Tag Archives: orca

Mattel or Playmobil – Some Ideas for Whale- and Dolphin-Friendly Toy

Following up on the debacle of whale and dolphin (and shark-killing) toys that Mattel and Playmobil have devised, I have some suggestions that might actually engender a love of and respect for animals and nature, instead of Whale Dominatrix Barbie.

Sea Kayak and Whale from Tombarefoot.com

Sea Kayak and Whale from Tombarefoot.com Can you say, "Freaking Wow!"

Imagine how awesome it would be to see your child developing an interest in stand-up paddling or sea kayaking, such that it actually informed your family vacation next Summer.  How so very awesome to set their young minds on respect and appreciation, instead of control, manipulation, destruction – which is inherent in the current whale, dolphin and shark toys, that are rooted in maintaining and promoting the dolphin show.

A side-show barker couldn’t do much better at promoting the acceptability of whale and dolphin captivity than Mattel’s and Playmobil’s current toys.  But what about, instead of the current repertoire of whale- and dolphin-unfriendly toys, a:

  • Sea Kayak Barbie
  • Stand-up Paddling Barbie
  • Playmobil Dolphin Pod Watch
  • Whale Watching Barbie

Seriously.  Isn’t that the kind of toy you want your sons and daughters using to tease out their imagination (not that they need – or even should have – a plastic toy to do that – that’s a discussion for another day)?  One that calls them to do more than encourage the capture and domination of a species to do stupid tricks?  One that calls them to appreciate and value the magnificence of marine mammals in their own habitat, living in their own family and community groups.

Watch this video and see if you can’t imagine Mattel and Playmobil making a toy for your child that teaches these awesome values, instead of Capture! Dominate! Demean!

Wow.  Methinks there is a San Juan adventure in my future.  And if Mattel made a Sea Kayak Barbie?  Well, let’s just say that I can think of one little girl with an awesome Barbie in her future.

By the way, there are lots of these sea kayak and paddling adventure tours out there.  Since I have never done one, I can’t recommend one yet.  My friend over at Jules Rules is a serious traveler and outdoor adventure girl.  She’s going to be my first line for recommendations.

Mattel oughta have a Jules Rules Barbie.  Now, that is an awesome idea.

Nine ways you may be sabotaging dolphin and whale freedom

Sometimes it helps to look at something from another angle.  Instead of thinking, as we usually do, “what can I do to make dolphin and whale freedom a reality?” how about a question posed in the opposite sense:

What can I do to ensure that dolphins and whales continue to be

    • hunted
    • captured
    • slaughtered
    • bred in captivity
    • held in captivity forever

Well, I’ve listed nine ways you can make that happen:  nine ways you will help ensure that dolphins and whales are never, ever, ever, ever freed from captivity and are continued to be hunted and slaughtered.

Once you’ve read through the list, I invite you to “not do” the items on the list.  It requires thinking through a double negative (something especially challenging for me).  That is, don’t not make a phone call to the Japanese Embassy (in other words, DO call the Japanese Embassy).  To make it a little more inviting to walk through the double negatives, I’ve made it a contest, with prizes.

A contest!! Yea!!!!

Dolphin swimming free captivity blog

Striped dolphin: species lost to us yesterday in Taiji, Japan in The Cove. "Like" Save Misty the Dolphin on Facebook for updates on events in Taiji.

The Prize:  The winner will win a copy of The Cove AND When Dolphins Cry AND A Fall from Freedom.  The next two runners-up will get either The Cove, When Dolphins Cry or A Fall from Freedom (winner’s choice).

The Terms and Conditions:  Over the next week, that is, by Sunday, February 19, 2012, 5:00 pm EST (US), don’t do as many items on the following list as you can.  Each item counts as a point.  Write a comment on this blog documenting what you did and when you did it, and sum up your points.  But I must ask you to make it easy for me.  If you should write more than one comment, sum up the total points of all your activities and points in your last comment (so that I don’t have to go back and actually do The New Math – as it was called in my youth – risking that I might add incorrectly).  I will determine the winners over the next few days.  Then look for a final comment here announcing the winners on February 26, 2012.  If my instructions aren’t clear, just put your question in a comment, and I’ll try to do better.

So this week, let’s not sabotage dolphin freedom!  Don’t not make some phone calls (that is, DO make calls).  Don’t not send letters directly to aquariums (that is, DO write letters to the aquariums), telling them that you will not come to their aquarium until they agree to close their dolphin and whale captivity programs and begin a rehabilitation program to release the dolphins and whales back to the wild.

GOOD LUCK on “not” doing the items on the following list!!

  1. Not making phone calls or writing to Japanese Embassies, Dolphin Base, Dolphin Resort
    1. Contact info, courtesy of Save Misty the Dolphin
  2. Not participating in organized contact campaigns, like Red Envelope on July 1 and 2, 2012, (follow @Letter4Dolphins on Twitter) or Dolphin Hour, every Friday at 4:00 pm EST US (follow @DolphinHour on Twitter)
  3. Not writing to the aquariums directly (thanks to Elaine for pointing this one out).  Here are just a few.
    1. The Georgia Aquarium, 225 Baker Street, Atlanta, GA 30313 Tel: (404) 581-4000
    2. Dolphin Quest, 425 Waikoloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa, HI 96738, Tel: 808.886.2875 Fax: 808.886.7030
    3. Indianapolis Zoo, 1200 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46222 Tel: (317) 630-2001
    4. SeaWorld Orlando, 7007 Sea World Drive, Orlando, FL 32821 Tel: (888) 800-5447
    5. SeaWorld San Diego, 500 SeaWorld Drive, San Diego, CA 92109 Tel: (800) 25-SHAMU (74268) Tell me THAT’S not disgusting!
    6. Brookfield Zoo, c/o Chicago Zoological Society, 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, IL 60513 Tel: (708) 688-8000
    7. Marineland, 9600 Oceanshore Boulevard, St. Augustine, FL 32080 Tel: (904) 471-1111 or (877) 933-3402 Fax: (904) 460-1330  Hidden Bonus Point for writing the total number of living and deceased dolphins from Marineland
    8. Miami Seaquarium, 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, FL 33149 Tel: (305) 361-5705
    9. Mirage Hotel, 3400 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, Nevada 89109 Tel: (702) 791-7111  (that’s a great place for a dolphin tank)
  4. Not talking to your friends about captivity.
    1. Sources: Don’t read more blogs and talk about blog posts
    2. Don’t do readings of blog posts at local coffee-houses (This one is my particular favorite, and worth five points, because there are opportunities like this on our home-based front lines.)
    3. Here are some great blogs to not not not read (I’ve gotten myself all confused with the double negative, so I just decided to quadruple it and see if it were any clearer):
      1. Save Japan Dolphins, Cyber Whale Warrior, Champions of the Seas, Save Misty the Dolphin, Champions for Cetaceans, Freedom for Marine Mammals, A Family Standing up for What They Believe In, My Attempt to Help & Your Choice to Read About It, Swimming Free,
  5. Not sharing out online links to A Fall from Freedom, The Cove, and When Dolphins Cry
  6. Not buying an extra copy or two of dolphin videos and sharing them with someone
    1. The Cove
    2. When Dolphins Cry
    3. A Fall From Freedom
  7. Not reading Ceta-base from cover to cover (it’s fascinating, by the way).
  8. Not hosting a screening of The Cove, A Fall from Freedom, or When Dolphins Cry in your home. This one has a sliding scale of points, depending on how many people attend and sign a pledge not to go to the dolphin show.  One point per attendee, plus one point for each who signs the online pledge at your screening.
  9. Not utilizing social media to share out all of the above information about dolphin capture, captivity, and slaughter
    1. In Facebook it’s called “Share”
    2. In Twitter it’s called “Tweet”
    3. In Google+ it’s called . . . what is it called?
    4. Then there’s Twit-Longer, Pinterest, and more

I know that some of this might be hard to get done in one week.  But let’s go for it.

This is what we’re playing for.

Dolphin freedom surfing

Don't do as much as you can on the list and win this for dolphins (and videos for you)


An epidemic that could be ended

There is an epidemic on this planet.  Even though we are aware of it.  Even though we could stop it from spreading.  Even though we could cut out the delusional and disingenuous cancer that it is.  Even though we could educate people to its true nature.

Why aren’t we stopping it?  Why are we not curing ourselves of something that is infinitely curable?

Ask The Georgia Aquarium.  Ask SeaWorld.  Ask the Miami Seaquarium.  Ask the Shedd Aquarium.

Ask the Indianapolis Zoo.  Ask Dolphin Quest.  Ask The Mirage.  Ask Dolphin Cove.  Ask Theater of the Sea.  Ask the National Aquarium.  Ask Dolphins Plus.

Ask Florida’s Gulfarium.  Ask to see their living versus their deceased dolphins list.

So, why aren’t we ending this epidemic?  This epidemic of dolphin and whale captivity?

Ask to see their door receipts.

If you watched the video, you know that’s a lot of door receipts.  A lot of hot dogs.  A lot of cola.  A lot of really bad reasons not to end dolphin and whale captivity.

Thanks to TheComanchewolf for the video on Youtube.

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


Give the gift of dolphin and orca freedom

This Holiday season, when you receive that solicitation from Sea World, the Georgia Aquarium or another aquarium or swim-with enterprise to buy your family a few minutes in the presence of captive dolphins or whales, just say no.

No matter how “cute” and friendly or massive and majestic they are, when you buy a ticket to the show, you are purchasing cetacean slaughter as well as capture and captive breeding.

Whatever their origin, this captive life is characterized by housing in a morbidly small tank, or occasionally more than one tank, away from the communal and familial groups with whom they live in the wild, with insufficient quality of life, unable to display the behaviors that they have for more than 30,000,000 years.

When you buy that ticket, you are purchasing force-feeding to train them that dead-fish-in-the-hands-of-humans is food.  You are buying a ticket in a crap shoot that the next dolphin or orca will adjust to captivity. Or will survive captivity.  And the stake for each captive is her life.

For a gift this year, why not try spreading the message of freedom and respect for these naturally peace-loving marine animals?  Buy a copy of The Cove for someone who does not yet know of the horrors occurring right now in Taiji, Japan.  Donate to Save Japan Dolphins or buy apparel that saves dolphins.  [Someone in my life is getting a Save Japan Dolphins bracelet and maybe a sweatshirt and a hat or two.  Wonder who?]  Watch the free documentary A Fall from Freedom with your friends and family.  Contribute to the ongoing legal efforts to free Morgan and Tokitai (Lolita).

So push “play” and watch this marvelous video by Gudrun Wiesflecker, if you haven’t already, as you read these last few words.

While the story of captivity is not a pleasant one, the story of willful blindness isn’t either.  The lasting reward of contributing to cetacean freedom, on the other hand, is a gift worthy of any holiday, but especially these now upon us.

It probably will not be the last time I say this to you, but Happy Holidays.  Peace and freedom to you and to all cetaceans, now and forever.

Cove Blue for Jiyu

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.


Why Orcas Should not be in Captivity

The magnificent Orca

Naomi Rose, PhD, Senior Scientist for the Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States, has published a white paper which summarizes certain facts relevant to the condition of orcas in captivity versus those who live a natural life in the wild. Dr. Rose points to the following reasons why these marvelous creatures should not be captured or bred and held in captivity:

  • Longevity: Orcas in the wild have a significantly shorter lifespan in captivity than in the wild. Wild males orcas have a maximum life expectancy of 60-70 years; females 80-90 years – comparable to a human life span. No captive male orca has ever lived past 35. Ever. Only two captive female orcas have lived past 40.
  • Causes of death: The most common cause of death in orcas pneumonia, septicemia and other infections. It appears that the ability of veterinary care for captive orcas is too unsophisticated to detect health issues on a time-frame that can intercede and save the individual. A complicating factor in orca health appears to be immunosuppression, which in humans, is known to be greatly exacerbated by depression and stress, both of which are common in the captive orca population.
  • Dental health: Well-documented and common teeth issues in captive orcas which do not appear to the same degree in their wild counterparts. The poor dental health is in part due to the orcas gnawing on metal bars and concrete walls, which breaks the teeth. These broken teeth, most often drilled out as a palliative measure, serve as a direct conduit for infection.
  • Aberrant Behavior: Aggression toward other orcas in the wild is undocumented, while it is not uncommon in captivity. So, too, is mother orca rejection of offspring: uncommon in the wild; common in captivity.
  • Harm to humans: Pay attention to the current OSHA hearing regarding the SeaWorld’s orca program and specifically whether SeaWorld may have knowingly exposed its trainers and other employees to dangerous and life-threatening conditions including Dawn Brancheau. Four humans have been killed by orcas in captivity, while there is no documented case of a wild orca killing a single human.

They do not belong in captivity. They do not thrive in captivity.

Please don’t go to the orca, or dolphin, show. For more information, please watch A Fall From Freedom, a full-length documentary currently streaming over the internet.