If you haven't seen Blackfish yet, be sure to watch it on CNN tomorrow evening. The movie by Gabriella Cowperthwaite uncovers much of what SeaWorld has tried to cover up about the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau – and about the many other trainers who have been killed or injured at SeaWorld and other marine circuses.
Kudos to CNN for its part in producing Blackfish and for airing this remarkable movie. But I do have one issue with them . . .
Last week, six dolphins took off from their HQ at the U.S. Navy's Marine Mammal Program in San Diego on a flight to Zagreb, Croatia. Their mission (whether or not they chose to accept it): Find unexploded bombs and shells off the coast of Dubrovnik.
(Sept. 12, 2013: Note: Justin Gregg has responded to this post, saying that he was seriously misquoted in the London Sunday Times article we reference below. So I've added his response at the end of the post.)
It's being hailed as a very significant victory for the anti-captivity movement. Today, the U.S. government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) denied the Georgia Aquarium's application to import 18 beluga whales, captured from the ocean, and share them around the country with other marine zoos and circuses.
SeaWorld likes to talk of them as being part of "our family" – as though the top predator of the ocean can somehow be adopted and treated like a baby by a bunch of businessmen who wouldn't last five minutes if they were dropped into the ocean.
But the photo here shows the immense power of a killer whale. It's one of a series on the Daily Mail, where you see this 8-ton orca leaping 15 feet out of the ocean in pursuit of a bottlenose dolphin in a chase that apparently went on for two hours.
She spent the first 10 years of her life in the ocean off the coast of South Korea with her family. Then, captured accidentally in a fishing net, from which she should simply and promptly have been freed, she was instead sold to the Pacific Land Aquarium, where she spent three years in a tiny underground pool, forced to do tricks to entertain customers in exchange for food.
Finally, the Mayor of Seoul stepped in and ordered Sampal the dolphin and her two pool companions at the aquarium to be released.
A new study explores how dolphins use their individual signature whistles (equivalent to their “names”) to stay in touch with each other. Not only do they call back and forth with each other’s “name”; but when one dolphin calls out the signature whistle of another, the other one will swim over to see what’s up – like two friends shouting out to each other in a crowd.
SeaWorld is clearly worried about the movie Blackfish, which opens in New York and Los Angeles this weekend, and across the country over the next month. The hugely profitable company has just written to movie critics all over the country in an attempt to stem the tide of rave reviews and the accompanying scathing indictments of the marine circus business.
The film offers a devastating view of SeaWorld – and by extension all the other marine circuses – in what is a riveting investigation of the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau at the hand, or rather mouth, of Tilikum, the depressed, angry, probably-psychotic killer whale, who finally turned on her, dragged her under the water, and literally tore her apart.
SeaWorld Orlando has been ordered by the federal government to pay a fine of $38,500 for a "repeat violation" of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) order regarding safety of the staff who are in close contact with the nonhuman animals.
According to OSHA, SeaWorld has been ignoring a federal court order and continues to operate a workplace that can "cause death or serious physical harm to employees."
What to say about the hapless, happy couple who flew from South Carolina to Hawaii in hopes of having a "dolphin-assisted birth"? It takes the scam known as dolphin-assisted therapy (DAT) to a whole new level.
Heather Barringer, who’s due to give birth in July, and her husband, Adam, say they’ve been led to this after experiencing "signs" all through her pregnancy.
This young orca is missing her dorsal fin and her right-side pectoral fin. That means she can't navigate well, and can't catch food on her own.
You might imagine that the other killer whales in her family pod would have had to abandon her and do what's best for the pod overall. But it seems that what's good for the pod overall involves looking after the youngster, even if this slows them all down a bit.
Good news, for a change! The Government of India has issued a nationwide ban on keeping dolphins in captivity.
The ban had been under consideration for several months, during which time a coalition of animal protection organizations in India worked with experts around the world to provide the evidence as to why dolphins should not be kept in captivity.
A new study by four scientists is arguing for more "humane" ways of killing the dolphins at the annual Taiji massacre in Japan. (That's the massacre that was portrayed in the Oscar-winning movie The Cove.) What they are saying could set back the entire movement to bring an end to this horror. Here's why.
Superpod of dolphins by whale-watcher Antonio Ramirez
This "superpod" of dolphins had thousands of common dolphins spread out over an area 7 miles long by 5 miles wide. That's 35 square miles of dolphins!
They were spotted off the coast of San Diego by people on a whale-watching boat. The captain of the boat, Joe Dutra of Hornblower Cruises said he'd never seen anything like it. The boat followed the dolphins for about an hour, and Capt. Dutra said there may have been 100,000 of them.