cat is discouraged so that the rightful owner can reclaim a lost pet, instead of someone who would claim to be the owner but would sell them for medical research or to be bait dogs in a dog-fighting or game fish operation.

So no pic, but two marvelous dogs who have clearly been much-loved and who much-loved their owners.

If you aren’t the owner, but would like to be added to a list of potential dog moms or dads, you, you marvelous creatures, are welcome to call me.  We’ll likely go through a fostering outfit.  Right now, I’m just trying to get the word out.