Tag Archives: Sea Life Park

Dolphins are eating corroded metal resulting in having their stomachs pumped. Sea Life Park, Hawaii

A leak from a recent private inspection alleges the park covered up imminent building collapses, endangering the public and animals.
Photos and media release by Keiko Conservation:
WAIMANALO, HAWAII, Sept. 24, 2018 – Details of a building inspection at Sea Life Park were recently leaked, sparking serious public safety concerns. As to why the public hasn’t been alerted of this issue, “the engineer’s final report was not released, they were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement… The building is collapsing but the company doesn’t close the building according to the General Manager Valerie King, because it makes too much money.”
One building in desperate need of repair was reported to be the Hawaiian Ocean Theater, where the dolphin shows are held. “The structure is an open beam structure, with 12 glue-lams 40 feet long, weighing 10 tons or more,” the leak stated. Upon inspection, an engineer allegedly claimed “all of the brackets are deteriorated to the point when I touched one of the brackets it fell off in my hand,” and were told, “the dolphin’s stomachs have to be cleared due to them eating chunks of steal [sic] when it falls in the water…
Sea Life Park Falling Apart Dangerous Animal Cruelty
The brackets that tie the cross girders to the glue-lams are completely corroded due to contact to salt air as well, they have been left untreated for many years, and are no longer structurally intact.” The amphitheater surrounding the tank holds up to 700 people.
The engineer allegedly described it as “a disaster waiting to happen,” claiming, “when the wind was blowing, the building was moving, if this building collapses during a show, the dolphins, and possibly hundreds of people will be injured or possibly killed.” It was observed that General Manager, “Valerie King knows this building should be closed down for repairs, but it makes too much money to do that anytime soon, so it will someday be repaired, but it might be too late.”
It also claims Hawaii news agencies were contacted, but, “they know this park is a big attraction, draws a lot of tourism, impacts the local economy, and none of them have printed a word about this.”
This inspection was allegedly done by an engineer who “was hired from Seattle Washington, rather than a local company to keep the information from getting out locally.”
Sea Life Park Falling Apart Dangerous Animal Cruelty DLNR
The second main concern is the main entrance to the park, the shark/reef life tank building. The structure is an an enclosure which “is steel reinforced concrete, the structure is over 50 years old, the steel is completely corroded due to constant contact with salt water… The tank holds 500,000 gallons of water X 8 lbs = 4 million pounds of pressure being exerted to the sides of the building supports.” The alleged inspection also reported the ceiling is coming down in “large chunks… Large pieces of concrete as large as an estimated 1/2 ton or more are falling out of the ceiling. The building shear points are all cracked, and crumbling.”
This poses a serious safety concern to not only visitors, but employees. “There are about 20 places where the ceiling has come down, they have not been repaired yet, so they can still be seen by the public since it is directly above their heads, the building is coming down. The company plans to patch the holes in the ceiling, not tell anyone, but this is a band-aid approach to a mortal wound. This can only end badly, for the animals as well as those trapped when the building does collapse, either partially, or completely.”
Sea Life Park Falling Apart Dangerous Animal Cruelty
The third building of concern is the retail building which was reportedly in use at the time of the inspection despite having been previously condemned. “This building is said to be on the schedule to be replaced in 2 years, but that was said 5 years ago. At this point it is still in use despite the condemnation order.” A recent observation at the park found that the building has since been closed to the public.
Upon receiving this information in July, our partners contacted Hawaii’s Department of Land And Natural Resources Land Division and photographed the park a few days later. The department said they would look into it, but no further response was given, nor apparent action, despite the seriousness of the leak.
Photographs of Sea Life Park confirmed structural damage and the liability exposures. A Animal Plant And Health Inspection Service (APHIS) inspection report ([link below]) from 2015 further supported claims, mentioning numerous concerns that matched the leak.
Shortly after inquiries were made, Sea Life Park quickly closed their Gift Shop and Hawaii Ocean Theater. No reported penalties to the park were given. The Shark/Reef Life Tank remains open to the public.

APHIS Inspection Reports 2010-2017

We urge members of the public to contact Barry Cheung of DLNR Land Division and ask for a building inspection to be done:

Office #: 1-808-587-0433
E-mail: Barry.W.Cheung@hawaii.gov

U.S. State Department Expresses Concern About the Japan Dolphin Drive, Supports Ambassador Kennedy

One of three false killer whales imported to Sea Life Park, Hawaii, from the Taiji dolphin drives in 1990 with her half-dolphin calf. Bottle nose dolphin in the back. Sea Life Park still has the offspring of this whale.
One of three false killer whales imported to Sea Life Park, Hawaii, from the Taiji dolphin drives in 1990.  With her is her half-dolphin calf. Sea Life Park still has the offspring of this whale.

Below is the audio recording from the National Public Radio interview with State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. It is about three minutes long and worth listening to as they discuss Ambassador Kennedy’s fresh approach as Ambassador.

This is the transcript of the press briefing, it is interesting in the reaction to Twitter:

21 Jan 2014


State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf briefs reporters joining her teleconference on a range of international topics.

Looks like the next question is from Elizabeth Shogren of NPR.
QUESTION: Hi. Thank you for taking my call. I wonder if you saw that Ambassador Kennedy tweeted that she’s deeply concerned about – by the inhumanness of drive to hunt dolphins in Japan. I wonder if you know anything about why she decided to tweet this comment and whether there’s any other U.S. reaction to that drive.
MS. HARF: Yeah. Well, obviously, we – in general, in terms of why she tweeted, we communicate with the public in a variety of ways. So I don’t think I have probably more of an analysis of why she went to Twitter to talk about this. But suffice to say the U.S. does remain committed to the global moratorium on commercial whaling, and we are concerned with both the sustainability and the humaneness of the Japanese dolphin hunts. We have been very clear that this is our position, and we remain – excuse me – remain concerned about it. And the Ambassador was expressing our view that we’ve made public for a long time.
QUESTION: And was there any official correspondence with the Japanese officials on this issue?
MS. HARF: I can check and see. We have discussed our concerns directly with Japan. I can check and see what level we’ve discussed those concerns at.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. HARF: Thanks.

SeaWorld, Sea Life Park, and Dolphin Quest Are Linked to Dolphin Massacre

Update January 20th, 2014 7 pm EST. The dolphins who were not chosen for captivity are now being slaughtered as the world watches. Please continue to voice your outrage, and consider boycotting the summer Olympics taking place in Japan in 2016.
If I had to pick just one aspect of the Japan dolphin drives that encapsulates all that is wrong with the annual dolphin slaughter, it would not be the fact that it is a function of greed.
Nor would it be the fact that the dolphins are normally just migrating through the area, by no stretch of the imagination are these “Japanese dolphins”. Sadly, the dolphins killed in Taiji may be the same ones that winter along the beaches of other countries where their presence would have been welcome.
It wouldn’t be the fact that the fishermen have the arcane idea that dolphins and whales are competitors for a dwindling fish supply either that is the most abhorrent. And no, not the obvious joy shown by the ignorant fishermen in upsetting the rest of the world.

And dolphins still don't harm humans...
And dolphins still don’t harm humans…

No, the one thing that takes this slaughter to heartbreak level is that the brutal fishermen, in their cowardice, have chosen a species that never attacks back, allowing the hunters to safely enter the water, their killing knives and skewing implements wielding destruction unopposed.
They don’t do this with sharks. Or rays, swordfish, or barracuda. But these fishermen of Taiji callously swim and wade out with the dolphins knowing that the dolphins won’t harm them, maiming and torturing the one species that is known to save humans in need.
Due to bad press, the dolphins now try to kill dolphins bloodlessly, but it doesn't work, often resulting in a prolonged death.
Due to bad press, the fishermen now try to kill dolphins bloodlessly, but it doesn’t work, often resulting in a prolonged death.

A few short days ago, the little white dolphin who activists have named ‘Angel’ was swimming free with her mother and extended pod. Today she is in a tank with a few other calves, their mothers left behind to face the possibility of slaughter unless the Japanese government steps in and puts an end to this barbaric practice.

Is there hope for these dolphins? Yes, given enough public pressure, and if the amusement parks would own up to their complicity in the carnage. The video below explains how these captures are driven by people who make a fortune from it.
SeaWorld claims that it no longer supports the drive fishery, but does nothing to intercede. Sea Life Park in Hawaii still has the whale/dolphin offspring of a false killer whale who came from the Japan captures. Dolphin Quest has two swim-with-dolphin facilities in Hawaii, both built with money from ‘blood dolphins’ caught in Japan.
Please watch this video, you can skip the first minute or two if it is hard to stomach, and still learn how the dolphin slaughter is driven by industry. The people of Japan have been unaware of the situation, but are beginning to protest, bringing hope that this will soon be stopped. Please see this website to learn why these hunts not reflective of the Japanese country as a whole, but instead is reflective of a heartless few.

RIC O’BARRY’S DOLPHIN PROJECT has prepared this list of resources for you to contact and have your voice heard, together we can end this:

The hunts for dolphins in Taiji must be stopped, and the captivity industry should be in the forefront of efforts to stop the hunts.  Instead, the captivity industry is subsidizing the hunts by paying top dollar for captive dolphins like Angel, while the mother is carted off to the abattoir.  They should be ashamed of themselves.
Please help in any way you can!  We need your continuing help to end the Taiji dolphin hunts.
Contact these leaders and ask them to release the dolphins in Taiji and Angel with his mother:
The Hon. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister, Japan
Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae
Embassy of Japan in the United States
2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W
Washington DC 20008
Tel: 202-238-6700, Fax: 202-328-2187
Dr. Gerald Dick, Executive Director
World Association of Zoos and Aquariums
WAZA Executive Office
IUCN Conservation Centre
Rue Mauverney 28
CH-1196 Gland

2014 – The Blackfish Effect Will Continue; SeaWorld, Sea Life Park, and the Miami Seaquarium Face a Difficult Year

Oceanic Preservation Society

Overall, 2014 is shaping up to be a positive one for whales and dolphins –  there is a shift taking place, and opportunities are there for everyone to make a difference.
sw san antonioDemonstrators at SeaWorld, San Antonio showed up to honor the wishes of six year old orca advocate, Cash.
SeaWorld, Sea Life Park, Miami Seaquarium
Protests will inevitably continue to grow in 2014, and the second annual Empty the Tanks Worldwide Event is set to take place on May 24th 2014 – it promises to be bigger and bolder than last year, reflecting the growing awareness of how captivity in theme parks affects whales and dolphins.
Relics from the past, these institutions will have to start making changes quickly. While they have been able to hide behind arcane and unjust laws in the past, a more savvy public now knows that those laws can be changed. Thanks to the book Death at SeaWorld and the film Blackfish, attendance is dropping as more people become aware of the conditions at these parks and choose not to attend.
Below is a video of Sea Life Park, Hawaii (which shows the offspring of a false killer whale who was captured in the brutal Taiji, Japan dolphin drives). The video unintentionally does a great job of showing how tawdry and tired the place is, unfortunately this is typical of amusement parks worldwide. The second one was made after numerous complaints about that amusement park surfaced.

Efforts to remove “Lolita” from her tiny tank at the Miami Seaquarium and to move her to a sea pen near her wild family are gaining momentum. Her violent capture was shown in Blackfish.

(Orca Network)
(Orca Network)

Ocean Noise
This issue is rapidly becoming more topical as more reports of beached, stranded, injured, and dead marine animals are witness to the devastating effects of loud noise.

On land animals and humans alike know to move away from a loud or traumatic sound; the further we get, the more the sound dissipates. Underwater, we would not be so lucky. Sonar and ship noise can send a deafening tidal wave of noise for miles. It is difficult to pinpoint the origin or source of a particular sound and even harder to avoid or outrun it. Whales, dolphins and other marine mammals that have been caught in the wake of sonar have died of cerebral hemorrhaging or intentionally beached themselves in a desperate attempt to avoid the ear-splitting resonance. (Oceanic Preservation Society)

The Oceanic Preservation Society is one to watch this year, they are the group that produced The Covean Oscar winning documentary that exposed the annual dolphin drives in Taiji, Japan. They are working on a new film, and it promises to be innovative and motivating:

Watch for increased attention on sound issues and cetacean stranding in the coming year.

Senseless killing of marine mammals
People worldwide are increasingly aware of the dangers in eating the toxic meat from marine mammals, and are beginning to understand that these top predators play a vital role in ocean food webs. The Dolphin Project is increasing their efforts to reach the Japanese people and are bringing a concert to Tokyo this year, stay tuned for that one.
6098366_300 ric logoHelene Hesselager O´Barry, Program Associate, Dolphin Project
Earth Island Institute writes:

Jane Goodall, who has dedicated her life to the study and protection of chimpanzees, once said, “Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right.”  These are wise words.
Unfortunately, there are times when such an approach isn’t possible, as some people are utterly unwilling to listen to the views of those who disagree with them.  An example of this is the dolphin hunters of Japan who slaughter dolphins by the hundreds each year.  They consistently react to any criticism with hostility and do all they can to cover up their actions, trying to prevent the Japanese public from learning that a dolphin slaughter is taking place in their own country.  Communicating with Japanese dolphin hunters, therefore, is not an option, although Earth Island continues to reach out to the Taiji town government and others in a continuing attempt to open up lines of communication.  One way of stopping the dolphin slaughter is by exposing it to the Japanese public so that they can speak out against it.
In the Faroe Islands, where hunters kill long-finned pilot whales in a slaughter known there as grindadráp, we are dealing with a quite different scenario.  Everyone there knows about the slaughter, which has been going on for centuries.  Faroese whale hunters do not try to hide it from the rest of the world.  They are extremely approachable and willing to talk to outsiders about it.  During my visits to these islands, I have always been met with hospitality, even by whalers who knew that I was there to write about the pilot whale slaughter that attracts criticism from all over the world.  As long as someone approaches them in a peaceful manner, they will listen to an outsider´s point of view.

There are dozens of quality organizations working to bring change who would love to have you join – or you can think about what you can do on your own as we welcome 2014. For instance Empty the Tanks protests are organized in communities far from an ocean, where people come together to discuss films, books, ideas, and make action plans. Search out online communities in social media, new voices are always welcome.
Have a great New Year!

Sea Life Park is Cleaning Up – “Empty the Tanks Worldwide” is Already a Success

A recent visitor to Sea Life Park on the island of Oahu in Hawaii snapped these photos of the sea lions’ pool. Although the enclosure does look dismal, the visitor noted that most of the tanks – from the sharks’ exhibit to the dolphins – looked as though they were newly cleaned. He reported that even the sea turtles were being thoroughly scrubbed by a keeper with a brush in their newly drained and cleaned pool!
The cleanup effort is a great first step, and shows that the amusement park industry may  be listening to public opinion at last – and the worldwide event to draw attention to the plight of captive marine mammals hasn’t even happened yet.

Sea Lion pool at Sea Life Park, Oahu. Photo taken by recent park visitor.
Sea Lion pool at Sea Life Park, Oahu. Photo taken by recent park visitor.

IMG_20130722_162016_093 sealions slp
Some algae remains, but Sea Life Park appears to be making an effort.

Elizabeth Batt in her article “First Empty the Tanks event to hit global aquariums this weekend” interviewed the organizer of the July 27th Empty the Tanks event at Ocean Park, Hong Kong and reports that this remarkably progressive aquarium fully has embraced the event:

Zoe Ng, the host of the Empty the Tanks event at Ocean Park, Hong Kong, reports that the aquarium has been surprisingly helpful and even accommodating for her protest. Ng told Digital Journal that she has enjoyed open correspondence with the park since day one.

 Having invited her to tour their facilities, Ng met with park chairman, Dr. Allan Zemen, Todd Houghland, Matthais Li and Una Wang, to discuss her protest along with her concerns over captive cetaceans.
Surprisingly, not only did Ocean Park graciously grant Ng approval to host the event by their entrance, they even offered her a display table for her leaflets.

This is the second time that Ocean Park showed their willingness to comply with public opinion on marine mammals – in 2011 they abandoned plans to import belugas due to public outcry. The Hong Kong aquarium represents a fine and forward-looking institution, and their willingness to dialog opens doors – instead of slamming them shut as do the U.S. amusement parks such as Seaworld.  Sea Life Park’s attitude towards inquiry bordered on rude and yielded only wrong information in a recent call.
The Georgia Aquarium is still trying to get a permit to import wild caught belugas (which they will farm out to Seaworld and other parks) even though the American public is largely against it.
Empty the Tanks Worldwide has united a global effort to educate the public about the need to modernize the theme parks, both in the attitude towards public opinion and their inadequate facilities.
Please click HERE find out how to participate, or to get more information on Saturday’s Empty the Tanks Worldwide event.

Dolphin Injury to Ribs May Lead to Death in Captivity, But Heal in the Wild

Photo from Dolphin Therapy, Bali
Photo from Dolphin Therapy, Bali

Chances are, the dolphins we see jumping through hoops in amusement parks everywhere may have undetected injuries, causing them pain as they are forced to entertain us. They are plagued by dental and skeletal injuries in both wild and captive circumstances, but interestingly – although not surprisingly – the dolphins heal significantly better in the wild. Scientists speculate that this can be due to the fact that captive dolphins are forced to do tricks such as pulling trainers through the water or beaching themselves while performing with injured ribs:

...None of the latter specimens has been observed to be the victim of severe crashes between animals, nor had any of them a big accident during performances.
From the state of healing, the fractures must have occurred only a few weeks before death, and they possibly have caused or aggravated the lung diseases they are so often suffering from. It is important to point out that such fractures are generally not recognized general autopsy. Only in one delphinarium specimen, whose skeleton has not been conserved for the study collection, broken ribs were recognized because they protruded into the thoracic cavity.
All these findings give the impression that rib fractures are more common in delphinarium specimens than often is believed; they should receive attention during autopsies.
Another important fact is that in the wild specimens the broken ribs nicely heal. In the delphinarium specimens, however, healing does not seem to follow that easily.  One may suppose that the jumps during performances, the swimming in a limited space and occasional beaching during performances or during examination are not favorable for healing.
If, after an accident, rib fractures can be suspected, it seems to be recommendable not to take the animal out of the water for some weeks. Their body-weight, no longer sustained by the surrounding water, could push the rib into the lungs and cause pulmonary lesions.
The old wild specimen with the many broken ribs also shows broken but completely healed lateral apophyses of two lumbar vertebrae. Another wild specimen, caught the river in 1960, had several broken and healed neural spines in the lumbar region. SLIJPER (1931 and 1936) reports several cases of broken apophyses in other species. Although such fractures may be quite common, they heal easily and apparently do not cause much harm to the animal. (Aquatic Mammals Journal).

This study was done in the late 70’s, yet more than three decades later not much seems to have changed in the management of dolphins in captivity. The veterinarians at the amusement parks are either unaware of this information or choose to ignore it – but in either case, dolphins continue to be forced to perform for their supper every day, day in, day out  – and no doubt, often in pain, possibly leading to lung problems and death.
According to a 2012 national report on marine mammals, the one park I scrutinized (Sea Life Park, Oahu, Hawaii), has records going back to the 60’s which show that fully a third of the dolphins for which there are records died of causes linked to lung problems – most of those were pneumonia.
Were the lung problems related to rib fractures?  It is impossible to know because there is no mention that the veterinarians knew to check the ribcage during postmortem examinations, and amusement parks are no longer required to report the cause of death to the National Marine Fisheries Service. The Marine Mammal Protection Act was significantly reduced in scope in 1999.

Wiki Commons photo
Wiki Commons photo

As to why dolphins suffer from so many injuries to their spines and ribs, it is likely the result of aggression and accidents and in the confines of captivity they may not be able to find an escape from each other.
Many species of dolphins have been observed to ram or head-butt other dolphins, and in a study of 50 pilot whales who had beached themselves, roughly half showed healed fractures in the jaw, some had been fractured more than once at different points in their lives.  Among males the rate was 71%.  As with the ribs among wild dolphins, these fractures healed nicely.  Taken together then, it would appear that dolphin dynamics can be very aggressive and serious but the cetaceans are well equipped with natural healing ability in the wild .
Dolphins also suffer fractures from net entanglement, so some of the fractures observed in wild dolphins may be related to having survived a run-in with fishing apparatus:
Gross Evidence of Human-Induced Mortality in Small Cetaceans

Many dolphins killed in fishing gear also exhibit ante-mortem broken bones and associated blood clots and macerated soft tissue. Typically these bones include mandibles, flippers, ribs or the vertebral processes.

In any case, the poor rate of healing and high rate of complications illustrate once again the failure of captive conditions to provide adequately for the needs of dolphins and whales.