Tag Archives: marine mammal

SeaWorld adds new boat to its Flotilla of Fabrication and it’s NEWS!

A new statistical evaluation by the Associated Press of survival rates of marine mammals in captivity asserts that marine mammals live longer in captivity than in the wild.  While one might be called a heretic for considering a statistical evaluation by a “news” organization to be inferior to one conducted by scientists, readers or viewers of “news” reports should know enough to be skeptical about “glommy” statistics, whether by a news organization, or scientists whose livelihoods depend upon maintaining a captivity industry, or scientists whose job is the welfare and study of wild marine mammals and their habitats.   I am not a statistician, any more than is ABC or the Associated Press, so I’ll leave the statistics dialogue to the scientists.  But it does leave me asking, “Who ees thees Associated Press?”

But perhaps it is appropriate, then, that ABC News then followed the “launch” of the Associated Press’ new-found expertise in marine mammal statistics by a story about SeaWorld launching a new boat in its latest effort to rehabilitate its image.

SeaWorld's latest effort to rehabilitate its image.

SeaWorld’s latest effort to rehabilitate its image.  Okay, I added the quotation marks.  Original photo by ABC News 10.

While I am not an expert in boats either, I do have at least five senses, a brain, a heart and the ability to use all of them in evaluating “news” stories.  It must be big news that SeaWorld is using boats.  Big news that SeaWorld has veterinarians on staff whose job it is to keep captive marine mammals alive, and have had 50 years to perfect their craft.  Big news that SeaWorld is doing rescue.  Big news that SeaWorld now has new boat technology.  Big news?

Else why would the Associated Press and ABC News cover it?

I cannot claim to know, but it certainly begs, on its knees with a mournful plea, the question.

Using the “news” to turn the conversation on the uncertain statistic of life expectancy is tricky, as is a suggestion that medical care should be improved, as if resolving those two issues also resolves the “problem” of captivity for marine mammals . . . as if saying, “If we can make them live longer in captivity than in the wild, we have a right to and we should,” when that is based in an ethical as well as logical fallacy.

That conclusion omits the entirety of the notion that animals have a right to live their birthright, not a plasticized, containerized, medicated, jelloized – that  is, captive – version of it.

What you can do:  Support the efforts across the nation to find a legislative solution to the real ethical problem injected into our culture by marine mammal captivity.  One easy first step is to sign three petitions.

  • Support California orca legislation, the Orca Welfare and Protection Act, by signing the petition at SumofUs.org.  Over 1.2 million people have already signed.  Add your voice to this groundswell.
  • Support Senator Greg Ball’s effort to ban orca captivity in the state of New York (can be signed by New York residents only).
  • Sign Florida fifth grader, Marissa’s, petition to Senator Mark Rubio to introduce a bill banning captivity.
  • Reach out to your own state leadership and find the ones who are the true advocates for ethics and compassion for animals.  Find the ones who are willing, as are California Assemblyman Richard Bloom and New York State Senator Greg Ball, to request that an industry that has literally banked on our inability to see through the spandex and the splashing to the horrific nature of captivity for marine mammals retire its business model of exploitation.

Because this is worth fighting for.  When SeaWorld ends its current exploitative business model, that will be news.

Celebrate life by working to preserve habitat, not by going to see orcas held in small concrete tanks.  Photo by NOAA.

Celebrate life by working to preserve habitat, not by going to see orcas held in small concrete tanks. Photo by NOAA.

 

2006 report presages Georgia Aquarium effort to import wild-caught beluga whales

In gathering materials for the upcoming public comment period on the Georgia Aquarium’s application to import 18 wild-caught beluga whales into the United States, I have been trying to decide how to best catalogue and file the articles, blogs, and reports.

Well, I don’t have any words of wisdom there.

Adult and baby beluga whale

Adult and baby beluga whale, photo from The Telegraph

BUT.  I think the easiest thing is for me is to post the “chercest” bits here.  With or without commentary.

A short excerpt from a 2006 report by William Rossiter presaged the current effort by the Georgia Aquarium to import 18 wild-caught beluga whales into the United States:

The bad news is that NMFS wants to ignore that Gasper and Nico had been captured in Russia. Their shadowed past includes the brutal, inhumane but officially permitted Russian beluga capture operations that should have made their import to the US illegal under animal welfare laws. However, their import was proposed and promoted for humane reasons only, a one-time “rescue” necessary for their survival from a truly horrible situation. But when the time came NMFS issued an import permit and supporting documents minimizing humane concerns. The permit may have been intended instead to facilitate future imports of Russian-caught belugas or their progeny. An open door for Russian beluga imports would persuade the Russians to make more brutal captures, making NMFS complicit in future deaths and suffering. NMFS chose to ignore video and other evidence of the incredibly brutal Russian capture operation, insisting that specific evidence had to be submitted for each beluga up for an import permit. NMFS knows that evidence about any captures is hard to get, and much import data is incomplete.

So much for “rescuing” Gasper, captured in Russia, 1997, died January 2, 2007; and Nico, captured in Russia, 1997(?), died October 31, 2009.  Thanks to Ceta-base for maintaining the Beluga whale database.

Read Beluga Misadventures, by William Rossiter, published in Cetacean Society International, Whales Alive!, Vol. XV, No. 4, October 2006, and get geared up for the first

Urgent Call to Action

to show support for wild, free beluga whales, to be held on Saturday, July 21, from noon to 3 p.m. at the main entrance of the Georgia Aquarium.  Tell the event hosts that you will be coming.