Tag Archives: whales

Handy Affidavit for supporters of the aquarium industry

A great white shark captured for display at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, has died after three days in captivity.

This is not surprising, given the generally morbid conditions that exist in aquariums, conditions that do not come close to mimicking those in the wild.  But the aquarium industry, with its peaceful music in many displays – and despite the blaring music in others – has managed, over its relatively short existence, to persuade consumers of entertainment that watching wild marine creatures in concrete tanks, or even plastic-lined tanks in traveling shows and exhibits, is acceptable treatment of these magnificent nonhuman animals.

It is not surprising since the aquarium industry has been in control, until fairly recently, of the “captivity message” that is doled out like baby’s pablum to an unsuspecting, and already humancentric, population.

Day in, day out, the aquarium industry doles out its "captivity is good" message, despite its morbid record.

Day in, day out, the aquarium industry doles out its “captivity is good” message, despite its morbid record.

Large aquariums and marine parks, like SeaWorld and the Georgia Aquarium, use their public relations and training staffs to carefully craft the message to a public who hasn’t the sophistication or knowledge to know that the message is, at best, skewed by well-placed omissions, and, at worst, a cobbled-together rubric of self-serving misinformation.

Many aquarium-goers are still ignorant about the true nature of captivity for marine mammals and other wide ranging marine animals, largely because they get their information from only, you guessed it, the aquarium industry.  But this blogger is getting tired of giving aquarium-goers that “pass”.  Even aquarium-goers (and I was one once, at the age of eight), have an internal sense of ethics, regardless of what Madison Avenue or the aquarium industry says.  Even aquarium-goers can see with their own eyes that the tanks are:

  • made of concrete
  • infinitesimally small, compared to the ocean
  • devoid of any natural attributes

They may not know that dolphins and whales swim in family groups, many of

Shaka, wild-caught at estimated age of three in 1988, was moved from the Georgia Aquarium to its facility in Florida, where she has given birth to another "asset" of the Georgia Aquarium

Shaka, wild-caught at estimated age of three in 1988, was moved from the Georgia Aquarium to its facility in Florida, where she has given birth to another “asset” of the Georgia Aquarium

whom never change over their lifetimes, while aquariums treat individuals as assets to be moved into whatever column and location serves the needs of the aquarium (e.g., Shaka, a dolphin captured in 1988, was brought to the Georgia Aquarium in 2010, but never incorporated into the show.  She served as a football game predictor, so still handy for press opportunities.  The Georgia Aquarium moved her to Florida, where she has now given birth to an “asset” of the aquarium.).

Other aquarium-goers, on the other hand, are aware, fully aware of the disparity between life in a tank and a natural life for dolphins and whales.  They just don’t seem to think that dolphins and whales have a right to that life.  They seem to think that their own “right” to see a dolphin in a tank trumps the rights of dolphins and whales to have something more than a concrete tank, a diet of dead fish, fresh water and gelatin supplementation to stave off dehydration, and drugs in the event the dolphins become ill.

Especially for the latter category of aquarium-goers (and swim-with dolphin freaks), it seems fair to “keep it real” by at least acknowledging that they know that dolphins and whales are being denied their birthright, and frankly, don’t care about that as much as they do about satisfying the instant gratification bone by seeing them in tanks.  If aquarium-goers would acknowledge that they just don’t care, at least we could have a real conversation about what’s going on here.

So, for the aquarium-goers and swim-withers, I’ve provided a handy AFFIDAVIT below, which you can sign and turn in to your local aquarium on your next visit.  Better yet, if you have been an aquarium-goer, but you now sense that something is rotten in SeaMark, then sign the affidavit, but make the necessary marginal edits to show that you know better than to believe the pablum and you will never again turn their stiles.  Then turn it into your local aquarium.

For more information:

A handy affidavit for aquarium-goers to keep the conversation honest.

A handy affidavit for aquarium-goers to keep the conversation honest.  Please print out and take to your local aquarium.


Freedom from tyranny and the dolphin captivity industry

Fox New’s John Stossel will be airing a show (I’ve never used the word “mockumentary”, and I’m still safe; but gosh, was it tempting) from his Green Tyranny platform.

Whether you watch Fox News or not, but especially if you are a consistent purveyor of its broadcasts, and you watch the show, I would ask you to think from the tagline of this publication: “A Free Press For A Free People Since 1997” and realize that freedom is what is at the core of this issue.  Freedom for humans, and freedom for dolphins and whales.

Freedom for humans. Humans have been fed a line of nonsense about dolphins and whales since aquariums opened, but especially since the mid-1960s, when the aquarium boom started.

Our ability to distinguish the truth about whales and dolphins from the fiction about their captivity is minimal, since most of us are not marine biologists with a focus on studying the wild ones (instead of marine biologists who think that tanks facilitate their next research grant).  That inability to distinguish was complicated by the fact that in the 1960s, no one understood dolphins and whales very well.  Not marine biologists, not aquariums, and certainly not laypeople.

In the ensuing years, we have learned more about dolphins and whales.  We’ve learned about them by studying them in the wild.  What we’ve learned from those in captivity is that they are not suited to it.

So, freedom for a free people?  What’s the tyranny here?  Trying to spread information that corporations want hidden?  Or using a news platform as a shill for the aquarium industry to pass off more aquarium hype as fact?

Freedom for dolphins and whales.  This point is rather too obvious to make, but it would be missing to ignore.  What the “Freedom” tagline underscores is the arrogance of humans to think that we deserve it, but no other species does.  We deserve self-determination, but no other species does.  We deserve happiness (or whatever is our closest approximation), but no other species does.

The irony of that is that we don’t realize that we’ll never find ours, if we don’t encourage their finding theirs (or at least not do anything to prevent it).

Jiyu at Dolphin Base in Taiji, Japan

Jiyu, a dolphin captured for the aquarium industry in Taiji, Japan. Her emaciated appearance should be a bellweather for anyone who thinks that starvation isn’t a human value. Uncredited photo from ProjectAware.org.

Dolphin and whale rights activists have been encouraged by the public’s reception of the film Blackfish, and have promoted its message it via social media.  This film opened the eyes of many, mainly via its broadcast on CNN and its availability on Netflix.  Some have taken this new awareness and have read Death at SeaWorld by David Kirby and former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove’s personal account as a trainer, Beneath the Surface.  Others have watched the PBS Frontline special, A Whale of a Business and A Fall from Freedom.

These are all good resources to learn about the morbid existence that whales and dolphins face by being exploited inside the captivity industry.  So if you watch Stossel’s show or if you don’t, I highly suggest watching these videos and reading these and other materials, so that we can avoid tyranny and embrace freedom for all.

Ski Dubai “Penguin Training Program” video: the language of the captive trade

The International Marine Animal Trainers Association (IMATA) recently posted on its Facebook page a new video by Ski Dubai about “the most innovative Penguin Training Program in the world.”

I notice that the language in the video is, not surprisingly, the same used to describe the captivity of dolphins and whales in aquariums, marine parks and other captive “encounter” programs.  This language is something spoken by every aquarium, any where.  This language has been intentionally designed.  Its purpose: to camouflage the truth that humans have ripped these creatures from their natural habitat and do not do well in captivity.

The animal captivity industry wants you to think that this can be recreated, even in Dubai.

The animal captivity industry wants you to think that this can be recreated, even in Dubai.

But what the aquarium industry and their minion, IMATA, whose purpose is the perpetuation of the aquarium industry, have underestimated is the ability of humans to hear the truth in between the words.  As you watch the video, listen for certain words.  Each time, insert its translation and hear the truth.

Keywords invented by the captive trade and their true meaning:

  • “Natural Behaviors” = tricks
  • “Education and Conservation for Awareness” = entertainment for monetary revenue that has no demonstrated substantial impact on conservation “behaviors” in humans
  • “Ambassadors” = captive beings who have not volunteered for “life” in captivity
  • “Animal Encounter” = exploitation of both people and animals for additional monetary revenue
  • “Best possible care program” = maximizing survival rate of already-trained animals
  • “Daily management behaviors” = so we can make them bend to what we need to do to them to keep them alive in captivity
  • “Stimulated” = things we do or give to the animals in an unnatural setting to avoid stress anxiety and boredom, which make animals ill in captivity
  • “Play day” = tricks for the public’s amusement (I can hear from here the clapping when the penguins bow)
  • “The animals are desensitized to having close interaction with people” = we have successfully exerted control over these animals

Please know that marine mammals are not suited to a life in captivity by virtue of their expansive habitat range (they migrate; they swim hundreds of miles in a short period of time; some dive to 1000′ in depth), their highly social and familial structure, and their high intelligence.  Keeping these sentient and social creatures in captivity is an inhumane venture fueled by an outdated view of the “animal kingdom”.

Enter a new day, based in today’s ethics, learn the language of the captivity industry, and do not go to zoos and aquariums that keep the animals who have no “business” being there.


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.