A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Cetacean Summation

The week in dolphins and whales: Dolphins try to save one of their own … Sperm whales support one who is not their own … Dolphin asks humans for help … Meanwhile, at the Taiji massacre … Marineland takes a dive … Blackfish movie snapped up by Magnolia Pictures and CNN … Saving Marcos.

Dolphins Support One of Their Own: A group of researchers in the Sea of Japan happen upon a family of dolphins, one of whom is not well. They watch as the dolphins form themselves into a life raft so they can hold her up to breathe. Eventually, she dies. But five of the dolphins stay with her until her body sinks to the depths below.

Full report in this New Scientist report, where a scientist also tries to explain why the dolphins do this.

The simple act of working together could also bond the group more strongly. “It makes a lot of sense in a highly intelligent and social animal for there to be support of an injured animal.”

(OK … or maybe they just do it because they’re her family!)

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Sperm Whales Support One Who Is Not One of Their Own: The dolphin – an adult with a spinal deformity – connects up with some sperm whales off the coast of Portugal, and they accept her as one of their own. Perhaps she’d sought their company since she could no longer keep up with her pod and sperm whales travel a lot more slowly. According to National Geographic:

The researchers observed the group in the ocean for eight days as the dolphin traveled, foraged, and played with both the adult whales and their calves. When the dolphin rubbed its body against the whales, they would sometimes return the gesture.

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Dolphin Tangled in Fishing Line Approaches Humans for Help: She approached one of the divers, Keller Laros, and positioned herself in a way that would help him remove the fishing line.  She waited patiently while he cut the line – except for a short break to go to the surface and take a breath. We reported it here last week.

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Meanwhile, in Taiji, Japan: One of the worst weeks ever for the infamous dolphin massacre. Digital Journal reports that 1209 dolphins have been driven into the Cove so far this killing season, so this season would top the 1,297 in the 2010/2011 season.

Compared to the 2009/10 season when 90 percent of the dolphins driven in were slaughtered, around 58 percent of the animals captured this year have been killed. In two other areas however, figures have risen significantly — the number of cetaceans taken into captivity and the number of dolphins released. In 2010/11, 181 animals were set free as opposed to just 48 last year. This season, 26 percent — or 320, have been released so far.

But for many dolphin advocates, the most disconcerting number, and one that has risen considerably, is the number of dolphins taken for captivity. With the demand for captive cetaceans rising, 219 marine mammals have been been seized for sale this season — a staggering 18 percent of the total take. This is double that of 2009, more than double the 7.5 percent in 2010/11, and triple the 6 percent seen last year.

The drive hunt runs from September to March every year as migrating dolphins are forced into a narrow cove in Taiji, and nets prevent them from escaping. Then they are either slaughtered for meat or consigned to captivity and sold. More details at Save Japan Dolphins.org.

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Marineland Takes a Dive: In a secret message from Canada’s largest humane organization to the country’s most disgraced zoo and sea circus, the Ontario SPCA has ordered Marineland to clean up its water and take better care of the animals held captive there. The whole story here.

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Movie a Hit at Sundance:
Magnolia Pictures and CNN teamed up to purchase the rights to the movie Blackfish shortly after it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. CNN said:

At CNN Films we want to showcase compelling documentary storytelling that also sheds new light on important social and cultural issues. Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s beautiful and moving film Blackfish is at once an investigation into the people and practices of the marine park industry and a thought-provoking meditation on the limits of man’s ability to manipulate nature.

Blackfish is one of the most exciting, compulsively watchable documentaries that we’ve seen in a long time,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles.

Magnolia plans a summer theatrical release for the documentary, followed by a domestic broadcast premiere on CNN later in 2013.

More about the movie and the reviews here.

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Saving Marcos the Mediterranean Dolphin: This baby dolphin was found alone off the coast of Southern Spain a few months ago, and the group PROMAR has been trying to get him well enough to be released. It seems his family was killed, possibly in bad weather, or that Marcos got separated from them. Another storm just blew in, threw Marcos around and destroyed PROMAR’s sea pen nets. More about Marcos and how you can help him here.