Tune in to Hear ‘Death at SeaWorld’ Author David Kirby and Former SeaWorld Trainer John Jett Discuss the Future of the Shamu Show

Second update – Thanks to The Orca Project for sending this link, you can now replay the show at any time.
Update: This was a very interesting discussion that covers the important points of the issue, and brings up the possibility of retiring Tilikum (the whale involved in trainer Dawn Brancheau’s death) to a sea pen in Iceland. Rebroadcasts Wednesday Feb 1st at 6:30 p.m. EST & Saturday Feb 4th at 7:30 a.m. EST (3:30 pm Weds Pacific Time, 4:30 a.m. Saturday Pacific time)
Author David Kirby and former trainer John Jett, PhD will be joined by a professor of ethics in a live discussion on WMFE, Orlando’s public radio station in ” Are we seeing SeaWorld moving ahead without Shamu?
The 30-minute segment will air Tuesday, January 31st, at 9:30 AM eastern (6:30 AM Pacific), and repeat on Wed and Sat – hopefully at more humane times for those of us on the west coast (check www.wmfe.org for times).  It reaches all of Central Florida and streams in real time online.
As SeaWorld struggles to reinvent the nature of its shows following the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, the question that looms large in people’s minds is whether or not the Orlando amusement park will be allowed to have trainers in the water with killer whales in the future. 
A judge’s decision regarding the legal battle over OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Agency) ruling on trainer safety may be made public in the coming months – yet common sense has really already dictated that trainers should stay out of the water (find complete information here).
SeaWorld is a corporation, run by people good at running a business, so their bottom line is revenue – but beyond that, they are not monsters and don’t want to see their employees hurt, dismembered or killed either.  One problem has been that much of what goes on with the trainers never sees the light of day let alone makes it to the desks of the executives because in the past the trainers were actively discouraged from reporting injuries etc in their daily logs (Jett and several other trainers provide information on their website,  Voice of the Orcas).
Most likely, the upper management of SeaWorld’s parent company, the Blackstone Group, was not aware of the problems in the past, though will certainly shoulder the burden of responsibility in the future if they choose to continue to put people in harms way for financial gain.
Meanwhile, even though SeaWorld declined to send a representative to be on the show, it looks like they are moving in new and fresh directions, and if it makes enough money maybe they will abandon the practice of keeping whales in captivity altogether and show us how orcas and other marine mammals exist in the wild (the first is Turtle Trek, soon to be followed by similar Antarctic and fresh water exhibits):

Coming in 2012, guests will first visit two massive naturalistic habitats, one filled with hundreds of freshwater fish and gentle manatees, the other home to more than 1,500 saltwater fish and more than a dozen sea turtles. Many of the manatees and sea turtles were rescued by the park’s animal team or were born at SeaWorld.
Moving on from the habitat, guests enter a domed theater, and what happens next has never before been seen and is a first at any theme park in the world.
Coming to life in front of the guests is a first-of-its-kind 3-D/360-degree dome theater film that is completely immersive. The dome allows a hyper-realistic 3-D movie to be shown all around guests and even above them – not just in front them or on only one screen. It’s this unique and immersive way of showcasing a sea turtle’s epic and astounding journey that is the heart of TurtleTrek. And for the first time, SeaWorld guests are given a turtle’s eye view of the ocean’s wonders. (SeaWorld)

Killer Whales Perform Tricks by Watching Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb on Big Screen TV (not a joke, even though it is Sunday Funnies…)

What is amazing about this is that the trainer claims that this is a real event – the whales correctly interpreted the big screen to perform the tricks.
Smart animals!

Sunday, June 12, 2011
Kathie Lee and Hoda Train Killer Whales on ‘Today’ (VIDEO)
By a show of hands, who among you thinks it’s a good idea to get Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb together with some killer whales for a training session?
We can’t see you, but we’re guessing anyone with their hand up is not a “safety first” kind of person. Friday on ‘Today’ (weekdays, 7AM on NBC), Gifford and Kotb got to train killer whales, but they did it remotely by TV.
With their images hovering above a whale tank and a little help from an actual whale trainer, Gifford and Kotb got four killer whales to do a few tricks. They spun in a circle and got them to splash and turn.
Gifford got a little distracted looking at an image of herself on the screen. “Gee, I need to lose some weight,” she said.
The big finale was a touchdown signal that sent the whales swimming in formation before they lept up out of the water together. It’s good to know that just like us, whales will do anything they see on TV.

Wow! Orca Whales Surfing – The Joy of Freedom

From the  San Francisco Surf Company
(2010)
In a New Zealand surf location called Sandy Bay, photographer Michael Cunningham was in the ocean body surfing when he noticed a large fin measuring over three feet tall heading towards him and other surfers. “I didn’t have anything to sit on and with most of my body under the water, it felt a bit freaky,” said Cunningham.
The fin belonged to an orca whale. While other surfers remained in the water, Cunningham headed back to land. On the way in, Cunningham noticed the orcas were catching waves behind him. “They knew what they were doing and pulled out before getting into trouble,” said Cunningham. “They looked like they’d done it before.”  Combining his photographic efforts with Tim Rainger, their camera lenses captured an absolute gem showcasing nature’s never-ceasing beauty.

Rescued orca Morgan was denied a bid for freedom, now languishes in a pool.

Learn more about wild versus captive orcas at the annual Ways of Whales Workshop tomorrow (Saturday 1/28/12) on Whidbey Island, Wa.  (There are  few spaces left, call before going!).
More information and online registration can be found at www.orcanetwork.org ,  by contacting Orca Network at info@orcanetwork.org, or calling 360-678-3451.

SeaWorld May Have a Type of Dolphin New to Their Collection: Spotted Dolphin Rescued in Florida


Update 1/27/12:  The dolphin is at SeaWorld’s rehab facility in their Orlando amusement park – no surprise there.
A spotted dolphin was rescued Wednesday on a Panama City Florida beach, but where is she now?
Did she go to SeaWorld/Hubbs Research Institute, or to SeaWorld amusement park?


An article about SeaWorld’s latest attempt to rescue a dolphin relays that the dolphin was taken to Hubbs-SeaWorld Institute, Orlando –  but Hubbs is in Melbourne Beach,  east of Orlando, farther away from the beach where the dolphin was found. She may in fact be headed to SeaWorld’s new rescue and rehab facility instead.
Either way, they anticipate a long recovery and eventual release ‘if possible’:

PANAMA CITY BEACH — A dolphin stranded at St. Andrews State Park that was rescued by Gulf World Marine Park employees was on her way to the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in Orlando on Wednesday for long-term rehabilitation.
Gulf World’s veterinarian Lydia Staggs found inflammation in the abdomen of the adult female Atlantic spotted dolphin. She said she was unsure what the cause was, but further testing would be done once the dolphin arrived in Orlando. She said the inflammation was not due to a live fetus.

“We say it’s a guarded prognosis because we haven’t diagnosed what is wrong with her,” Staggs said. “When they get down there, they’ll probably do another ultrasound and radiographs, which are X-rays.”
Staggs said if people find a dolphin stranded, they should never try to get it back out into the ocean.

“Don’t release them; call us. … Do not push them back out in the water. We would appreciate that,” Staggs said.

I’m sure that they would ‘appreciate that’ – but be careful who you call.  Gulf World is a privately owned company based in Alabama.  It is part of a stranding network, but these are not necessarily on the up and up.

For instance the Florida Marine Mammal Stranding Network Southwest Region,  although listing itself as a non-profit has had its status revoked by the IRS for not filing the appropriate forms for three consecutive years, and according to Guidestar “Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.”

Legitimacy Information

  • This organization is not registered with the IRS.
  • This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

This organization’s exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.

Instead, contact one of these individuals if you find a marine mammal that needs help in the Gulf/coastal areas of Florida :
Blair Mase-Guthrie (Blair.Mase@noaa.gov), Stranding Coordinator
National Marine Fisheries Service
75 Virginia Beach Drive
Miami, FL 33149
Phone: (305) 361-4586; Fax: (305) 361-1462

Erin Fougeres ( Erin.Fougeres@noaa.gov), Stranding Program Administrator
National Marine Fisheries Service
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Phone: (727) 824-5312; Fax: (727) 824-5309

Former SeaWorld Trainers Launch Interactive Website

Carol Ray

Jeff Ventre

There often comes a time when we have to make the tough choice between staying and going; when we realize that our dreams have taken a sudden shift, or when life circumstances change out from underneath us – we find ourselves giving up careers to stay home with the kids, passing up job promotions, downsizing our homes, going back to school, or leaving unhealthy relationships.
It was no different for each of these four former SeaWorld trainers. Each one reached a point where they could no longer justify being part of an industry that cloaked mistreatment of animals behind the guise of entertainment. Each one chose to leave.
Samantha Berg

John Jett

They went on to establish themselves in new careers, yet none could shake the feeling that  something needed to be done to help the whales they left behind. And one by one, they began to speak out.
And to speak for the whales.
Now they have launched Voice of the Orcas,  a thoughtful website that presents videos, taped interviews, photos, testimonials, research papers and more. Their website shines a laser on what happens to whales in captivity below the surface of the glitzy shows.

The captive orcas now have a voice, and it is a compelling one.

Marine Mammal Observer Jobs Available in Alaska

As I hear about jobs and promising internships I’ll try to pass them along.
Being a marine mammal observer on a fishing boat requires the ability to witness the incidental death and injury of marine mammals of all types  – from otters to whales – in the nets of commercial fisheries.
If you have the constitution to handle it though, you would be providing a service that ultimately reduces the mortality of marine mammals because your presence will help to control the loss.

Posted January 2012
Alaska Marine Mammal Observer Positions (AMMOP)

Saltwater Inc is currently recruiting applicants for the marine mammal

observer program in Southeast Alaska.
Background

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is mandated by the Marine

Mammal Protection Act to monitor the level and nature of interactions
between commercial fisheries and marine mammal stocks. Monitoring will begin
for the Southeast Alaska salmon drift gillnet fishery in Alaska Department
of Fish and Game management districts 6 and 8 during 2012 and 2013.
Saltwater Inc was awarded the contract to implement the program together
with NMFS.
The Alaska marine mammal observer program (AMMOP) is focused on providing

statistically reliable information to measure and report on injury and
mortality of marine mammals. AMMOP will rely on marine mammal observers to
collect this information and support scientific studies. While on assignment
observers will collect and record data relating to commercial fishing
operations, gear types, and marine mammal and seabird interactions.
Observers will estimate quantity and species harvested, in addition to
conduct standardized surveys, observations, and sample collection for marine
mammals and seabirds.
Qualifications

We are currently seeking experience observers with a background in marine

mammal or fisheries observer research. Ideal candidates will be proven
self-starters, have excellent communications skills, and the ability to work
independently while following direction from a supervisor.
Observers must meet the following requirements:

* Prior fisheries or marine mammal observer experience with successful

standing
* At least 90 days prior at-sea observer experience
* Bachelor’s degree or higher in the natural sciences with a minimum of 30
semester hours or equivalent in biological sciences, and at least one
undergraduate course in math or statistics
* Experience in systematic observations and making clear, concise scientific
notes/records
* Possess excellent inter-personal skills, and demonstrate responsibility,
maturity, and self-motivation
* Able to live in close quarters with others for extended periods in a
professional setting
* Have physical ability to carry out the duties of an observer, and work at
sea for extended periods without medical restrictions
* Have current first aid and CPR certifications
* Experience in outdoor living skills and etiquette
* United States citizen or non-citizen legally residing in the U.S. for at
least 3 years and have legal Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
visa status
Observer logistics

Observers will conduct field observations for each day the commercial

fishery is open. Observations may occur during the nighttime hours.
Commercial periods typically run for 3 to 4 days weekly. An additional day
of work will be required weekly for data debriefing in the office. Observers
will be paid for each day worked. The daily pay rate for observation is $256
and $176 for debriefing.
Observers will be primarily based in the towns of Petersburg and Wrangell,

Alaska. Observers will travel to the fishing grounds and work from
independent work boats operated by experienced, licensed boat operators.
During commercial fishing periods observers may stage for two to three
nights weekly in remote locations, with accommodations including shared
bunkhouses or floating cabins. All housing and meals will be provided while
on duty.
All observers must successfully complete a two week training prior to

deployment. Training will begin May 29 in Anchorage, Alaska. A
transportation stipend will be provided for travel to Anchorage, and travel
to the duty location in Southeast Alaska will be covered. Housing and meal
reimbursement will be provided during training. Training will end on June 8.
Employment will begin immediately following on approximately June 10, and
will run through mid to late September depending on the duration of the
drift gillnet fishery.
How to apply

For additional information about the program and to submit an application

please visit our website:  <http://www.saltwaterinc.com>. Applications
will be accepted through February 3, 2012.
Stacey Buckelew

Saltwater Inc.
733 N Street
Anchorage, AK 99501
stacey@saltwaterinc.com

(907) 276-3241

Death of Connyland Dolphins Due to Routinely Administered Antibiotics – Update 5/6/2012: Rave Drugs Found

Update 5/6/2012 – “Two dolphins who died a slow, agonising death at a zoo after it hosted a rave were probably killed by a party-goer’s heroin substitute, according to a leaked toxicology report.  (Daily Mail)

Prosecutors said at the time that they were considering negligence charges because they believed antibiotics given by zoo vets were to blame for the deaths at Connyland in Lipperswil.
But another toxicology report carried out at the time, leaked to Swiss media, has raised new questions about what happened.

Tests conducted by the forensics institute in St Gallen found the heroin substitute Buprenorphin in the animals’ urine.

(KEYSTONE Alessandro Della Bella)

In November 2011, two dolphins were reported to have died following a Rave event held at Switzerland’s Connyland  amusement park.
Now the toxicology reports are showing that the dolphins probably died due to the drugs that are routinely administered to these animals in captivity – drugs designed to ward off illness, but which damage the dolphins and shorten their lives.
The dolphins’ deaths were not kind or peaceful:  Connyland keeper Nadja Gasser told local media: ‘The death was very drawn out and painful. The death went on for over an hour. It was horrendous. I have not been able to sleep since.’
The following information has been made available by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) on their captivity page:

There’s evidence now that the use of antibiotics in two dolphins (“Chelmers” and “Shadow”) in Swiss “Connyland” dolphinarium last November had caused brain damage which then led to their death afterwards.
This was revealed by an evaluation by an Institute for veterinarian pathology commissioned by the prosecution of Thurgau.
An investigation procedure against the two veterinarians that were vetting the dolphins is underway.
The dolphinarium had accused “fanatic” animal activists to have poisoned the dolphins in the press before.
WDCS has always been critical of the often intensive medicinal treatment of dolphins in zoos and entertainment parks.
“The prophylactic and highly dosed medicinal treatment is nothing unusual. Furthermore, also psychotropic drugs are willingly used to control aggressions or improve the cooperation during the shows. One question remains: Who is responsible for the side effects? The vet who’s doing what he’s learned to or the keeper who is in charge for the insufficient keeping conditions?” asks Dr. Karsten Brensing, conservation manager of WDCS in Germany.
It remains to be seen if the evidence will result in consequences for the keeping of dolphins in Connyland as well as other dolphinaria in Europe.

Or in the U.S., for that matter.

The Reality of Dart Tagging the Southern Resident Killer Whales – it is Invasive and Disruptive

(2012) This is an edited repost of a previous two part series.
Picture
Southern Resident orcas often come close to shore.
The orcas which ply the inland waterways of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea are not random wild animals – we know them by name, we know their families and their histories. We know some of their quirks and personalities, we’ve watched some of them from the time of their birth to the time that they have had calves of their own.

Dart tag embeds in the dorsal fin.

For decades we have offered them protection from intentional harm, and there are individual whales in this population who have never experienced being shot, harassed, or netted.
They are amazingly tolerant of our activities and interest in them, and never harm us. So the question is, can we now justify applying painful tags to their dorsal fins in order to acquire data? Is it not a breach of the trust we offer them?
There are several things that need to be considered in order to understand the potential effects of tagging these orcas.
Here are the research goals as stated by the principle investigator of the research team:

In accordance with USGP #2, “Procedures involving animals should be designed and performed with due consideration of their relevance to human or animal health, the advancement of knowledge, or the good of society.”
1 Research Goals:
a. What are the scientific issues addressed by the research?
The purpose of this research is to improve information to meet Agency mandates on stock structure, movement patterns, and habitat use of cetacean species on various spatial and temporal scales in the eastern North Pacific Ocean.
Specifically, how will this research improve human or animal health or advance knowledge?
These type of data are required to meet specific Agency objectives under the ESA and MMPA.
b. What are the specific goals of the animal studies described in this protocol?
To maximize data gained while minimizing impacts to individuals and stocks.
c. Explain why animal studies are preferred to non-animal alternatives in achieving these research goals.
There are no non-invasive procedures available that can provide the same spatial and temporal resolution, or adequate sample size for this type of movement data.

 
If those goals seem broad and general to you, you are right – the application to tag the Southern Resident orcas is just a small part of a larger tagging effort, involving 16 to 23 species of dolphins and whales, the goal of which is to “meet Agency mandates on stock structure, movement patterns, and habitat use”. Essentially, over the next several years the Fisheries Service wants to learn more about how the cetaceans utilize the ocean resources, with management goals in mind.
Of course the scientists themselves will be asking many more questions and will have specific research goals of their own, but the problem is that none of that is spelled out in the application. The only limits mandated by the application as it pertains to the Southern Resident orcas are: 6 dart (satellite) tags per year, adult males and females only. For the more benign suction cup tags, any whale can be tagged except calves less than six months old and their mothers.
The researchers have publicly stated that they will only dart tag adult males and post-reproductive females – but there is nothing to bind them to that agreement. And even if they do only select those categories, are the old animals really the best choice to withstand the possible side effects of invasive tagging (tissue damage and infection)? Also the post-reproductive females play an important role in the care of calves – the last thing they need is a painful tag that can get pulled or bumped by the young animals.

Picture
Calf L-117

The fact that a  calf may have been born to 46 year old Tanya (L – 5) brings up the question of how it is determined when a female is considered to be post-reproductive, and the idea of tagging an older whale that could be pregnant doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
So which orcas would the researchers target? (Based on 2010 figures when the permit application was open to public comment).

  • In J-pod the only options among the females (over 40, although clearly that is too young to be guaranteed post-reproductive) would be Granny, nearly 100 years old, or 77 year old Spiden who wheezes when she breathes. In K-pod it would be just Raggedy, named for her dorsal fin which is already a mess, (40 year old Sequim who had a calf last year). L-pod has seven in the category, from 82 year old Ocean Sun (believed to be the captive Lolita’s mother) down to 45 year old Ophelia – all of whom participate in family care.
  • In terms of the adult males (over 15 years old), J-pod has four: the venerable 60 year old Ruffles (J-1)(named for his striking wavy fin){note, J-1 is now deceased}, Mike and the playful Blackberry, both 19 and Riptide, just 15. K-pod has just three: Cappuccino, Scoter, and Lobo. L-pod has eight, Mega, the oldest, is only 33 years old and the next oldest is 21.

 
The final fact to consider is that the process of tagging involves harassing the whole population repeatedly. The individual whales need to be identified, located, and successfully darted (even a large whale can be hard to tag, they are moving targets with rubbery (although thin) skin), it can take many tries. Certain orcas will be picked out and pursued – which the whales will figure out right away.

It seems premature to tag this fragile population of orcas at this point, particularly since research has been funded to improve the tagging process over the next three years:

Improving Attachments of Remotely-deployed Dorsal Fin-mounted Tags: Tissue Structure, Hydrodynamics, In Situ Performance, and Tagged-animal Follow-up
Lead PI: Dr. Russell Andrews, Alaska SeaLife Center
The researchers have recently developed small satellite-linked telemetry tags that are anchored to the dorsal fin with small attachment darts. They propose to improve upon their existing tagging methodology to achieve longer, less variable attachment durations by carefully examining the factors that affect attachment success. The researchers will design an improved barnacle-style shape for remote-deployment by assessing the hydrodynamic properties of the current tag shape and determine new candidates that may reduce the drag force.
Number of Years: 3
Requested Funds: $735,000
Partners:
* Belle Quant Engineering
* Cartesian Flow Solutions, Inc.
* Cascadia Research Collective
* NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center

The following information shows what the tagging involves, and is taken directly from the National Marine Fisheries Service Assurance of Animal Care and Use Form:
AFSC/NWFSC IACUC
IACUC Use Only
IACUC Number:A/NW 2010- 6

Picture
Satellite tag in dorsal fin of an orca (NOAA)
Picture
X-ray of tag in deceased orca’s dorsal fin (NOAA)

“Figure 4. A: Current configuration of the dart used for larger odontocetes and mysticetes with two rows of backward facing petals. B: X-ray image showing a dart (with one row of petals only) in a killer whale dorsal fin (collected from a stranded individual unrelated to any tagging activities) after dart penetration.
Note the backward facing petals are tight against the dart shaft, indicating that they were compressed upon entry into the fin which will minimize tissue damage upon entry. C: X-ray image of the same dart in B, after 11.4 kg of outward pull was exerted on the dart shaft. Note the petals have splayed outward from the dart shaft as they cut through tissue and moved into the holding position as designed (note the tips of two other darts visible in this x-ray). D: X-ray image of the same dart after 22.7 kg of outward pull. The petals have more fully splayed outward from the dart shaft and are now presenting a flat surface nearly perpendicular to the axis of outward force.”

Picture
Dart tag

“Limpet” tag (NOAA)

“Based on follow-up observations of more than 40 tagged individuals, in most cases the release appears to be a result of tissue breakdown immediately adjacent to the dart penetration site. This tissue breakdown is most likely associated with a foreign body response to the dart but the process may be accelerated by the additional tension put on the tissue adjacent to the darts by drag forces acting on the tag body.”

Picture
Wounds from tag (Marine Stewardship)

There is also the possibility of vascular disruption if a dart intersects with an artery in the dorsal fin. This could lead to a lessening or loss of blood flow distal from the tag site. Most cetacean fins have ample cross-current circulation, so it is thought that this type of disruption would not result in a complete loss of blood flow to the distal areas of the dorsal fin. Only one animal from our re-sighting history has shown any type of tissue loss distal to the tag site. However, no other individuals with similar sized dorsal fins have been sighted post-tagging showing anything other than small white scars and/or small depression or raised area.”

Picture
Orcas are highly tactile (Photo by Dave Ellifrit)

“It is also possible that the tag might be dislodged by a conspecific–we have seen suction cup tags pulled off with one species–or by the tagged animal rubbing on other animals or against an inanimate object. However, we have seen no behaviors or evidence to suggest this occurrence with LIMPET tags.
Because the dart tags penetrate the skin, connective tissue and/or blubber, and remain attached for up to several months, a risk of infection is a potential long-term effect. It should be noted however that odontocetes inhabiting warmer tropical waters are regularly bitten by cookie-cutter sharks, which create wounds up to several cm deep and 5-10 cm in diameter, and thus the injury associated with tag attachment may not be particularly unusual for these species. The findings by Hanson et al. (2008) indicate that no major long-term impacts have been associated with attachment of dart-style tags and no tagging-related mortalities have ever been documented.
If, during the course of follow up studies, an unusual wound or healing process is noted, the information will be brought to the attention of a vet.” (Good luck with that one…).
In contrast, the suction type tags are relatively non-invasive, but remain in place for just a few hours, yielding less information:

Picture
The suction cup tags are less invasive (Photo by Ari Friedlaender, Duke University).
Picture
Example of a suction cup tag (data logging).

For more information and to make comments:

Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of Protected
Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD
20910; phone (301) 713-2289; fax (301) 713-0376; and
Northwest Region, NMFS, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, BIN C15700, Bldg.
1, Seattle, WA 98115-0700; phone (206) 526-6150; fax (206) 526-6426.
Written comments on this application should be submitted to the
Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, at the address
listed above. Comments may also be submitted by facsimile to (301) 713-
0376, or by e-mail to NMFS.Pr1Comments@noaa.gov. Please include File
No. 781-1824 in the subject line of the e-mail comment.

Picture
Playing with mom! (Photo by Ken Balcomb)

Rare Sighting of a Pod of Elusive Snorcas! (Sundays, on the Lighter Side)

Periodically, in the quiet slush of fallen snow the rare snorcas begin to appear.  Highly transient and endangered by local warming they are difficult to find – but fortunately, they have been photographed in increasing numbers recently.

Dr. Brad Handsome, courtesy tguy5_render02_f ?

Brad Handsome of the NMNFL (National Marine No Fish Left Agency) tried in vain to affix satellite tags to two snorcas, leaving their dorsal fins crumbled, and was overheard to say “They just seemed to melt away in front of my eyes”.
Although Orca Network dutifully reports snorca sightings, there are no plans to have experts available at the upcoming Ways of Whales Workshop to discuss these elusive cetaceans (the workshop promises to be both interesting and educational on other species however, and is highly recommended). Orca Network is unavailable for comment at press time.
San Juan Island snorcas by Doug McCutchen

Portland snorcas by Katie Preston

By Rob Schouten, courtesy Victory Lee Schouten Whidbey Island, 2011

Young snorca with bamboo blow, also on Whidbey...possibly one of the first sightings, several years ago. By Susan Berta

This sighting in Olympia bears a remarkable resemblance to the captive orca "Lolita". By shelby Proie

By Giovanni Galarza (no large format photo available for this elusive snorca yet)

Late breaking news; Eastern Washington snorcas persist!
Eastern Washington snorcas ( Soozan Larson)

Please report all snorca sightings to the Orca Network FaceBook Page.

The Forthcoming Book ‘Death at SeaWorld’ Previewed

The prestigious Library Journal (read by bookstores and libraries when doing their ordering) has selected 13 titles being released in July (out of hundreds) to highlight and preview, and included among them is this masterful work by David Kirby.

DEATH AT SEAWORLD
Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity
SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau’s death in 2010 after being attacked by a killer whale made headlines, but the story goes deeper.
As Kirby shows, marine biologist and animal advocate Naomi Rose had already spent two decades challenging SeaWorld’s captivity of killer whales as dangerous to both whales and humans, and the attack on Brancheau was just one of many that have occurred at marine mammal parks nationwide.
Lives are at stake here, and Kirby can be trusted to tell the story, having won a passel of awards for his investigate work in Evidence of Harm.
Kirby, David. Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9781250002020. $26.99; eISBN 9781250008312. NATURE/ANIMAL RIGHTS

Death at SeaWorld introduces real people taking part in this debate, from former trainers turned animal rights activists to the men and women that champion SeaWorld and the captivity of whales. In section two the orcas act out. And as the story progresses and orca attacks on trainers become increasingly violent, the warnings of Naomi Rose and other scientists fall on deaf ears, only to be realized with the death of Dawn Brancheau. Finally he covers the media backlash, the eye-witnesses who come forward to challenge SeaWorld’s glossy image, and the groundbreaking OSHA case that challenges the very idea of keeping killer whales in captivity and may spell the end of having trainers in the water with the ocean’s top predators.
Death at SeaWorld exposes the backroom politics, profit-centered policies and dangerous conditions at SeaWorld, America’s most beloved marine mammal park.
DAVID KIRBY is the author of Evidence of Harm, which was a New York Times bestseller, winner of the 2005 Investigative Reporters and Editors award for best book, and a finalist for the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism, and Animal Factory, a highly acclaimed investigation into the environmental impact of factory farms. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Pre-order your copy now DEATH AT SEAWORLD.