SeaWorld Management Leads to Horrendous Injury of Young Orca Whale

The result of forced separation.

According to journalist Tim Zimmerman, this injury occurred during a show at SeaWorld’s San Diego amusement park, and the trainers were not even aware it happened:

It happened last week during a night show, seemingly during a major altercation involving Nakai, Keet, and Ike. It’s not clear if there was an aggressor or instigator, or if they all suddenly went after each other. In response to the altercation, Nakai split to the back pool. The onstage trainers, not realizing how badly injured he was, continued the show with the other whales. It was only when they called Nakai over later that night that they realized he was seriously hurt.

All SeaWorld has said so far is:

The injury to Nakai, an 11-year-old whale, is believed to have occurred when he came into contact with a portion of the pool on Sept. 20, said Sea World spokesman Dave Koontz. (UT San Diego)

Please check back for updates, the information is still coming in, or go to Tim Zimmerman’s blog.
Update 10/1/12 (CNN report)

Senator Patty Murray’s Position on Protection for Wild Horses: Non-committal

Will these American icons survive pressure by ranchers? (Photo by JeremyOK, CC license)

“America’s horses are under attack by commercial interests, which are supported and aligned with the BLM, a governmental agency that hides behind vague statutory language and turns words like “protect” and “preserve” into “capture,” “imprison,” and “kill.” It must be emphasized that the horses and burros live on public lands, dedicated by the federal government to the American people as a whole, because of their beauty and nature, and not because of their ability to support the business interests of a select few. This wholesale trading of America’s protected lands and desertion of the wild horses by the very agency that has been authorized and empowered to be their guardian is a betrayal not only to the horses who are being injured, captured and dying, but to the American people, who for over forty years have supported the protection of these animals.
It is antithetical to the very purpose of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act that the law adopted to keep the horses and burros on the ranges, free to be wild and to represent the American spirit, are progressively being killed, exported and removed so that moneyed interests can invade those lands. If the BLM has it its way, soon enough there will be no wild horses left, and the very reason for the law will disappear forever. It will be the final insult to the will and spirit of the American people when commerce conquers nature and the magic of wild horses ranging American public lands.” From The Wild Horse Freedom Federation – Please sign wild horse petitions such as this one: Nevada, Don’t Slaughter Wild Horses!

My letters to our representatives were among many sent by the Wild Horse Freedom Foundation and by Saving America’s Mustangs, protesting the continued maneuvering by ranchers and industry to remove horses from public lands, or to re-open slaughter houses. This was Senator Murray’s reply (no reply yet from Secretary Salazar,Director Abbey, Representative Larsen, or Senator Cantwell) – a form letter to be sure, but at least her office consistently responds to inquires.

Dear Ms. Calloway Whiting:
Thank you for contacting me to voice your concern about our nation’s wild horses and burros. I appreciate hearing from you.
As you may know, wild horses and burros on federal lands are protected under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (the Act) under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Under the Act, the BLM and the USFS are responsible for taking inventory of federal horse and burro populations and to manage the population based on each range’s capacity.
Under the Act, the BLM and the USFS are authorized to destroy “old, sick, or lame animals” by the most humane means available. The agencies separate healthy horses and burros for private adoption and if adoption demand is low, the remaining healthy animals can be destroyed. However, the agencies have not exercised this option since 1982. During the 108th Congress, changes were enacted to the Act that allow the agencies to sell excess animals that are deemed too old or otherwise unable to be adopted.
In the 111th Congress, Senator Byrd (D-WV) introduced the Restore Our American Mustangs (ROAM) Act. This legislation would have prohibited the slaughter of wild horses and burros, unless the animal was terminally ill or fatally injured, and would have removed the authority to sell excess wild horses and burros. This legislation failed to reach the full Senate for consideration.
Throughout my Senate tenure, I have consistently supported efforts to protect animals from cruel and inhumane treatment. I know that for many people, horses provide wonderful companions and are an iconic symbol of our national culture and history. Should legislation related to wild horses and burros come before the full Senate for a vote during the 112th Congress, I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind.
Once again, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this issue. If you would like to know more about my work in the Senate, please sign up for my weekly update at Please do not hesitate to contact me with any additional concerns.
Patty Murray
United States Senator

If Senator Murray has a strong opinion on this issue, she is keeping it to herself…

Man Against Dolphin – a Search for Understanding the Conundrum That is Japan

Right now the annual bloodbath of dolphin hunting in Taiji, Japan is ongoing.  During this archaic process dolphins and small whales are driven into a cove where some are destined to be sold to amusement parks while the rest are cruelly slaughtered en masse nearby, the screeching screams of their pod mates audible to all.  It is so senselessly cruel and unnecessary that it bewilders the more educated people everywhere – why does the government of Japan allow this to go on?  There is the usual claim of indigenous rights to eat the dolphins, yet they harvest more than the village can consume…and certainly there is nothing indigenous about selling dolphins to amusement parks.
The fallback position of the Japanese always comes down to their belief that the dolphins eat too many fish, hence as man’s competitors their numbers must be controlled…an almost bizarre demonstration of a lack of higher order thinking in which critical thinking, analysis, and problem solving seem to be completely lacking.  Very strange, considering how otherwise cultured, educated, and modern Japan is seen to be – and search for understanding this also involves understanding that people in varying cultures become entrenched in what allowed them to survive, and in counties like Japan these skills are passed from generation to generation, and their whole outlook on the world may be different than ours.

Lately the graphic images of blood filled water, massacred populations of dolphins, and assorted carcasses of marine mammals have dominated the cyber environment where my attention is normally focused, and it is so relentless and disturbing that I find myself disinclined to check Facebook for updates. Yet I realize that this barrage of unsettling information is a good sign because it means that public awareness of the senseless brutality of man towards ocean life is beginning to snowball as it becomes clear that the constant abuse of the marine environment has reached a tipping point. If we keep destroying the ocean we will destroy ourselves in the bargain – some of it due to greed as in our search for resources, some to fear of other nations as in our navies, but most egregious of all is the free rein given to a few senselessly cruel practices in many nations to kill the innocent, friendly, and benign dolphins and whales that have swum the oceans since before humans evolved.
Unfortunately it is very difficult to reason with people whose living involves the destruction of the environment, whether it is due to oil exploration, development, ranching, fishing, or industry. In every case a handful of powerful people try to run over the rights of the public – from ranchers who are trying to have the wild horses exterminated so that their cattle can run on public land to fishermen who believe that marine mammals should not be allowed to eat the ocean’s fish, these people fight tooth and nail continue their destructive ways of operating.
Yet if we truly seek to understand these cultures we may find more effective ways to bring awareness to them and stop the senseless destruction of the other intelligent beings that share our planet. Given that people have only relatively recently discovered the depth of intelligence and compassion possessed by dolphins and whales it is possible to understand that the barbaric cultures of the past did not know what they were killing.
But now we know better, and as it is often said, when we know better, we do better.

Taiji, “Look Not Upon a Right Whale”; In 1878 Greed Cost the Lives of Over One Hundred Japanese Whalers

The Taiji whalers now only hunt the gentle dolphins that they know won’t hurt them, even as the dolphins are stabbed to death. (JapanProbe photo)

The superstition:

Some years ago there lived a wealthy fisherman called Matsushima Tomigoro at Matsushima, in Nagasaki. He made a large fortune by whale-fishing. One night he dreamed a strange dream. A whale (zato kujira), carrying a baby whale, appeared before his pillow, and requested him to let her and the baby go safely–they were going to pass a certain part of the sea at a certain time and date. Matsushima heartlessly did not accede, but took advantage of the information. He put a net in the said sea at the due time, and caught a whale and her baby. Not long after, the cruel fisherman began to reap the harvest of his mercilessness. Misfortune after misfortune befell him, and all his wealth disappeared.
‘It must be the result of his cruelty in killing the whale and its baby,’ said the neighbours; and for some time they never caught whales carrying babies.

The event that occurred in 1878:

As the year of 1878 dragged into winter the beach-master or ‘ami-moto’ was getting desperate. At that time there were two hereditary leaders in Taiji. One was Taiji Kakuemon, who ran the business operations, and the other was his relative, Wada Kinemon, the advisory head. On December 24, 1878, after a bleak, poverty-ridden period of poor catches, a big female right whale and her calf were spotted by the lookouts. The triple black and white pennant was raised and the whalers momentarily relaxed, for the whalers knew that a female and her calf were not to be hunted. It was late afternoon, and for a successful hunt, a whale would have to be killed and secured before nightfall.
At the beach in front of the shrine of Asuka, the two leaders argued. Kakuemon insisted that the village needed a whale, and needed one before the New Year. Kinemon said no, it was not their custom to hunt a female with calf, and that it drew late, that bad things would befall them if they broke this rule.
Nevertheless, Kakuemon gave the order to hunt, and as the red signals went up and the conches blew from the lookouts, the surprised whalers jumped to their long sculling oars and the gaudy, sleek boats darted forward. The whale was enmeshed and harpooned, but she fought with great fury, and dragged the boats out to sea. Cold winds were blowing from the shore and the men became cold and exhausted. It got dark. By morning the fleet was scattered, and no matter how hard the men in the boats attempting to tow the whale struggled at their oars, the winds, current, cold and the sheer size of the whale was too much for them. Finally, in tears, they cut the whale loose. The storm grew worse.
Within a few days, the cream of the Taiji whalers, and the best of their boats, had been swept far out to sea and had died from exposure or drowning. Some drifted as far as the seven islands of Izu. Estimates of the death roll vary from 111 to 130 men killed. Only a handful survived.
Taiji Kakuemon, in his grief, gave his entire family estate to the bereaved families, and eventually left Taiji for good. The village was plunged into an awful depression, and many young men left for foreign shores, for Hawaii, California, Canada, Mexico. Many of the dances, skills and sea lore of the whalers died with those men who chased the taboo female, and although there were attempts over the next two decades to rebuild the net whaling fleet, they had small success.
C.W. Nicol
February 1979
Taiji, Japan

(From the Taiji Action Group)

Background on the Taiji controversy-
The villagers of Taiji, Japan persist in the slaughter of whales and dolphins, primarily to feed the captive display pipeline (see Save Japan Dolphins for more information). The country of Japan supports the activity of this village, and as a nation continues to kill more whales than they consume. They believe that the whales eat more than their share of fish, and so Japanese whalers are motivated less by the desire to eat whale meat as they are to kill off the competition for resources. From the Consulate-General of Japan, Sydney


Competition between whales and fisheries
Research by Japan’s Whale Research Program in the Northwest Pacific has revealed that whales eat huge amounts of fisheries resources.
It is estimated that whales consume approximately three to five times as much marine resources as the world’s yearly marine fisheries production volume. (The exact amount varies depending on the yearly marine fisheries production output).
Besides eating Krill, which is also food for fish, whales eat a large amount of Anchovies, Mackerel, Saury, Salmon, Squid and Walleye pollack. Furthermore, it has become clear that whales feast on certain types of fish during their most prolific season. Japan as a fishing nation cannot overlook this issue.


Pilot Whales Recently Beached in Florida, Taiji, and the U.K. – What Made the Difference?

  • September 1st – 22 pilot whales stranded in Avalon Beach State Park, Florida. Five juveniles were taken into captivity, the remaining whales were euthanized, no effort was made to return them to the ocean.
  • September 2nd, 2012 – 26 pilot whales stranded in Fife, Scotland, of these 10 were rescued and successfully returned to the ocean. None were taken for captivity.
  • September 7th – 22-24 pilot whales were artificially ‘stranded’ in Taiji, Japan when fishermen drove them into a netted cove. Three juveniles were taken for captivity, the remaining whales were brutally slaughtered.

What exactly is the difference in these cases? In the UK, there was no bid by the captive industry to keep some of the whales, so whether by an advanced attitude towards keeping cetaceans captive (it is getting phased out of many European countries) or by a sense of compassion, the people there coordinated a remarkable effort to save the whales, then followed the whales to make sure that they did not re-strand.
That leaves the Florida stranding versus the Taiji capture – in both cases the young pilot whales were taken for captivity and the rest slaughtered. The difference is that the officials here did it quietly, kindly, and bloodlessly.
Because of public sentiment, the disgrace of Taiji has made it impossible for American amusement parks to be connected to the Japanese dolphin drives so places like SeaWorld opt to take a patient approach to obtaining whales and dolphins for their shows – they know that sooner or later these benign animals will toss themselves up on nearby beaches. The executives at SeaWorld are not dummies – they just need to make sure they are informed of seismic testing or military activities, then bide their time. It is not rocket science, just logic and experience.
For instance in the Gulf of Mexico, the combined sonic cacophony of seismic oil exploration and military detonations frightens, disorients, and often destroys cetaceans, while the contours of the seabed off of Florida are a natural trap for the cetaceans who might have been injured or confused. If the pilot whales are offshore along the perimeter of coastal shelves and are suddenly disoriented they can find themselves in a relatively featureless environment making navigation difficult, the equivalent of you being lost in the woods in a pitch dark night – particularly if their hearing is damaged.
While it may seem to be a bleak situation for the whales and dolphins in this environment, it is possible for anyone to make a difference for them by voting – with your pocketbook by not going to amusement parks that keep cetaceans captive, and in the elections by choosing candidates who care about the environment.
It is up to you.

Recent explanations for such strandings include bottom topography, coastal configuration, or geomagnetic topography; meteorological or oceanographic events; extreme conditions in the environment; auditory trauma; toxicity of pollutants in the environment; and parasitism. Contributory factors may also include unusual tides, sea state, nature of the adjacent seafloor, and meteorological events such as
electrical storms…Short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) mass stranded more frequently than all other species (32 of 76 events).

Sea floor depth (Dark blue is the deepest). (NOAA)

Locations of mass cetacean strandings, 1977 to 2001 off Florida.
Mass cetacean strandings (Edward Keith)

Eglin Air Force Base, Tyndall Air Force Base and the Pensacola Naval Station military ranges.
Joint-Gulf Range (1000friendsofflorida)

This spiderweb over the Gulf (below) represents acoustically invasive seismic explorations for oil:


FloridaSPAN includes newly acquired offshore data and an onshore grid of reprocessed legacy data from Seismic Exchange, Inc. (SEI) and Geophysical Pursuit, Inc. (GPI). The offshore data covers the shelf margin and deep water in the eastern Gulf of Mexico while the onshore grid transects four states to reach the east coast. These lines connect to the GulfSPAN onshore and offshore grid and will connect to the East Coast Atlantic Margin program (USAMSPAM). FloridaSPAN covers an important part of the history of the Gulf of Mexico rifting events as Florida breaks away from Africa.

  • Offshore Data Example
  • Onshore Data Example

Newly Acquired Eastern Gulf of Mexico Data

The offshore data includes seismic data newly acquired in the eastern Gulf and depth imaged to 40km with both Kirchhoff and Reverse Time Migration (RTM) to integrate gravity, magnetic and well data. They are positioned to cross the Florida shelf and escarpment and extend into deep water with special emphasis on crossing the continental to oceanic crustal boundary, tying important wells and transecting Jurassic basins and highs. The deep imaging on this dataset reveals more criteria to assist models of crustal structure and show the nature of the boundary between continental and oceanic crust as a
crustal boundary detachment feature.

Click on the data example to zoom and pan over the data.
Click on the image to zoom and pan over the data.
This key offshore line shows the Florida shelf to deep water and crustal structure. The line is merged to GulfSPAN on the left.

When your success depends on quality seismic data, turn to the professionals and vast multi-client library at Geophysical Pursuit Inc. (GPI). For more than 27 years, both large and small energy companies have counted on GPI to supply the seismic required to make the right decisions.
GPI owns what it licenses. Through joint ventures or on our own, we’ve acquired approximately 21,000 miles of 2-D data and approximately 12,000 mi2 of 3-D data. Quality data in mature and pioneer regions could make GPI your primary seismic provider.
Seismic Exchange, Inc. (SEI®) is a full service 2D seismic and 3D seismic data marketing firm established in 1975, with offices located in Dallas, Houston, Denver, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Corpus Christi and Tulsa, and with a strong presence in Lafayette, Jackson, Midland, and Bakersfield.
SEI owns over 1,850,000 miles of domestic proprietary 2D seismic data and has over 54,000 square miles of domestic proprietary 3D seismic data located onshore, throughout the Gulf Coast, Permian Basin, Mid-Continent and Rockies and Alaska Regions, and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. We offer a comprehensive seismic search department to expedite requests for data availability.

National Marine Mammal Foundation – Who Are Those Guys?

It is always heartwarming to read about a dolphin rescue, and the trials of young Sassafras is no exception – beached, sunburned and thin he was carefully nursed back to health but because he is deaf he can’t be released (see Deaf dolphin rescued in La. headed for Gulfport). Although the article does not speculate on the cause of the deafness, usually it is do to either loud sounds from seismic, sonar, or explosive activities, or in some cases from the antibiotics given after rescue, all factors which are kept quiet by government and industry.  So I decided to look further.
The organization called in to check the dolphin’s hearing is the National Marine Mammal Foundation. As a legal 501(c)(3) charitable organization, this organization is required to be transparent to the public and a quick check into public records revealed their true basis of operation. They may present themselves as another donation based marine mammal group, yet they are anything but.

The National Marine Mammal Foundation officially ‘does business as’ the as the Navy Marine Mammal Foundation – and as such they are dedicated to supporting military research and use of marine mammals. It is well funded by your taxes via the Navy and whoever else pays for their work, and yet they ask for donations as well.

The board of directors (from their website) consists of a lifelong navy veterinarian/consultant, a retired Navy captain, a current Navy veterinarian, and the executive director of the captive industry organization:

Sam Ridgway, DVM, PhD, DACZM is president of the National Marine Mammal Foundation. He is one of the founders of the Navy Marine Mammal program staring in 1961 and has 48 years of experience in marine mammal medicine and research. Sam joined the National Marine Mammal Foundation in 2007. Colleagues often call him the “father of marine mammal medicine” because of his development of dolphin anesthesia, medical technology, and discoveries aiding marine mammal care…Today, he wants to seize a unique moment in time. Now it is vital to preserve animals with experience in human/computer communication. With many years of human interface and learning, these animals offer a unique opportunity. They offer a great advantage in understanding the large dolphin brain. How this unique “mind” interacts with other animals and the ocean environment is a major challenge of our time.
The Founding director of the National Marine Mammal Foundation in 2007, Chris Ott has managed the business of the Foundation since its inception. During that time the Foundation has steadily grown from a hand full of employees to more than twenty with continued steady growth projected well into the future. He brings his experience as an owner and/or operator of small businesses in San Diego for many years and as a retired Navy Captain.

Dr. Cynthia Smith serves as the Executive Director and Director of Medicine for the National Marine Mammal Foundation.
She has provided marine mammal medical care for the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program for the past ten years. During that time, Dr. Smith has mentored more than fifty civilian veterinarians, U.S. Army veterinarians, and veterinary students in routine and critical care of marine mammals. Her vision for the Foundation is to grow the organization into a national marine mammal center that strives to advance marine mammal medicine and science, provide national and humanitarian service, and develop educational outreach opportunities.
Marilee Menard is the executive director of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, an international organization of parks, aquariums, zoos, research facilities, and professional groups. Alliance members fund and support marine mammal studies and collaborate on research with the National Marine Mammal Foundation. The Alliance is also a supporter of Aquatic Mammals, the oldest international scientific, peer-reviewed marine mammal journal.

In 2011 the organization reported $3,744,341 revenue from the Navy Marine Mammal Foundation (remember, they are the Navy Marine Mammal Foundation) and close to a quarter million dollars in government grants.
And they pay themselves generously – the executive director pulled in close to $200,000 in salary and supplements, while the top paid scientist made over $190,000.
They still ask for money-




NMMF logo decal, lanyard, and pen. $100 Signed copy of Dr. Sam Ridgway’s book, Dolphin Doctor. NMMF reusable tote, decal, lanyard, and pen. $500 Invitation for two to NMMF’s annual event. Signed copy of Dr. Sam Ridgway’s book, Dolphin Doctor. NMMF logo baseball cap, reusable tote, decal, lanyard, and pen. $1,000

Mission Statement

The National Marine Mammal Foundation has a mission to improve and protect life for all marine mammals, humans, and our shared oceans through science, service, and education. See our video. [Below]

Our vision for the future is to revolutionize the way we think about marine mammals. By embracing the partnership created between human and marine mammal, we can create a sea change in our global approach to scientific exploration, ocean conservation, and public education.
We achieve our mission through the following actions:

  • Collaborate with the nation’s top scientists and institutions to translate our research into applicable medicine and species conservation
  • Develop education programs to share Foundation research discoveries and expertise
  • Foster an environment that creatively, effectively, and positively shapes marine mammal medicine, research, training, and education
  • Conduct research that benefits the conservation and care of marine mammals and the health of humans

Reality check, the military and local schools seem to be the chief benefactors.

And if you want information on the work on hearing from this organization that bills itself as educational, you will need to fill out a “Consultant Request Form” – I filled one out, and will let you know what information they are willing to share.

Oh, and about Sassafras the dolphin – he is going to be living on “Dolphin Lane” at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies where he may get to be part of the ‘dolphin dip’ wade-with-dolphin experience, or poolside touch-athon. Research? Education? Where?

Seal Pups Kept by Aquarium Until the Cuteness Wore Off, Now Face Slaughter

Update 9/19/12 – Due to public outrage, these two seal pups will now be released to the wild: Care2 Success! Seal Pups Saved from Certain Death Read more:
Please consider helping to right this wrong – in world dominated by shades of gray in decision making, this issue is clearly black and white.

Harp seal pups are protected during the 'white coat phase'. (Creative Commons)

Seal pups face slaughter by an Aquarium – Please sign the Petition

We are writing to urge you and your organizations to take immediate steps to help save the lives of Zak and Mika, two captive 6-month old Harp Seals pups. They were captured from the wild this spring as newborn pups by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO-MPO) for the purpose of providing them to the Aquarium des Iles in Quebec for tourism display.
The Aquarium des Iles were told in advance by DFO-MPO that the seals would NOT be allowed to be released back into the wild after they served the aquarium’s purpose. This purpose was to give the aquarium seasonal display animals to draw tourism. Once their season is over on September 15, by joint agreement, the seals will be executed in the name of ‘research’.

When the pups have molted hundreds of thousands are hunted for their coats each year.

From the National Marine Fisheries Service:
Females give birth to pups near the southern limits of their range from late February to mid-March. Pups nurse on high-fat milk for approximately 12 days, during which they gain about 5 lbs (2.2 kg) per day and develop a thick blubber layer. At birth, harp seals are just under 3 feet (1 m) long, and weigh about 25 lbs (11 kg). Called “whitecoats,” newborns have long, wooly, white fur known as “lanugo”, and undergo a complicated series of “molts” before reaching adult coloration. Harp seal pups are abruptly weaned from their mothers when they weigh approximately 80 lbs (36 kg). Adult females leave their pups on the ice where they remain without eating for approximately 6 weeks. Pups can lose up to half of their body weight before they enter the water and begin feeding on their own.
After pups are weaned and left alone, adult harp seals begin mating. Adult females undergo a period of suspended development known as “delayed implantation” during which embryos do not attach to the uterine wall for three months or more. This allows all females to give birth during the limited period of time when pack ice is available.
During breeding in February and March, and when molting in late spring, harp seals aggregate in large numbers of up to several thousand seals on the pack ice. During extensive seasonal migrations, large groups may feed and travel together.
Harp seals are prey for polar bears, killer whales, and sharks.

One of their top predators is man – senseless, brutal slaughter for the sake of vanity.

In 2003, the three-year quota granted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was increased to 975,000, with a maximum of 350,000 in any two consecutive years.

Rescued Juvenile Pilot Whales Were Shipped to SeaWorld at 3 a.m. 9/5/12

Why the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and SeaWorld chose to ship four young, vulnerable whales in the middle of the night is anyone’s guess – but mine is that they wanted to avoid potential protest. If that is so, it just means that the captive industry acknowledges the unpopularity of their treatment of whales and dolphins. The amusement parks are very well aware that public sentiment is shifting away from keeping whales and dolphins in captivity, and although as usual SeaWorld is claiming that they plan to release these whales their track record on following through is poor.

Young whales are now in SeaWorld.

Update: After being stabilized at here at Harbor Branch, the four juvenile short-finned pilot whales have been transported to SeaWorld Orlando for the next phase of their rehabilitation. Our veterinarian and animal care experts, in partnership with Marine Mammal Research and Conservation Program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service, and SeaWorld Orlando began preparations late Tuesday for transport of the whales. At approximately 3 a.m. on Wednesday, September 5, the whales were carefully moved into a transport unit and safely arrived at SeaWorld Orlando at approximately 6:30 a.m. The whales will remain at SeaWorld Orlando for long-term rehabilitation, and their prognosis remains guarded.

People are seriously questioning the decision making that went into the whole rescue operation (22 pilot whales beached themselves on Saturday near Avalon Beach in Florida, more on this can be found here), when most of the whales were euthanized while four juveniles and a still nursing calf were taken to the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. In other words, the mothers and families of these whales were euthanized while the young were kept.  No satisfactory explanation has been given as to why more of an effort was not made to help the stranded adults.  The officials offered only the usual song and dance about how the whales somehow chose to “drink the KoolAid” and follow their sick leader in mass suicide – there is no scientific proof that these intelligent animals would find this an effective survival strategy, clearly it is anything but.
SeaWorld has another opportunity here to reinvent itself into an organization that really is about education, rescue and rehabilitation. We’ll see.

One of the Rescued Pilot Whales Died, Four Remain (Video)

(He mistakenly says ‘five’ instead of ‘four’)

About the initial rescue:

Update from the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Tuesday September 4th:
“UPDATE: FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute’s (HBOI)Rehabilitation Center continues to treat four juvenile whales that were transported to HBOI after a stranding event Saturday, September 1 that included 22 short-finned pilot whales at Florida’s Avalon State Park Beach in St. Lucie County. The whales continue to receive 24-hour care from experts and volunteers, and feedings every four hours.
FAU HBOI Staff Veterinarian Dr. Juli Goldstein and Sea World Veterinarians Dr. Michelle Davis and Dr. Stacy DiRocco continue to take biological samples to better characterize the clinical profile and advance the medical treatment plan for the whales. Their prognosis remains guarded as the whales remain compromised.”

The Five Rescued Pilot Whales Are Going to SeaWorld

Pilot Whale

A pod of 22 pilot whales came ashore Saturday morning at Avalon Beach State Park in St. Lucie County, Florida and were transported to the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute for care. The whales ranged from calves and juveniles to adult whales.
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) reports that the surviving whales will go to SeaWorld:
“Five juvenile whales (two males and three females) were transported to FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute’s Rehabilitation Center where they are being evaluated, stabilized and treated by animal expert teams from Harbor Branch, SeaWorld Orlando, Fish & Wildlife Conservancy, Marine Mammal Conservancy, as well as qualified/trained Harbor Branch volunteers. All five animals had a very smooth transport. The goal is for the whales to transition to SeaWorld Orlando for long-term care and ultimately, be returned back to the ocean. Thank you to all Protect Florida Whales Specialty License Plate holders, as plate proceeds make stranding responses possible.”
Update (9/2/12 5pm)Under the leadership of FAU’s HBOI Staff Veterinarian Dr. Juli Goldstein, the veterinary team is currently administering 24-hour care to meet the whales’ medical, nutritional and behavioral needs. They made a smooth transition to FAU’s HBOI Critical Care Center and are successfully managing their environment and swimming without assistance from staff. The whales’ blood parameters indicate inflammation, evidence of stress and infection as a result of the mass stranding event. They are juveniles that are still developing their immune systems.
Determinations about transport of the whales to SeaWorld Orlando for continued rehabilitation will be decided based upon their progress and discussions with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service, the veterinarian team and other scientific experts.”(HBOI)
About HBOI:

Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, also commonly referred to as HBOI or HBOI at FAU, is a non-profit oceanographic institution operated by Florida Atlantic University in Fort Pierce, Florida, USA. HBOI traces its history to a 1971 entity which was merged into FAU in 2007.
Since May 2009, HBOI has been the headquarters of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research & Technology (CIOERT), which is co-managed by University of North Carolina Wilmington and includes partners SRI International, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Science. CIOERT priorities include development of advanced underwater technologies, exploration and research of frontier regions of the eastern US continental shelf and beyond, improved understanding of vulnerable deep and shallow coral ecosystems, and improved ocean literacy. (Wikipedia)