Killer Whale on a Rampage – Vintage Sea Hunt Episode From 1958

Watch as this ‘killer whale’ morphs into a shark then a pilot whale, before eating a scuba diver whole in one bite! And that is just the beginning…

We have come so far in understanding dolphins and whales since the 50’s, I wonder how our present beliefs will seem to future generations – will they condemn us for our continued cruelty, or will they remember us for being the generation who finally turned things around?
(Whales don’t attack people, and they never intentionally harm us.)

This Dolphin Detonation Event Was Brought to You by the U.S. Navy

(Photo by Ralph Lee Hopkins)

The text below is taken from the published article, I made some changes to avoid acronyms and metrics.  Please consult the original document for details, as well as to learn about the birds and fish that were also affected.
Seabird and Dolphin Mortality Associated with Underwater Detonation Exercises

On 4 March 2011, ‘mine counter-measure training’ was conducted on the ocean [near San Diego] A single time-delayed C4 block demolition charge …was detonated on the sandy ocean floor at a depth of [48 feet], … approximately 0.5-0.75 nautical miles from shore. At 5 minutes prior to the detonation, a group of 100-150 long-beaked common dolphins was observed entering the 640-[yard] mitigation zone by safety observers.

Options to retrieve the charge via divers or from the surface to stop the detonation were considered. However, the short time interval to detonation made this too risky for personnel. An effort to discourage the dolphins from entering the area by placing a boat between the detonation site and the school of dolphins was unsuccessful.

One minute after the detonation, three dolphins were observed motionless at the surface. The rest of the school continued to travel in the same direction as it had been prior to the detonation. The Navy recovered the three animals and transferred them to the local stranding network for necropsy. An additional long-beaked common dolphin stranded dead approximately [42 miles] north of the detonation site, 3 days later.

All four dolphins sustained typical mammalian primary blast injuries.

The distances from various types of underwater detonations at which death, injury, and temporary hearing loss (called a temporary threshold shift, TTS) are expected to occur in marine mammals have been estimated by the Navy and are termed the Zone of Influence (ZOI). …Based on these estimates the dolphins killed would have been within [120 feet] of the blast.

The observed mortality does not exceed the current PBR of 164 for this population, indicating that the blast event alone will not adversely effect the long-beaked common dolphin population (Potential biological removal (PBR) is the maximum number of animals that can be removed from a population through non-natural means and still maintain an optimum sustainable population (Marine Mammal Protection Act, 1994, Amendments). A PBR is calculated for each recognized population of a specie of 164).

However, had four common bottlenose dolphins belonging to the coastal population been killed in the blast, a population effect would be expected, because the PBR for this population is 2.4 The coastal common bottlenose dolphin is common in the waters off San Diego and found within [500 yards] of the shoreline 99% of the time.  The small size of this population and its occurrence in the very near-shore waters of San Diego make this population of critical concern in relation to underwater detonation activities occurring in the region.

The Center for Whale Research has put together an informative page about a similar explosive event  that cost the life of at least one endangered Southern Resident orca, L – 112 (or Victoria, as she was affectionately known).  The following is from a letter written by Ken Balcomb, senior scientist at the Center, the entire text of which can be found on the Center’s website:

Ken Balcomb, Senior Scientist at The Center for Whale Research

I wish to thank Scott Rasmussen for his article (The Journal March 14, 2012) on the necropsy of the three year old baby orca designated L112 that I named “Victoria”, (not “Sooke”) when I first saw her. She was one of the most darling and affectionate little whales in this Endangered population, and she will be sorely missed by humans and by the whale population.
The final results of analysis of her tissues and fluids found in her cranium may take some time, but it is important to note that ALL of the expert observations of her bloody and bruised carcass, and her head, concluded that there is strong evidence of near instantaneous lethal destruction of tissues, mostly on one side, consistent with blast trauma, as already reported.
Her death was undoubtedly caused by humans, and we have to look for the source of the blast. I have asked the Law Enforcement division of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to investigate so that there will be a clear set of rules concerning withholding, filtering, or losing evidence in this case.
…This is really a tragic bureaucratic jungle situation for the whales and other marine life in the Olympic Coast National Marine “Sanctuary”, and I fear it is even more tragic for our wonderful notion of honest and transparent governance. Yeah, this is a complicated issue; but, at this rate the easiest and most forthright way out is to rename the sanctuary: Olympic Coast National Marine Bombing Range (OCNMBR), and say “bye bye” to the whales.
Citizens have until April 27, 2012 to provide public comment on the expansion of, and the activities within, the NWTRC; and, I suppose it would be OK to suggest changing the name if that is our collective wish.
It is absurd to call it a sanctuary.

Luna the Whale’s Gift – He Taught Us What We Are in Danger of Losing

The recent death of the young orca Victoria (L-112) who was killed by an explosive force may seem to some to be inconsequential in the scope of the need for military preparedness. Somehow we humans think that this planet is ours alone, and that our petty squabbles are so important that we have the right to destroy not just each other, but potentially most of life on Earth.
We rely upon world leaders to keep the scale of our conflicts within bounds, to limit where and how the military forces can practice with bombs, gasses, diseases, and sound. Once thought to be both bountiful and indestructible, the planet’s oceans seemed to be the logical alternative.
But now we know better, we know that the life of the sea is in peril everywhere, that the oceans are losing their capacity to absorb abuse, and that military excursions can destroy – in seconds – entire communities of animals.
What are we losing? The story of Luna (L-98), shows us the nature of a species that may turn out one of the only other friendly intelligent beings in a lonely universe. This particular population of orcas, the Southern Residents, is unique and when they are gone they will take with them a rare and irreplaceable culture. (Please take our poll on the Navy impact).
The filmmakers have now made it possible for you to show this touching tale in your own community.

Movie on the Move – Book your screening now!
Wherever you live, you can now host your own screening of The Whale through our new screening program, Movie on the Move!
The home video DVD won’t be out for a few more months, but we are now offering the film to any individual or group that wants to host a screening. There will be a fee in advance, but no revenue sharing will be required if you charge admission, no matter how much your group makes. You keep all the proceeds.
That makes it very easy to use The Whale for fundraisers or for any other kind of event. In the fundraisers for which the film has already been used, thousands of dollars have been raised for worthy causes.
Here’s how it works. You book the film, you organize the venue, and you decide what you’d like to do. You can use it as a fundraiser; you can show it to your film group or church group or school or NGO; you can charge admission; you can open the doors to anyone. It’s up to you.
We will provide you with a DVD or Blu-ray, and still photos, videos, and other information to help you promote your screening. We can also help with posters, and when possible we can arrange for one of the directors to do a post-screening Skype video call. We can also help promote your screening on our website and on our social media networks.
The license fee for a community group or non-profit fundraising screening is $250. For film festivals and commercial screenings, the fee is $350.
Questions? For more information and to book your screening, please e-mail us directly at

Chocolate Whales – Friday Happy Hour

Munch on chocolate and contribute to a worthy cause, does it get much better?

“To celebrate marine life worldwide, Cetos Research Organization and Coco Délice have joined together to create the Whale Collection, a set of chocolates each adorned with a stylized whale image.
A percentage of the proceeds from this special Coco Délice Whale Collection will be donated to Cetos to support their ongoing whale research and conservation efforts.”

The Whale Collection

Coco Delice is working with Cetos Research Organization to create an a custom box of chocolates that will contain five different images of federally–protected whale species.  Information on these species will be included in each box.

The Whale Collection™ is designed to raise awareness of environmental issues, educate people about the ocean’s whales and create an important contribution to promoting conservation.
The sale of these one-of-a-kind chocolates will be available in summer 2010 at select retail shops, as well as science centers, zoos, aquariums, museums and other conservation-minded institutions.

Thanks to the American Cetacean Society for this week’s Happy Hour!

Young Orca Obsessed With Mirror

Back in 2007, six year old Wikie seemed to be fascinated with her reflection in the mirror attached to the tank where she lives in Marineland, Antibes, France.
Orcas are comparable to humans in development, so much like a child she twirled and made “faces” (limited by the lack of facial muscles we have), showing that she definitely has a sense of self identity. The video may seem long, but is worth watching to see her whole repertoire, even if you just keep one eye on it while you check your email or friends on FaceBook.

A year or so after this she was bred through artificial insemination, an abnormally young age for orcas to breed and unknown in the wild.
She has proven to be a good mother though, and here she can be seen with her young son – both confined to a featureless tank (even though orcas are known to be highly intelligent and self-aware and thus deserving of an enriched environment).

Wikie’s loving nature is very evident – and no, I have no idea what the skeleton suit is all about…

How SeaWorld Uses Vocabulary to “Educate”

SeaWorld cleverly replaces the buzzword ‘indoctrinate’ with the more positive word ‘educate’ in their programs, and teaches their staff how to dodge the truth in their staff training manual.

"Because evolution is a controversial theory, use the word “adapt.”" (Courtesy J. Waltz)

From the PBS series “A Whale of a Business” , AVOID BUZZWORDS
From a training manual used by tour guides at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. Excerpts from the document appeared in the November 24, 1991 issue of Florida, the Sunday magazine of the Orlando Sentinel.

Certain words and phrases have negative connotations. At SeaWorld, we call these “buzzwords.” Avoid buzzwords and use more positive words–you’ll give guests a better overall impression.
Buzzword /Alternative:
sick – ‘ill’
hurt – ‘injured’
captured – ‘acquired’
cage – ‘enclosure’
tank – ‘aquarium’
captivity – ‘controlled environment’
wild – ‘natural environment’
tricks – ‘behavior’
sex – ‘courtship behavior’
Other words to avoid:
dead, die – If people ask you about a particular animal that you know has passed away, please say “I don’t know.”
kill – This word sounds very negative. Say “eat” or “prey upon.”
play, talk, enjoy – Anthropomorphic, they give human traits to animals
evolve – Because evolution is a controversial theory, use the word “adapt.”

Switzerland May Ban the Practice of Keeping Dolphins in Captivity, Following the Death of the “Rave” Dolphins

Today’s Friday Happy Hour good news was sent to me by The Marine Connection.
When two dolphins died following a loud Rave party at a Swiss amusement park last year, it raised a huge outcry in the public (the dolphin deaths were later determined to be due to the antibiotics they had been given).  Now, in a move that reflects a modern attitude towards keeping dolphins in captivity for amusement, the Swiss senate has passed provisions which will make it impossible to import cetaceans into their country.

Dolphins no longer to be kept in captivity
Following votes in both houses of parliament, the keeping of dolphins or whales in Swiss zoos or waterparks will be forced to come to an end. While the House of Representatives approved a ban on keeping dolphins on Tuesday, the Senate opted for an import ban on Wednesday, which would mean the dolphins currently in Switzerland could not be replaced when they died.
The debate over an import ban was sparked by the death of two dolphins kept at the Connyland theme park in canton Thurgau last autumn. The three dolphins remaining at Connyland are the only dolphins kept in Switzerland. The park is planning to open as usual for the summer season on March 31.
The government rejected initial calls for a ban on keeping the marine mammals in land-locked Switzerland but said the regulations on keeping the animals would be reviewed. The Swiss animal protection organisation Ocean Care welcomed parliament’s decision, calling it a milestone in its efforts to make Switzerland a dolphin-free country.
Bans on keeping dolphins in captivity are already in place in Norway, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Cyprus. Ocean Care estimates there are more than 200 dolphin aquariums worldwide.

‘The Voice of the Dolphins’ – A Quietly Profound Story

The Voice of the Dolphins is an inspiring memoir by filmmaker Hardy Jones.  Unlike some books in the ocean/dolphin genre, The Voice of the Dolphins has a more universal message – it is the story of a man whose life so parallels his passion that he seems to exist in the matrix between the modern world and the ocean realm.  In some ways it reminds me of the tales that permeate Northwest Native American culture, tales of humans and the ocean that go back to a time when people both understood the need to live in harmony with the ocean dwellers, and created stories to explain our connection to them.
Amazon’s reviewer summarizes it well:

In 1978 filmmaker Hardy Jones was swept into the universe of dolphins. In his work as a filmmaker he came to know many of these magnificent animals as individuals. “I know when I’m with them that I’m relating to creatures as intelligent, social, and imbued with emotion as I am.”
Hardy’s life became even more closely entwined with dolphins when he learned that he and the dolphins share a genetic trait that imperils both his life and the survival of dolphins worldwide.

“Filming became my entrée into the world of dolphins but not my ultimate purpose there. My true aim was to get inside the minds of these enormously intelligent and friendly animals.”… “I became a pioneer in a parallel universe inhabited by highly intelligent, friendly, curious aliens. I came to love them and felt an intense need to protect them.”
…In the late 1980s Hardy became aware of a threat to dolphins even more insidious that the blades of dolphin hunters – rising levels of chemical toxins in the oceans that were impacting marine life and human beings. Over succeeding decades these contaminants have reached crisis level.
In 2003 Hardy was diagnosed with an incurable form of blood cancer that is linked to chemical toxins. “I’ve struggled with the side effects of medications, but my first lab tests after beginning treatment brought stunning results. My burden of monoclonal cells had been reduced by ninety-eight percent.”
The diagnosis spurred Hardy to seek the sources of the pollutants in his own body and to document their impact on marine life and human beings.
Hardy continues treatment and maintains an active life traveling the world to campaign for dolphins, the oceans and the welfare of humanity.

As you read the story of Jones’ life so far, you will come to admire him for his humble style as well as his quiet courage as he faces both the limits of his energy and the challenges of the tasks he set before himself.

Along the way, he made some true connections with the dolphins he loves, and they were there when he needed them, as you can see in this video as a large hammerhead shark gets too close.