Saturday, October 8, 2016

Your Dolphin Outlook

Approximately 20 Risso's dolphins were slaughtered in the cove on Tuesday this week - 10:45am #DolphinProject. The rest of the week so far is without killing or captures...
Year-to-date drive counts, Taiji, Japan, Week #4 ending September 25, 2016
On September 28, SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby, and The Humane Society’s CEO Wayne Pacelle coauthored a piece for the ‘Tampa Bay Times‘ calling on the US government to pressure the Japanese government to stop the dolphin drives currently underway in Taiji, Japan. Their words might have held more validity had these mammoth money-earning organizations used their combined weight to apply some real pressure.

Instead, this SeaWorld-HSUS partnership is delivering scripted sound bytes that say much but deliver little. In this instance it’s nothing at all, for they place the responsibility for ending the drives on everybody else:

From the U.S. government to advocacy organizations and concerned citizens, Americans should make the most of this moment and mobilize what our founders called “the decent opinion of mankind” against this inhumanity — Pacelle, Manby. ‘Tampa Bay Times’.

In the meantime, SeaWorld and HSUS promise no outward effort other than to tackle:

Ocean pollution, commercial whaling, seal hunts and shark finning. In addition to our shared advocacy, we are also redoubling our efforts on the ground — focused on rescuing and rehabilitating wild marine mammals in need — all with the goal of returning them back to their natural homes — Pacelle, Manby. ‘Tampa Bay Times’.

Year-to-date drive counts, Taiji, Japan, Week #4 ending September 25, 2016For those of you who have researched the dolphin drives, you will know of SeaWorld’s historical role in perpetuating them. Sakae Hemmi of Japan’s Elsa Nature Conservancy, reported that there were indications these dolphin drives were dying out until a US Marine Mammal Inventory Report (MMIR) recorded that Miami Seaquarium, Sea Life Park in Hawaii, the Indianapolis Zoo, SeaWorld Inc. and the US Navy, imported live cetaceans captured in drive hunts from Japan.

So far, this year, Taiji fishermen have taken almost 70 dolphins for marine parks and we’re only a little over one month into the six-month drive season. Given SeaWorld’s past — and yes, indeed its current role in perpetuating captivity, are we wrong to ask them for more than words?

Both of these companies make millions but have yet to visit Taiji. A delegation could apply significant pressure on the Japanese government. On this side of the pond, SeaWorld spends wads of money lobbying political figures when it suits them, so why not now?

Imagine if carefully placed literature on the drives was provided to every visitor to each SeaWorld park or associated facility. The majority of visitors would want to take action, so why not offer them an opportunity to do so? Because this is SeaWorld, where what is not said is as important as what is said.

Should you doubt this example of disingenuous greenwashing, consider this, Manby and Pacelle mention many of the key players in the captive industry — except for one:

"The practice has been condemned by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and, importantly, the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums — Manby/Pacelle. ‘Tampa Bay Times.’

IMATA — the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association have not truly condemned the drives. SeaWorld boasts oodles of clout when it comes to IMATA because SeaWorld is a member of IMATA. Yet, IMATA is an organization that justifies the drives by denying the captivity connection — “Claims that international and Japanese aquariums are driving the demand for the Taiji drive fishery to continue are false,” writes IMATA, as they refuse to expel trainers participating in the dolphin hunt selection process:

Any individual who believes in IMATA’s mission and who supports its goals is welcomed into the membership. This includes extending membership to individuals who work for organizations that acquire dolphins from a drive fishery. A caregiver is welcomed by IMATA even if s/he participates in the selection and collection of live animals…

Manby and Pacelle’s editorial likely stems from a recent petition authored by Colorado resident, Orianne Weir. The petition calls on both SeaWorld and HSUS to condemn IMATA for continuing to allow trainers into their org who actively take place in the dolphin selection process. It has so far garnered over 133K signatures from people who want action. We urge you to sign it. SeaWorld and HSUS cannot overlook IMATA’s involvement if they are serious about stopping the drives.

Unfortunately, we are forced to question the integrity of the ‘Tampa Bay Times’ editorial when IMATA’s November conference is being hosted by SeaWorld San Diego and Chairs and Chief Editors on IMATA’s committee herald from, yes, SeaWorld’s own staff.

"The stain of dolphin hunts should remind environmentally conscious people from every viewpoint and walk of life that we need to find common ground and work together to protect wild species from exploitation and extinction if we’re going to save the Earth and all its inhabitants, human and animal — Pacelle, Manby. ‘Tampa Bay Times’.

HSUS has endorsed SeaWorld, SeaWorld endorses IMATA and hopefully, the public is too stupid to make the connection. In the meantime, SeaWorld and HSUS appear to have moved on. Mr. Pacelle, today, announced that SeaWorld is switching 100 percent of its egg usage away from battery cage operations to cage-free by the end of next year. We applaud this, whole-heartedly, but question the ambiguity. The chickens are now cage-free, but not the dolphins?

Meanwhile, as the killing season continues in the cove, Dolphin Project will remain in Taiji, testing dolphin meat for pollutants and documenting and educating whenever and wherever we can.

The government of Japan is dishonest about the toxicity of dolphin meat. Just as the Japanese people consuming this meat deserve to know how polluted it is, these marine mammals — who endure humanity at its worst, also deserve more than hot air and hollow words.

"From their comfort zone, these two partners are pointing their fingers at the government and telling the government to do something while they continue to do nothing. If we had their resources it would have ended years ago. So I ask, if a small grass-roots group like Dolphin Project can stay on the ground in Taiji for six months how come these two giant corporations can’t get there and do something?" — Ric O’Barry.
Bloodied bottlenose dolphins after throwing themselves up against rocks
Bottlenose dolphins are the money dolphins. Sought after by aquariums worldwide. IMATA trainers work hand-in-hand with Taiji hunters during the selection process.
Manby-Pacelle Pact: Hot Air and Hollow Words on Dolphin Drives
In Defense of Animals
Tell FedEx To Stop Shipping Dolphins! Last week, activists from Animal Rights Hawaii videoed FedEx employees packing up three live dolphins into transport boxes. The shipping destination? The Arizona desert, where Dolphinaris, a new swim-with-dolphin facility, will be opening soon. Dolphins don’t belong in boxes, and they don’t belong in the desert. Tell FedEx to stop shipping wild animals unless its solely for their safety and tell Dolphinaris to send the dolphins to a seaside sanctuary where they belong and can be evaluated for potential rehabilitation and release to the wild. TAKE ACTION

Live dolphins shipped from Honolulu to Arizona via FedEx. Animal rights activists are upset after three live dolphins were shipped via FedEx from Honolulu to Arizona, but the organization that shipped the animals says it was safe and legal to do so.

The non-profit group Animal Rights Hawaii posted a cellphone video taken at a FedEx cargo warehouse at Honolulu Airport, where Dolphin Quest was about to have three dolphins flown aboard a chartered FedEx plane. While it doesn't show everything, it does show people around stretchers that are often used to transport dolphins.

"Do you have a permit to transfer these dolphins?" Alexis Thomas of Animal Rights Hawaii can be heard asking the group. "Can we see it?"

"I approached Dolphin Quest while they were doing the transfer and I asked if they had a permit to be transferring the animals because in the past there have been issues with that," Thomas said.

She added that she was concerned about the dolphins' welfare.

"The Dolphin Quest trainers were consoling the animal, who seemed to be in obvious distress, likely from the confinement of the box that it was in, of course, all of the noises that were happening, the fear of the unknown," she said.

"I've been with these animals since they were born," said Michelle Campbell, Vice President of Animals for Dolphin Quest. "They're second-generation dolphins under our care, and no one cares more about them than we do."

Campbell says the dolphins were being transported from Dolphin Quest's facility at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. 

NOAA said Dolphin Quest has the proper state and federal permits. The state Agriculture Department said one of its officials was on hand for the departure.

Animal Rights Hawaii posted the video on its Facebook page.

"I think it was definitely shocking for a lot of people to see that FedEx is transferring live animals in a box," said Thomas.

Dolphin Quest said while it doesn't transport animals often, they trust FedEx to do the job. "They're very experienced in doing such a move," said Campbell. "We've done this before with them in the past, and have really appreciated the collaboration."

The dolphins arrived safely in Phoenix Monday morning. They are now at a new dolphin aquarium near Scottsdale, which is set to open next month.

Captive Dolphin Who Was Captured in Taiji Drive Kills Her 4-Day-Old Calf. It’s Time to Empty the Tanks! There is no doubt in our minds that cetaceans, like dolphins and whales, do not belong in captivity. While SeaWorld is on the decline in the United States, in other parts of the world, it is still an uphill battle.
One particularly tragic example of how captivity impacts dolphins comes from an aquarium based in Taiji, Japan. Taiji gained notoriety when the 2009 documentary “The Cove” exposed the realities of the annual capture and slaughter of dolphins by fishermen in the Taiji cove. While some of the netted dolphins are killed for their meat, dolphins deemed “pretty” are sold into a life of captivity. Sadly, this is how Lulu the dolphin came to be on display at Nagoya Aquarium in Japan.

In late September, Lulu gave birth to a calf — an event that should have been a joyous occasion for the first-time mother dolphin. Instead, the infant dolphin was bitten, pushed, and finally, drowned by her mother. According to the International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP), aquarium officials attempted to explain away the incident by claiming that first-time dolphin mothers do not know how to take care of their young.

Lulu’s baby was just four-days-old when she passed away after being harassed by her mother. IMMP shares that in photos, the baby dolphin appeared to have  bleeding rake marks on her body, from her mother dragging her teeth on her skin. Although marine park officials may be quick to fault the dolphin’s inexperience for this tragedy, the real problem lies in the fact that this once wild female was forced into a stressful and highly distressing life in captivity.

In the wild, dolphins are fantastic parents.  Dolphin mothers spend years with their young, teaching them to swim, hunt, socialize, and all the ins and outs of being a dolphin that is wild and free. On the other hand, there have been other instances in which the young of captive cetaceans turned on their offspring, likely due to the fact that their own natural behaviors have been so sorely repressed in small tanks. We need look no further than the example of  an orca mother at SeaWorld who was too depressed to feed her young. What happened to Lulu’s baby is just one more example of why dolphins and all cetaceans do not belong in captivity. We are the ones who put them in this difficult position and it is only by taking a stand against captivity that we can work towards an end. Stand up for marine mammals in captivity by refusing to purchase a ticket to an aquarium and any venue that puts captive animals on display. Together, we can empty the tanks and prevent future tragic events such as this from happening.

Join the #EmptyTheTanks movement and share this article, encouraging others to boycott these cruel facilities. Image source: vkilikov/Shutterstock