Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Whale Of A Week

Natural ways to see whales in their own natural habitat and environment!
This is SEE World!
Smash Mouth and Gladys Knight Facing backlash for holding Concerts at SeaWorld
Activists say Smash Mouth is no "All Star" after agreeing to play at SeaWorld this weekend.
Last time '90s pop punk band Smash Mouth was in the news, the lead singer was so furious that he had to be subdued by security after someone threw a slice of bread at him onstage. That was in June and made for some pretty great video. Now, Smash Mouth is being accused of putting a paycheck before the safety of imprisoned orcas — at least that's what activists are saying upon hearing that Smash Mouth agreed to perform at SeaWorld Orlando this weekend.

“Shame on them for putting money before what's right and wrong,” says Candace Crespi, a self-proclaimed animal-rights activist from Plantation. “There's no denying that these whales and dolphins are suffering.”

Smash Mouth is booked to play at SeaWorld's Bands, Brew & BBQ festival this coming weekend. Two days ago, Crespi launched a petition calling on the band to pull out. So far, the petition has attracted more than 4,600 signatures. R&B singer Gladys Knight is also performing, and 2,600 people have signed another petition directed at her. 

Smash Mouth and Gladys Knight have not commented on the issue. But they wouldn't be the first bands to cancel on SeaWorld after backlash from animal-rights activists.

Since the documentary Blackfish aired on CNN two years ago — exposing the dangers of keeping orcas in captivity and featuring interviews with former trainers who speak of their regret over harming the animals — celebrities like Howard Stern, Harry Styles, and Alec Baldwin have begun speaking out against SeaWorld. The negative attention has spurred a growing movement against the Orlando-based theme park.

In November 2013, the Barenaked Ladies canceled a show at SeaWorld after a petition was circulated on the internet asking the band not to play. A week later, pigtailed country singer Willie Nelson also canceled his show at the Orlando-area theme park. Then, a few days later, classic-rock band Heart did too.

SeaWorld's Bands, Brews & BBQ takes place every Saturday and Sunday from this weekend to March 6, with food, beer, and live music. Admission is $94, but an additional $10 to $40 is needed to attend the show, depending on the package. (A 10 percent discount is offered to military veterans.)

SeaWorld is not announcing the musical guests for the series until the week they are scheduled to perform — likely because of past experience with bands canceling last-minute due to negative publicity. On SeaWorld's Facebook page, one commenter wrote, "If the Sea World haters wouldn't harass the musicians, they would be able to give us a little more notice." Another supported the park, writing, "I'm glad not all preformers [sic] are falling for the lies. I boycott bands that boycott SeaWorld." 

On the petition, activists are prompted to call Smash Mouth's management and post on their Facebook page and Twitter accounts.

Stacia Pride from Holiday, Florida, says: “The music is so loud... It is sad to scare all of the Orcas, Dolphins & other animals!! Please think about what you are doing!! Please choose to Be a Voice For the Animals, instead of promoting captivity!!”

Rachel Armstrong from Canada says: “It is too bad that Smash Mouth has decided to sink to that level, I always had 'Accidentally in Love' on my playlist for if I ever get married. Now the song just won't have the same happy feeling for me.”

Crespi reached out to the band's manager, who allegedly told her that band members “appreciate the concern but have no comment."

“I hope they do the right thing,” Crespi says. “If that doesn't happen, I hope no one shows to their concert and that it inspires other people to try to make a difference when their favorite band decides to play at a captive facility.”
There’s a Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going on at SeaWorld
And so it seems, the SeaWorld shuffle as has begun. In its latest attempt to overcome the still prevailing effect of the 2013 documentary ‘Blackfish‘, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., is switching out park heads and changing courses on future projects.

According to a SeaWorld press release, SeaWorld announced that effective April 1:
  • Daniel Brown, Chief of Park Operations is out in favor of San Diego park, President John Reilly. Brown has served only one year in his current position.
  • Chief Zoological Officer Brad Andrews will transition to zoological director emeritus and be replaced by VP of veterinary services, Chris Dold.
  • San Antonio park President Dan Decker is out in favor of Carl Lum, currently the park president for Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA. Lum will head the company’s Texas parks, SeaWorld and Aquatica.
  • Marilyn Hannes, the Vice President of Global Sales is to become Park President of  SeaWorld San Diego and Aquatica.
The moves were announced less than one week before SeaWorld releases its fourth quarter and year-end 2015 financial results on Feb. 25.

“These leaders bring to their new roles an extraordinary depth of knowledge and talent and the right expertise to deliver on our strategic priorities,” said Joel Manby, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “John is a strong and experienced operator who has proven his leadership, both at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and amidst a challenging operating environment at our California location.”

The executive-level changes are the latest in a chronic shuffling precipitated by flagging profits and attendance issues after the release of Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s damning expose, ‘Blackfish’.

Facing multiple lawsuits and a recent spate of animal deaths, SeaWorld Entertainment’s multiple shake-ups has consistently failed to shake off its negative image in the eyes of the public. The San Diego park’s ‘Blue World‘ project — which didn’t quite go according to plan thanks to the California Coastal Commission, only resulted in a retaliatory lawsuit and now appears to have been abandoned altogether in favor of ‘Ocean Explorer‘, a new submarine marine ride set to open in the spring of 2017.

Kimberly Ventre, a Marketing Consultant and the sister of former SeaWorld orca trainer Jeff Ventre told the Dolphin Project, “Wall Street wants to see growth. Since SeaWorld isn’t getting it through attendance, my guess is they are trying to show a growth plan anywhere else.”

Ventre suggests that from a rebranding perspective, “SeaWorld continues to align themselves closer and closer to zoos vs. circus-style animal entertainment. They are using slick terminology a lot more effectively. For instance, they might talk about ‘zoological operations’  more … which sounds like science and conservation,  rather than veterinary services, which sounds like sick animals.”

There’s a reason why Manby refers to SeaWorld San Diego as a particularly “challenging operating environment.” AB-2140, introduced by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, D–Santa Monica, to phase out orca captivity was followed with the introduction late last year of Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement (ORCA) Act. If successful, the new federal legislation would prohibit the breeding, wild capture, and the import or export of species in California.

Yet SeaWorld continues to overlook the impact ‘Blackfish’ has had on its operations. Amid all of the rebranding efforts and shuffling of personnel and projects, its efforts appear geared towards appeasing its investors. So with lawsuits flying, people coming and going, and new rides planned for the landscape, nothing has changed for the animals under their care. In that regard, it’s still very much, business as usual.

SeaWorld announces new multi-million-dollar ride and aquariums in ongoing bid to rebuild its image after Blackfish backlash
  • The multi-million dollar Ocean Explorer will feature an 'immersive' submarine ride, research pods and aquariums'
  • Guests will get 'eye-to-eye views of octopuses, spider crabs and jellyfish' - some of which are debuting at the park
  • Construction of the attraction at the San Diego park is scheduled to start this summer and open late spring in 2017

In an effort to reverse the negative publicity brought about by the Blackfish documentary and its allegations of orca mistreatment, SeaWorld San Diego announced this week that it will be debuting a brand new attraction in 2017.

The multi-million dollar Ocean Explorer will feature a submarine ride along with multiple aquariums for guests to 'learn about some of the ocean's most fascinating inhabitants'.

Visitors will be able to explore three acres of aquarium from their mini-submarines, getting eye-to-eye views of giant octopuses, huge spider crabs and jellyfish - some of which have never been seen at the park before - according to SeaWorld.

The multi-million dollar Ocean Explorer will feature a submarine ride where guests will get 'an eye-to-eye view of giant octopuses, huge spider crabs and jellyfish'

The multi-million dollar Ocean Explorer will feature a submarine ride where guests will get 'an eye-to-eye view of giant octopuses, huge spider crabs and jellyfish'
Alongside the three-minute submarine experience, guests can also try a wave swinger ride, which is said to fly through thousands of real bubbles in chairs suspended from the tentacles of a giant jelly. 
In the wake of backlash over the park's housing of killer whales, the feature aims to focus heavily on education with research pods located through the attraction with interaction displays and graphics.
The multi-million dollar Ocean Explorer will feature a submarine ride where guests will get 'an eye-to-eye view of giant octopuses, huge spider crabs and jellyfish'
Brian Morrow, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment's vice president of theme park experience design, hopes the new section will signal a shift for the SeaWorld brand. 
He said: 'This newest, fully immersive attraction at SeaWorld San Diego is the next chapter in creating experiences that can create both wonder and curiosity for the oceans.' 
In an effort to raise its profile, SeaWorld San Diego announced this week it will be debuting the new attraction in 2017. The firm hopes it will 'inspire park guests to protect the wonders of the ocean'
In an effort to raise its profile, SeaWorld San Diego announced this week it will be debuting the new attraction in 2017. The firm hopes it will 'inspire park guests to protect the wonders of the ocean'
In the wake of a backlash over the park's housing of killer whales, the feature aims to focus heavily on education with research pods located through the attraction that have interaction displays and graphics
Construction on Ocean Explorer will begin in summer 2016 on a three-acre site where the Animal Connections exhibit and the Circle of Flags are currently located on the southeast side of the park. The multi-million-dollar attraction is scheduled to open in late spring of 2017.

John Reilly, SeaWorld California's park president, said: 'The opportunity to see and learn about some of the ocean's most fascinating creatures, coupled with a mix of distinctive rides and activities, will give our visitors a meaningful experience only SeaWorld can create.'

In November 2015 it was reported that SeaWorld is to phase out its famous Shamu show at its San Diego park after mounting criticism over its treatment of killer whales.

The entertainment parks have faced a huge backlash from animal rights groups who have protested against the conditions orcas are kept in.

Visitor numbers have also plummeted since release of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which claimed SeaWorld's treatment of its captive orcas provoked violent behaviour in the whales, leading to the deaths of three people.
Brian Morrow, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment's vice president of theme park experience design, hopes the new section will signal a shift for the SeaWorld brand
The company, which operates 11 theme parks across the US, reported a profit of $5.8million (£4million) last year for April to the end of June which was down from $37.4million (£26million) for the same period the previous year.

To counter the backlash, the firm, which has participated in animal rescue programs for more than 50 years, also announced plans to nearly double the size of its orca enclosures.

The decision comes after a ruling by the California Coastal Commission, which will ban the park from breeding any more orcas as part of a deal to expand the mammals' enclosures.
The 2013 documentary Blackfish (left), claimed that SeaWorld abuses its captive animals

Charlie's Cycle Challenge Video. Whale and Dolphin Conservation. Join WDC Field Officer Charlie Phillips in getting active for whales and dolphins. Charlie is setting you a challenge! Cycle 4 or 10 miles and raise money for your favourite finned friends.
Stop Japan From Murdering Minke Whales.

Minke Whale_By_Martin Cathrae
Target: Senior Fisheries Negotiator of Japan’s Fishery Agency, Hideki Moronuki
Goal: Cease new whaling program that allows annual killing of hundreds of minke whales per year.
Japan has sent whaling vessels on a mission to kill 333 minke whales despite international calls for the cessation of whaling in the Antarctic. Japanese officials say the goal of killing the whales is to build scientific research that will ultimately allow for commercial whaling to be resumed. Not only is Japan slaughtering hundreds of innocent whales under the guise of science, but the country is blatantly ignoring the international protections that have been established for these whales.
Two years ago, Japan was ordered by the International Court of Justice to stop its so-called “scientific” whaling expeditions in the Antarctic after the court determined the expeditions were hardly scientific. After a brief cessation of whaling, Japan has created a new program called NEWRP-A, which is a 12-year research program scheduled to last until 2026 or 2027.
Under this new program, Japan plans to kill 333 minke whales in the Antarctic every year, totaling just under 4,000 whales that will be slaughtered during the duration of the program. This new program is just another smokescreen in which Japan says it is killing whales solely for scientific research, and yet whale meat will likely continue to be found available to eat in Japan.
A moratorium on commercial whaling has been established for good reason. It is essential that whales be protected from inhumane whaling practices, and it is unacceptable that Japan continues to ignore international regulations protecting our oceans’ whales. Please sign the below petition to show your support for the minke whale by demanding Japan cease its newest attempt to murder them in the name of research.
Dear Mr. Moronuki,
I am writing to insist that your agency immediately cease slaughtering minke whales in the Antarctic. While I know Japan states that the killing of these animals is in the name of research, it seems highly unlikely that killing hundreds of these whales every year is in some way going to support their survival. By continuing to kill these whales in the Antarctic, your agency and country are not only inhumanely attacking the minke whale population, but you are doing so in waters where they are internationally protected.
There has been an international moratorium on commercial whaling for good reason. After decades of whaling, whale populations were in steep decline, and we were in danger of losing various whale species to extinction. Even though other nations had profits to be made through the continuation of commercial whaling, they have respected the moratorium and have ceased killing whales. Japan can only benefit if it chooses to stop killing minke whales, as it will ally itself with other nations who are trying to be a part of the protection of these beautiful animals.
I know that it is extremely difficult to cease something that likely turns a high profit. But continuing to murder innocent minke whales in waters where everyone else is working so hard to protect them is unjust and inhumane. So please, make every effort to do the right thing and put an end to this new program so that no more minke whales are unjustly slaughtered.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Martin Cathrae