Saturday, July 2, 2016

A Whale Of A Week

Entangled Blue Whale Found Off California Illuminates Larger Problem
Blue whale
The nation watched this week as crews desperately tried to untangle an endangered blue whale caught in fishing line connected to a crab trap off the California coast. Officials said the whale is badly entangled, weak, and will likely die unless rescue efforts succeed. The drama played out against a larger backdrop as whale entanglements along the West Coast are on pace for another record year. 

The incident with this blue whale comes on the heels of news earlier this month that there have been about 40 reports of whales entangled off this coast this year. The Center has called on crab fishermen to remove more fishing lines from Monterey Bay and other entanglement hot spots. We're also urging regulators to take swift action to address the problem, including the removal of more of the lost fishing gear that litters the coast. 

Read more about the blue whale in The Orange County Register and get details on other 2016 whale entanglements in our press release.

Save Endangered Blue Whale Currently Trapped in Fishing Net
Target: Eileen Sobeck, Assistant Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Goal: Rescue endangered blue whale trapped in net and ban fishing nets near blue whale habitat.
A blue whale is currently fighting for its life in a fishing net, prompting a massive rescue effort. The endangered whale is towing about 200 feet of net and is slowly dying. Demand an immediate ban on fishing nets in the vicinity of all blue whale habitat and a full effort to rescue this innocent creature.
A 70-80 foot blue whale was spotted off the coast of California, entangled in crab lines and dragging several buoys. Rescue efforts by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have so far proven unsuccessful. While the whale can swim for long distances while entangled, it is slowly dying and must be rescued soon.
NOAA has confirmed 22 other cases of fishing line entanglement off the coast of California, Washington, and Oregon recently. In the majority of cases, rescue efforts were unsuccessful. Sign below and demand an immediate ban on fishing nets in this coastal area and a full scale effort to save this magnificent mammal.
Dear Ms. Sobeck,
An endangered blue whale is caught in a fishing net, putting it at grave risk. We demand the immediate ban of fishing net in this region until further precautions can be taken and we also request a full scale effort to save this whale now.
It is unknown how long this whale has been entangled. The crab line is wrapped around its fin, causing it great suffering. A witness reports that the whale appeared tired and was swimming slowly.
The blue whale is endangered and must be protected. We demand the immediate ban of fishing net in or around its habitat and a full and immediate effort to save this whale.
[Your Name Here]
The ocean is becoming an increasingly noisy place, and now is your chance to help us turn down the volume. One of the largest contributors of noise in the Atlantic Ocean is seismic airgun blasting, a disruptive practice used to find oil and gas below the seafloor. The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration just released a draft of its Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap, which finally recognizes noise as a critical component of ocean management.

If we don’t act now, this dangerous blasting could start as early as this summer.

These blasts are so loud that they can be heard underwater up to 2,500 miles from the source —that’s farther than the distance from Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas!

NOAA must decide NOW whether or not to allow seismic airgun blasting for oil and gas in the Atlantic.

Sound plays a fundamental role in many species’ survival. Without the ability to hear each other uninterrupted by human activities like seismic airgun blasting, the last remaining North Atlantic right whales may disappear from our oceans forever.

Grassroots opposition from Wavemakers like you on the East Coast has already kept offshore drilling out of the Atlantic until 2022.

It’s time to make our voices heard above the cacophony in our oceans.
Click here to add your name now.
Make your voice heard for ocean wildlife >>

First Large-scale Alaska Fracking Project Threatens Belugas -- Take Action
BelugaAn oil company plans to conduct the first large, multistage offshore fracking project that has ever taken place in Alaska's environmentally sensitive Cook Inlet -- putting some of the world's most endangered whales at further risk through exposure to toxic fracking chemicals and the killing or harming of their prey.

So last week the Center urged the National Marine Fisheries Service to use its authority to block those plans.

"Cook Inlet belugas already face a barrage of manmade hazards threatening their survival -- the last thing they need is offshore fracking," said Kristen Monsell, a Center attorney. "If federal officials are truly committed to saving these incredible animals, they need to step in and prohibit oil companies from fracking Cook Inlet."

Of the five genetically unique beluga populations in Alaska, Cook Inlet belugas number the fewest: In recent years their population has fallen from about 1,300 to barely more than 300.

Tell the Fisheries Service to protect Cook Inlet belugas by keeping their habitat safe from toxic fracking.
10 Signs Whales and Dolphins Do NOT Belong in Tanks. Can you imagine being born into prison? You spend all your days behind bars with other miserable jail mates. Sometimes they become aggressive towards you due to their own frustrations of being so tightly confined. Each day, you have the opportunity to leave your cell, but if you do, you have to work under the strict pressure of your prison guards.

As you work, you are watched by hundreds of spectators. You are provided food as a reward for positive behavior, but if you behave against the guards’ wishes, you could possibly suffer the consequences of missing a meal. Your survival depends on care given by your prison guards. You don’t speak the same language as these guards, so you can’t tell them you don’t belong there.

What did you do to deserve such a life? Oh, nothing. You were born without freedom because you provide public entertainment. And you must like it because millions of dollars are spent on your “world-class” standards of care, you are given psychoactive drugs, and the thought of you ever being liberated is absolutely absurd…

Sound familiar? If so, you’re probably thinking of the lives of captive dolphins and whales. Though parks such as the famous SeaWorld try to convince the public that their cetaceans are content with their “spacious aquariums, restaurant-quality fish, exercise, quality veterinary care, and enrichment,” ultimately, profit is priority. Don’t believe this? Here are some signs cetaceans were born to be wild.

1. Collapsed Dorsal Fins

Why does the orca doing the silly trick have a floppy fin? That certainly doesn’t appear to be natural. If you’ve ever seen videos or images of majestic wild orcas, you’ll notice their dorsal fins are vertically stable. According to a member of SeaWorld’s education department, orcas have collapsed dorsal fins due to genetics, gravity, and injury from play … not captivity.

Hmm … Does that make you wonder why the majority of captive killer whales have these collapsed dorsal fins, while only one percent of wild orcas have been observed with this condition?

2. Aggression Amongst Tank “Pod” Members
Can you blame these amazingly intelligent and emotional beings for being frustrated with their confinement? In captivity, cetaceans have nowhere to escape conflict and thus, suffer from each other’s stress. Imagine being locked in a room with a spouse when you’re having an argument … rough.

Many dolphins, such as the orca in the image below, have injuries caused by tank mates. This rarely occurs in their wild environment. Although orcas are natural carnivores and eat other animals in their wild environment to survive, these animals only become “killer” whales in captivity.

3. Abnormal Repetitive Behaviors
We can all get a little crazy when we’re bored from time to time. But can you imagine being bored and stressed every day of your life?! With dolphins and orcas having brains quite a bit larger than humans in terms of weight and volume, it’s no wonder captive cetaceans display zoochotic (psychotic) behaviors, similar to symptoms of prison neurosis. Some stereotypic behaviors include swimming in circles repetitively, establishing pecking orders, and lying motionless at the surface or on the aquarium floor for relatively long periods of time.
4. Broken Teeth Due to Extreme Boredom
When you live in a concrete bathtub, what else is there to do besides bite down on bars separating you from other cetaceans? Unfortunately, this neurotic behavior results in serious dental issues. Captive cetaceans’ teeth are often chipped, broken, or have to have the pulp drilled out of the center of their teeth (Ouch!).
5. Self-Mutilation
Dolphins have been known to slam themselves against the sides of their tanks concrete walls. Sadly, marine parks don’t offer emotional counseling services for their “much-loved” captive dolphins.
6. Vomiting
According to former SeaWorld killer whale trainer John Hargrove, “Nearly every single killer whale regurgitated their food after we ended our interaction.”

Cetacean researchers believe that captive environments could be resulting in reduction of these animals’ brain size. Through lack of mental stimulation, the areas of the brain responsible for communication can atrophy. Cetaceans are degraded to playing with their own vomit.

 Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 7
7. Suicide Attempts
From intentionally flinging themselves out of their tanks to swallowing inedible stones, many dolphins and orcas have decided a life in a tank is a life not worth living. There have been many records of captive cetacean suicide attempts. If this isn’t an absolutely determinate sign these animals don’t belong in confined spaces, what is?
8. Reliance on Medication
Aren’t pharmaceuticals used to treat patients for physical or mental ailments? Drugs are apparently also used to calm mentally distressed captive cetaceans. SeaWorld has admitted to medicating their orcas with psychoactive drugs (similar to valium). Of course, mental illness of these animals that caused them to swim in circles all day, play with their own vomit, or commit suicide couldn’t possibly be related to the fact they live in a tank…
9. Unusual Illnesses
Captive dolphins and orcas are kept in unusual environments, so is it a surprise they tend to suffer from unusual ailments? For example, unlike wild cetaceans, captive cetaceans spend a lot of time exposed out of water (remember, dolphins and whales often float motionlessly at the surface when they are bored).

Trainers at SeaWorld in Orlando have witnessed swarms of mosquitoes settle on the backs of killer whales. Kanduke, a large male orca passed away unexpectedly at SeaWorld as a result of a pathogen transmitted by mosquitoes. Dolphins in the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas have suffered from a contagious disease called the pox, caused by stress and poor general health according to the National Institute of Health.

10. Accelerated Deaths
Depression, aggression, poor dental health, self-mutilation, vomiting, suicide attempts, drugs, illnesses – don’t these all seem like signs ultimately leading to death? According to a research study conducted in 1995 by Robert Small and Douglas Demaster, the annual mortality rate for captive dolphins was two and a half times higher than that of wild cetaceans. Sadly, not much has changed since then for the benefit of captive cetaceans. While wild killer whales have been known to live as long as 80 to 90 years, only two female orcas in captivity have passed the age of 40, and no males have lived longer than 35.
What Can You Do to End this Cruelty?
Are you now convinced cetaceans do not belong in tanks? Not yet? Read about what cetaceans might say about their life in captivity…

Help free our friends with fins by:
  • Taking a Pledge to not purchase tickets from marine parks and sharing this message with family, friends, and colleagues.
  • Signing petitions for cetaceans’ freedom and the end of breeding programs.
  • Watching the documentary Blackfish (if you haven’t already) tolearn more and investigating SeaWorld’s “Truth Team.”
  • Spreading the word through social media (and sharing OGP posts).
Lead image source: Swimming Free

Urge Entertainers to Cancel their Performances at SeaWorld orcas at SeaWorld

orcas at SeaWorld
Performers Fighting Gravity, the 13th Army Band, Freelusion, and the Gazillion Bubble Show have signed up to perform at SeaWorld, and we need your help to explain why no one should accept a gig at the abusement park.

Cetaceans are extremely sensitive, intelligent, and complex animals. In the wild, orcas travel up to 100 miles per day and bottlenose dolphins travel up to 60 miles in close-knit groups. In some populations, offspring stay with their mothers for life. But at SeaWorld, marine mammals are forced to swim in endless circles inside tiny tanks, which, to them, are equivalent to the size of a bathtub. They are torn away from their families and incompatibly housed with other animals, which often results in injuries and stress. While wild orcas can live to be more than 100 years old, 38 orcas have died on SeaWorld's watch—and at the average age of only 13. Not one has reached the maximum lifespan of an orca in nature.

Numerous acts—including Willie Nelson, Cheap Trick, REO Speedwagon, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Barenaked Ladies, and 38 Special—have canceled performances in SeaWorld's concert series, and artists such as Joan Jett, Savage Garden, and Edgar Winter have publicly called on the park to stop using their music in orca shows because of the marine mammals' natural sensitivity to sound. Please urge Fighting Gravity, the 13th Army Band, Freelusion, and the Gazillion Bubble Show to join the tide of performers refusing to support marine mammal confinement—then follow up with them on social media!

Fighting Gravity: Twitter and Facebook
The 13th Army Band: Twitter and Facebook
Freelusion: Twitter and Facebook
The Gazillion Bubble Show: Facebook

Click here to sign overall petition