“It’s the dawn of a new era for whales and dolphins.” That’s the message of a media release announcing the launch of a new organization, The Whale Sanctuary Project, whose mission is to create seaside sanctuaries for whales and dolphins.
And calling it a “new day” is no exaggeration. As public opinion has moved toward bringing an end to keeping cognitively and socially complex animals in captivity, great apes and elephants are already being retired from several circuses, zoos and laboratories, and are being placed in the much larger and more natural environments of sanctuaries. (Thanks to the outstanding work of the Nonhuman Rights Project, 25 more chimpanzees are about to be moved from a laboratory to a sanctuary, including the famous Hercules and Leo from one of the NhRP’s lawsuits in New York.)
Similar initiatives on behalf of whales and dolphins, however, are stalled, primarily because there’s still nowhere for them to go.
The Whale Sanctuary Project (WSP) is setting out to change this. And with generous funding from Munchkin, Inc., the well-known baby product company, the search is already on for an ideal site for the first such sanctuary.
It’s a dream team of all the key people needed to bring this vision to reality.
I’ll be writing more about this in the days and weeks to come. But I’m closely involved in the work of the WSP, and it’s been a very busy week here. So I’ll just refer you now to the new organization’s website at www.whalesanctuaryproject.org.
So, check out today’s news release, and be sure to browse through the bios of the Board, the Advisory Board, and Staff members. It’s a dream team of all the key people needed to bring this vision to reality. They represent some of the world’s most experienced scientists, clinicians, engineers, attorneys, business experts, and marine animal advocates. And they include biologists, wildlife veterinarians, zoologists, university researchers and former trainers from marine animal parks.
The next stage of the project, over the rest of this year, will be to survey hundreds of possible coves, bays and inlets , mostly in Washington State and British Columbia on the West Coast, and Maine, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland on the East Coast, and to narrow the list down to a handful that will need very detailed, on-site surveys. At the same time, we’ll be preparing an overall strategic and operational plan for the construction of the first sanctuary and the transportation and continuing care of the animals who go to live there.
We understand, of course, that companies like SeaWorld are not yet entertaining the idea of retiring cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) from their shows. But then again, only a few months ago they were not entertaining the idea of putting a stop to breeding them. Soon it will be time for them to take the next step. Build it, as the saying goes, and they will come.