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.
Demonstrators 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.
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 Cove, an 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:
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.
Helene 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!