Monday, January 11, 2016

A Whale Of A Week

Keep SeaWorld Out of the Middle East
Goal: Prevent SeaWorld from building a new park in Dubai where more animals will suffer for human entertainment.
Recently, SeaWorld announced plans to open an amusement park in the Middle East, with Dubai as their most likely destination. SeaWorld’s treatment of animals has been exposed as abusive and cruel, and the Dubai government must not allow this company to expand their operations any further.
In 2013, the documentary Blackfish premiered and revealed the dark side of SeaWorld’s history. The extensive coverage of animal abuse, attacks on trainers, and inhumane entertainment shows has ruined SeaWorld’s reputation and led to the loss of several corporate sponsors, including Virgin America, Southwest Airlines, and Taco Bell. With popularity flagging in America, the company has decided to invest in international ventures where public opinion is not as hostile.
The stars of SeaWorld are the orcas, massive black and white whales. These highly intelligent animals can swim up to 100 miles per day and live in close-knit groups. In some cases, offspring stay with their mothers from birth to death. The orcas at SeaWorld, however lead a lonely and isolated life, devoid of the pleasures and experiences that the ocean provides. Most never get to experience life outside of a cramped tank, and all are torn away from their families at a young age.
In recent years, Dubai has become one of the world’s top tourist destinations. The city features beautiful resorts and an active nightlife scene, but the addition of this “abusement” park would represent a stain on the city’s burgeoning reputation as a progressive and exciting destination. Sign the petition letter below and help keep this abusive company out of Dubai.
Dear Sheikh Mohammed,
Since its history of animal abuse, attacks on trainers, and inhumane entertainment has been exposed, SeaWorld has been struggling in the United States. Attendance and revenue are down, and several corporate sponsors, including Virgin America, Southwest Airlines, and Taco Bell, have ended their associations with the company. Desperate for a boost, the company has decided to invest in international ventures, with plans to build a park in the Middle East–and Dubai seems to be the most likely target for their expansion.
Dubai is known as a vibrant tourist destination, but SeaWorld’s presence would be a stain on your city’s reputation. This is a company that abuses the very animals that make it so profitable, and to allow SeaWorld into Dubai would be to endorse their actions. I urge you to prevent this company from entering your city.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Marcelo Campos
Save Endangered Whales From Deafening Blasts.

Target: Abigail Ross Hopper, Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
Goal: Don’t allow disruptive seismic testing to torture endangered whales and other sea life.
Millions of ocean creatures, including endangered whales, are likely to suffer due to a disruptive process known as seismic testing. The federal government plans to allow oil and gas companies to conduct seismic testing off the Atlantic coast in 2016, despite knowing the risks it presents.
Seismic testing uses air guns to generate blasts 100 times louder than a jet engine. The reverberation of these sounds creates a picture of the area beneath the ocean floor, which can be used to determine whether oil or gas deposits are present. The blasts may be used every ten seconds for days or weeks at a time.
Marine mammals such as the endangered right whale are very sensitive to underwater sounds. Their auditory capabilities are highly developed for survival and social needs. Not only do the blasts disrupt and confuse these animals, they also torture and even deafen them. Some scientists have suggested that man-made ocean noises such as blasts, in addition to sonar or noises from large shipping freights, contribute to whales and dolphins intentionally beaching themselves.
The federal government’s own estimates state 138,000 whales and dolphins will likely be injured or killed during new seismic blasting. Many of these would likely be right whales, of which there are only around 500 individuals left. They also admitted seismic tests could disrupt the feeding, migration, and other behaviors of up to 13.5 million marine animals.
We must not allow these catastrophic outcomes to occur for oil and gas exploration. It’s time to start leaving oil in the ground, especially when it involves torturing marine life and dangerous offshore drilling. Sign the petition below to urge the director of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management not to allow seismic testing.
Dear Director Hopper,
I find it shocking that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Department of the Interior would condone the use of seismic blasting to explore for oil. In seismic testing, oil and gas companies use air guns that produce sounds 100 times louder than a jet engine. These sounds may continue every ten seconds for days or weeks at a time.
Seismic blasts are extremely painful, even deadly, to marine life. The government’s own estimates state the process will likely kill or harm around 138,000 dolphins and whales as well as create an additional 13.5 million instances of harm to marine life. Some of the whales affected by this process will likely be endangered right whales, of which there are only around 500 individuals left.
It is completely unacceptable to allow these terrible consequences to occur, especially in search of oil and gas that should remain in the ground anyway. Finding deposits will only mean progression to dangerous offshore drilling. The United States should be focused on moving past fossil fuels and towards a renewable energy future. I urge you to please protect marine life and stop allowing the use of seismic blasting.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: NOAA
SeaWorld: Stop Trying to Import and Breed Orcas.
Orcas Frolicking in the Ocean
Target: Joel K. Manby, President and CEO and Director, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment
Goal: Drop lawsuit challenging ruling that SeaWorld can only build new park for orcas if it agrees not to import or breed them.
The California Coastal Commission (CCC) heard our plea and handed down a compromise deal to SeaWorld, allowing the amusement park to build its Blue World Project, an enhanced environment and amusement park for orcas, but only on the agreement that it would not import or breed orca whales. SeaWorld has filed a lawsuit against the CCC in response.
This legal action confirms SeaWorld’s true intentions behind its Blue World Project, and that to, as PETA accurately reflects, subject orcas “a lifetime of deprivation, loneliness, and frustration by breeding them.” It’s time to stop this monster of an “entertainment” company once and for all.
Demand SeaWorld dismiss its frivolous lawsuit against the CCC and stop containing and breeding orcas. Its continued abuse of sea life for profit is repulsive, and it must discontinue its orca breeding program and release its captive orcas into seaside sanctuaries.
Dear Mr. Manby,
The California Coastal Commission’s (CCC) ruling on SeaWorld San Diego’s Blue World Project is designed to protect California coastline resources and animals. Its ruling also protects orcas already in captivity at SeaWorld San Diego and prevents SeaWorld from abusing more orcas. Your lawsuit against the CCC’s ruling only confirms your true intent, and that is to continue to abuse orcas for profit.
It’s time SeaWorld throw in the proverbial towel. We know you aren’t interested in the humane conservation of sea life; you’re interested in abusing sea life for your profit. Your frivolous lawsuit is proof. You and your organization are not animal conservationists, you’re animal abusers. Dismiss your ridiculous lawsuit, stop importing and breeding orcas, and release your captive orcas into seaside sanctuaries. Have you no conscience whatsoever?
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: NOAA
Act Now to End Orca Captivity in the U.S.
Born Free USA's mission is to end the suffering of wild animals in captivity, rescue individual animals in need, protect wildlife — including highly endangered species — in their natural habitats, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.
About the letterU.S. marine parks have been in hot water ever since the release of the revealing film Blackfish in 2013, and Congress is finally responding to the public outcry. Reps. Adam Schiff and Jared Huffman, both from California, introduced the Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement Act (H.R. 4019) on Nov. 17. Please write to your representative and ask him or her to support this groundbreaking bill that would phase out orca captivity once and for all.
The ORCA Act would prohibit orca breeding, wild capture, and the import or export of orcas for the purposes of public display across the U.S. The 25 orcas in the U.S. would be the last generation to ever live in tanks.
John Hargrove, a former marine park trainer who has spoken out about the suffering he witnessed while on the job, said, “It's time for Congress to take action. I know firsthand how dangerous these facilities can be for animals and trainers, and I’ve seen the physical and mental abuse that killer whales are forced to endure. The ORCA Act would protect not only future generations of orcas but also make a statement that this sort of exploitation is unacceptable.”
These intelligent and social animals are not ours to use for profit or entertainment. Please urge your representative to support the ORCA Act.
Rare Killer Whale Dies After Becoming Entangled in Fishing Gear. The death of Lulu leaves just eight resident orcas off Scotland.
Scottish bird photographer John Bowler received an unwelcome text on Sunday from a farmer who had stumbled on a killer whale that had washed up on the coast of Scotland’s Isle of Tiree.
“I was expecting to see it when I went, but it was still a great shock and shame to see such a magnificent animal still in good shape dead on the shore,” said Bowler, who has been the head officer for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds on Tiree for the past 14 years. “A great pity that the first-ever killer whale I should see should be under such circumstances.”
The 20-foot killer whale was identified as Lulu, a member of the rare resident population of orcas that live off Scotland’s west coast. According to the Hebridean Dolphin and Whale Trust, there may be as few as eight individuals remaining in the West Coast Community, which has not produced calves since the conservation group began studying the pod in 1992.
Andy Foote, a cetacean specialist with the trust, said the distinct shapes of Lulu’s eye and saddle patches were used to ID the orca and matched photos taken of the animal off Scotland’s Isle of Skye in 2014.
“It is very sad to lose a member of this unique group,” Foote said in a statement on Monday.
An autopsy completed Wednesday by Scotland Rural College’s Marine Animals Strandings Scheme found deep scarring and wounds around Lulu’s fluke, an indication that the animal’s tail was most likely wrapped in rope or other fishing gear.
“By the time we had heard of her stranding and travelled to Tiree, she had been dead for four days, so much of the internal organ structure had been lost,” Andrew Brownlow, the strandings team’s director and a veterinary pathologist, wrote on the group’s Facebook page. “Nonetheless we found convincing evidence that she had become chronically entangled and this was the most likely cause of her death.”
There were no ropes or fishing gear present when Bowler discovered the animal, so no determination of whether the wounds were caused by active fishing gear or abandoned equipment, often called “ghost” gear, could be made. If the ropes wrapped around her tail were attached to larger gear, it would have made normal swimming and foraging activities difficult. Lulu and her pod are known for hunting large prey such as dolphins and seals, which requires powerful swimming and agile maneuverability.
A Seventh Baby Is Born to the World’s Most Endangered Killer Whales
“We suspect the animal had been entangled for several days,” Brownlow wrote. “She hadn’t fed recently but had swallowed a large amount of seawater, most likely as she eventually succumbed to the entanglement and drowned.”
Lulu is the first killer whale the strandings team has encountered with entanglement scars, but the team reported an increase in entanglements in other whale species over the last year.
“In Scotland, we’ve only had 13 killer whale strandings in the past 20 years, of which only eight were examined in any way,” Brownlow wrote in an email to TakePart. “There does seem to be an increase in entanglement [for other cetaceans] over the past few years, but we need to properly analyze the data to see if this is a real trend.”
With Lulu’s death, only three females remain in the West Coast Community, and the chances of their survival are decreasing, according to Foote.
“It’s probably too late to save this group,” he said in 2011. “I do believe that they will become extinct in our lifetime, which is very regrettable since not many people even know that such a distinctive group of killer whales exist just off our coast.”
At the time, he blamed runoff from contaminants such as fire retardants, pesticides, and manufacturing chemicals for polluting the whales’ feeding grounds and poisoning mothers and their calves.