Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Whale Of A Week

Epic Photo Captures the Exact Relationship Whales and Humans Should Have.

Sometimes, to understand a world of another, it’s important to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes … or, uh, swim a mile in someone else’s fins. In doing so, we usually realize that we’re not so different from each other.

This photo by Kyle Taylor at Byron Bay in Australia shows us that perhaps we have more in common with orcas than we think. With this human’s hand assuming the famed surfer’s “right on” position, we see it almost perfectly mirroring the whale’s tail.

This Photo Perfectly Illustrates Humans And Whales Living in Harmony
How are whales like us, you ask? Well, for one, they are extremely intelligent and emotional – just like us! (Our intelligence in context of how we often treat these animals, however, is debatable, of course). The brain of the orca is four times larger than the human brain, weighing in at 12 pounds. Their brains have been evolving for millions of years, while modern-day humans first emerged about 200,000 years ago, so it’s safe to assume that their cognitive development is at least as advanced as ours – if not considerably more so! And with complex familial and social relationships, we can gather that these creatures are highly self-aware and adaptable. These animals live in tight matrilineal pods, composed of grandmothers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  They typically choose to remain with their immediate family group for the rest of their lives. We bet they have family drama, just like us!

We ought to do everything we can to make sure they live an amazing life, right? Just like us, whales do not want to spend their life in prison. But sadly, many whales are cruelly torn from their natural habitat and relegated to a life spent in captivity. This is a highly traumatizing experience for this sensitive beings. Throughout their lives in captivity, orcas display zoochotic (psychotic) behaviors, similar to 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.

We can’t let this happen to our finned friends. What’ve we got to say to the whale? Well, right on, dude. Keep on surfin’ the sea – we’re going to do everything we can to protect you. Image Source: Kyle Taylor/Facebook!

How You Can Help

Empty the Tanks, Global Day of Protest

In Defense of Animals
Mark your calendars – Saturday, May 7 is the next Empty the Tanks, an annual day of international protest against dolphin and whale captivity!

If you are one of the growing number of people who know that all dolphins and whales deserve to be free, then we encourage you to attend your nearest event.  If you don't see an event near you, create your own.

You can act to empty the tanks every day of the year. Be sure to never support captivity by patronizing places like SeaWorld, Marineland or any other facility that holds marine mammals captive. Encourage your family and friends to watch Blackfish, The Cove, A Fall From Freedom and other compelling educational documentaries.

Remember that captivity is closely tied to slaughter – annual dolphin drive hunts take place in Taiji, Japan, which are subsidized by the captivity industry: a dead dolphin is worth under $1000, but a live, trained dolphin is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The captivity industry provides a financial incentive and means for hunting wild dolphins in Taiji and other places.!

Empty the Tanks was launched in 2013 and it has been increasing in popularity each year, as more people come to understand the true tragic cost behind captive entertainment. With your support, 2016 will be bigger and better than ever, a testament to the turning tide of public opinion.

Join Empty the Tanks and In Defense of Animals to help put an end to the captive cetacean entertainment industry!

Orca Performing to an Empty Stadium at SeaWorld Proves It’s Time to #EmptyTheTanks.

It’s sad but it’s true: money is an insanely effective driver for change in our society. If something doesn’t sell, why bother? If the public no longer wants something, businesses are forced to change their policies.

This photo of an empty stadium at SeaWorld perfectly illustrates that reality.
Orca Performing To An Empty Stadium At Seaworld Proves It’s Time to #EmptyTheTanks
Driven by consumer demand for entertainment, these extremely intelligent and powerful beings are torn from their natural habitat and forced to live in a tank. However, over time, it has become ever more clear to the public that a tank is no place for a wild orca.

With complex familial and social relationships, we can gather that orcas are highly self-aware, adaptable, and intelligent. In captivity, however, they receive none of the stimulation or interaction they so rightly deserve. In the wild, these whales live in tight matrilineal pods, composed of grandmothers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They typically choose to remain with their immediate family group for the rest of their lives. So you can imagine the damage done to orcas when they’re cruelly torn from their natural habitat and forced to spend a life in captivity and isolation. Throughout their sad existence, orcas 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.

But times are a-changin’. This photo proves that it’s time to release the orcas back to their natural home, and the public wants it! Sometimes, it can feel like our individual actions don’t make a difference. But it’s important to remember our power in numbers. While Sea World has taken measures to end captive orca breeding, there is still a way to go at SeaWorld and beyond! If, together, we refuse to contribute to inhumane practices and speak out against injustice, companies will have no choice but to change! All Image Source: Boycott SeaWorld/Facebook.

Feeling empowered to save captive orcas? Here’s how you can help!

  • If you want to see orcas, the best way to do so is to witness them in their wild, natural habitat.
  • Educate yourself. If you want to be a more outspoken advocate for captive whales, make an effort to find out more about the complex legal, political, and financial factors at play in the whale captivity industry. “Death at SeaWorld,” David Kirby’s disturbing exposé of the industry, is a good place to start.
  • Share this post and help spread the word!
Heartbreaking Truth Behind Video of Captive Orca, Morgan, Smashing Her Head Against Tank.

“Monday left me broken, Tuesday I was through with hoping…”
The lyrics from Avicii’s “Waiting for Love” can be heard playing over the Orca Ocean stadium speakers at Loro Parque as a young orca bashes her head, over and over again, off the gates of her tiny tank. The song is loud to entertain the paying tourists, but it is not loud enough to drown out the sound of skull smashing off of metal or the orca’s frantic screeches.

This disturbing behavior was witnessed earlier this month at the entertainment park in Tenerife, Spain, which is one of only two parks in the European Union still keeping orcas captive. Loro Parque currently has six orcas, five of which are on loan from SeaWorld, USA. As such, they are included in SeaWorld’s recent decision to ban its orcas from breeding.

The sixth orca, known as Morgan, was born in the wild. In June 2010, she was found swimming alone and emaciated off the Dutch coast and taken to the Dolfinarium Harderwijk in the Netherlands for rehabilitation and release. Instead of being returned back to her native Norwegian waters, Morgan was sent to Loro Parque. Just today, Loro Parque announced that the orca hurtling herself at the tank gates in the video is Morgan.

But why would Morgan – or any orca – do this? Margaux Dodds, Marine Connection Director and Campaigns Coordinator for the Dolphinaria-Free Europe coalition, is deeply concerned for Morgan’s welfare: “She is confined in what looks like a medical tank showing signs of either frustration at being confined or aggression towards the orca on the other side of the gate.” The medical tank at Loro Parque is only 12.4x7x4.2m, while Morgan is more than 4m long and some of the other orcas are even bigger.

Why Morgan was locked inside Loro Parque’s smallest orca tank has not been disclosed, but Loro Parque has claimed that “all we see [in the video] is that Morgan wants to open the door to… be with Tekoa.” Tekoa is the other orca visible in the video and he was one of the original captive-born orcas transported from SeaWorld to Loro Parque in 2006.

As well as calling the video a “manipulation” that is part of a “smear campaign,” Loro Parque asserted that its own veterinarians, as well as visiting veterinary and animal welfare professionals, have found that its captive orcas are not stressed. However, in the same statement, Loro Parque blamed “sexual frustration” as the cause of Morgan’s behavior. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, an animal’s welfare cannot be protected if its needs are frustrated.

Loro Parque has also confirmed that the banging heard in the video is the sound of Morgan “pushing strongly” at the gate, which she appears to be doing with her head.

“Head banging” is frequently observed in captive orcas and has been identified as a stereotypic (abnormal repetitive) behavior born out of frustration and stress. When these stereotypic behaviors cause self-inflicted physical harm, it is known as self-mutilation. A report by orca expert Dr. Ingrid Visser, who co-founded the Free Morgan Foundation, details how at least one orca at Loro Parque has been self-mutilating – that orca is Morgan.

The report also documented aggression between the orcas at Loro Parque, who are considered to be the most dysfunctional group of captive orcas in the world. The constructed artificial environments of captivity exacerbate conflict between orcas as there is nowhere to escape. However, if Morgan was displaying aggressive behavior, it may not have been aimed at Tekoa.

John Hargrove, a former SeaWorld orca trainer and supervisor of orca training at Marineland Antibes, has analyzed the video and found that, “It is unlikely that the orcas in the video are trying to displace each other as Tekoa does not appear to be vocalizing or ramming the gate back. The vocalizations that you can hear from Morgan, however, are very distinct in their sound and are indicative of a highly upset and aggressive whale; not a whale who is panicked or otherwise.”

Reinforcing the fact that head banging often results in self-inflicted physical injuries, Hargrove explained, “Slamming or ramming gates this hard is common with captive orcas and can lead to injury by fracturing their teeth, knocking out a tooth altogether and causing gashes and cuts to the animal’s rostrum. In extreme cases, it can completely slice the tip of the rostrum off, requiring weeks to heal.” Hargrove added, “It is also certainly possible that this behavior can cause hemorrhaging and ultimately death.”

Hargrove recounted how other captive orcas have died from ramming their heads into the sides of tanks and ramming each other. “You must realize that the force at which Morgan is slamming her head into the steel bars is comparable to if she were slamming her head with unbelievable force into concrete,” Hargrove described, noting that it’s subsequently “Not hard to understand how serious and dangerous this behavior is – and it is related to captivity.”

Given the severity of Morgan’s situation, Dodds believes that SeaWorld, the entertainment park claiming ownership of Morgan, should be obliged to give “an explanation as to why she was confined in the medical tank in the first place.” And this would be especially welcome in light of Loro Parque’s comment that the video shows “a completely normal situation in which there is no problem for the animals.”

At this time, it remains unclear why Loro Parque made the decision on that day, at that time, to put Morgan in the medical tank. The blaring music might suggest that she was locked inside while some of the other orcas performed tricks in an entertainment show for the public; this has previously happened to Keto, the large male who killed his trainer.

Or perhaps there was another motivation. The current unrest between Loro Parque and SeaWorld may have factored into Loro Parque’s decision. The Spanish entertainment park has made it crystal clear that it opposes SeaWorld’s decision to end the orca breeding program, claiming that the “permanent prevention of the reproduction of wild animals under human care is an action that goes against the very cycle of life and well-being of the animals.”

Despite this statement, Loro Parque does not appear to consider that the permanent prevention of the freedom and choice of the wild animals under its human care is an action that also goes against the very cycle of life and well-being of the animals – that the orcas have other needs and those needs are frustrated in captivity.

Evidence of this is apparent in the horrific video of Morgan crying, thrashing and beating her head against the tank gates as pop music fills the air around her.

Now that SeaWorld has stopped breeding its orcas, the fate of the orcas at Loro Parque, and particularly Morgan, seems uncertain. And it will remain this way until SeaWorld and Loro Parque release further information. In the meantime, let’s just hope Avicii’s words ring true – that there is, “In every lost soul, the bones of a miracle.”.

Help bring attention to the plight of Morgan and the Loro Parque orcas by Tweeting their story today.

Take Action and Help End Marineland Antibes’ Captive Orca Breeding Program!

Few remember Calypso. She was a six-year-old orca captured from Canadian waters in December 1969. Calypso was transferred to England and then France, where she was the first orca at Marineland Antibes. Forced to swim alone and invaded with some of the first attempts at artificial insemination, she only survived for one year. Calypso’s heart-wrenching existence served as a symbol of questionable ethics and an omen of darker things to come.

The Sad Reality for Marineland Antibes Orcas.

Calypso died in 1970 from an abscess on her lung. Since her death, eleven orcas have died at Marineland Antibes. With the exception of Freya’s four stillborn calves, each of these individuals had their own name, given to them by their captors, and their own story.

Clovis was the second orca to arrive at Marineland Antibes after he was captured by SeaWorld. At just two-years-old, he was a victim of the horrific 1970 U.S. Penn Cove orca captures that decimated the Southern resident population from which he originated, (the population is still endangered today).

The young calf was captured at the same time as Lolita, a female orca who is still alive today, isolated in one of the world’s smallest orca tanks at the Miami Seaquarium in Florida. In a distasteful twist over forty years later, Parques Reunidos, the company that owns Marineland Antibes, now also owns the Miami Seaquarium (and Lolita) under its US subsidiary, Palace Entertainment. Parques Reunidos itself is owned by Candover, a private equity fund managed by London-based Arle Capital Partners.

When Clovis was shipped to Marineland Antibes, he was put into a tank with Calypso. Where Clovis was a Southern resident, Calypso was from the Northern resident community. “In the wild, these populations do not mix,” Howard Garrett, co-founder of the Orca Network and Free Lolita campaign remarked, adding, “Clovis and Calypso would have had no social affiliation or language similarity and it is unlikely they would have been able to socialize without sorting out their dominance roles. That could have been a violent process and one which may never have been resolved.”

Shortly after Clovis arrived at Marineland Antibes, Calypso died, leaving the young male swimming by himself for the two and a half years he survived.

Between 1976 and 1989, a further five orcas were captured from the wild and taken to Marineland Antibes. Kim, Betty, Kim 2, Freya, and Sharkan were all Icelandic in origin. Kim was thought to be five years old when he was taken in October 1976 and he only survived for five years in confinement. Betty was three in October 1978 during her capture and she survived for a meager nine years. Kim 2 was captured in October 1982 at less than a year old. He survived 23 years at Marineland Antibes and died without reaching the average age expected of male orcas in the wild. Sharkan was the last orca to be captured from the wild and sent to Marineland Antibes. She was four-years-old when she was taken in October 1989 and she only survived for nineteen years in captivity.

Of the wild Icelandic orcas captured for display at Marineland Antibes, Freya was the last to die. She was captured at the same time as Kim 2 at only one year of age. Over a period of twelve years, Freya had four stillborn calves (that we know of) and she would have been only nine or ten years old when she gave birth to the first. By orca standards, she was too young. Freya passed away in June of last year due to an alleged heart attack.
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John Hargrove, a former SeaWorld orca trainer and supervisor of orca training at Marineland Antibes, saw first-hand how captivity affected several of these orcas. During his time at the French park, Hargrove witnessed the orcas displaying aggressive behaviors towards the trainers and he personally dealt with several severe aggressions by multiple orcas in the water (you can read more about these incidents in his book “Beneath the Surface,” which has just been released in paperback). Hargrove also administered medication to the orcas and observed them displaying stereotypic (abnormal repetitive) behaviors due to boredom and stress.

“One stereotypy Sharkan would display was particularly heart-breaking,” Hargrove recalled, explaining how the young orca would “isolate herself in a corner of the tank, bobbing vertically, up and down, up and down all day long as she made a noise that [he] had never heard any other orca make.” Hargrove also observed the orcas swimming in repetitive patterns, obsessively burping, chewing the sides of the concrete tanks until they irreparably damaged their teeth, and banging their heads against the concrete walls.

Natural Disasters and Valentin
Valentin, an orca born at the park in February 1996, also displayed these self-damaging behaviors. He was Freya’s only surviving offspring and he also died last year, outliving his mother by just four months. At the time of his death, Valentin’s tank was flooded with mud from a storm that Marineland Antibes’ staff did not appear to be prepared for. This was despite the fact that there was a history of flooding in the area and that it had affected the park before. Marineland Antibes has only recently reopened its gates to the public following the 2015 flooding event and it is unclear what measures it has put in place to better protect its animals going forward.

Although Valentin was the latest orca to die at Marineland Antibes, he will not be the last; four orcas (and possibly a fifth, unborn) still remain. But where Calypso’s tragic death marked the start of a long trail of dead orcas, Valentin brings the company full circle, dying in October, the same month of the year that his mother and all the other wild-born Icelandic orcas were stolen from their native waters for display at Marineland Antibes.

Continued Breeding
The park currently has one captive-born female, Wikie (who is reportedly pregnant) and three captive-born males, Inouk, Moana and Keijo. All four animals are related and at least one is believed to be inbred. Despite this and the growing scientific evidence that orca welfare is severely compromised in captivity, Marineland Antibes has stated that, unlike SeaWorld, it will continue with its captive orca breeding program.
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“This decision shows poor leadership and a lack of vision,” Hargrove stated, going on to say that, “It is proof that Marineland Antibes is living in a world that is past and gone. The writing is clearly on the wall that the overwhelming majority do not want to see captive orca, or really any captive animals, performing tricks to line pockets."

A Call to #EmptyTheTanks”
Yvon Godefroid, founder of Belgium-based Dauphins Libres, believes that Parques Reunidos, the company that owns Marineland Antibes, should now feel “obligated to make the same change as SeaWorld in all of its parks throughout Europe and the US.” Godefroid maintains that SeaWorld’s decision to phase out orca captivity is indicative of the emerging acknowledgment that it is not ethical to keep these sentient animals in captivity. In an interview, Godefroid told Orca Aware, “This signal is loud and clear, and is the result of a changing paradigm that is being created by the way that people feel about animal welfare today."

After perceiving how the general public’s opinion and behavior towards orca captivity has changed in France in recent years, Godefroid believes that Marineland Antibes, as well as France’s other dolphinaria, will eventually be forced to close if they do not move away from keeping whales and dolphins. In the meantime, there is concern about how Marineland Antibes will continue breeding its orcas now that genetic material from SeaWorld is no longer an option for use in its artificial insemination program.

Godefroid explained, “It is possible that Marineland Antibes will now turn to parks with captive orcas in other countries, such as South America and China, or to Russia, where wild orcas are still being captured for display.” Parques Reunidos already appears to have a “cooperation agreement” with an entertainment park in China, which Arle Capital Partners announced last year.
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In light of Marineland Antibes’ decision to keep breeding its orcas (and other marine mammals), three organizations have teamed up to bring attention to the welfare plight that these animals are continuing to face. Orca Aware, in partnership with Dauphin Libres, U.S.-based group Tilikum&Co, and with assistance from French organization Code Animal, is organizing a Tweetstorm event for the captives of Marineland Antibes.

“When we first started talking about doing an event for Marineland Antibes, it seemed pretty straight forward,” Haze Sommer, co-founder of Tilikum&Co, explained, “But what the research showed was a dark and insidious history with many layers, like that of an onion. Each time a layer is pulled away, another shocking revelation is exposed. What the captives of Marineland Antibes have endured is absolutely gutting and we have in excess of 200 Tweets for this event that stand testament to that fact.”

Sommer added that with such powerful momentum in the U.S. to move away from whale and dolphin captivity, “it is now important to take that momentum to other parts of the world. Tweetstorms are one way of doing this."

Protect Sperm Whales From Ship Strikes
Target: Isabel García Tejerina, Minister of Agriculture, Food, and the Environment
Goal: Move shipping lanes to protect sperm whales in the Canary Islands from ship strikes.
In the Canary Islands, sperm whales are dying. According to new research, the islands are an important habitat for female and immature whales, but the number of whales killed in the area by ship strikes exceeds the estimated average of 2.5 whales born each year. Simple arithmetic tells us that, if conditions remain constant or deteriorate, the population of sperm whales in the Canary Islands is doomed to dwindle and die.
That grim prediction is echoed by the stories of whale populations around the globe. Hakai Magazine reports that in Greece “60 percent of stranded sperm whales show evidence of ship strikes.” Researchers have identified shipping collisions as the primary extinction threat facing the North Atlantic right whale. As International Fund for Animal Welfare researcher Russel Leaper told the magazine, “Ship strikes are probably second only to entanglement in terms of the numbers that are killed.” Research conducted by Hakai Magazine charts the explosive growth of shipping volume, which has reached new heights in past decades. If that trend continues, the situation for whales will only grow more dire. Increasing shipping traffic means increasing chances for ship strikes and, ultimately, more dead whales.
Despite the grave threats facing the sperm whales of the Canary Islands, a solution is possible. International Fund for Animal Welfare researchers and others have already published calls for alterations to shipping routes, which they say will reduce collisions with whales without significant economic cost. Hakai reports that whale researchers are calling on the Canary Islands’ government to change shipping lanes and avoid areas frequented by the imperiled whales. Add your voice to that of the scientific community and urge regulators in the Canary Islands to protect sperm whales from ship strikes.
Dear Minister Tejerina,
Sperm whale populations in the Canary Islands are under a grave threat. Researches estimate that sperm whale populations in the area produce an average of 2.5 whales per year, which they say is below the number killed each year by collisions with ships. Arithmetic and the stories of global whale populations arrive at the same conclusion: if nothing changes, the sperm whales of the Canary Islands will dwindle and die.
Thankfully, a regulatory solution to the plight of the sperm whale exists. Researchers with the International Fund for Animal Welfare believe the ship strikes can be reduced by diverting shipping routes from areas heavily frequented by sperm whales. Hakai Magazine reports that researcher Natacha Aguilar de Soto has already requested that your government use its regulatory authority to move shipping lanes and protect sperm whales. Please listen to her pleas. Protect sperm whales in the Canary Islands from extinction by taking action to reduce the number of ship strikes they suffer.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: NOAA

Touching Photo of Captain Paul Watson Meeting Captive Orca in 1982 Shows Why We Need To #EmptyTheTanks.

A lot can happen in 34 years. Adventure, education, love, family, friendship … the list goes on. Some people go on to accomplish amazing things. And some are relegated to a life in captivity.
Touching Photo of Captain Paul Watson Meeting Tilikum in 1982 Tells Us Why We Need To #EmptyTheTanks
Thirty-four years ago, Captain Paul Watson met a captive orca named Haida at Sealand of the Pacific. As a journalist, he was doing an investigation on Sealand, and along with his two-year-old daughter Lani, he had the opportunity to meet the whale.

It’s been 34 years since this encounter, and Watson has since dedicated his life to saving and protecting marine animals in the wild with his organization, Sea Shepherd. Under his guidance and vision, thousands of marine animals have been rescued and spared from a life of captivity – be it in the Taiji Coves of Japan, to the Antarctic seas, to the Gulf of Mexico, Captain Paul Watson’s leadership has ignited a wave of activism to protect the seas and all who inhabit them.

Haida, the stunning whale in the photo was one of the first to be put on display for entertainment and the stress and frustration of captivity took a major toll on him. After a series of anti-captivity protests, Sealand agreed to rehabilitate and release Haida, however, in a tragic twist of fate the whale passed away a mere two days before he was to return to the ocean.

With complex familial and social relationships, we can gather that orcas are highly self-aware, adaptable, and intelligent. In captivity, however, they receive none of the stimulation or interaction they so rightly deserve. As  highly social animals, orcas live in tight matrilineal pods, composed of grandmothers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They typically choose to remain with their immediate family group for the rest of their lives. So you can imagine the damage done to orcas, like Haida, when they’re cruelly torn from their natural habitat and forced to spend a life in captivity and isolation. Throughout their lives in captivity, orcas 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.

Our only hope is that thirty-four years from now – if not sooner – we will look back at this photo as a relic from a strange past where we thought it was acceptable to keep majestic animals in captivity..

How Can You Help?

  • If you want to see orcas, the best way to do so is to witness them in their wild, natural habitat.
  • Educate yourself. If you want to be a more outspoken advocate for captive whales, make an effort to find out more about the complex legal, political, and financial factors at play in the whale captivity industry. “Death at SeaWorld,” David Kirby’s disturbing exposé of the industry, is a good place to start.
  • Support the work of Sea Shepherd. You could make a financial donation, or volunteer with initiatives such as event planning, fundraising, or petition drives.
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#FreeLolita the Lone Orca Stuck in Tank for 45 Years – Social Media Alert.
Orca Belissarius
Target: Andrew Hertz, General Manager of Miami Seaquarium
Goal: Free Lolita, the orca who has been held captive for 45 years and alone for 35 years.
Campaign update:
Our movement to free Lolita, the orca trapped in a tiny tank at Miami Seaquarium for 45 years, has taken off with thousands of supporters! Now we need your help to turn up the heat and force the Miami Seaquarium to FREE LOLITA.
Let’s bring our message directly to Miami Seaquarium, the institution that is holding Lolita prisoner by posting the following message on Facebook:
Orcas don’t belong in captivity. Lolita has suffered for 45 years @MiamiSeaquarium in her tiny tank. Please send her to a seaside sanctuary. I stand with thousands of activists who have signed this petition calling to #FreeLolita
And on Twitter:
Lolita the orca has suffered 45 years @MiamiSeaquarium. Please send her to a seaside sanctuary. #FreeLolita
Lolita the orca has been held captive since 1970 and has been alone since her only companion died in 1980. On top of all this, Lolita is the captive orca with the smallest tank in the entire U.S. It is preposterous for Miami Seaquarium, the institution that is holding her prisoner, to say it cares about education, conservation, and the appreciation of all marine species when it is not showing the slightest sign of respect for this creature.
After the exciting news that SeaWorld is ending its orca breeding program at all its locations, Miami Seaquarium was asked about its stance regarding its lone orca, Lolita. Miami Seaquarium announced that it will not be releasing Lolita and “will continue [its] commitment to education, conservation and the appreciation of all marine species.”
Sign this petition and demand Miami Seaquarium bring Lolita to a seaside sanctuary where she can happily live out the rest of her days among other orcas in a more natural environment.
Dear Mr. Hertz and Miami Seaquarium,
More and more venues are deciding to end their entertainment shows that involve animals. Your organization is taking a step in the opposite direction. Miami Seaquarium has announced it will keep Lolita the orca in her tiny solitary confinement and continue her shows.
Miami Seaquarium states it will keep Lolita and the show because of its “commitment to education, conservation and the appreciation of all marine species.” Keeping a very social animal in solitary confinement for 35 years in the tiniest orca tank in the U.S. is not showing any appreciation of this creature.
Please practice what you preach and release Lolita to a seaside sanctuary where she can happily live out the rest of her days among other orcas in a more natural environment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Belissarius

After years of our tireless efforts to end the import and abuse of whales and dolphins, the multi-billion dollar company SeaWorld has agreed to cease all breeding and imports of orca whales into any of their facilities worldwide.

It's crystal clear that whales and dolphins don't belong in concrete tanks performing circus tricks.

SeaWorld had no choice. Attendance was plummeting and their stock price was in free-fall.  We launched two key lawsuits challenging their false claims that orcas “thrive” in concrete tanks and supporting California’s regulatory effort to end orca breeding in captivity.  Blockbuster movies The Cove and Blackfish widely exposed the dark secrets behind the capture of dolphins and the misery of orcas held in tanks.
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While we recognize this step -- we’re not celebrating.

SeaWorld is still adamant that all 29 orcas at their facilities remain for the rest of their lives in their concrete tanks.  They refuse to relocate any whales or dolphins to seaside sanctuaries even though it would end the inhumane treatment of these amazing animals.

We are demanding that SeaWorld quit profiting from the suffering of dolphins and whales and retire them to seaside sanctuaries where they can live out their lives in peace.  We need your help! Click to help!

Meanwhile, in Taiji, Japan, dolphin hunters have suspended the gruesome 6-month dolphin slaughter for the year. Since we began our campaign in 2004, annual dolphin deaths in The Cove have dropped by 62%. But the Japanese government still refuses to end this cruel practice.

Japan’s whaling fleet, in defiance of a legal ruling by the International Court of Justice, just got back from Antarctica with a load of 333 dead minke whales, of which 200 were pregnant females. The Japanese government makes the bogus claim that this commercial whale killing is for "research".

We cannot and will not tolerate these continued atrocities. We must intensify the pressure on the Japanese government at the upcoming International Whaling Commission meetings in Slovenia.

Recently, we won a key victory when a Japanese court ruled in favor of the lawsuit we supported with our colleagues Australia for Dolphins. The Taiji Whale Museum is now prevented from denying access to Westerners into the museum to check on dolphins (like "Angel" shown below) that have been captured in the dreaded Cove.
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This is the first-ever legal win against any part of the Taiji dolphin capture and kill operation and a major embarrassment to Japan.

Help us keep up the pressure to end Japan's cruel dolphin slaughter. 


  • We're pressing the World Trade Organization and the Mexican dolphin-deadly tuna fleet to stop undermining the Dolphin Safe label on canned tuna and cease all fishing for tuna by chasing and setting nets on dolphins.
  • You can help save orcas and dolphins from lives of misery in captivity and stop the capture and killing of dolphins worldwide. Make your gift today and ensure that dolphins and whales have a chance at freedom and safety.
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With a monthly donation or a one-time contribution, we'll send you Susan Casey's bestselling new book about dolphins, or a Dolphin Campaign t-shirt, or a "Blackfish" movie DVD (all with free shipping).
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The International Marine Mammal Project at Earth Island Institute is a non-profit charity, and donations are tax-deductible.  Check out our new campaign website for latest updates and ways to take action.

Gun Safety Weekly Updates

President Obama just announced significant investments in smart gun technology that could save lives. Tragic statistics show just how overdue this technology is. In fact, since the President took action to reduce gun violence in January, there have been 71 unintentional child shootings in America. [1] We should all be able to support smart gun technology that can reduce these senseless deaths and injuries by making it harder for guns to discharge unintentionally.

But the NRA didn't even wait for the President’s latest announcement before calling him a "lawless, dishonest, and ruthless...third-world dictator." [2] They're wasting no time calling their friends in Congress and urging them to block any common-sense technology that could save lives -- many of them the lives of innocent children.

You and I have fought too long for this progress, and we've fought too hard to let a craven group of gun lobbyists roll it back. That's why I'm asking if you'll sign our petition supporting the President's investment in smart gun technology, and let the NRA know that you won't be intimidated by their lies.
Defend the President's commitment to smart guns
Technology doesn't just improve our lives; it can actually save lives. We've seen this to be true in the development of seatbelts and airbags -- technology that saves thousands of lives in automobile accidents every year.

The NRA has historically blocked attempts to develop safer gun technology by bullying and intimidating any gun company that tries to develop safer firearms. In 2000, gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson voluntarily took steps to develop smart gun technology. The NRA attacked them with their usual extremism, calling for a boycott and nearly driving Smith & Wesson out of business. [3]

That's why we have to be vocal in our support for the President as he stands up to this kind of extremism. Tell President Obama that you've got his back as he stands up to the gun lobby: Sign the petition. 

LATEST NEWS: THE GUN LOBBY HAS ALREADY SPENT ITS FIRST MILLION DOLLARS TO MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO IN CONGRESSThere’s no doubt it about, we are going to be outspent by the gun lobby this election. For decades they’ve spared no expense when it comes to campaign contributions and independent expenditures. It’s part of the reason they exert such oversized influence in congress and state capitals, even though an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose their efforts to stop legislation that will make us safer from gun violence.

We have a tremendous amount of power, as well. But ours comes from a different source. It comes from millions of Americans standing up to say they have had ENOUGH of the gun lobby’s influence, and that we are going to do everything we can to start chipping away at the stranglehold they’ve had on legislators for far too long.

That’s why Gabby and Mark are fighting to elect a president and a Congress who will put our communities’ interest ahead of the gun lobby’s. And that’s why we have to ask:

Can Gabby and Mark count on you to contribute $3 to Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC to help us win elections and as a way of saying you have had ENOUGH of the gun lobby’s influence on Congress?

This election is underway. We’ve already endorsed our first Champion for Common Sense running in the U.S. Senate, and you’ll be very excited to hear about some of our next steps. The gun lobby has almost limitless funds, but we have each other. And that’s why your contribution is so important.

Prom shooting: teen gunman killed by police after opening fire outside school dance
Ohio execution-style murders: 8 members of same family killed in their homes
A Message by Mark Kelly: When Gabby and I started Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, we knew that winning even the most commonsense reforms would require a fight. But whether in campaigns or in Congress, in combat or in space, fighting for what we believe in has always been what we do.

We're in a fight this election, and the gun lobby won't give up easy. But I believe if we stand together, we can elect a president and a Congress who will support meaningful legislation that will help make our communities safer from gun violence.

As you can see from the email below, the gun lobby has already spent its first million to stop us. That's why I have to ask:

Your $3 contribution to Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC will go towards our work electing a president and a Congress who will put our interests ahead of the gun lobby's.

If we can pair the overwhelming support of 90% of Americans who support closing loopholes that allow criminals to buy guns with the resources we need to get our message out, there will be nothing stopping us in the year ahead. That's why your contribution matters.

All my best,

Mark Kelly

Ohio family killing: Rhoden family found to have 200 marijuana plants at murder sites
A message by Marilyn Balcerak: Less than one year ago my family experienced a horrible tragedy. My son James took his own life and that of his step-sister, Brianna. James was a smart, independent young man who struggled with autism and depression. After a series of personal setbacks, his struggles turned into suicidal thoughts and violent behavior.

When he threatened suicide, I tried everything I could to get him the help he needed. But I couldn’t stop him from buying a gun -- and I couldn’t stop what he did next. I wasn’t able to protect my children. It was my worst nightmare come true.

It didn’t have to be that way.

I firmly believe that if my state had common-sense gun laws one year ago, Brianna and James would be alive today.

That’s why I’m standing with the Alliance for Gun Responsibility.

Gun violence touches people and communities of all backgrounds, all across America. It’s up to us to give families and law enforcement the tools they need to stop tragedies before they even happen.

But this won’t be easy, Don, and we’ll need each other every step of the way. Will you please chip in $3 or more today to move our campaign forward?

I’m so grateful you’ve joined us. Thank you for stepping up,


A Message to everyone in Cherry Hill, NJ: Turn Cherry Hill orange! The first step to addressing a problem is recognizing we have one. On June 2, millions of Americans will recognize the 91 Americans killed and hundreds injured by guns every day and #WearOrange to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

We want to make this year our biggest campaign yet -- and that's why we're asking for your help to turn Cherry Hill orange.

As a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, your mayor has already shown leadership advocating for stronger gun laws. Now, can you ask them to take an extra step and mark June 2 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day?

Can you start or sign a petition to ask your mayor to officially recognize June 2 as Gun Violence Awareness Day? The more cities and towns that sign on, the louder our call for a future free from gun violence will be.
As leader of your campaign, you’ll be in charge of gathering as many petition signatures as possible and delivering them to your mayor. Organizers will be in touch with tips and tricks on how to make your campaign a success.

A group of Chicago teens asked us to Wear Orange to raise awareness, and this June 2, we have an opportunity to respond louder than ever before. Last year was the first National Gun Violence Awareness Day. This year, with your help, big cities and small towns from coast to coast will mark the day and honor the 91 Americans killed and hundreds more injured by gun violence every day.

Turn Cherry Hill orange. Ask your mayor to officially declare June 2 National Gun Violence Awareness Day -- or add your name to an existing petition.

Thanks so much for your commitment to our movement.

Hold the gun lobby accountable: In all the talk and excitement of a Presidential election, it’s easy to to forget the real reason we organize -- the real reason we’ve worked so hard to build a grassroots movement to end the plague of gun violence in this country.

That reason is simple: Every year, 30,000 Americans are shot and killed with guns. And yet, gun dealers and manufacturers get special protections from liability that no other industry receives -- they get protection while their products are used to kill and maim in our communities every single day.

That’s just plain wrong and we need to make sure Congress knows it, so we’re delivering your signature right to their doorstep. Add your name today:

It’s important to remember that these aren’t just statistics. These are real people, real families -- real communities -- and when the weapons of war are used to maim and kill in our neighborhoods, the people who profit from these weapons should be held responsible.

Victims of gun violence deserve their day in court.

Call on Congress to demand they hold the Gun Industry accountable:

Here’s what you need to know: a Florida environmental agency was winning a lawsuit against a gun range that had been polluting the water supply for more than 60 years.

But then, a powerful lobbyist for the NRA got a state legislator, who oversees the agency’s budget, to scare them into dropping the suit -- and it worked.

It’s really pretty simple: The Gun Lobby shouldn’t get to write our laws. But we need your help to stop them.
Help us fight back against the Gun Lobby.
Our elected officials should be representing the interests of their constituents. They should be protecting public waterways -- and protecting our communities from gun violence. But time and time again, we’ve seen elected representatives across the country cower in front of the Gun Lobby and their allies.

Let’s send an unmistakable message to the Gun Lobby: We’re not scared.

Chip in $5 to our Rapid Response Fund right now and let’s take the fight to the Gun Lobby:

Driver shot by child: Woman killed by kid with a gun in the back seat while on highway
Police shooting 2016: Baltimore cops shoot 14-year-old kid carrying a BB gun
Church shooting: Gunman shot fellow worshipper in fight over seat during morning service
Church shooting: Man shot dead by fellow churchgoer at Montgomeryville service

Do you think current laws are enough to protect communities from the consequences of gun violence?
Gun violence is a massive problem in the United States. On average, more than 30,000 Americans are killed with guns every single year.

But, despite this serious problem, our elected leaders are more interested in protecting the gun lobby than they are in protecting their constituents. In fact, the Gun Lobby is so strong that they got Congress to ban the federal government from spending any money to even study the issue of gun violence.

It’s clear that our elected leaders can and must do more to protect our communities from the devastating consequences of gun violence.

But we want to hear from you first. Take our Instant Poll now to tell us where you stand:
Do you think current laws are enough to protect communities from the consequences of gun violence?

Thanks for adding your voice.