“Total chaos. Bloody water. Whales dying. People getting arrested.”

(Title is the description by someone who shared the story, Melanie Jacobs).
This butchering of pilot whales is unsustainable and barbaric, and protesters have been arrested for entering the water and banging on poles in hopes of driving off the whales before they can be slaughtered.
Please sign this petition to help persuade the Faroese (who are supported by the Danish Navy) to join the modern age instead of clinging like limpets to past that is gone.

17 protesters were arrested.
14 protesters were arrested.

 
“The local community heads out in small boats loaded with stones, hooks, ropes, and knives. Once they’ve approached the pod, the boats form a small half-circle behind the pod. Small rocks attached to lines are thrown into the water to create a wall of bubbles to reflect the sonar of the pilot whale. The cetaceans interpret the bubbles as a cliff wall that they must steer away from – because of this, the small boats are able to herd the cetaceans towards a low-lying shore. As the pod approaches land, the boats continue to harass and frighten the mammals until they’re washed up on the shore. Once beached, a knife is used to cut through the veins and arteries that supply blood to the pilot whales head. Some pilot whales suffer for as much as 30 seconds while others can take up to four minutes to die.
Fullscreen capture 8302014 112855 AM grind
Those pilot whales that do not wash ashore have a gaff hook beaten into their blowhole and are then pulled ashore by rope. As a result of public pressure campaigns spearheaded by groups like Sea Shepherd in the 1980s, the gaff hook no longer resembles its sharper predecessor, but the blocking of the cetacean’s airway is incredibly painful and results in panic and injury. The fear and suffering is no less mitigated by a sea that quickly turns red with blood in a bizarre ritual reminiscent of Roman gladiatorial violence. As the entire human community partakes in the blood orgy, the whale meat is divided up among the locals although many times the whale meat is simply left to rot on the beach. Up to 1,000 pilot whales are killed annually in this manner, primarily in the months of July and August.” About the campaign.
Injured, dying, and dead whales can be seen to the right as this protester was taken away.
Injured, dying, and dead whales can be seen to the right as this protester was taken away.

This video is in French, but the pictures tell the story – it is included here because what it reveals undermines the claims by the Faroese people that they have this brutal tradition in order to eat the meat.  If you can’t stomach the blood, then start at the 2:21 minute mark.

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson:
For the last 85 days, Sea Shepherd has been able to find and escort whale pods away from the Faroe Islands. We have documented the activities but have not released them so as to not anger the whalers. Today a pod of 35 pilot whales came so close to a killing bay on Sandoy that the thugs from that island were able to get to them rather quickly.
Sea Shepherd land crew made it to the beach and into the water as three Sea Shepherd three fast boats arrived on the scene before the killing began. Unfortunately a police helicopter from Torshaven and vessels from the Danish Navy made it to the Bay at the same time. The Danish Navy ordered the boats to stand off. We have not heard back from the boats so we do not know what their situation is. We do know the entire Sandoy land team has been arrested and 35 pilot whales are dead on the beach.
Maggie Gschnitzer Italy
Rorigio Gilkuri is from Mexico
Nikki Botha (south Africa)
Monnique Rossouw (South Africa)
Sergio Toribio (Spain)
Alexandra Sellet (France)
There are three Sea Shepherd fast boats in the water. Not yet fully confirmed that the B.S. Sheen, Charlie Sheens boat has been taken and three crew arrested.
Now that this slaughter has taken place, we can mention that over the last 82 days, Sea Shepherd boat crews have deflected three pods of whales away from the island before the killers could spot them. Unfortunately covering 18 islands is a difficult task but I am proud of the fact hat our volunteers saved those whales and made a valiant attempt to save these 35.
The positive side of this encounter is we now have evidence to implicate the Danish government and Sea Shepherd will take this evidence to the European Parliament to demand that action be taken against Denmark for collaboration with an illegal slaughter of whales. No European member of the EU may be involved with whaling and although the Faroese is not a member of the EU they receive massive subsidies from the EU through Denmark. The Faroese may be exempt but Denmark is not and now we have the evidence that pilot whale blood in on the hands of Danish sailors and Danish Police, What is rotten in the Faroes is also very much rotten in Denmark.
Short finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus)
Short finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus)

Oil Company Detonates C4 in Dolphin, Manatee, and Turtle Habitat – Shrimpers Are Outraged

  • Explosive blasts by Castex Energy will go on for a year in the shallow coastal region in near-shore Louisiana.
  • Dolphins were not part of the state permit review process, Castex spokesman claims that they are unaware of the requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
  • Endangered sea turtles are  protected by federal law in the water but Louisiana passed a law that limits their ability to check boats.
  • Louisiana Department of Fish and Game refuses to disclose what endangered species, such as manatees, may be affected by the seismic blasts.
  • Shrimp fishermen are being chased off, and there is fear that the shrimp will move into deep water to avoid the blasts.
  • Yet the state requires the seismic testing to stop during recreational duck hunting season.

 

Endangered manatees are known to swim in the area.
Endangered manatees are known to swim in the area.

The state of Louisiana appears to have put the interests of recreational duck hunting ahead of the welfare of endangered species or the economic need of shrimpers, and have granted the Castex Energy company permission to assault a 435 square mile region of shallow coastal water with explosive seismic tests.
Except, that is, during duck hunting season.
According to an article in the Tri-parish Times:

The exploration firm, Houston-based Castex Energy, says it has done all that is required and more before commencing their 400-plus square mile, $50 million project, which requires detonation of C-4 and other explosives beneath state waters.
Wildlife and Fisheries spokesman Bo Boehringer, when asked for specifics, said dolphins and sea turtles were not included in the survey his agency did in regard to the Castex project.
“Since … dolphins are not threatened or endangered species, they are not in the Natural Heritage section inventory and thus not a species which was part of the permit review process for the currently permitted area where seismic work is now ongoing,” he said.
“Relative to sea turtles, which are endangered and can be found along the Louisiana coast, their presence is tracked in the Natural Heritage section inventory by nesting sites. There are no sea turtle nesting sites in the Natural Heritage section inventory within the area currently permitted.”
The sea turtles are enigmatic. They – like the dolphins – are subject to myriad protections in the federal water. But for the three-mile stretch of water between Louisiana’s coast and the open sea, protections are not in place. As Boehringer mentioned, nesting turtles are protected but are not believed to be in the blasting area. No provisions are made for those who might be out for an afternoon swim.*

* Correction 8/31 from:

Carole H. Allen, Gulf Office Director
Sea Turtle Restoration Project of the Turtle Island Restoration Network (www.seaturtles.org)
And HEART (Help Endangered Animals-Ridley Turtles)

Sea turtles are endangered in all coastal waters, the Gulf of Mexico, etc.  Federal law enforcement can go into Louisiana’s waters to enforce the Endangered Species Act at any time.  The state of Louisiana passed a state law in 1987 preventing their state law enforcement officers from boarding boats to check for Turtle Excluder Devices.  We are  working to overturn this law.  Shrimp caught in their state waters is red-listed because of this antiquated law and their not protecting sea turtles.

There is no mention of the endangered manatees, or any other endangered/threatened species because apparently they don’t want people to find out:

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) officials said the list of endangered species in the report concerning the blasting is not public record, because of concerns that people will seek them out.”

The federal Fish and Wildlife Service does list the endangered species in that area (St. Mary parish, and Terrebone parish), which include manatees, sturgeons, and all five species of sea turles (green, hawksbill, Kemp’s, leatherback, and loggerhead).
17-slow-baby-sea-turtle naidzgraphics.net
As for the Atlantic bottle nose dolphins, whose prime habitat is the near-shore environment, they are not an endangered species, however they are federally protected everywhere (including in state water), and the population along the Gulf coast in that region has been severely affected by the BP deep water oil spill and countless other smaller spills.
Apparently the National Marine Fisheries Service is unable to step in, even though permits are required for blasting anytime marine mammals might be affected:

The dolphin issue in the long run may not sit well with federal officials, who have confirmed that the Marine Mammal Protection Act requires blasters to obtain a letter of authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service.
No such letter has been obtained for the Castex project.
NMFS can take no action if such a letter has not been obtained, unless a problem emerges. Should dolphins turn up stranded or otherwise injured in relation to the blasting, civil and criminal penalties may be assessed against the permit-holder if the authorization was not obtained, confirms Connie Barclay, a NMFS spokeswoman
Pete Addison, a Castex vice president…said that because the project is so big and will go on for so long – it is expected to last a year – that “there can be no stopping and starting.”
Use of the explosives is tried and true, Addison said. Worke rs drill 150 feet down below the mud line and insert a charge.

An article in Houma Today explains how unhappy the shrimpers are.

Seismic monitoring involves sound detection devices known as geophones being buried into the water beds. Those devices detect energy created by strategically placed explosives. Surveyors will be able to use the data to map the subsurface in search of oil and gas deposits.
“If you put this out and you are going to mess up a man’s paycheck, make damn good and sure that you work with the industry,” said Kim Chauvin, who owns three Terrebonne seafood businesses with her husband, David. “They didn’t even try to talk to this industry.”
Locals have complained the work will interfere with the industry’s most lucrative season, which is underway. They also complain of being left out when the project was under consideration by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Chauvin said she’s heard of shrimpers being run out of the area and others being allowed to trawl in the project footprint. “I’m sick of the shrimping industry paying for what the oil industry has to do. I do realize we have to work together in some things. But this is not someone willing to work with the shrimp industry,” Chauvin said.
Rep. Gordon Dove Jr. (R-Houma) expressed surprise that as chairman of the Natural Resources Committee that he was just now learning of the project.

The shrimpers also noted that the shrimp may move, and also that the shrimpers themselves may get the blame for any destruction of endangered species since their trawls have had a significant impact on the turtle populations in the past.
Shrimp trawling is by its nature destructive to the sea floor, and between the seismic blasts and the effects of the nets being dragged anywhere that the seismic cables are not present, the ocean life in that area is bound to be affected. Neither the state nor federal governments are willing to do anything about it.
This situation is only going to be repeated everywhere it is permitted, as the demand by oil companies grows…except during hunting season. I wonder if we can expect this along the Eastern seaboard now that the oil companies have been granted permission to conduct seismic surveys there too.
 
This scene from Forrest Gump takes place when the Gulf seemed a bountiful source of clean, accessible seafood, before the relentless push for oil created a situation in which the shrimpers are unable to operate.
 

Young Orca Was Trapped Underwater in a Gill Net, What Her Family Did in Response is Fascinating!

“Our company is Mackay Whale Watching, my family has been operating a whale watching company for over 30 years in the area. Our vessel the Naiad Explorer was specifically designed for whale watching, we can travel at high speeds and be completely silent under water as we make no noise below the ocean.
We are a family operated small business who truly love what we do and watching that young whale entangled in a net was terrifying and awful. We are all thankful that it turned out OK and that the fisherman was not harmed nor the orca.” Nicole  Mackay
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Northern Resident orca caught in gill net.
Northern Resident orca caught in gill net.
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This story, in some small measure, is a counterpoint to the tragic time in history when orcas were captured for captivity (Corky, SeaWorld San Diego, was taken from the Northern Resident Clan). It is well told by Nicole Mackay, whose family runs a responsible whale watching company, and is testimony to the value of having those extra eyes and ears on the water to witness the remarkable behavior that these whales exhibit.
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We will probably never know what was going on under water for that length of time, but it is a good guess that the young whale’s family was keeping her calm, and probably trying to free her – yet apparently they somehow understood that the fisherman was trying to help.
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Here, in her own words:
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We went out on our scheduled whale watching trip from Port McNeill at 10 am [August 21, 2014] where we had reports of orcas near Port Hardy. When we arrived to where the orcas were they were all very spread out so we put our hydrophone in the water to listen for calls hoping to identify which clans were in the area. Under water we heard many calls some sounding like dolphins (even though it was orcas) which were quick and almost frantic sounding.
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At this time there was no mention of an orca stuck in a net but about 15 minutes after we heard this a fisherman reported to Comox Coastguard that there was an orca stuck in his gill net and he was in need of assistance. As it turns out we were very close to the fisherman and this entangled orca so we were able to respond and be there within 5 minutes. It is a mariners duty to respond to any coast guard station for a broadcast for assistance.
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What we saw when we arrived was one orca entangled in fishing net wrapped from head to tail. The fisherman who was an elderly gentleman was doing all he could to release the orca from his net.

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I grabbed my camera and started to photograph the incident as my dad (the captain) positioned our vessel close by in case the fisherman needed our immediate assistance. I was able to identify which family the orca belonged to as they were surrounding the fisherman’s vessel as well as spy hopping and taking long dives to locate their entangled family member.

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The young orca belongs to the family pod called the I 15’s, the orca that was entangled is I 103 its mother, two siblings and her aunt and two cousins were looking distressed waiting for the young orca to be released.

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I 103 then began to sink to the bottom of the net under water and as it sank the family took a deep dive where they were under for approximately 12 minutes. We were all very stressed during this time as orcas typically hold their breath for up to 5 minutes only. We weren’t sure at this point whether I 103 was alive or not and were fearing the worst.

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It was truly terrifying and awful to watch.
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The fisherman realized the situation was getting worse and quickly began to reel his net back in allowing the orca to come back to the surface. Most of the net had been taken off the orca except for a knot around its fluke. With help from the fisherman the young orca was able to be released. As soon as I 103 was released it swam straight to its family where they re-joined the other members of their group and swam away. I 103 looks OK and researchers were able to monitor the group until 5:30 pm seeing that it was doing alright.

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Mackay Whale Watching works out of northern Vancouver Island. Pictured, the Naiad Explorer.
Mackay Whale Watching works out of northern Vancouver Island. Pictured, the Naiad Explorer.
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It is extraordinarily important that people call 1-800-465-4336 in BC to report any incidents of concern regarding marine animals e.g. vessel strike and entanglement. The fisherman in this instance did the right thing by calling  for help, he also was an expert in how his net was constructed and how best to release the animal. It is crucial that people do not try to release entangled animals on their own as they can do more damage than good.

Our Iconic Orcas Need You – Please Come Party with Orca Researchers and Former Trainers, Enjoy a Pint, and Make a Difference!

This rare opportunity is being brought to you by Wild Orca, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to raising funds and support for organizations that provide non-captive education and services for the well-being of wild orca populations.

hales

Join us in the Hales Ales Beer Garden at 6:30 for a meet and greet with
the former SeaWorld trainers featured in the documentary Blackfish,
as well as Ken Balcomb of The Center for Whale Research.

August 22, 2014

All ages

Polecat1-980x370
Join us for an evening of dancing, beer, and Orca conservation! Wild Orca is pleased to present the americana, stomp-grass music of Polecat with Eric Tollefson at Hales Palladium in Fremont on August 22nd to support The Center for Whale Research on San Juan Island, Washington. Your ticket funds the important Orca Survey project and conservation of the Southern Resident Killer Whale population.

Enjoy Hales Ales finest beers during the concert. Wild Orca’s raffle prizes include:

  • Round trip airfare for two onboard a Kenmore Air Seaplane to Friday Harbor to enjoy an afternoon of whale watching with San Juan Safaris.
  • A DVD of the critically acclaimed documentary “Blackfish” with insert autographed by Ken Balcomb, Howard Garrett and former SeaWorld Trainers: Sam Berg, Jeff Ventre, and Carol Ray.
  • An official “Blackfish” T-shirt.
  • A trip for you and your friends aboard the Hales Ales double-decker bus to sample the finest Hales Ales beers while touring the city.
The Center for Whale Research has studied the Southern Resident orcas  for almost forty years.
The Center for Whale Research has studied the Southern Resident orcas for almost forty years.

Ken Balcomb (War of the Whales photo).
Ken Balcomb (“War of the Whales” photo).

For almost four decades, the Center for Whale Research has conducted annual photo-identification studies of the Southern Resident orcas of the Salish Sea for the purpose of protecting this endangered population and informing both the government and the public of their ecosystem needs. The Center’s Founder and Principal Investigator, Ken Balcomb, is a pioneer of orca research in the Pacific Northwest. Without his ground-breaking work, and his tireless advocacy, we probably wouldn’t have resident orcas in the Sound and Straits today.
More at www.whaleresearch.com

 Center for Whale Research

 
The entertainers:

Polecat

Polecat
Formed in Bellingham, Washington in March 2010, Polecat has quickly established itself throughout the West, with three records and over 300 shows in three years. Their unique instrumentation is composed of Karl Olson (drums), Jeremy Elliott (electric guitar and vocals), Aaron Guest (vocals and 12-string guitar), Cayley Schmid (fiddle), and Richard Reeves (upright bass). This enables them to seamlessly blend genres including bluegrass, country, celtic, rock, and world music into their sound. “The core audience of Polecat is, well, everybody. There is a sense of mass appeal attached to Polecat for it’s unique take on bluegrass, as well as an acknowledged respect for their honest approach to their genre” (H. Nightbert, What’s Up! Magazine, June 2010).
Aside from their self-titled E.P. and full length albums ‘Fire on the Hill’ and ‘Fathoms’, one of the best aspects of Polecat is their live show. Their music celebrates life, love, and good times, and it reflects on the faces of the players and their audience. Polecat has shared the stage with several nationally acclaimed acts, including The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Sam Bush Band, The Hackensaw Boys, The Moondoogies, Fruition and Trampled by Turtles. More at www.polecatmusic.com
~~~

Eric Tollefson

Eric Tollefson
Heart is the essence of this talented Alaska native’s charming music. His songs are a deep and satisfying exhale, as if Tollefson sings primarily to rid his ribcage of the sorrow, satisfaction and rich stories that simmer within it. His sound breathes the doleful spirit of the blues yet pulses with savvy pop sensibility, whether he’s transmitting it via a muscular electric groove or a gorgeous, gently plucked acoustic guitar.
After touring last year with Donavon Frankenreiter and Rayland Baxter, the Seattle resident started working with Justin Armstrong (Dave Matthews, Death Cab, Peter Frampton) on an album slated for release in fall of 2014. He’s cherry picked a ground shaking team of musicians from Seattle and venues in the northwest are taking notice. The result is a fresh show with a wide range of dynamics. They not only capture a room, but also give them the very thing that a lot of shows miss with their audience. Groove.
 

AUGUST 22ND
DOORS OPEN AT 6:30 PM
ALL AGES

Hales Palladium
4301 Leary Way NW
Seattle, WA 98107

Minimum donation of $25 Online
$28 at the door (as available)


Located behind the Hales Ales Brewery & Pub across from Fred Meyer.

SeaWorld Announces Plans to Expand the Size of the Orca Tanks But is Sketchy on the Details

SeaWorld plans to expand the size of the whale enclosures.
SeaWorld plans to expand the size of the whale enclosures.

That the whales may get better living conditions is fantastic news, and while today’s unveiling may have been spurred by SeaWorld’s desperate financial standing – their stock value hit the skids and Standard & Poor’s dropped SeaWorld’s corporate credit rating to BB- from BB, pushing the rating into junk status – these plans have clearly been in the works for months.
 

If SeaWorld can obtain the financing to build the pools – a big if at this point – would it be enough to turn the tide of public opinion? In the old days, yes. A slick advertising campaign would have had people flocking to see what they were told were the happy whales in their new, cool pool.
But that is not how this works SeaWorld, that is not how any of this works…

The problem SeaWorld continues to have is that they still resist the modern digital age where millions of people can at any moment check the facts, where people like you who take time out of their day to read and share articles, photos, and videos – people who want the truth and want to see meaningful change instead of fancy window dressing – make up their own minds based on facts, not illusions and advertising.
One issue with the ambitious pool design is that the whales are highly managed and don’t always get along, so while a park visitor may get to see the whales swimming around enjoying their increased space (not that it is very much, people have yards nearly as big) – it doesn’t address how it will be utilized, ie which whales would be there, and when?
At night when the staff can’t continually monitor them, will the orcas be shuttled back into the small pools? Orcas don’t sleep like we do, so the nights are even more boring for them than the day. Those beautiful exhibits and habitats at modern zoos are usually occupied by the animals during open hours only – at night the animals are put in cages or barns, and it is difficult to imagine that the proposed orca habitat would function differently. Still, it is a vast improvement.
What about breeding? Will families get to stay together, or will SeaWorld continue to breed, break up families, and sell the babies?
How will this change the problems the orcas have with their teeth, which are destroyed from chewing on the metal gates? Will they now chew on what looks like textured walls? Their already ruined teeth will still need to be drilled and cleaned daily.
How is SeaWorld going to get the money to support research on the wild orcas, what does it mean when they say “10 million dollars in matching funds”?  Who exactly will get funded by SeaWorld, and what strings will be attached?
Building the new tanks will  help to change SeaWorld’s place in the hearts of humanity if they also stop breeding the orcas and pledge to phase out keeping captive whales for entertainment. Eventually they could move the whales to sea pens, and fill the new tank with rescued dolphins.
And I hope they really do something to help the wild marine mammals and the oceans, the situation is desperate.

Rising ocean temperatures will affect everyone on the planet.
Rising ocean temperatures will affect everyone on the planet.

SeaWorld Aligns With Russia, Asia, and the Middle East as Their Stock Value Tanks

  • SeaWorld stock value dropped 30% overnight, and has dropped 45% in the last year. CNN
  • SeaWorld plans to to “co-develop theme parks in Pan-Asia [note: Pan-Asia refers to the entire Asian region], India and Russia”, and in the Middle East.
  • This is all bad news for SeaWorld’s captive orcas – there is a big loophole in the U.S. laws protecting captive marine mammals, and SeaWorld may try to swim their whales through it.

Jim Atchison, right, President & CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, speaks during a news conference at the killer whale underwater viewing area of SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla., Friday, Feb. 26, 2010, following the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau.
Jim Atchison, right, President & CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment at the killer whale underwater viewing area of SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla., Friday, Feb. 26, 2010, following the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau.

SeaWorld seems to have been brought to its knees by the changing tide of public opinion. Made aware of the fact that orcas are not suited to lives in tanks by both the book Death at SeaWorld and the film Blackfish, people voted with their pocketbooks and attendance has dropped.
SeaWorld has itself to blame – they have steadfastly clung to outdated business models and ignored the humaneness of how the whales are treated, and it has caught up to them.
But the reality that now faces SeaWorld doesn’t look any better for the orcas, and may in fact be worse. Reduced revenue means cutbacks in spending – why would they sink millions into designing habitats that would make the whales’ lives more bearable, or take the risks involved with establishing sea pens, when there is no guarantee that people will find the changes acceptable?
SeaWorld is a huge business, they will make business decisions, and the consequences may be dismal.
One option they have in their sights is to ship the orcas off to foreign countries where the minimum current U.S. standards are met (which are appallingly inadequate), and from where there is no option for release:

(SeaWorld news release) “Turning to our international efforts, we continue to make significant progress in our plans to expand our theme parks outside the U.S.
We recently signed a Letter of Intent with Village Roadshow Theme Parks, a division of Village Roadshow Limited, a leading international entertainment and media company, to co-develop theme parks in Pan-Asia [note: Pan-Asia refers to the entire Asian region], India and Russia.
This Letter of Intent, along with our previously announced Memorandum of Understanding with our partner in the Middle East, creates exciting opportunities to extend our brands beyond our domestic borders,” Atchison added.

According to NOAA, in order to export the orcas, the foreign country only has to comply with the following (notice the third rule, that would prevent release):

What is required to export marine mammals for public display in other countries?
For marine mammals that are not ESA-listed or designated as depleted under the MMPA to be exported to foreign countries for public display, the receiving person or facility must meet standards that are comparable to those required of a U.S. facility (see above).
In addition, the appropriate agency of the foreign government (e.g., the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)  management authority of the government) must certify that the:

  1. Information submitted is accurate;
  2. Government will enforce its laws and regulations pertaining to the public display and captive care of marine mammals; and
  3. Animals will continue to be held for public display purposes.

Marine mammals that are listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA, or are designated as depleted under the MMPA, may not be exported to foreign countries for public display.

seaworld_killer_whales

 

How would the welfare of the animals be assured in foreign countries when we can’t even get the governing bodies to force U.S. parks into compliance? In many countries such as China, fledgling animal rights movements are only beginning to make inroads against basic cruelty – such as baking dogs alive – so it is hard to comprehend how the orcas would be guaranteed even as good a life as they have here.
From Laws Concerning Captive Orcas:

The issue remains not of the whether facilities and organizations are following the law, but of the adequacy of the laws themselves.   The minimum requirements of an orca enclosure are that it must be twice the length of the orca housed within.  Is this an adequate standard for an animal that is capable of swimming over 100 miles in a single day?   One whale expert claims that building a tank the size of Rhode Island would not be adequate to house a mammal capable of swimming one hundred miles a day (See Tilikum’s Law).   The depth of the enclosure must also be only that of half the length of the whale.  Is this an adequate standard for a whale capable of diving hundreds of feet below the surface and typically spends most of its time under the surface of the water?   It is difficult to file and win a case against a facility who is legally meeting all of the required standards.

It is difficult to see any positives for the whales unless Congress can pass more stringent laws to regulate the care, breeding and transport of these benign and intelligent animals…and soon, before any more can be shipped to foreign lands (there are currently five of SeaWorld’s orcas living in Spain (Cetacean Inspiration) or are born into a life in a small tank in SeaWorld’s parks.
Contact your Congress members to voice your opinion, they are the ones who legislate the care of marine mammals.
 

“iWorry” About Elephants, Why You Should Too…11 Years Until Extinction

  • “Organised bands of criminals are stealing and slaughtering elephants, rhinos and tigers in a way that has never been seen before.”
  • “Sub-machine guns, night vision goggles and even helicopters are used to slaughter up to 100 elephants each day.”
  • Countdown to extinction: 11 years.
  • August 12, 2014 is World Elephant Day

The lucky orphaned baby elephants are rescued and eventually released to the wild (David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)
The lucky orphaned baby elephants are rescued and eventually released to the wild (David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)

Wild elephants in Africa will be extinct by 2025 unless something is done to stop the wholesale slaughter they currently endure.
Shot, poisoned, snared or speared, one elephant is killed every 15 minutes – their faces and tusks sawed off, their bodies left to rot, their babies left to starve. That is the message of the iworry campaign, and it is a situation that each of us can help change.

According to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust:

Organised bands of criminals are stealing and slaughtering elephants, rhinos and tigers in a way that has never been seen before. Poachers are taking these animals, sometimes in unimaginably high numbers, and using the weapons of war to efficiently kill large herds of wild, innocent animals.
Sub-machine guns, night vision goggles and even helicopters are used to slaughter up to 100 elephants each day. It’s not just animals lives at risk, in the last 10 years, 1,000* rangers were killed protecting wildlife in the “war” against poachers.
The profits from wildlife trafficking are being traced to terrorist groups whilst in turn poses an increased threat to national and economic stability. Wildlife crime is said to be valued at approximately  $17 billion.
* The Thin Green Line Foundation
http://www.itv.com/news/2013-01-09/kenyas-elephants-slaughtered-in-new-poaching-frenzy/

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We are at risk of losing a species that we are just beginning to understand, and as a marine mammal biologist I can’t help but be struck at their similarity to cetaceans (whales and dolphins).  Elephants communicate over long distances using sound that we can’t hear, they have complex social lives, the female calves remain with their mothers for life while the young males leave when they are sexually mature (around 14 years old or so). The herd shares in the responsibility of taking care of the babies, and knowledge is passed down from the matriarch to her offspring. 
They are very emotional, and researchers have discovered that they possess the same kind of specialized brain cells that are associated with emotion and found in few other species studied so far – a list which includes humans, gorillas, and some species of dolphins and whales.
Daphne Sheldrick,  has written a touching biography of the elephants she has known, and reading her page is a highly enjoyable experience. Here is an excerpt:

Daphne Sheldrick has struggled to save elephants for more than 30 years.
Daphne Sheldrick has struggled to save elephants for more than 30 years.

Is it because of their size, their quaint characteristics, or the fact that they are so incredibly endearing as babies, tripping over little wobbly trunks that seem to serve no useful purpose other than get in the way? Or is it, perhaps, because Elephants are “human” animals, encompassed by an invisible aura that reaches deep into the human soul in a mysterious and mystifying way.
Of course, Elephants share with us humans many traits – the same span of life, (three score years and ten, all being well) and they develop at a parallel pace so that at any given age a baby elephant duplicates its human counterpart, reaching adulthood at the age of twenty. Elephants also display many of the attributes of humans as well as some of the failings.
They share with us a strong sense of family and death and they feel many of the same emotions. Each one is, of course, like us, a unique individual with its own unique personality. They can be happy or sad, volatile or placid. They display envy, jealousy, throw tantrums and are fiercely competitive, and they can develop hang-ups which are reflected in behaviour.
They also have many additional attributes we humans lack; incredible long-range infrasound, communicating in voices we never hear, such sophisticated hearing that even a footfall is heard far away, and, of course they have a memory that far surpasses ours and spans a lifetime.
They grieve deeply for lost loved ones, even shedding tears and suffering depression. They have a sense of compassion that projects beyond their own kind and sometimes extends to others in distress. They help one another in adversity, miss an absent loved one, and when you know them really well, you can see that they even smile when having fun and are happy.
…Animals are indeed more ancient, more complex, and in many ways more sophisticated than man. In terms of Nature they are truly more perfect because they remain within the ordered scheme of Nature and live as Nature intended. They are different to us, honed by natural selection over millennia so they should not be patronised, but rather respected and revered. And of all the animals, perhaps the most respected and revered should be the Elephant, for not only is it the largest land mammal on earth, but also the most emotionally human.

The Sheldrick foundation works hard to rescue babies, prevent poaching, and educate the public.
The Sheldrick foundation works hard to rescue babies, prevent poaching, and educate the public.

What you can do – the following links are packed with information:
Sign the iworry petition, also see about direct donations, fostering the babies, and sharing the plight on social media.
Check World Elephant Day  for information.
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, with a little poking around on this site you will find ways to specifically donate to anything from desks for schools (to educate the locals) to sponsoring programs.
The Serengeti Foundation  funnels donations to Asian elephant issues, wild horses in the USA, and to the Sheldrick foundation in Africa (where they paid for waterholes to be dug, to remove wildlife from regions known to poachers.
The situation is different for Asian elephants, but it is equally troubling. A good site to check is Wildlife SOS.
In the US, find out what is being done by the government to stop the ivory trade:
FACT SHEET: National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking & Commercial Ban on Trade in Elephant Ivory
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