Tag Archives: Harderwijk Dolphinarium

Whales and Dolphins: Updates on the Stories of 2011

Lolita in her small tank.

Listed below are updates on some of the most compelling stories about marine mammals that occurred in 2011:

*The captive orca “Lolita” (also know as ‘Tokitae’) continues to live in a substandard tank, but a recent lawsuit may bring an end to her captivity based on the fact that she was illegally and intentionally deprived status as ‘endangered’, the status that was granted her wild kin.
*Meanwhile Lolita’s family, the Southern Resident orcas, had a good year, with three new calves and no deaths (the iconic male, J1 who was called ‘Ruffles’ because of his wavy dorsal fin was listed as dying in 2010, although2011 is the first summer he was not seen since records began in the mid 70’s. His imposing presence was missed by all to went whale watching in the Salish Sea this year). J2, Granny, was granted an 100th birthday celebration because her age range is estimated to be close to 100, although she may be as young as 70 years old – still an impressive age.
New calf, J 48, first seen December 17th. (Center for Whale Research)

Dave Ellifrit from the Center for Whale Research reports: ” As far as we know, we should be at 89 whales in the population at the moment after J16 had a new calf (now 27 whales in J pod, 20 in K, 42 in L). The new J pod calf ( J48, first documented by Northwest Fisheries Service on the 17th of Dec) is the only new addition since K44 was born in the first week of July. L90 was seen the last time that group of Ls was in the area back in early November so there is still hope she will be around next year.
Morgan on her way to Loro Parque, Tenerife, Spain

*Morgan, the young orca who was rescued but ultimately who lost her bid for freedom is under duress in her present circumstances, and appears to not be accepted by other orcas. She shows what appears to be bite marks from the other whales and is constantly chased, according to reports. (Note, the video showing Morgan’s harassment has been taken down from YouTube).
For more information about this young whale’s tale of woe – rescue, court battle, and eventual loss to captivity, please see ‘ Orca whale Morgan headed to life in captivity, loses court case, loses the chance of a normal life’ and ‘Orca whale Morgan’s fate follows the golden rule: those who have the gold make the rules‘.
Is this appropriate treatment of Tilikum?

*The court trial against SeaWorld in the case of the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau has not been resolved, but arguments are closed and it is before the judge: See Now We Wait, by Tim Zimmermann
*Tilikum, the whale that killed Brancheau, has had an undisclosed illness for the last few weeks, and has not performed regularly. It has been reported that he is in the medical pool at SeaWorld, Orlando.
*Ikaika, the young male orca that SeaWorld won against Marineland (see The Orca Project) in a lengthy court battle seems to have adjusted to life bobbing endlessly in SeaWorld’s tanks. To experience 10 mind-numbing minutes of the life he leads 24/7, please check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7lzA_BIeyw. No need to sit through the whole thing, it barely changes.
*Pregnant orcas – SeaWorld may have three pregnant females sired by an Argentinian male, and rumors are flying that the female who was housed with Ikaika in Marineland is pregnant as well (not confirmed). For more information, see More SeaWorld Orca Pregnancies? :

The use of sperm from Kshamenk, a killer whale who was captured in Argentina in 1992 and now lives at Buenos Aires’ Mundo Marino, is a new wrinkle in SeaWorld’s captive orca breeding program. A majority of SeaWorld’s killer whales have Tilikum’s genes, and there has been a lot of concern about a genetic bottleneck within SeaWorld’s breeding pool. Training Kshamenk to give sperm donations, and using his sperm to impregnate Kasatka and Takara adds completely distinctive Argentinian killer whale DNA to the SeaWorld sperm pool.

*Rave Dolphins – no published results for the cause of death of the dolphins that died following a Rave event at a European amusement park.

8 week movement pattern of the released pilot whales.

*Pilot whales – of the 23 that stranded near Cudjoe Key, Florida in early May just four survived, two male whales were fitted with satellite tags and were  released after being deemed healthy enough to survive in the wild.  One tag stopped working, but the other was tracked for two months.
He moved “a total of about 4100 miles (6022 KM). It moved from the Keys north to off of the South Carolina coast, and back down into the Caribbean. The last few weeks  before transmission was lost were spent off the northeastern coast of Cuba.
The whale made occasional dives to 1,000-1,500 meters, and occasionally stayed down for more than 40 minutes. These are among the deepest and longest documented dives for this species.”  http://sarasotadolphin.org/2011/09/15/freed-pilot-whale-final-update/
Two female pilot whales, Fredi and “300” are the only other survivors and they were both given to SeaWorld. Fredi, the youngest captive, seems to be healthy, but 300 developed a spinal curvature during treatment. Attempts are underway to repair the damage.
*No response from SeaWorld as to the identity of the pilot whales they claim is the original “Bubbles” from the 1960’s. (See earlier post)
*Whaling persists, against all reason. (See Environmental Investigation Agency updates.)
“Only a handful of countries still practice industrial whaling; Iceland is one of them, pursuing endangered fin whales in order to turn a profit. But rumours have persisted that there is a lack of demand for this whale meat in both Iceland and Japan, its main export market. With this in mind, EIA investigators pack their hidden cameras and attempt to locate and understand the driving force behind the trade.”

*Dolphin/whale slaughter continues in Taiji, Japan please sign the petition at Save Japan Dolphins.

*Japan has resumed their whaling sham in the Antarctic, where they claim they need in excess of 900 whales for “research”. Contact http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/oceans/whaling/

The Sea shepherd has three ships in the Antarctic in an effort to stop the whaling, one was just damaged by a rogue wave, so two of their ships are out of play while the damaged boat is escorted to Australia for repairs, so one ship remains.
*The Grey whale that spent weeks in the Klamath River died of fungus from being in fresh water so long http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/12/29/BA401MI7AL.DTL
*Fukushima, Japan, following the nuclear incident:Fukushima radioactive ocean pollution update:

It is highly likely that there were continued direct releases from the reactors or storage tanks, as well as indirect releases from contaminated groundwater or coastal sediments, according to the report.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, the owners of the Fukushima reactors, disclosed that 45 tons of highly radioactive wastewater containing strontium escaped from a treatment facility this past weekend.
“This latest news suggests that the releases have not ended, so that is of concern. If the contaminants end up in the marine sediments/muds, then they will remain there for decades to come, and thus potentially be of concern for benthic biota and consumers of benthic fish/shell fish, i.e. any local filter feeders near the source waters at the coast,” said Buesseler

Belugas are highly vocal and are nicknamed “Sea Canaries”.

*The approximate 100 belugas trapped in the ice are still able to find breathing holes and fish to eat, so may survive until a Russian icebreaker can come release them when the weather improves.
Courageous rescuers were honored for their bravery.

*43 year old Michael Cohen, who was bitten by a great white shark and saved by the heroism of strangers (and possibly the presence of a fur seal), may be confined to a wheelchair for the duration of his life due to the loss of one leg and traumatic injury to the other.  His rescuers were awarded recognition for their bravery.
*In the recent New Zealand orcas vs sharks incident it appears as though a pod of orcas was ‘fishing’ for the sharks:

The facts as  I have been able to establish them are as follows:
Location: Blue Cliffs Beach near Tuatapere, Southland
Date: 26 December 2011
No. of killer whales: 6
No. of sharks: at least 6, only one beached but others seen and filmed in the shallows
Species of shark: broadnose sevengill (Notorhynchus cepedianus)
The film and still images I have seen show a large, probably mature female sevengill stranded alive on the beach; an adult male killer whale pursuing and probably capturing at least one other in the surf zone; and a third in the wash. The whale was shallow enough that at times you could see that it was momentarily grounding as the waves drew back.
What appeared to be happening was a co-ordinated hunt of the sharks by a group of up to 6 whales, resulting in a number of sharks attempting to escape them by swimming into shallow water, several of which following the wave run-up into water so shalllow that they risked being stranded (only one did and it was left there to die by the witnesses and the carcass washed out on the next high tide).
I have seen a group of five killer whales hunting this way in Hawke Bay, North Island. They send a ‘sweeper’ in along the shore to flush fish out to the other whales which are swimming line abreast or in an arc offshore. Very effective! In the instance that I saw the ‘sweeper’ was also an adult male, and it possible that the whales involved in the Boxing Day hunt was the same pod.
Clinton Duffy
Scientific Officer (Marine Species-Fishes)
Marine Conservation Team
Department of Conservation

Please email me at candace.whiting@gmail.com if there is a cetacean story that might have been missed, and have a terrific new year!
Thanks to the Orca Network for catching a typo, and for all the great work you do!

Morgan, the Orca Rescued From the Wild and Given to an Amusement Park is Being Attacked by Other Orcas

For more information about this young whale’s tale of woe – rescue, court battle, and eventual loss to captivity, please see ‘ Orca whale Morgan headed to life in captivity, loses court case, loses the chance of a normal life’ and ‘Orca whale Morgan’s fate follows the golden rule: those who have the gold make the rules‘.
The following text is translated from the Dutch original posted on the Orca Coalition website, and the video shows how the other whales behaving towards young Morgan in her new ‘home’:
More footage of the situation of Morgan.

We wanted to show the images to experts to properly determine what is going on in the footage. Several experts have therefore looked at the them. At the height of 39 seconds bites are clearly seen on Morgan. The footage also shows how the other orcas (Skyla and Kohana) are chasing Morgan and attack her. Morgan constantly endures attacks.

These images were taken by a tourist and on the video a comment in German is heard. Its been said that they are playing.
The experts, however, say that these are attacks and that these attacks are not to determine the hierarchy, but it’s clearly shown that Morgan is not being accepted.

Morgan has no way to escape.

The Dolfinarium is pretending that totally nothing is going on. On their site Kraamkamer.nl where they maintain a blog about Morgan it is said that she is fanatically playing with Skyla and Kohana. Experts who have analyzed the images however, state that they are not playing but attacks are taking place for which Morgan is trying to get away.
According to the Dolfinarium ‘everything is going just fine’.  If that was the case, then why does Morgan already have wounds so soon after her arrival in Loro Parque?
Why is Morgan victim of this experiment?

How Did the Orca Morgan Wind Up in The Netherlands in the First Place?

Morgan was moved to Loro Parque despite the effort to have her freed.

From time to time events seem to fall into place just a little too neatly, into packages that are a bit too tidy. The story of Morgan the orca is one of those, and in the end, when all is said and done, the question remains:  how is it that this young wild orca swam right into a web so conveniently spun by an international consortium of the amusement park industry?
This story starts in late June, 2010.  I was chatting with a new acquaintance, Dr. Astrid van Ginneken, while I put together a plate of cupcakes to send to the Center for Whale Research.  She had just arrived from The Netherlands for her annual summer research at the Center, and Ken Balcomb, the senior research scientist from the Center, had brought her by to see if I wanted to accompany them out to observe the Southern Resident orcas.
Dr. van Ginneken has been coming to the San Juan Islands for years, and as co-principle investigator of The Center for Whale Research she makes an important contribution to the ongoing research there each summer.  I remember distinctly that as I slid my latest culinary cupcake experiments onto a plate I asked her if there were orca populations in The Netherlands, and her response was that it had been decades since an orca had been seen there.
Two days later the announcement came that a young orca had been found in the shallow Wadden Sea bordering The Netherlands.
The irony hit home with me, and when I saw van Ginneken a few days later she had already started efforts to gain access to the whale when she returned home, however it would be a month by time her work at the Center was completed.  By then the orca had been given the name of ‘Morgan” – which is derived from the Welsh and means ‘from the sea’- and the wagons of captivity had circled around her.
Nothing has ever added up about how this whale wound up where she was found.
The more I ponder about how she wound up at the doorstep of a Dutch aquarium that is known to have ties to SeaWorld, the more I question how she got there.
Here are some pertinent facts:

  • On June 23rd, 2010 staff from the Dolfinarium in Harderwijk along with a group known as ‘SOS Dolfijn’ captured the young orca which had been swimming between the resort of Lauwersoog and the island of Ameland in the Wadden Sea, The Netherlands.
  • The last orca to be seen there previously was in 1947.
  • The Harderwijk Dolfinarium has been tied to the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, and has allegedly helped SeaWorld to dodge U.S. law to bring in whales in the past.
  • SOS Dolfijn, which participated in the capture of Morgan, is part of  the European Association for Aquatic Mammals (EAAM), founded by the Dolfinarium in Harderwijk in 1972.
  • Even though a U.S. resident, University of Southern Mississippi professor Dr. Stan Kuczaj is currently serving on the EAAM research board.  Kuczaj has co-authored with SeaWorld several papers on the benefits of using captive cetaceans for research.  He is also on the Advisory Group to the Florida based  Marine Mammal Conservancy (along with ex-SeaWorld employee Mark Simmons)- the group who recently rescued pilot whales in south Florida, the survivors of which landed in a tank in SeaWorld, Orlando.  Kuczaj is the director of The Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory at the University of Southern Mississippi in the Department of Psychology.
  • As previously reported, SeaWorld is owned by the Blackstone Group which is invested in marine amusement parks throughout Europe. The Harderwijk Dolphinarium is also owned by a conglomerate that operates marine parks and other leisure facilities in several European countries. Together with Marineland, those corporations have a significant presence in the European marine mammal trade.
  • In Lisbon in March of 2010, EAAM partnered with the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria and agreed to a “memorandum of understanding” designed to facilitate issues with captive marine mammals.  Instrumental in this was Niels van Elk of the Harderwijk Dolfinarium.
  • The research committee for this conference was composed of Stan Kuczaj, Sabrina Brando – who among other things worked as a marine mammal care specialist at the Dolfinarium Harderwijk between 1992 and 1994 – and Manuel G. Hartmann, a veterinarian at Marineland Antibes who specializes as a vet for stranded whales and dolphins, and who also has ties to organizations involved with marine mammals in The Netherlands.

The upshot of this is that by mid March 2010 – quite coincidentally – all circuits were wired to ensure that any marine mammal that needed to be ‘rescued’ would be netted into this conglomerate power base.  Although taking place in Europe, SeaWorld and other U.S. interests are deeply involved.
Three months later, in June 2010, the young female orca Morgan  happened to wander a thousand miles from where scientists believe her family lives, into waters where orcas are extremely rare.  She just about swam right up to the Harderwijk Dolfinarium.
How she got separated from her family is a mystery, and why she turned up in the Wadden Sea is curious, but hopefully someday she will be reunited with her wild family.
I’m still trying to determine who is responsible for overseeing the captive industry in Europe, and will let you know when that information is available.

Orca Whale Morgan’s Fate Follows the Golden Rule: Those Who Have the Gold, Make the Rules

In an ideal world, business interests would not trump common sense, but time and again big business just walks over the rights of the average citizen. Here in the U.S. the wealthy and powerful have even disrupted the political system, leaving too many of us virtually jobless and homeless, and now it appears as though those conglomerates are able to influence decisions affecting the people of Europe as well.
But as the Occupy movement shows, global citizens have reached the limit of patience and tolerance – and now this one lost whale is rapidly becoming a symbol of that movement because despite scientific advice to the contrary, big business was able to prevail and a single Dutch judge was able to have this animal sent to an amusement park instead of setting her free.

Orca Morgan is hoisted by crane into a container on a truck at the Dolfinarium in Harderwijk, Netherlands, early Tuesday Nov. 29, 2011. A Dutch dolphin park has loaded a young killer whale into a container on a truck ahead of her transfer by plane to amusement park Loro Parque on the Spanish island of Tenerife later Tuesday after conservationists lost a legal batter to have her released. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski)

In this case, public opinion was up against several financial giants, and gradually the story of how the laws designed to preserve your rights have been sidestepped is beginning to emerge. At first glance the issue seems to involve just a young whale, a small Dutch aquarium, and a handful of conservationists – not of particular interest unless you are passionate about those things – but peel away the veneer and the real issue is revealed: money, and lots of it. This young orca is worth millions of dollars for her ability to bring in box receipts, and millions more for the fresh supply of genetic material she provides to the whole captive industry.
Who are the players? SeaWorld, though taking the heat from conservationists, is a bit player, as is the Dutch Harderwijk Dolphinarium where Morgan has been living, as is Loro Parque where she now lives with SeaWorld’s whales. The real money and power belong to the corporations that pull the puppet strings of the theme parks.
SeaWorld is owned by The Blackstone investment group, whose diverse holdings include several marine amusement parks in Europe.
Harderwijk Dolphinarium is owned by a french conglomerate, Compagnie des Alpes,  which was established to run ski resorts in 1989, but who bought marine amusement parks throughout Europe from the American corporation Six Flags relatively recently, in 2004. Six Flags had bought the parks around 1994 to 1998.
Loro Parque owner showing plans for the orca pools where Morgan now resides.

Loro Parque in the Spanish Canary Islands is owned by Wolfgang Kiessling, a german born businessman with a background as “an airline manager and flying in German investors”, who got around Spanish law prohibiting the amusement park by building it as part of hotel grounds in the  70’s.  But in 1994, about the time Six Flags was buying parks in Europe, Loro Parque formed a foundation for research, and at that time they had no orcas.
According to IslandsConnection.eu:

Then around 2003 out of the blue, they were contacted by SeaWorld, “they wanted to place four of their killer whales in appropriate installations that were not in any way competitive to them.  Thanks to our quality they decided that Loro Parque would be the right place to bring them to.”  Eventually they came to an agreement and the orcas were flown to Tenerife in 2006 and have been a monster hit with the public.

In 2010, two months before Dawn Brancheau was killed at SeaWorld Orlando, one of SeaWorld’s whales killed a trainer at Loro Parque.  In his excellent article, Blood in the Water, journalist Tim Zimmerman reports:

As I learned, SeaWorld was a key partner in the launch of the orca program at Loro Parque, loaning the park four killer whales to help it start Orca Ocean. SeaWorld’s vice president of communications Fred Jacobs explained it to me this way in an e-mail: “Loro Parque is a highly respected zoological institution, and we have worked with them for years. The relationship was conceived primarily as a breeding loan and to allow Loro Parque to showcase these remarkable animals.” He added, “The deal differed only in scale from the dozens of similar partnerships we are part of at any given time. The addition of Orca Ocean, a facility that is comparable in size and sophistication to anything found in the U.S., also provided us greater flexibility in managing our collection of killer whales.

The idea that SeaWorld “wanted to place four of their killer whales in appropriate installations that were not in any way competitive to them” is pretty amusing, because it implies that SeaWorld/Blackstone has too many whales, and can’t take care of them…but SeaWorld is breeding the whales as fast as they can, breeding them too young, and too frequently.
No, more likely, SeaWorld/Blackstone, the Dolphinarium/Compagnie des Alpes, and Loro Parque/Kiessling found a giant loophole in European law that otherwise prevents the captive industry from flourishing there;  according to sources, the amusement parks must  do research in order to house the whales.  As convenient as it is that Loro Parque now has a conservation foundation, the research with the orcas is ridiculously simplistic, could be done on any SeaWorld’s whales anywhere, and most likely exists to foil the laws.
On a par with Japan’s “research” whaling, these heavily invested companies have just managed to skirt the laws and to muffle the voices of those who protest.
It is not too late to return Morgan to her wild family.  It is still not clear that this was a legal move, and your opinion counts!
Here is a contact from a FaceBook page:
Under EU [European Union] law, it is illegal for orcas to be traded between parks for commercial purposes. One of the main arguments for sending Morgan was for ‘scientific research’, as a way to get around this law.
Please consider writing a quick email to:
And POLITELY bring to their attention the fact that Loro Parque is NOT a research facility for cetaceans, but in fact a zoo which is accepted to be for commercial purposes. Therefore, under this law, Morgan’s transfer is illegal.
Please share!
Also this one lists many contacts, including:
1. Embassy of Norway
Norway was not once consulted during the court and they still have a rightful claim on Morgan, because she is a norwegian orca.
List of embassies in the US: http://www.norway.org/Embassy/Honorary-Consulates-General/
List of embassies in the UK: http://www.norway.org.uk/Embassy/consulates/

A Letter to Norway from Orca Whale Morgan’s Supporters

(There does not appear to be a FaceBook page for Sto,  but there is one for Arctic Whale Tours there, who offered to help.  Please consider ‘liking’ them!).

Dear Mayor Jørn Martinussen,

On behalf of the people everywhere who were rooting for the young killer whale Morgan to be returned to the waters of Norway where she originated, I want to send you heartfelt appreciation.
You and the community of Sto Harbour offered her a safe, natural place to be restored to health before she would be returned to the wild, and you made a full commitment to working with scientists from around the world.
It would have been an unparalleled opportunity for scientific discovery and an enchanting global learning experience.

Proposed site for Morgan's rehabilitation and release.

Arrow indicates approximate location of barrier net for Morgan’s sea-pen. Photo courtesy and © Per S. Nielsen (2007).

Unfortunately reason did not prevail, and the legal system of The Netherlands ruled that Morgan must be sent to an amusement park in Spain.

Where Morgan will have to live (Loro Parque, Spain).

The choice was made to disregard the opinions of leading scientists in the field of whale behavior and biology, so now Morgan will be placed with whales from SeaWorld.  SeaWorld is part of a huge corporation called the Blackstone Group, (who are also majority owners in Merlin Entertainments  – who in turn run Sealife Centres in the UK and also their European facilities including Gardaland in Italy and Heide Park in Germany).  They are wealthy and powerful.
One can only assume that the political pressure must have been huge, as a whale such as Morgan is worth millions of dollars for her ability to generate box-office receipts for amusement parks, and even more for her contribution of fresh genes to their breeding programs.
The whales in Loro Parque where she is supposed to live show signs of aggression towards humans and towards each other, and are bred too young and too often.
Captivity will wring the spirit out of her, and statistically her life will be shortened by decades.
You and the environmentally conscious citizens of Sto Harbour, Norway are a fine example of how to make a difference in global problems, large or small.
When asked to help, you said yes, and that alone is inspirational.  Maybe the people of Norway will get Morgan back someday, she belongs there.

Morgan Supporters From Around the World

Orca Whale Morgan Headed to Life in Captivity, Loses Court Case, Loses the Chance of a Normal Life

It is 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time, on Monday 11/21/11, and the news has just come in from The Netherlands:  the judge ruled against the young orca Morgan and she faces a life in captivity. (Morgan is a juvenile killer whale, or orca, who was found alone in Dutch waters on June 23, 2010 and has been cared for since then by the Harderwijk Dolphinarium. She must now go to Spain and live in an amusement park with SeaWorld’s whales). Within minutes Twitter and Facebook began to light up with the news :
From Free Morgan Foundation’s Facebook page:
Today is a very sad day. After a year of fighting for the rights of Morgan and other whales in the future the unbelievable verdict is: Morgan can go to Loro Parque.

· · Share · 11 minutes ago ·

    • ‎:’-(

      10 minutes ago ·
    • f -ing hell 🙁

      10 minutes ago · · 1
    • Tears flowing here,God Bless her she deserves so much better from the human race 🙁 Broken hearted,is there no way we can fight this further?

      10 minutes ago · · 1
    • ‎…

      9 minutes ago ·
    • This is so very sad…. I am so very sorry for her, and all your hard work for her. We will stay on top of this, and never give up.

      9 minutes ago ·
    • no words for this….

      9 minutes ago ·
    • No!!!!! :”'( thats awful!!’ D”’:

      8 minutes ago ·
    • appeal??? dont know if that possible

      8 minutes ago ·
    • Makes me ashamed to be dutch.

      7 minutes ago · · 3
    • i wanna see the ‘reasons’ the judges have given.

      7 minutes ago ·
    • Our heads our in our hands, crying tears of pure heart wrenching sadness. If this is to be then please angels take her quickly, take her from this corrupt world of humans.

      7 minutes ago · · 3
    • Sorry het woord dat ik nu ga schrijven: GODVERDOMME…..

      7 minutes ago ·
    • i cant farking believe it!

      7 minutes ago · · 1
    • Alleen maar tranen hier…….

      6 minutes ago ·
    • What is wrong with the judge?? We are living in a big fat hypocritic lie!!! So sad, poor Morgan, so sorry baby….

      6 minutes ago ·
    • r No…. I dont believ it.. Its just not fair!

      6 minutes ago ·
    • snap het dus echt niet he… sorry

      6 minutes ago ·
    • Nooooooooooo, please noooooooooo

      5 minutes ago ·
    • ‎*crying*

      5 minutes ago ·
    • Makes me ashamed to belong to the human race with the way we are allowed to “own “wildlife “and not be their guardians fgs I cant stop crying have to get off pc before I short out kb!Sorry,teary hugs to all,we can pray and wait to see if appeal is possible X

      5 minutes ago ·
    • Disgusting, utterly disgusting…

      4 minutes ago ·
    • Unbelievable

      4 minutes ago ·
    • What?

      4 minutes ago ·
    • I’m ashamed to be living in the netherlands!! I’m ashamed of our people of the goverment.

      3 minutes ago ·
    • I can’t believe this is happening.

      3 minutes ago ·
    • ‎:(

      2 minutes ago ·
    • I really want to know the reasons! Why did the judge chose to do this to her!?

      2 minutes ago ·
    • Tragic.

      a few seconds ago ·

Orca Whale Morgan’s Proposed Sea Pen is Embraced by Community and is Close to Wild Orcas

Morgan's life hangs in the balance.

“A juvenile killer whale called Morgan was found alone in Dutch waters on June 23, 2010 and has been cared for since then by the Harderwijk Dolphinarium. Now that Morgan appears to be in good health, the Free Morgan Support Group , together with a global team of experts, has presented a solid plan to return her to her native habitat. The plan was designed and endorsed by scientists and experts in orca physiology, behaviour and acoustics.” This whale faces a life in captivity and will be sent to Loro Parque, Spain if the judgement is against her. The decision is scheduled be made public on Monday, November 21st, 2011.
Morgan’s potential sea pen pictured below.

Proposed site for Morgan's rehabilitation and release.

Stø Harbour and surrounds. Arrow indicates approximate location of barrier net for Morgan’s sea-pen. Photo courtesy and © Per S. Nielsen (2007).

The following are exerpts from “Stø Community Visit by Free Morgan Foundation”, unpublished Report by van Twillert, Jan & Visser, Ingrid N. . Prepared by Free Morgan Foundation, 19 November 2011. Available from www.freemorgan.org.
The location of Stø, in northern Norway, is an ideal location for the implementation of the Rehabilitation and Release Plan. The area provides not only all the logistical requirements but is also a prime habitat for orca, with sightings regularly reported within a 10 km range of the harbour and site for the rehabilitation sea-pen. In addition, the local community of Stø sees Morgan’s return to these waters, as not only a benefit to the Stø Community in terms of possible economic benefit, but also it is clear that they genuinely care about the marine environment and its inhabitants.
The fishing village Stø is situated at 68° north, approximately 200 km north of the Arctic Circle. It is a small active fishing community with approximately 200 inhabitants. It is situated in Øksnes Municipality, (Nordland County). The Municipality has a population of approximately 4,500 people, of which roughly 2,800 live in Myre, the administration centre.

This small, remote village in Norway embraces the opportunity to help Morgan. Standing in front of a life-size Minke whale model at the township of Myre are Camilla Ilmoni (Arctic Whale Tours, Manager), Jan van Twillert (FMF), Dr Ingrid N. Visser (FMF) and the Øksnes Municipality Mayor, Mr Jørn Martinussen. Photo © FMF, by Lauri Heiskanen (Arctic Whale Tours) (2011)

Stø resident, Unni K. Berglund, stated that “This is a very interesting project for Stø and I do hope that we can get Morgan to us. She really deserves to be set free and we all wish to her welcome back home.” Another resident,Sabine Schwab, stated “I have always liked orcas but looking at the pictures of Morgan in that tiny barren tank, I so desperately want to see her out of there and swimming free in the open ocean, here at Stø.”
During the entire visit by the FMF the Stø Community were remarkably positive and excited about the potential of helping Morgan on her quest for freedom and her ultimate return to the wild. Offers of support, logistical assistance, equipment provision, accommodation hire, donation of time and expertise were free-flowing and constant. Any challenges that the FMF presented, such as the placement location of the sea-pen were met with interest and dialogue with all such challenges having solutions presented and/or alternatives offered.
One of the fisherman’s wives, Ellinor Ulriksen, who has been living in Stø for almost 40 years stated “I hope Morgan can come back to us and be set free. The Free Morgan Foundation has done a fantastic job in helping her.”
From the mayor:  “I am very positive about Morgan coming to our community. I will personally look forward to helping on her road to freedom.”

Springer, another orca who was captured, released, and reunited successfully. She still swims wild and free. (Photo Courtesy Leah Robinson, Orcalab Aug 16 2011)

Please contact the Free Morgan Foundation and The Orca Coalition for more information.

The Orca Whale Morgan’s Defense Team Drops a Bombshell – Dolphinarium Aware That Its Dolphins Have a ‘Social Disease’

“A juvenile killer whale called Morgan was found alone in Dutch waters on June 23, 2010 and has been cared for since then by the Harderwijk Dolphinarium. Now that Morgan appears to be in good health, the Free Morgan Support Group , together with a global team of experts, has presented a solid plan to return her to her native habitat. The plan was designed and endorsed by scientists and experts in orca physiology, behaviour and acoustics.” This whale faces a life in captivity, and a decision may be made on November 7th, 2011.
11/7/11 Today in court the Free Morgan Foundation experts revealed that the dolphins in the Dutch aquarium Dolfinarium Harderwijk have herpes, and that the aquarium officials were aware of this at least since 2009.
These are the animals that the aquarium agreed to allow Morgan to mingle with as a result of the first court hearing several months ago.  Fortunately, the aquarium dragged their heels on compliance and Morgan was not put with the dolphins, but the dolphinarium’s lack of disclosure shows both disrespect to the courts and irresponsibility towards Morgan’s care.

The court will make a decision regarding Morgan’s future on November 21st, 2011.
The following is from research conducted at the Dolphinarium:

Besides benign proliferative lesions in
the genital mucosa, genital herpesvirus
infection is a known cause of severe
clinical disease.
Genital herpesvirus infections
can occur in the gravid uterus and
the neonate upon birth, and they may be
dangerous because neither fetus nor
neonate is immunocompetent (Avgil and
Ornoy, 2006).
Herpesvirus infection has
been described as a cause of abortion,
stillbirth, and neonatal disease in cattle,
pigs, dogs, horses, and humans (Avgil and
Ornoy, 2006; Foster, 2007; Schlafer and
Miller, 2007).
In California sea lions
(Zalophus californianus), genital herpesvirus
infection also has been implicated in
the development of urogenital tumors,
which are a significant cause of morbidity
and mortality in this species (King et al.,
Throughout the history of both parks,
dolphins had been exchanged between the two
parks and with other facilities for breeding
purposes. At the time of this investigation,
October 2007–October 2008, all dolphins from
both parks were kept together in the Netherlands

We acknowledge the training staff of
Dolfinarium Harderwijk and Parc Asterix and
Vivian Emmer for assistance with obtaining
and processing of the samples and the
inspection of the animals.

Will Morgan have to live her life in a tank?

In and of itself, there is nothing about a sexually transmitted disease that is in anyway any different from other diseases, it is just how the viruses are transmitted.  Like humans, all species on this planet are vulnerable – but unlike us they are not able to take precautions.  It is up to those who profit from keeping animals in captivity to assure that precautions are taken on the animals’ behalf.

Orca Whale Morgan Might go Free, Experts Have Changed Their Opinions.

“A juvenile killer whale called Morgan was found alone in Dutch waters on June 23, 2010 and has been cared for since then by the Harderwijk Dolphinarium. Now that Morgan appears to be in good health, the Free Morgan Support Group , together with a global team of experts, has presented a solid plan to return her to her native habitat. The plan was designed and endorsed by scientists and experts in orca physiology, behaviour and acoustics.” This whale faces a life in captivity, and a decision may be made on November 7th, 2011. Please contact the Free Morgan Foundation and The Orca Coalition for more information.

Wietse van der Werf (right) of the Orca Coalition

Press release from The Orca Coalition:

Amsterdam, November 6th, 2011 –
“Four of the seven Dolfinarium scientists previously cited in the case to Free Morgan are now turning against the proposal to export Morgan to Loro Parque.
This fact will be reported by the Orca Coalition in the summary proceedings of November 7th when the future of orca Morgan will again go before Dutch officials.
The new developments seem to change the course of the case, and with this the release of Morgan is closer than ever.
The fact that Morgan’s family group has been located, combined with the knowledge that large groups of orcas are frequently spotted in the vicinity of the proposed release area, has increased the likelihood that Morgan will be released. Three of the experts of the Dolfinarium, including John Ford* have now even offered their help in executing the release plan written by the Free Morgan Foundation.
In addition to the scientists who are united in the Free Morgan Foundation, more than twenty experts are prepared to confirm this in a written statement.

At the trial for Morgan’s release, Monday, November 7 2011 The Orca Coalition will be assisted by one of the experts of the Free Morgan Foundation.  Together we will show the judge that releasing Morgan is the only feasible decision.

(The Orca Coalition is a collaboration between the Dutch wildlife conservation organizations Dolphin Motion, EDEV – Een Dier Een Vriend, Bite Back, PINK!, Sea First Foundation, The Black Fish and Four PAWS.)”

*John Ford is well known for his work with the Northern Resident orcas of the Salish Sea. He is an Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Zoology, UBC, and Research Scientist, Pacific Biological Station, Fisheries & Oceans Canada

I’ll keep you updated as news comes in!

Will a Spanish Zoo Conquer the Will of the Dutch People in the Battle Over the Rescued Orca Whale, Morgan?

“A juvenile killer whale called Morgan was found alone in Dutch waters on June 23, 2010 and has been cared for since then by the Harderwijk Dolphinarium. Now that Morgan appears to be in good health, the Free Morgan Support Group , together with a global team of experts, has presented a solid plan to return her to her native habitat. The plan was designed and endorsed by scientists and experts in orca physiology, behaviour and acoustics.” Loro Parque is trying to obtain this whale, and a decision may be made on November 7th, 2011. Please contact the Free Morgan Foundation for more information.

Even the penguins have a better environment. (cc photo)

Spanish Loro Parque looks to be a modern zoo, and seems to go to great length to provide most species with enriched environments – that is, except for the marine mammals.  Although the orca exhibit was opened in 2006,  zoo designers gave these bright animals yet another featureless bathtub to call home.  The zoo boasts the capacity to keep their relatively new  orca tank clean and cool – but they also seems to have walked right into a time warp and built a marine mammal facility that is part 60’s circus and part SeaWorld theatrics. They keep five orcas there, on loan from SeaWorld, and are trying to get custody of the rescued orca Morgan.
In general, visitors give the zoo high marks, and most complaints are related to the prices (you can check the Trip Advisor rating here). According to Wikipedia, the other creatures on display in the park are ‘the most diverse collection of parrots in the world’,  chimpanzees, gorillas, marmosets, sea lions, otters, jaguars, tigers, iguanas, alligators, giant tortoises, flamingos, pelicans, exotic fish, piranhas, sea horses, and various sharks.
And all of those animals have better homes than the orcas.
This video shows both how much the trainers care for the orcas, yet how unsuitable and unnecessary it would be to send Morgan there:

Several trainers have been injured and one  has died at Loro Parque because captive orcas are not safe  – they suffer when their families are broken up, and they are bored by confinement.

On October 6, 2007, apprentice trainer Claudia Vollhardt was attacked and nearly drowned by Tekoa. After this attack, the trainers ceased to do waterwork for more than six months, and never again with Tekoa.
In the spring of 2009, Skyla, the youngest orca, was also excluded from waterwork after she pushed trainer Rafa Sanchez around in the pool and up against the walls with her rostrum during a show.
Less than a year later, on Christmas Eve of 2009, 29-year old Alexis Martinez was crushed to death in the jaws of Keto. After spending two and a half minutes at the bottom of the 12-meter deep main pool, his body was retrieved but he was never able to be revived. He went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance on the way to BelleVue Medical Center in Puerto de la Cruz, and was pronounced dead. His funeral was held the next day, on Christmas, and his ashes were spread at Playa El Socorro at sundown. Since then, the trainers do not enter the water with any of the orcas. The park initially characterized the death as an “accident”, however the subsequent autopsy report stated that Alexis died due to grave injuries sustained by an orca attack, including multiple compression fractures, tears to vital organs, and the bitemarks of the animal on his body.[8][9] During the investigation into the death of Alexis Martinez, it came to light that the park had also mischaracterized to the public the 2007 incident with Tekoa, and claimed it was also an “accident” rather than an attack.[10]   (Wikipedia)