Tag Archives: The Cove

Open Letter to the City of Jacksonville

The City of Jacksonville, Florida, is considering opening an aquarium. A group called Aquajax is actively promoting this project, with one of its stated goals to “[m]ake the city a desired vacation location for both local and foreign visitors.”

From Lolita, A Slave to Entertainment.

From Lolita, A Slave to Entertainment.

Please consider the following issues as evidence that in contrast to making Jacksonville such a “desired” location, the erection of an aquarium, at considerable financial cost, such a facility will doom Jacksonville to being out-of-step with the current and growing sensibilities of an increasingly ethical public.   Some of the problems of captivity for orcas were brought to the public’s attention by the book, Death at SeaWorld, by New York Times best-selling author David Kirby, and the award-winning film, Blackfish, but the problems of captivity extend beyond that one dolphin species.

SeaWorld, which showcases orcas but owns in its “collection” many other species.  These other species are doing little to redeem SeaWorld’s reputation, as the public, worldwide, becomes aware that exploitation of marine creatures, including but not limited to marine mammals, is an endeavor that we must begin to phase out, not encourage.  The public, which may recognize SeaWorld’s efforts in coordinated rescue efforts of stranded or injured marine animals, also recognizes that one good deed (rescue) does not offset a horrid one (captivity).  There is no balancing that will remove the blemish of captivity from SeaWorld.

Consider these other “current events:”

  • The National Aquarium is ending its dolphin captivity after it recognized that phasing out its dolphin shows, which it had done only about a year previously, was not “enough”.
  • The Vancouver Aquarium Board has voted to end captive breeding.
  • Southwest Airlines ended its 25-year cross-promotion with SeaWorld.
  • The Georgia Aquarium has been denied a permit to import 18 wild-caught Russian beluga whales.
  • Bills to end orca captivity are under consideration in both California and New York. These bills, with the support of over 1.2 million people, are a reflection of the recognition that marine mammals and other oceanic aquatic life should not be exploited for human entertainment.
  • A plan to release Lolita (Tokitae) from the Miami Seaquarium has been proposed by the Orca Network.
  • Facilities in the United States that hold marine mammals inspire the growth of such facilities worldwide, which, in turn, supports a horrific dolphin hunting industry in Taiji, Japan, and elsewhere, where thousands of dolphins, hundreds of entire families of dolphins, can be slaughtered each year, in order for a number of young, pretty dolphins to be forced to live a life forever in captive, money-making (whether for-profit or non-profit) facilities.
  • Other marine mammals, such as polar bears, seals and sea lions, have an equal right to live in their own natural habitat.  Zoos and aquariums that hold them are targeted for being unable to provide suitable habitat, and in any case, deny them their birthright.
  • Zoo Mendoza in Argentina is being called upon by nearly a million people to release Arturo, a polar bear living in desert-like conditions, to a better facility in Canada.
  • SeaWorld’s last remaining polar bear, Johnny, who lived an unnatural solitary life, finally succumbed to this life and died, even while being touted as being in good health.
  • Zoos are coming under more scrutiny as being incapable of providing the kind of life that actually teaches our children to respect wildlife.

It is becoming all too clear every day to more compassionate and ethics-centered humans that “education” at the cost of denying the birthright of animals who should have freedom is a cost that is inconsistent with a humane society.

To learn more about the reality of the captive marine mammal industry, please watch A Fall from Freedom, Blackfish, A Whale of a Business, Lolita: A Slave to Entertainment.

To learn more about the link between dolphin captivity and dolphin killing, please watch the Academy Award-winning film, The Cove, and follow the efforts of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and its campaign, Operation Infinite Patience, dedicated to ending the horrific dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan.  Here is one report from last year’s dolphin hunt, which is set to resume on September 1.

Do not invest your monies, or your ethics, in a dying industry.

Cove Blue for Jiyu

Photo Credit: James R. Evans / U.S. Pacific Fleet

How can I watch Blackfish? Let me count the ways.

As Blackfish continues to open in theaters around the world, the U.S. is “atwitter” with the film’s buzz, with over a million viewers in the 9p to 11p time slot on October 24 alone.  Folks from the rest of the world are wondering when they, too, can see this game-changing film.

Not only showing the film, CNN has provided a week’s worth of programming, with Jane Velez-Mitchell, Anderson Cooper, and Crossfire, highlighting the issues inherent in keeping marine mammals in captivity.  Meanwhile the Blackfish-screening TIDE keeps rolling on CNN with two more scheduled showings, on October 26 and October 27.

Blackfish still wowing the U.S. audience this weekend.

Blackfish still wowing the U.S. audience this weekend.

For social media and interaction, CNN has its own, and Twitter has seen a list of celebrity tweeters join the conversation, including David Kirby, the author of the important book, Death at SeaWorld, Ewan McGregor, Kirstie Alley, the film’s director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the former trainers featured in both Death at SeaWorld and Blackfish (Voice of the Orcas), and others.  Use the hashtag #Blackfish to join the conversation and to get a sense of its immensity.

Blackfish, The Cove, and don't forget A Fall from Freedom, the first of the three films.

Blackfish, The Cove, and don’t forget A Fall from Freedom, the first of the three films.

If you haven’t seen Blackfish, or want to own a copy, the following links will let you join the conversation:

  • Available from Amazon.com on November 12 (you can pre-order)
  • Available from UK distributor Dogwoof in various formats: streaming, DVD, Blu-ray (and iTunes UK).
  • Streaming from Viooz.

And remember, there is a better way to see orcas.  That is quietly, in the wild, from a distance, perhaps from the land where you won’t interfere with them at all, at The Real Sea World as shown in this video by the Humane Society of the United States where you may come to appreciate, as does marine mammal expert Dr. Naomi Rose, that this is a “life-affirming” way to see orcas.

In the end, it’s about respect.

Pledge NO! to going to see a dolphin show and be part of the solution!

Saving Japan’s Dolphins – Atlanta one of over 100 events worldwide

The Atlanta community is no stranger to dolphins.  But whether it is aware of the issues surrounding keeping dolphins in captivity or the hunting of dolphins for the aquarium industry is another matter.

The Georgia Aquarium houses 11 dolphins, and one, named Shaka, was caught in the wild.

The Georgia Aquarium houses 11 dolphins, and one, named Shaka, was caught in the wild.

The local animal rights community is always ready to stand up to provide the information, which is often lacking elsewhere, in support of the notion that dolphins should be allowed their lives in the wild.  Even before the 11 dolphins and four beluga whales currently held in captivity at The Georgia Aquarium (four beluga whales that have been housed at the Georgia Aquarium have since died) were brought to this land-locked city, activists have stood up for dolphins.  This coming Sunday September 1, they will join over 100 events worldwide and do so again.

The Cove: 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary

The Cove: 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary

Japan Dolphins Day is an event created by Save Japan Dolphins and organized this year by the Facebook community Save Misty the Dolphin.  Launched in 2005, Japan Dolphins Day, was an idea that preceded the release of the Academy Award-winning documentary, The Cove, but followed many years of efforts to make inroads into dolphin capture worldwide.

Why should Atlanta care about what happens in a small village in Taiji, Japan, especially since none of the dolphins at the Georgia Aquarium were caught in Taiji?  The most straight-forward answer to that logical question is that while dolphins have not been intentionally caught in U.S. waters for its aquarium industry in many years, the indirect connection between the U.S. industry and countries where wild dolphins are caught is obvious.

  • The aquarium industry of the rest of the world is recreating the aquarium model developed by that in the United States. One need only to look at the Georgia Aquarium’s own past (via its other property, Marineland) to see that the industry was built on capturing wild dolphins.
  • Members of International Marine Animal Trainers Association – soon to have its annual meeting in Las Vegas – work directly with dolphins captured in Taiji.
  • The Georgia Aquarium is spearheading an effort to import wild-caught marine mammals (beluga whales) into the United States.  Though its application was denied by NOAA, it remains to be seen whether the Georgia Aquarium considers the issue resolved.  It is up to the decision-makers at the Georgia Aquarium and its partners whether they will listen to both the public outcry and the decision of NOAA or will continue to listen exclusively to themselves.
  • As a world community, where dolphins know no borders, it makes little sense to impose our borders on activism.

One local activist, Vivian Liu, had, only a couple of years ago, a season pass to the Georgia Aquarium.  She has come to understand and to teach her children “why we no longer visit places where they hold captive animals for human entertainment. . . Children are innocent and will certainly become what’s being taught.”  This understanding was echoed by former SeaWorld orca trainer John Hargrove in the documentary, Blackfish, now playing at the Midtown Art Cinema, who said that he would never take his three-and-a-half-year-old to the orca show at SeaWorld.  What is being taught, more consistently than anything else at these establishments, is that captivity is cool.  Stephanie Voltolin, an instructor at Georgia Piedmont Technical College, “wouldn’t be anywhere else on September 1” because she knows that “we can make a difference if we can get this information to those who don’t know what’s happening.”

What you can do:

Atlanta location for Japan Dolphins Day

Atlanta location for Japan Dolphins Day September 1, 11:00am – 1:00pm

Taiji dolphin hunters reach new low – as they “have enough” pilot whales

Yesterday, the Taiji “fishermen” decided that they didn’t want to kill most of the 100-120 pilot whales they had trapped two days before, after having driven it via a cacophony of frightening noise and forced it to swim for untold distances into a death cove.

Pilot whales huddle as Taiji hunters select whales for slaughter

Pilot whales huddle as Taiji hunters select whales for slaughter. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd Conversation Society

For two days the pod saw its family members selectively ripped from among them.  For two days, the whales huddled, not knowing who would be next for the slaughter.  For two days, they swam in the stench of their family’s death.  A baby whale became trapped in the fishing nets, as its mother stayed close by,

Baby pilot whale trapped in fishing net Taiji, Japan

Baby pilot whale trapped in fishing net Taiji, Japan, as mother spy-hops nearby, helpless to intervene. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

repeatedly “spy-hopping”, helpless to do anything but stay as close as she could, while her baby drowned.

So there was something especially callous yesterday, as the “fishermen” decided that they would release the lion-share of the pod that they had driven by fear into that dead-end of life as the whales had known it.  If there were remorse on the part of the “fishermen”, if this signaled an end to the drive hunts, that would be another matter.  But all this signaled was that the “fishermen” had gotten enough use from this traumatized group of victims.  Much as rapists who have “had enough” and let their victims go, the “fishermen” decided that they had had enough use of the ones whom they had not killed but who had been forced to watch the murder of their family.

They decided to release those “survivors”.

Pilots whales terrified and traumatized are further traumatized during their release by Taiji hunters

Pilots whales terrified and traumatized are further traumatized during their release by Taiji “fishermen”. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The scene that unfolded yesterday as the “fishermen” conducted a “release” that was probably more brutal than the capture showed these men running into the whales, roping them, using the same cacophony of terror to drive them back out to sea – because the traumatized whales were too tired, confused, and frightened to know which direction to swim.  The scene that all witnessed should raise an international outcry.  The livestreaming video, narrated by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Cove Guardian, Melissa Sehgal, is not a graphic one due to scale.  There is little visual clue, but Ms. Sehgal’s narrated film, now archived, described a day that few who watched will ever forget.

Taiji fishermen lasso a pilot whale to drag it

Taiji fishermen lasso a pilot whale to drag it to “freedom”. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

This is a new low by the fishermen.  Whether the trauma survivors will beach themselves, having been through an ordeal that few in this life have, we may never learn.

But I trust that you will find a new voice to match this new low, and that you will use it to secure a ban on this dysfunction of our society that allows and even supports the torment, trauma and death of creatures, a torment that the survivors carry with them.  Say that you, too, have had enough; you have had enough of the “fishermen’s” having enough.

Use your voice to stop this now.  Sign a petition to get media on the ground. Call the buyers of the mercury-tainted flesh and tell them that you know the history of the lives that they are now selling.  Stop this atrocity.  Now.

Gentle and timid pilot whales huddled as they await their fate in the Taiji Cove

Don’t turn away from these gentle and timid pilot whales, huddled as they await their fate and the blood of their family streams in from the Taiji Cove. Photo Credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

100-120 Pilot Whales Trapped in The Cove, Taiji, Japan


We have as little as seven hours to act to save 100-120 pilot whales and the people who will eat them.  Media coverage, reach out to Japanese embassies worldwide, something immediate is needed to stop this atrocity.

Fishermen's Union pilot whales 103012 Taiji Japan

,Dolphin hunters corral 100-120 pilot whales, whose fate will be decided in as little as seven hours. Photo Credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Cove Guardians

The Fishermen’s Union (FU) of Taiji, Japan, has once again herded a pod of 100-120 pilot whales into a “killing cove.”  As night passes in Taiji, the rest of the word could act to save them.  But will the world, or even the villagers of Taiji, ever know?  While most of the people of Japan are unaware of this slaughter, the mainstream media could act to save not only whales, but the people of Japan.

CNN reported a similar story in September, when the FU trapped 80-100 pilot whales, about half of whom were slaughtered and butchered and sold at market for human consumption, the rest of whom were released after multiple days of being held.  This media coverage may or may  not have impacted the decision to release half the pod.  But the media should be on the ground, reporting this, so that whales and people are spared.

The horror – and don’t be mistaken, this is a horror – impacts not only the pilot whales who will lose their lives.  The local citizens of Taiji, and those anywhere that the flesh of the slaughtered whales is shipped and consumed, will unwittingly be exposed to potentially toxic levels of mercury.

Pilot Whales 100-120 Taiji, Japan to be slaughter

These pilot whales, gentle and timid whales, may be slaughtered and see their families slaughtered as early as 3:30p.m. EDT US 12/30/12 or 4:30a.m., 10/31/12, Taiji, Japan. Photo Credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Cove Guardians

Pilot whale and dolphin meat has been demonstrated to have mercury above safe health-based levels, but most Japanese citizens who purchase this whale and dolphin meat are unaware of the dangers.  Mercury – in particular methylmercury, the form found in fish – is a neurotoxin with both immediate and chronic impacts.  Children exposed to methylmercury in the womb show impairments to cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills.  In previous outbreaks of mercury toxicity, some mothers with no symptoms of nervous system damage gave birth to infants with severe disabilities.

Please shine a light on this atrocity right now, before the slaughter begins in as early as seven hours.


And as always, please check the Save Misty the Dolphin page on Facebook for the URGENT ACTION being taken.


Taiji Cove eyes creating a new tradition

Mark the date that this tradition started in Taiji.  Or at least the date that we all became aware of the plan by a very few Taijians to embark on a new form of dolphin treachery.

April 30, 2012.

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

The date that most of us learned that The Taiji Cove may become a swim-with-the-dolphins experience, instead of just a kill-the dolphins experience, or a capture-the-dolphins-for-the-dolphin-show experience, or a display-the-dolphins experience, or a capture-and-then-fail-to-make-a-dolphin-survive-captivity experience, or an eat-the-dolphins experience.

Seems that the only way these people do not want to experience the dolphins is free.  Living on their own terms, in their own environment.

That’s just sad.  Nope.  Incorrect.  It’s also despicable.

By the way, the hundreds-years-old “tradition”, the one of the Japanese dolphin drive-hunt, appears to have begun in approximately 1980.  Just sayin’.

Here are the various news outlets and bloggers that have reported it thus far:

Marine safari?  Give these people a clue.


Don’t Go to the Dolphin Show – Ric O’Barry Interview

Ric O'Barry after release of The Cove

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

Ric O’Barry, from Save Japan Dolphins, articulates

  • why going to the dolphin show is what keeps the dolphin hunting and capturing money machine going
  • why dolphins bred in captivity is not an acceptable alternative

So, whether your local or not-so-local dolphin show or display is at the Georgia Aquarium, Sea World, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, the National Aquarium, the Shedd Aquarium – don’t go.

Georgia Aquarium General Admission ticket price includes dolphin show:  Now that the Georgia Aquarium has included the price of the dolphin show in the General Admission price (but only a third or less of the participants will actually be able to make it into that horrid theater), everyone who goes to the Georgia Aquarium pays directly for dolphin captivity.  No longer can one rather craftily make the argument that they are going to see the jellies, but that they do not support dolphin captivity.  Nope.  Not any more.  The Georgia Aquarium is making you pay for that.  More on that later.

But now to Mr. O’Barry, who has worked for dolphin freedom for over 40 years, interviewed on February 16, 2012, by Veenarat Laohapakakul, for the show Viewpoint on ASEAN TV:

He also provides a pathway to dolphin freedom:

  • Stop the captures;
  • Rehabilitate and release the dolphins (who can be) already in captivity;
  • Use birth control for those dolphins already in captivity.

Freedom is not just another word for nothing left to lose.  Maybe it is for humans, who with those amazing thumbs can give up on their own lives.  But we have no right to project our own failings on the rest of the animal kingdom.

Just say NO! to the dolphin show.

For more information and how you can help:

Do you support dolphin capture? Not if you say No! to the Dolphin Show

Shaka Georgia Aquarium phinventory Ceta-base

Shaka, the Georgia Aquarium's wild-caught dolphin, photo from Ceta-base

How is going to a dolphin show or swim-with program directly linked to the capturing of dolphins?  And why should you pledge to not go to a dolphin show?  Because the dolphin shows create the market for dolphin capture, which, in turn, makes dolphin hunting and slaughter financially feasible enterprises.

Here’s how the captivity chain links up, from freedom all the way to enslavement and back again to freedom:

Link 1At the risk of being too obvious, I’m starting there anyway.  Without dolphins in captivity, the aquariums cannot put on their extravaganzas, their shows or maintain their displays.  So before the dolphin show (yes, there was a time in the 1950s before this jumping dolphin phenom took a strangle-hold over dolphin freedom), there was no impetus to capture them.  Dolphin freedom exists at this end of the chain, where there are no dolphin shows.

Some aquariums already have a few dolphins.  But captive breeding isn’t terribly dependable for producing a live dolphin.  The photo above was of Shaka, wild-caught, now living at the Georgia Aquarium.  Only one of Shaka’s three captive-born calves survived past two weeks; one was stillborn in September 1996, and the other died on her 16th day in November 1997.  Generally, dolphins in the wild give birth only every 2 to 4 years.  The third, Kolohe, will turn 18 on July 12, 2012.  In Hawaii.  Away from Shaka.  Without the need for captive dolphins, dolphins like Shaka would not have been captured.  In 1988.

Link 2Without the dolphin show, yea, that show in a city near you, there would be no need to keep dolphins, like Shaka, or the other ten dolphins at the Georgia Aquarium, in captivity.  And don’t believe the nonsense that captive dolphins are necessary for research.  We really don’t need to study them in captivity to understand how we might support their thriving in their natural, wild ecosystem.  Think about that one; it may catch you on the way home.  Certain marine biologists refuse to study them in captivity.

Without the dolphin show, the show in the city nearest you, no dolphins would be captured anywhere in the world, under any means of dolphin hunting. This includes the dolphin drive hunt in Taiji, Japan.

Without the dolphin show, the show in the city nearest you, dolphins would not be injured or killed by the thousands each year in the process of capturing a few for that show, because generally speaking, the huge profits of selling dolphins to aquariums bankroll the slaughter operation as well.

Link 3:  Without the dolphin show, righto, that one near you, dolphin freedom happens.  I don’t mean to suggest that releasing the captives can happen overnight; I’ve written before about Ric O’Barry’s idea of making the show about rehabilitating the current captive and any future stranded dolphins for life in the wide open blue.  But it can happen if we have the will to do right by the dolphins.

Do you get it?  The dolphin show, yes, the one in the city nearest you, causes – yes, causes – dolphin capture, injury and slaughter.

And every new show can cause that much more capture, injury and slaughter.

But the great news: Two links (Links 1 and 3) have free dolphins, and only one link (Link 2) has captivity.  We have more links for  freedom than against, so it won’t be hard, if we stand together!  When we stop attending the dolphin show (Link 2), we have free dolphins again, as we did before this strange 1950s phenomenon took a strangle-hold over the lives of dolphins.

And if you don’t go to the dolphin show?  Well, I think you get it.

Jacques Cousteau No Aquarium no dolphin in tank can be considered normal

Hold this sign so people know that Jacques Cousteau did not support captivity, from www.marinecaptivityfacts.tumblr.com

What you can doOn Saturday, April 14 from 10a.m to 1p.m., come to the entrance of The Georgia Aquarium to learn about these links and to teach others about them and about the life that a dolphin lives in captivity versus the one it lives in the wild.

Hold a sign that repeats these words of Jacques Cousteau.  Hold a sign with Shaka’s picture.  Or Neile’s.  Or Phebe’s.  Or Pukanala’s.  Or Kei’s.  Or Makana’s.  Or Briland’s.  Or Lily’s.  Or Luna’s.  Or Bermudiana’s.  We don’t have a picture of Salvador.  But we won’t forget him.

Saturday, April 14, 2012; 10am – 2pm  The Georgia Aquarium, entrance on Baker Street

If you are on Facebook, click on the event page and tell us that you’re coming.  And like “Free the Atlanta 11” instead of watching dolphins perform tricks with Star Spinner, who thinks that the dolphins have taken the sea monsters to the bottom of the ocean.

If you aren’t in or near Atlanta, but on Facebook, please click the worldwide “Just Say NO! to the Dolphin Page” created by Save Misty the Dolphin to show that you “get it” and to show your support.

For a more information, see:

  • Save Japan Dolphins, Ric O’Barry and the Cove Monitors
  • Blue Voice, Hardy Jones,
  • Sea Shepherd and its Cove Guardians
  • Save Misty the Dolphin
  • If you have a website or blog on this issue, please leave a comment with your web address, and I will add you to a list of resources on creating dolphin freedom a reality for all dolphins everywhere
    Dolphin captivity chain link

    Dolphin freedom in the first and last links. Dolphin captivity only in the middle one. We can break this chain and re-establish dolphin freedom!



Dolphin captivity is not cool: wild-caught dolphins in the United States

According to Ceta-base (marvelous database), there are 39 facilities (including the U.S. Navy) in the United States that maintain captive dolphins.  After this morning’s only-1/3-cup-of-coffee-full effort to count the number of wild-caught dolphins,

There are more than 100 wild-caught (not counting wild-rescued) dolphins held in captivity in the United States, only counting the facilities on this list.

SeaWorld dolphin captivity

Disgusting excuse for a human “vacation”

I have more adding to do, and again, I did not include the “rescued” dolphins, but this should be enough for now.

  1. U.S. Navy has 32 wild-caught dolphins (who also, like the Georgia Aquarium, likes to compare dolphins and dogs), 53560 Hull Street, San Diego, CA 92152-5001 Tel: (619) 553-2717
  2. The Georgia Aquarium has 1 wild-caught dolphin (unless you include the other facility they own, Marineland), 225 Baker Street, Atlanta, GA 30313 Tel: (404) 581-4000
  3. Marineland has 4 wild-caught dolphins, including Nellie, who has survived almost 59 years in captivity, a Georgia Aquarium company, 9600 Oceanshore Boulevard, St. Augustine, FL 32080 Tel: (904) 471-1111 or (877) 933-3402 Fax: (904) 460-1330
  4. Dolphin Quest has 4 wild-caught dolphins, 425 Waikoloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa, HI 96738, Tel: 808.886.2875 Fax: 808.886.7030
  5. Indianapolis Zoo has 4 wild-caught dolphins, 1200 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46222 Tel: (317) 630-2001
  6. SeaWorld Orlando has 4 wild-caught dolphins, 7007 Sea World Drive, Orlando, FL 32821 Tel: (888) 800-5447
  7. SeaWorld San Diego has 4 wild-caught dolphins, 500 SeaWorld Drive, San Diego, CA 92109 Tel: (800) 25-SHAMU (74268) Tell me THAT’S not disgusting!
  8. Brookfield Zoo has 2 wild-caught dolphins, c/o Chicago Zoological Society, 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, IL 60513 Tel: (708) 688-8000
  9. Miami Seaquarium has 3 wild-caught dolphins, 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, FL 33149 Tel: (305) 361-5705
  10. Mirage Hotel has 2 wild-caught dolphins, 3400 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, Nevada 89109 Tel: (702) 791-7111  (that’s a great place for a dolphin tank)
  11. Long Marine Laboratory has 2 wild-caught dolphins, 100 Shaffer Rd., Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Tel: (831) 459-2883 Fax: (831) 459-3383
  12. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has 4 wild-caught dolphins, 1001 Fairgrounds Dr., Vallejo, CA 94589  Tel: (707) 644-4000
  13. Discovery Cove has 7 wild-caught dolphins (A SeaWorld Company), 6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando, FL 32821 Tel: 1-877-557-7404
  14. Dolphin Connection has 1 wild-caught dolphin, 61 Hawk’s Cay Boulevard, Duck Key, Fl 33050  Tel: 1-888-251-3674
  15. Dolphins Plus has 4 wild-caught dolphins, 31 Corrine Pl., Key Largo, FL, 33037 Tel: (866) 860-7946
  16. Theater of the Sea has 4 wild-caught dolphins, 84721 Overseas Hwy,Islamorada, FL 33036 Tel: 305.664.2431 Fax: 305.664.8162
  17. John G. Shedd Aquarium has 4 wild-caught dolphins, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605 Tel: (312) 939-2438
  18. SeaWorld of Texas has 4 wild-caught dolphins, 10500 SeaWorld Drive, San Antonio, TX 78251 Tel: (800) 700-7786
  19. Sea Life Park, Oahu, has 8 wild-caught dolphins, 41-202 Kalanianaole Highway #7, Waimanalo, Hawaii 96795 USA Tel:(808) 259-2500
  20. The Institute for Marine Mammal “Studies” has 2 wild-caught dolphins, P.O. Box 207 Gulfport, MS 39502 Tel: 228-896-9182 Fax: 228-896-9183
  21. Dolphin “Research” Center, where you can swim with dolphins and have “as well as other fun chances to touch a dolphin”, has 3 wild-caught dolphins, 58901 Overseas Highway, Grassy Key, FL 33050-6019 Tel:(305) 289-1121 Fax:(305) 743-7627
  22. Minnesota Zoo has 1 wild-caught dolphin, 13000 Zoo Boulevard, Apple Valley, MN 55124 Tel: (952) 431-9200 (800) 366-7811
  23. Gulf World has 2 wild-caught dolphins, 15412 Front Beach Road, Panama City, FL 32413 Tel: (850) 234-5271 Fax: (850) 235-8957

C’mon folks.  Keep those cards, letters and calls coming.  Tell them that

  • you will not visit their facility,
  • you would like to see their research or library of others’ research on retraining dolphins for release to the wild (seriously – it is high time that we ask them to demonstrate that they have or are seeking knowledge about this), and
  • you just signed a pledge not to go see a dolphin show


Dolphin captivity

Wouldn’t it be grand if we restored them to freedom?

4/16/13: Correction: Reader correctly pointed out that Nellie was born in captivity; I know this, mayhap I had Shaka on my mind, as I often do!

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