SeaWorld Responds to Release of Video Showing Killer Whale Attack – New Update!

More ‘double think’ from SeaWorld…Peters did not run with a broken foot because he was unafraid and calm, he clearly ran because he was fearful – who wouldn’t be?

SeaWorld representative Thad Lacinak remarks in the video that if the whale wanted to kill Peters, she would have, but as a former SeaWorld trainer remarked to me – Lacinak’s remark implies that SeaWorld must then admit that two of their whales intended to kill the trainers who died in their tanks, and stop trying to blame the deaths on trainer error.

Any whale, at any time, is capable of choosing to toy with the trainers or worse – and it is time for SeaWorld to abandon their efforts to force the trainers back into the water in these dangerous conditions.
Please go to Voice of the Orcas for more information on captive killer whale issues.
UPDATE:  SEAWORLD HAS MORE TO SAY.  (Some corrections to the comments by SeaWorld in the following video – a one year old killer whale is a baby, fully dependent upon their moms. The whales don’t like to separate, they are forced to if they want to eat.  Comparing an attack by a captive whale to great white shark attacks in Australia? OSHA is “silly”?  I’m speechless.)

SeaWorld Trainer Attack Video Released

The following is excerpted from a press release:


The following video was presented at trial in the case of SeaWorld v US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. Judge Ken Welsch, who ruled largely against the company, called the video “chilling” – More details are provided in DEATH AT SEAWORLD, and a description of the video is excerpted below. To view the unlisted video, please click here.
NOTE: There is no audio on this video.
Peters had been waiting for Kasatka to touch his foot, the beginning of that particular behavior. He was about ten or fifteen feet down. Suddenly, he heard a killer whale vocalizing loudly. Peters described it as a distress vocalization or cry.
He later learned the wailing was from Kalia (Kasatka’s calf) screeching for her mother, presumably, from the other pool.
Kasatka instantly pulled her rostrum away from Peters’ feet. And then she grabbed his ankles, pulling him underwater for several seconds. When he resurfaced, she grabbed him again, this time “rag-dolling” her trainer violently by shaking him back and forth with her powerful neck muscles. Kasatka took him under again, for a minute or more.

Then, slowly and deliberately, as if performing a bizarre underwater pas de deux, the whale began to spiral upward with Peters’ foot in her mouth. She exhaled a cloud of white bubbles from her blowhole.

…When they finally resurfaced, Tucker Petrzelka heard a shout for help. He slapped the water, trying to bring Kasatka back to stage. Matt Fripp grabbed the call-back device and deployed it while John Stewart slammed a metal bucket against the pool’s side. Kasatka was having none of it.

She decided to take Peters to the bottom once again. They could be seen beneath the surface. She still had a foot in her mouth, and she dragged the trainer around, dunking him periodically and ignoring all signals to return to stage…

…Resigned to the belief that Kasatka was going to take him under yet again, he drew in air and waited. It didn’t take long. She grabbed his foot, thrashed him around a little and then dove to the bottom anew.This time, she laid her entire 5,000-pound body on top of the trainer, pinning him to the concrete for a minute or more.
Peters went limp. He felt his breath being forced out. He wondered when, or if, Kasatka was going to let him up…

View the video (obtained through the Freedom of Information Act) and read the rest of the story at the Death at SeaWorld website.

“Death at SeaWorld” Hits the Bookstores as New Poll Shows Captivity for Whales Losing Favor

“As David Kirby so eloquently documents in this timely work, killer-whale captivity only benefits the captors. It is impossible to read ‘Death at SeaWorld’ and come to any other conclusion.”
–Jane Goodall, Ph.D., D.B.E., Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute
Don’t miss the opportunity to meet the author and some of the individuals in this compelling and engaging book!
Death at SeaWorld author David Kirby and several leading figures from the book, including orca expert and Humane Society scientist Naomi Rose, along with former SeaWorld trainers Sam Berg, Carol Ray and Jeff Ventre will present a reading, panel discussion and book signing event in Seattle on Monday, July 23rd 2012.
FREE and open to the public.
For more information and to register, please go to the website “DEATH AT SEAWORLD” Book Presentation and Panel Discussion.
Press release from The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society:

Poll Reveals Americans Oppose Keeping Orcas in Captivity for Public Display
Animal Welfare Groups Conduct First-Ever Opinion Poll on the Practice
(July 16, 2012) — The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, together with The Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Welfare Institute, released the first-ever nationwide opinion poll gauging attitudes about keeping orcas, also known as killer whales, in captivity for public display. The poll found that more Americans oppose than support the practice, with only one in four people in favor of it.
“With recent events shining a spotlight on performing orcas in places like SeaWorld, including the deaths of two trainers and current court challenges questioning the legality, safety and appropriateness of keeping killer whales in confinement, we felt it time to measure public attitudes about orcas in captivity,” stated Courtney Vail, campaigns manager for WDCS. “The public has glimpsed the darker side of the captivity industry and is becoming disenchanted with it. The true face of captivity is actually quite repugnant.”
Overall, support for keeping killer whales in captivity is low, the poll found, at 26 percent. Even more telling of the tide of public opinion, however, is that strong opposition to this practice is triple that of strong support, with 24 percent of respondents indicating they are strongly opposed and only 8 percent strongly favoring the practice.
WDCS and its partners believe that orcas are inherently unsuited to confinement. They are too large, too socially complex, and too intelligent to adapt successfully to captivity. In captivity, orcas live far shorter lives than they do in the wild and exhibit aberrant behavior to their offspring, to each other, and to people.
Data suggest that opposition only increases as Americans further consider the question of orca captivity. Whatever educational value the public recognizes in orca exhibits is outweighed by concerns over the impacts of removing these animals from their natural habitat and keeping them in captivity.
Significantly, the poll reveals the public’s apparent lack of enthusiasm for with keeping orcas in captivity and that captive orcas are not, and would not, be the primary reason for visiting these facilities. Seventy-one percent of respondents say that if zoos, aquaria and marine mammal theme parks were to end the practice of keeping killer whales, they would still visit. Indeed, a further 14 percent would be more likely to visit if the practice of displaying killer whales were to stop.
The June survey reached a nationally representative sample of more than 1,000 U.S. adults. Edge Research designed the survey questions for Opinion Research Corporation’s Caravan omnibus survey that was conducted via phone. The margin of error for the sample as a whole is +/-3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence interval.
“The curtain has been pulled back to expose the realities behind these shows, and this has dampened the public’s support of these exhibits,” said Naomi Rose, Ph.D. and marine mammal scientist for The HSUS. “The tide is definitely turning against keeping orcas in captivity.”
Other key findings of the poll include:
· Opposition to the practice is motivated more by concern over the welfare impacts to orcas in captivity than by the notion that keeping orcas in captivity represents a danger to humans.
· More than 80 percent of respondents believe that the inability of orcas to engage in natural behaviors and the negative consequences of confinement in small pools—including stress and illness—is a sufficient reason to stop keeping orcas in captivity.
· Americans want to learn about orcas. Eighty-seven percent of those surveyed have sought to learn about whales either through live or virtual means. While one-third of the sample had visited a zoo, aquarium or marine mammal theme park, two-thirds had learned about orca whales through museum exhibits, IMAX films, news, television and online sources.
“The U.S. public clearly loves orcas, enough to want them to stay wild, making it inevitable that the day will come when there are no releasable orcas in captivity,” stated Susan Millward, executive director of the Animal Welfare Institute. “SeaWorld and other parks need to listen to their customers now and work towards bringing that day closer.”

Whales, Dolphins, and Captivity – a Mini Film Festival in Friday Harbor

As part of a larger gathering to discuss the issue of cetaceans in captivity, three fascinating and moving films will be shown in Friday Harbor on Saturday, July 21st.  All are free and open to the public.
The first two will be presented by Cara Sands, who has been involved in the dolphin conservation and advocacy movement for over 20 years. Through education, documentation and information-sharing, Cara continues to champion for the rights of these sentient beings. Learn more at:
She will be presenting “A Fall From Freedom” and “The Cove”.
Narrated by actor and activist Mike Farrell, A FALL FROM FREEDOM explores the illegal capture and transport of killer whales and the thousands of dolphins that have been killed in order to provide marine parks and aquariums with new or replacement animals, as well as the ability of these facilities to deceive the public with well-funded public relations campaigns. A FALL FROM FREEDOM is created by Stan Minasian of Earth Views Productions.

Academy Award® Winner for Best Documentary of 2009, THE COVE follows an elite team of activists, filmmakers and freedivers as they embark on a covert mission to penetrate a remote and hidden cove in Taiji, Japan, shining a light on a dark and deadly secret. Utilizing state-of-the-art techniques, including hidden microphones and cameras in fake rocks, the team uncovers how this small seaside village serves as a horrifying microcosm of massive ecological crimes happening worldwide. The result is a provocative mix of investigative journalism, eco-adventure and arresting imagery, adding up to an unforgettable story that has inspired audiences worldwide to action.
THE COVE is directed by Louie Psihoyos and produced by Paula DuPré Pesmen and Fisher Stevens. The film is written by Mark Monroe. The executive producer is Jim Clark and the co-producer is Olivia Ahnemann.
The final film will be a benefit showing of THE WHALE.
Filmmakers Suzanne Chisholm and Michael Parfit will personally present this engaging and visually stunning film as a benefit for the Center for Whale Research. Posters signed by the filmmakers will be available for purchase, and Center for Whale Research senior scientist Ken Balcomb will be on hand to answer questions about the Southern Resident orcas. Reservations are not required, but are highly recommended as space is limited.  Reserve seats for benefit showing of THE WHALE.

“There is a gossamer lyricism to THE WHALE, a documentary about an orca that became separated from its pod and adopted the residents of Nootka Sound in British Columbia as much as they did him. Like humans, orcas are highly social creatures, and Luna, as he was called, was the life of the party. The nuance of his gestures were wondrous to behold: playful, exuberantly extending the fin of friendship, he even helped timber workers in the area, pushing logs through the water with his nose.” New York Times Critics’ Pick.
All donations and proceeds from sales go exclusively to support the Center for Whale Research in their continued efforts to save the endangered population of Southern Resident orcas.
For more information on this event, please check the website:
Eventbrite - Killer Whales in the Wild Versus in Captivity - Meet the experts and participate in the discussion.

Actress threatened by captive orca?

Author David Kirby (DEATH AT SEAWORLD: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity) recently reported that an actress, during filming at Marineland in France,  felt threatened by a captive orca:

Marion Cotillard, who won the Best Actress Oscar for La Vie en Rose and will soon be seen in the summertime blockbuster,The Dark Knight Rises, is speaking out about an incident she experienced with a killer whale while filming on the set of Rust and Bone, a French import due in US theaters this fall. “One of the whales kind of went mad at me,” the actress recalled. “She screamed at me with her jaws wide open.”
Cotillard was filming at the Marineland park in Antibes, France when the act of aggression occurred. Her statement is eerily reminiscent of captive orca aggression described in the book Death at SeaWorld, Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity.
The book, to be released July 17th by St. Martin’s Press, recounts the brutal killing of beloved orca trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld Orlando in 2010, and theorizes that captivity is so stressful on these intelligent, free-ranging animals, it drives them to turn on humans (no orca has ever seriously attacked a human in the wild in all recorded history, while four people have died in killer whale tanks since 1991).
Cotillard, ironically, is herself adamantly opposed to orca captivity. Rust and Bone required her to work daily with killer whales, and persuade them to do silly tricks, “a task she found unpalatable after years of campaigning for animal welfare and supporting charities including WildAid and Greenpeace,” according to the London Evening Standard.
“I’ve always had a repulsion going in a place where animals are in captivity. I had to work through my rejection of this world, which I still feel. But I had a job,” she said. “Even though the orcas are as big as trucks, they’re animals, and you have a connection with them.” The actress added that she felt guilty when she withheld treats from the killer whales.

You have a rare opportunity to learn more about the dangers of keeping orcas in captivity – on Saturday, July 21st, a panel of  scientists, former SeaWorld trainers, writers, filmmakers and others will be in Friday Harbor, Washington, and the public is invited to join them in discussing cetaceans in captivity.  Please click here for more information:
Eventbrite - Killer Whales in the Wild Versus in Captivity - Meet the experts and participate in the discussion.

More seismic tests in whale habitat to proceed – cautiously

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) just announced that the first of three planned acoustic surveys is nearly complete without incident, and that the second survey will proceed, with modifications:

Marine Survey
Here’s an update on the Marine Geophysical Survey by the R/V Marcus G. Langseth in the north Pacific this summer.

The initial offshore leg of the survey is near completion and monitors have not seen any killer whales. NOAA has issued an incidental harassment authorization for a second portion of this survey off the coast of Oregon. This portion will last two days. Conditions of the authorization include monitoring and mitigation measures to protect marine mammals in the survey area, including a requirement to shut-down if any killer whales are sighted or detected acoustically at any distance.
Consultation under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act for one remaining portion of the survey that could overlap with Southern Residents is still underway.

We’re coordinating with NOAA Fisheries Headquarters staff members, who are conducting the consultation and issuing permits, along with the action proponents, to evaluate the proposed activities and information on marine species in the region, including Southern Resident killer whales. NOAA staff members are working closely with the action proponents and have made progress in developing appropriate and necessary monitoring and mitigation measures, including an additional monitoring vessel with observers and incorporating real-time sighting data.

The project team will continue to coordinate with local research groups (i.e., Cascadia and Oregon State University) and sighting networks  [ ] to inform this process.

Check our headquarters web page for more information on the project at Scroll down to see documents posted under “2012 L-DEO Seismic Survey in the Northeast Pacific Ocean.”

Importation of wild beluga whales – NOAA explains the process

There are times when we all want to pull our hair out at the gummed-up molasses pace of government – it is both frustrating and discouraging.  But other times, such as now, government agencies seem to re-invent themselves and respond quickly to public concerns. In this case NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) took the initiative to address public concerns over Georgia Aquarium’s plans to import wild belugas (see the previous post for information on the aquarium’s request).
NOAA sent the following information along with a request that we all watch for the opportunity to voice our opinions –  they take the commenting period very seriously, and it is a chance to make a difference.

The final application was received on June 15th.  The next step is to review the application for completeness.

Once the application is considered complete, an environmental assessment  (EA) will be drafted to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.  It may take several months to prepare the draft environmental assessment.

Then, a notice of receipt for the application and availability of the draft EA will be published in the Federal Register (FR) (it will be combined into one FR notice).

The application and the draft EA will also be posted on the NOAA Fisheries Protected Resources website, and that link will be included in the Federal Register notice.

After the Federal Register notice is published, there will be a public comment period of at least 30 days. The Federal Register notice will include instructions for the public on how to submit comments.

Hopefully NOAA will institute a policy of making all marine mammal applications public in the future, but this recent action by them is a big step in the right direction.
And by the way, this issue is vital to the protection of all cetaceans.  If the Georgia Aquarium is granted permission to import the belugas – unconscionable in its own right – the door will be opened to capture other species, such as orcas, in other countries and then import them to our amusement parks.

Will 18 wild beluga whales go to the Georgia Aquarium?

The following article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Georgia Aquarium has applied for a permit to obtain 18 wild belugas – a move guaranteed to ignite a firestorm of protest.  Last year the conscientious Ocean Park Aquarium in Hong Kong scrapped similar plans as a result of negative international public sentiment, and if this report is true, the Georgia Aquarium can certainly expect an even greater outcry.
It may take a while to verify this report since the amusement park industry is protected by a cloak of secrecy by our government when it comes to marine mammal permits, and it will require obtaining information by using the Freedom of Information Act – a process which can take a month or more.
In the meantime, you can contact the Georgia Aquarium:
For more information, contact Public Relations:
Meghann Gibbons

Georgia Aquarium plans to bring more belugas into the country

By Bo Emerson
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Georgia Aquarium has applied for a permit to bring 18 beluga whales into the country, to be housed in aquariums and zoological parks at locations around the country.
The initiative is part of a three-year, multimillion-dollar conservation program intended to improve the genetic diversity of belugas in captivity in this country, which, in turn, would make the beluga population more stable. It would also broaden the database of research on beluga’s needs and capabilities.
There are 34 belugas in human care in the U.S., including four at the Georgia Aquarium, according to William Hurley, the aquarium’s chief zoological officer.
Many of those animals are past child-bearing age, and only two males have contributed to the artificial insemination efforts carried on throughout the country, Hurley said. Importing additional animals will make for a greater success at breeding efforts, he said.
Atlantans were expecting the Georgia Aquarium’s beluga population to grow this year when the aquarium’s 17-year-old female Maris gave birth in May, but that infant calf was born in critical condition, and died just a few days later. Hurley said the aquarium is still waiting on toxicology and histology reports from the necropsy on the dead calf.
“When the calf didn’t make it, it was devastating to us,” Hurley said.
The new belugas would come from a population of several thousand belugas in the Sea of Okhotsk in eastern Russia, between the Kamchatka peninsula and the mainland. Russian scientists, with the oversight of marine protection agencies there, have already collected the animals that would come to the U.S.
Georgia Aquarium personnel have taken significant measures to ensure the removal of the animals from this pod would not adversely affect the whale population in that part of the ocean. Over the last three-and-a-half years, the aquarium has sponsored research missions, hiring Russian airplanes, camping on treeless barrier islands near the arctic circle, to conduct population counts and epidemiological studies on the whales there.
Just these research efforts alone have cost the Georgia Aquarium about $2 million, Hurley said.
It has not been determined whether any of the new belugas would come to Atlanta. That kind of decision is usually made by those coordinating nationwide conservation efforts.
The project is an important one, said Marilee Menard, executive director of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.
“The beluga import is a seminal decision that is strongly supported by the marine mammal community,” she said. “The Alliance’s understanding is that the new animals are of the right ages and sexes to virtually ensure the goal of a long-term, sustainable population for decades to come.”
A bigger captive beluga population would also provide a broader sampling for scientists studying bio-acoustics, nutrition and temperature effects and other criteria critical to the survival of the species, said Brandon Southall, former director of the ocean acoustics program for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Menard said belugas may be particularly sensitive to climate change, which makes retrieving information on their basic processes more important.
“We’ve been working three and a half years on this,” Hurley said. “This is when we put our money where our mouth is…

“We want to fix this mess so that your children and grandchildren can see beluga whales.”