Saturday, March 11, 2017

What 'A Whale Of A Week'

Park Board Unanimously Votes to Ban Whale Captivity at Vancouver Aquarium

Just months ago in November 2016, Qila, the first beluga born in a Canadian aquarium and Vancouver Aquarium’s long term resident, died at the age of 21. Shortly after, her 29-year-old mother, Aurora passed away. While the cause of death for this mother and daughter is unclear, a life in captivity is hardly what these animals deserved. According to the Aquarium, beluga whales can live up to 30 years in the wild whereas other sources say they can live as long as 70 years. If the latter is true, Qila and Aurora hardly had long lives.

And this isn’t the first time eyebrows have been raised at Vancouver Aquarium. In 2015, Dr. Ingrid Visser, Founder of and Principal Scientist for the Orca Research Trust, observed a young whale at the Vancouver Aquarium, known as Chester with wounds attributed to the behavior of self-mutilation.

With the suspicious death of their residents and questionable activities leaving animal lovers in outrage (such as a program where you can swim with captive belugas) surrounding the Vancouver Aquarium, their captivity program has been thrown into the spotlight. And it looks like this debate has lead to some positive news for the aquarium’s cetaceans. March 9, 2017, the Vancouver Park Board unanimously decided to “have staff look into amending the Parks Control bylaw to prohibit the importation and display of live whales, dolphins, and porpoises.” Effectively, this would lead to a ban on keeping whales in the facility.

According to the Vancouver Sun, the decision follows the Vancouver Aquarium’s announcement to bring in new belugas before phasing out its cetacean research program and the display of beluga whales by 2029. Staff has until May 2017 to investigate and report back on how best to implement the amendment.
Observing animals in captivity may make us aware of their existence and inspire awe and wonder, but it can also, perhaps unconsciously, cement in our minds that this type of captivity is okay. Further, it enforces the idea that it’s perfectly normal to house these animals in concrete boxes that attempt to mimic their wild homes.

If you don’t agree that marine animals should be confined in a concrete pool and robbed of their freedom, the best thing you can do is boycott all facilities that hold animals captive. By visiting an aquarium and paying for a ticket, you are paying to keep wild animals in captivity.

Share this article to spread this important message. Wild animals belong in the wild. Image source: Lobo/Wikimedia Commons

Kina the Whale is Living in Solitary Confinement at Sea Life Park – Sign Petition to Get Her Out!
Dolphins, animals who are second in intelligence to humans, are one of the few animals that can learn new things throughout their lives, and then teach those new skills to their young. Dolphins are also one of the few animals who create their own games – and, even cooler, they have been observed playing games with other sea creatures. Even though we know all of this, we continue to keep dolphins in marine parks for the sake of our paltry entertainment.

Kina, the false killer whale, is one of the many marine mammals forced to live in solitary confinement in a tiny tank. She has lived in a tank the size of a hotel swimming pool for the past 17 months at Sea Life Park in Hawaii. It goes without saying that this environment is nowhere close to what Kina would be used to in the wild. Please speak up for Kina!

Join over 57,500 other animal lovers and sign this petition urging Sea Life Park and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to retire Kina to an accredited sea sanctuary immediately!

Kina was captured from her home in the wild all the way back in 1987, in a massive killing expedition, where Japanese fisherman massacred numerous dolphins on Iki Island and selected only a few for captivity. At first, Kina lived in an entertainment park in Hong Kong and then was relocated to sea pens where she was used in research for the U.S. Navy and the University of Hawaii. There she had two bottlenose dolphins to keep her company and also had room to swim, the very least that she deserves.

But then in 2015, Kina was moved away from her only friends and sent to Sea Life Park. Since her relocation, Kina has floated lethargically in a square tank that is reportedly filthy and where she has no sun coverage. According to the Animal Welfare Act, all marine mammals must be provided shade. However, this requirement has not been enforced and as a result it is likely that Kina is being burned. Strangely, Sea Life Park keeps Kina hidden from public view. What is Sea Life Park hiding?

Sign this urgent petition to retire Kina to an accredited sea sanctuary before it’s too late. From intentionally flinging themselves out of their tanks to swallowing inedible stones, many dolphins and orcas have decided life in a tank is a life not worth living. There have been many records of captive cetacean suicide attempts. We must make sure this doesn’t happen to Kina.

If you agree that dolphins deserve so much better, please join the #EmptyTheTanks movement on social media and share this article. Click here to help!

China Moves to Open First Captive Orca Breeding Facility РBut Activists Are Pushing Back With Expos̩.

After succumbing to disease at the tender age of 36, our beloved Tilikum, the orca that started a Blackfish revolution, may finally be free from the confines of captivity, but many more orcas remain locked behind glass and the illusion of public entertainment. And many, many more will know that same fate if China has its way.

Orca captivity is banned in more than a dozen countries, including Switzerland, Greece, India, Costa Rica, Bolivia, and Chile. U.S. states like Hawaii, New York, and South Carolina have instated such a ban within their borders, as well, understanding the inhumane suffering these emotionally complex mammals endure under such unnatural circumstances. It’s a growing global trend brought on by public pressure, which is causing theme parks around the world to abandon their captive orca breeding programs. These programs are plagued with rampant inbreeding and often involve breeding these beautiful animals at way too young an age than is natural and healthy for their species, which often results in early abandonment and even premature death among young calves. The popular cause has even driven Sea World to scrap its nightmare of a breeding program.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that in China, the opposite is taking place, fueled by a burgeoning middle class hungry for leisurely entertainment. It wasn’t enough for the country to steal these magnificent cetaceans from the wild, so in February, the country’s largest amusement park opened its first orca breeding center in the southeastern city of Zhuhai with nine captive whales selected to procreate for this harrowing cause. This center claims its goal is to “help cultivate the public’s awareness of whale protection,” but as more and more people on our side of the globe are finally coming to realize, whale captivity does not equate to protection. Orcas suffer horribly in these confinements, live and behave completely unnaturally, and endure much shorter life spans as a result.

Many here in the West have woken to this truth because of the documentary “Blackfish,” and the China Cetacean Alliance (CCA) is hoping to create a similar wave of hope in its motherland with a documentary of its own.
Like “Blackfish,” the film drives in the cruel and unfair nature of captivity, how this affects the animals’ welfare, and how their natural frustration leads to public safety risks, especially for trainers.

Let’s get the word out as far and wide as possible so that it might generate the same level of public awareness, interest, and action as we’ve seen here in the States. You can start by sharing this article and encouraging friends and family to watch the film’s trailer above, then keep an eye out for the full feature length film on the CCA’s Weibo account and promote that when it’s released.

In addition, keep fighting for Morgan and all the other orcas who continue to suffer behind glass, longing to one day be released to sanctuary!
In Defense of Animals
Air Force Wants To Deafen Whales And Dolphins Near Kauai. Introducing the U.S. Air Force Weapons - Test Plan: something that could harm or kill hundreds of dolphins, whales and potentially many other marine animals off the coast of Kauai. Scheduled to last from from September 2017 through August 2022, the plan would involve exploding about 110 munitions (bombs) each year just above or below the surface of the ocean, with some weighing as much as three hundred pounds! The stated purpose of the exercise is to give pilots practice in bombing targets. READ MORE

Whales, Dolphins, and Turtles Are Dying in Commercial Fishing Nets – Sign Petition to Stop This!

Imagine, as you’re swimming, suddenly finding yourself entangled in a massive sprawl of netting that drags you down deeper under the water. The more you wrestle to free yourself, the more entwined you become. As the last remaining bits of oxygen exit your lungs, panic sets in, and you have no choice but to fight for your life and do everything you can to make it back up to the surface to regain your breath. You endure deep gashes and wounds and break several bones in a desperate attempt to untether your body in this struggle, but try as you might, you simply cannot break free. The latticework is too complex and the netting spread too wide. And so, exhausted and defeated, you give up all hope and drown.

This is a scenario that plays out day after day throughout the world’s oceans, affecting countless dolphins, porpoises, and whales. And they’re not the only ones suffering. Sea turtles, gigantic manta rays, sharks, seals, or sea lions also regularly become “bycatch” victims. In fact, a report commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund found that approximately 1,000 marine animals are killed each day by commercial fishing nets, not including the fish they’re designed to catch.

It’s bad enough that the widespread use of fishing nets exacerbates our planet’s overfishing problem, which is depleting global fish stocks in mass. Experts estimate that more than 80 percent of these fish stocks have already been “fully- to over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse.”

But these nets are doing far more damage than that by greatly disrupting the oceanic food chain and destroying vast ecosystems by killing off the very species that keep our oceans in balance.

We must act now to protect these species and keep our oceans healthy and supportive to our current way of life. This is no small task, but here are a few things we can all start doing right away to bring an end to overfishing and the indiscriminate killings caused by these nets:

  • Sign this petition urging George Eustice and the devolved Ministers to take urgent action by implementing laws that protect dolphins, porpoises, and whales in UK waters.
  • Lower your consumption of seafood or eliminate it entirely to reduce the demand for commercial fishing.
  • Follow these swimmers’ lead and help rescue any sea life you find ensnarled in netting
In addition, share this article to generate more awareness about these issues and encourage others to help, too.