Tag Archives: dolphin

The irony of entertainment bedfellows

Jut a few words, as I swallow just a bit of vomit in my mouth.

“Why did you vomit, Mo?” I can hear you thinking inquisitively.  Well, this morning it came to my attention that the World’s Largest Aquarium is screening a movie.

“Why would that make you vomit!!?” you’re continuing to turn over in your laudably open mind.

Well, it’s the comingling of mutually contradictory facts, also known as irony.  Sometimes irony is amusing.  But sometimes it makes you vomit.  Today was a vomit kind of irony.  The facts in today’s not so pleasant irony?

  • Fact 1:  The Georgia Aquarium is the World’s Largest Aquarium.  It sought and gained that status as a result of having built dolphin tanks – as little as 8 feet deep for a creature that in the wild dives hundreds of feet on a regular basis – and brought dolphins in from where they had been captive bred, well, except for the one dolphin that was caught in the wild.

Now, that’s a video you should watch – of dolphins being wrested from the ocean, trapped in nets, crying, trying not to drown, separated from their family.  Sometimes getting free, but because it refuses to leave its family, is recaptured.

It’s also the World’s Largest Aquarium because of having to build a large tank in order to house one of its other attractions, the world’s largest fish, the whale shark, which were, not so incidentally, or coincidentally, caught in the wild.

  • Fact 2:  The World’s Largest Aquarium (built so that it can house lots and lots and lots of animals that should be swimming free in the wild) is screening a movie.  I know you’re still not getting why that would make me vomit.  Well, the movie is a fictionalized account of an effort in the 1980s by a Greenpeace staffer of rescuing some free and wild grey whales that were trapped in the ice off the coast of Alaska.

Oops.  Vomited again.

They’ve included the price of the ticket to the movie – the one about saving the wild humpback whales so they would continue to live free lives – in with the price of seeing dolphins, beluga whales and whale sharks (and the list goes on) that will live in captivity until they die a likely premature death.

Here’s that video that I said you might want to watch:


But it isn’t the irony that gets me; it’s the hypocrisy.

The big miracle is that I didn’t blow chunks.

So, go see the movie if you want.  But see it without the hypocrisy.  See it at a theater where they don’t at the same time that you’re saying “free the whales” make their living dependent on your thinking that captivity is okay.


An epidemic that could be ended

There is an epidemic on this planet.  Even though we are aware of it.  Even though we could stop it from spreading.  Even though we could cut out the delusional and disingenuous cancer that it is.  Even though we could educate people to its true nature.

Why aren’t we stopping it?  Why are we not curing ourselves of something that is infinitely curable?

Ask The Georgia Aquarium.  Ask SeaWorld.  Ask the Miami Seaquarium.  Ask the Shedd Aquarium.

Ask the Indianapolis Zoo.  Ask Dolphin Quest.  Ask The Mirage.  Ask Dolphin Cove.  Ask Theater of the Sea.  Ask the National Aquarium.  Ask Dolphins Plus.

Ask Florida’s Gulfarium.  Ask to see their living versus their deceased dolphins list.

So, why aren’t we ending this epidemic?  This epidemic of dolphin and whale captivity?

Ask to see their door receipts.

If you watched the video, you know that’s a lot of door receipts.  A lot of hot dogs.  A lot of cola.  A lot of really bad reasons not to end dolphin and whale captivity.

Thanks to TheComanchewolf for the video on Youtube.

Join in finding freedom from captivity – A New Show

Ric O'Barry

For years, Ric O’Barry and Hardy Jones have spoken out against marine mammal captivity.  They have pointed out in movies, such as The Cove and A Fall from Freedom, that whales and dolphins do not belong in captivity.  Recently a group of former Sea World trainers have created an interactive website, where they speak out about the life of captivity for marine mammals.

Mr. O’Barry, as a former and probably the world’s most famous dolphin trainer, learned from being with them on an ongoing basis, that training them to perform and keeping them in captivity was not an ethical undertaking.  He learned that dolphins in those settings can become dispirited and depressed.  He learned what Jacques Cousteau admonished, that

No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal.  – Jacques Yves Cousteau

In response to that realization, Mr. O’Barry and others have devoted their lives toward securing the release of dolphins and orcas from a captive, for-human-entertainment life.

Rehabilitate the captives.  Mr. O’Barry has suggested an ethical alternative for the trainers and the captive facilities, like SeaWorld and the Georgia Aquarium.  That alternative is to provide real education about whales and dolphins by rehabilitating for a life in the wild the cetaceans whom the aquarium industry has captured or bred for captivity.  And making that the show. There are over 50 cetaceans at Sea World Orlando alone, and hundreds in the United States.  The international situation mirrors the United States one, with worse conditions than the meager protections afforded by U.S. laws.

Wouldn’t rehabilitation of former “performers” be a fine undertaking and a show that you’d be proud to attend?  And a wonderful memory for your children?  Of having been part of and been there on the front row of finding freedom for the world’s dolphins and whales.

You have, perhaps, seen the videos of dogs who had spent their entire lives chained to a post and then become free from that chain.  While dogs and dolphins are not an apt special comparison because dolphins are actually wild, undomesticated animals, watching even a dog experience freedom from a chain, unsuitable for its normal activity and range, may give us some sense of what an orca or dolphin, far more intelligent than a dog, would experience in the same situation.

We would need to be very responsible in that endeavor to release these highly intelligent mammals in a way that took into account their intelligence, their lifestyles, their instincts, their native habitat.  We could do that.  And if we humans are ethical and moral creatures, we will do that.

Rehabilitate the stranded.  After we succeeded in rehabilitating the captive-bred or captured dolphins and orcas, there would be ongoing work to rehabilitate whales and dolphins who strand, generally en masse, for reasons that still elude the human species.  Instead of finding reasons to retain the stranded, Sea World and the rest could re-focus the effort that they now expend in training for jumping, splashing, ball-throwing shows on caring for the stranded, locating the still-free remnant of the pods, and reuniting them.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to share with your children an experience of restoring a free life to these magnificent creatures?  As a comparison, if we desired to design a depressing life for dolphins and whales, we would wind up with a design like the current Sea World and The Georgia Aquarium.  Of course, that is not our desire.  That is, I feel certain, not the desire of the aquariums.  But the apparently willful blindness of the aquarium industry to the egregious, depressing life that they have designed for whales and dolphins is no excuse.  It is not an excuse for any of us, any more. We and they must step beyond the Mid-Twentieth Century mentality of dolphin and whale captivity.

The great news is that there is an alternative. An ethical alternative.  An alternative that will allow us all to participate in making a difference for life.  But we must together create that alternative.  How?

By being part of a demand for A New Show.

And, meanwhile, by taking a pledge not to go to the current one.  Be part of building an ethical outcome to the captivity dilemma.  Never again allow a dolphin to die as Jiyu, whose life will forever remind us that dolphins should be free.

Photo of Jiyu by Heather Hill of Save Japan Dolphins


Japanese Police Raid in Taiji Will Not Stop Dolphin Activism

Lest anyone read the accounts of the latest attacks on the Cove Guardians in Taiji (where the Japanese law enforcement manufactured a search warrant authorizing them to seize cameras and laptops of U.S. and other nations’ citizens), and be concerned that this may curtail the firm stand of dolphin activists worldwide, let me assure you that you need not worry.

There exist photographs to document the slaughter.  I repeat, one needn’t worry that activists will ever forget or will ever stop short of meeting the goal of dolphin freedom.

Photo by Brooke McDonald, prior to efforts to quash publicity about the slaughter

Neither need fear the dolphins and whales that activists will forget

  • the arrest and detainment of Dutch citizen and Cove Guardian Erwin Vermeulen;
  • the relentless capture and slaughter of dolphins by 26 fishermen;
  • the direct or indirect participation in the slaughter of dolphins by trainers, brokers, and aquariums by selecting from the slaughter the pretty few whom they will take into a life of captive performing and breeding; or
  • Jiyu, who did not survive the transition from freedom to captivity, from catching her own food to being force-fed by trainers;

or will be dissuaded from seeking an ethical and free life for all dolphins and whales.  No worry necessary that this will stop our efforts.  As is the case with steel, which is strengthened by fire and the hammer, the Cove Guardians and other activists worldwide are watching and learning.

But I must confess that I am worried.  It is not, however, for activists or dolphins.  It is for the casual photographer.  If having laptops and cameras justifies a search warrant . . .

When countries make photographing illegal, we're all in trouble

My camera and I will out and about today, in honor of animals and their champions everywhere, and in particular, The Cove Guardians.

Dolphins and whale sharks as the Georgia Aquarium’s “assets”

The following text is a transcription of a video, which I have attempted to faithfully reproduce, of Carey Rountree, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at the Georgia Aquarium; the video is posted below the text.

As noted, Mr. Rountree’s job is marketing, so maybe I should not be surprised that

  • he relates to dolphins and whale sharks as “assets;” or that
  • he sees the swim-with-the-whale-shark program as a marketing opportunity to acquire more customers; or that
  • his first observation about their new TV show is that it will be an opportunity, first, to talk about the Georgia Aquarium, and only second, to discuss ocean mysteries, which just happens to be the title of the show.  Sounds like it should have been, The Georgia Aquarium Show and How We Intend To Create More Customers by Talking About Ocean Mysteries.  But maybe that’s just me; or that
  • dolphins are in the aquarium because they were the #1 requested animal.  I guess I don’t feel comfortable, and please forgive me, ticket-buying public, letting the market decide whether you keep animals in captivity.  That’s pretty blatantly letting the dollars do the talking; or that
  • he spins the Georgia Aquarium’s TV show as the first to be dedicated to the aquatic world.  Oh, wait.  Maybe Jacques Cousteau’s program wasn’t technically a television “show” even though the only way to watch it was on the television.

Speaking of Jacques Cousteau and the Georgia Aquarium in the same breath is secular blasphemy.  While the Georgia Aquarium’s survival depends upon keeping marine animals in captivity and getting people to come see them (or just come listen to jazz), here’s what Jacques Cousteau said about dolphins and other marine creatures living in captivity:

No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea.  And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal.

I think it is safe to say that Jacques Cousteau, who had as his mission to communicate a love of the ocean and its life in order to protect them, knew a thing or two about marine life.  Does it not seem more than ironic that the Georgia Aquarium, which claims something like that, depends upon keeping animals in obscenely small enclosures away from their natural life?

The Georgia Aquarium is not teaching a genuine love of animals.  Whatever else, it is teaching that it is acceptable to disrespect nature.  To control it.  To see it as an asset.

I think I just vomited in my mouth.

Transcript, SVP Marketing, Georgia Aquarium:

After our success with our swim-with-the-whale-shark program, and, and, really, that was our first attempt as a team to look at marketing opportunities. It hit us right between the eyes, that every day there are five or six hundred people here that have contact with the guests coming through the Georgia Aquarium.  They also have great ideas.  Because of their work place, they see what is happening in that work place every day.  So through our training staff and through our volunteer staff, we meet on a quarterly basis to just explore new ideas.

Right after we instituted the swim-with-the-whale-shark program, we were looking at other ways to drive attendance, and the Jazz Festival happened to be in town; and one of our employees came to me and said, “You know, we could have our own Jazz Nights at the Georgia Aquarium.”  So we said, “Hey, let’s go for it.”  And so, in that first year, we, we instituted Jazz Nights every Friday from May through September, and generated more than 40,000 additional guests through the door.  So, not only, you know, did we have an idea, we implemented that idea and had tremendous success from it.  So we continue to do that on a quarterly basis: look at ideas, look at our assets, not necessarily going outside and bringing new assets in.  You can’t build a hundred and ten million dollar dolphin exhibit every month, or every six months, or even every five years.  So you’ve got to take the assets that you have, invest in those assets, develop those assets, and figure out a way to make them really productive for ya.  And that’s what we’ve been able to do with this employee group that, by quarterly just sitting down, and, and bringing their ideas out.  And much of it is information they’ve garnered from guests, talking to the guests on the floor.  That’s the way we got the dolphins.  It was the Number 1 requested animal.  But other activities, you know, that, that people want to do – our guests and our employees are the best source of information to go to and find that information.

You can’t build a hundred and ten million dollar dolphin exhibit every month, or every six months, or even every five years.  So you’ve got to take the assets that you have, invest in those assets, develop those assets, and figure out a way to make them really productive for ya.

I think the success of a brand is totally dependent on separating itself out and being able to identify that unique characteristic that really puts it above any other product in the category.  And we’re at the point, we think we’re growing beyond a brand and into a property.  We’re in production right now on our own television show, which will air this September.  It’ll be, uh, an educational program.  It’ll launch, uh, September 3rd.  It’ll be on ABC every Saturday morning for 52 weeks for the next five years.  So, it’s an opportunity for us to really be in every market in the country, talking about the Georgia Aquarium.  But also, talking about ocean mysteries, which is the title of the show.  So, it’s another opportunity to get out there and really . . .  there’s never been an aquatic show like this dedicated just to the aquatic world.  We’ll be the first. We love being first.  We love being the biggest.  We love being the highest-attended in the United States.

We think that, uh, being able to differentiate yourself from your competitors is the only thing you have to do in marketing.

For Jiyu: Japanese Embassy dolphin drive hunt call tracking

This is an open request to all believers in dolphin freedom to join me in creating a worldwide tracking of all telephone calls or letters to the Japanese Embassies about the Taiji dolphin drive hunt.

Jiyu, in her last hours. Photo by Heather Hill, Save Japan Dolphins

If you will do this with me, it will involve your taking an additional action beyond making the call or writing the letter/email, but it will give us all an idea of our united advocacy efforts on something that I do not think we have yet tracked.  That additional action is your sending me an email about your communication with the Embassy.  I know we are all busy, but I am committed to leaving no stone unturned on behalf of Jiyu and the other Japanese dolphins.

Background: When I called the Washington, D.C. Embassy this morning, I asked if I might speak to someone about obtaining a copy of the catalogue of drive hunt calls they were receiving.  I was directed to a live person who told me, very politely, that the catalogue was not for pubic dissemination.  I was assured, however, that if I wrote a letter, I would receive a response, even if it did not contain the content I was seeking.

I am, therefore, requesting that we believers in dolphin freedom continue (or begin) to make our calls or send our letters to the embassies and/or consulates requesting such information, but also begin tracking them.

The contact information for the Embassy in Washington D.C. is:

Fisheries Section
Embassy of Japan
2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20008
Phone: (202) 238-6700
email: jicc@ws.mofa.go.jp

and for the rest of the embassies and consulates worldwide.

I will post a tally and summary of responses on a monthly basis until the drive hunt is ended.

Summary:  your part is to

  • call an embassy and email or write me that you did it, with the date of your call; AND/OR
  • write to an embassy and email or write me that you did it with the date of your letter/email; AND/OR
  • email or mail to me a copy of the response from the embassy.

Hint: if you email an embassy/consulate, you can just copy me at forjiyu@gmail.com, so it really isn’t an extra step.   For hard-copy communication with me:

For Jiyu
Taiji Drive Hunt Catalogue
P.O. Box 365
Clarkston, GA 30021

Thank you, from the heart.  And if you don’t know what the Taiji dolphin drive hunt is, please watch the Academy Award-winning documentary, The Cove.  Once you have seen it, you will look for ways to stop the hunt.

– Mo Brock

For Jiyu, who will never be forgotten.


A few words and a moment of silence for Jiyu

Jiyu, Photo by Heather Hill, Save Japan Dolphins

To those who think that dolphin captivity is a benign enterprise, meet Jiyu, one of its latest casualties.  To those who go to the dolphin show, whether Sea World, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, or another, the dolphins you see in the show are the ones who made a successful transition from living in the wild to captivity or the progeny of those who made that transition.

What is central to this transition?  Force-feeding.  Wild dolphins catch and eat live fish.  Once they have been deprived of the ability to feed themselves, they must be motivated by food-deprivation (hunger) followed by force-feeding to accept dead fish as food.

What does force-feeding of a dolphin look like?  In a nutshell, the first trainers

Hand down the throat

these dolphins will ever see must “break” them to accept a small enclosure.  The trainers, or most appropriately called “breakers”, force their hands down the throats of dolphins pushing dead fish to the point in their throats where the dolphins are unable to spit it out.  Over and over and over, until the dolphin accepts dead fish from the hands of people as their food.

You won’t see that from the trainers at Sea World or the Georgia Aquarium, because the first trainers somewhere else performed that ugly task.  The show trainers may still need to perform force-feeding, but they don’t typically do that in front of you.  They save that for the back-tanks.  After the show.

But what about the dolphins that do not make the transition from a free life to captivity and become a casualty?  Meet Jiyu, who was snatched from the wild, languished, unable to make the transition, unable to accept dead fish as food.

The trainers, realizing that she was a “lost cause” for the show or breeding in captivity, stopped caring for her.  And now she has disappeared from this miserable pen, and is likely in a grocery store, in the human food chain.

I am sorry, Jiyu.  Someday there will be no more dolphin shows or trainers whose  job it is to dominate and force-feed you.  Someday there will be trainers whose job it is to teach your kind to learn how to fish and be returned to the ocean where you deserved to live out your life.

And now, reader, please have a moment of silence to honor the life of Jiyu and the others who have fallen due to the captive dolphin industry.

Thank you to Martyn Stewart for the images of the breaker.  For more information, see Champions for Cetaceans, My Porpoise Driven Life and Suite 101.

Whether dolphin shows are educational – a matter of definition?

Congressman Young’s (R-AK) point, during a hearing regarding marine mammal captivity, that whether the dolphin shows are educational or not educational is a matter of definition, might be a valid one.  What specific kind of information any particular dolphin exhibit imparts can certainly be varied: one exhibit might focus on dolphin life span and intelligence while another addresses family structure and habitat range, while still another describes what we understand and do not understand about dolphin communication.

But saying it’s a matter of definition is a convenient cop-out, and not altogether true.  Because one should look, that is, Congressman Young should look, at the actual content of shows that justify keeping marine mammals in captivity, before cavalierly speaking of something being a matter of definition.  And so should we all.  So, here, for your convenience, Congressman Young (and the minute numbers of you who are actually reading this), is an example:

And more:

I’m just wondering what you learned about dolphins in those videos, shot at a real dolphin show.  That they can jump?  I’m thinking, just thinking, that you already knew that.

I’m also thinking that you didn’t need to see a dolphin in captivity to know that it can jump, or that it can jump in perfect timing with other dolphins, or that it can jump in perfect timing with other dolphins 15 feet into the air.  Or that it can be trained to tail walk.  Or splash.  Or make noises on command.

Here’s what I’m guessing you didn’t learn at the dolphin show: that the high-pitched noise, flashing lights, constant noise (encouraging the audience to be loud?!), explosion simulations – where to stop with this list – not to mention being deprived of legitimate natural behaviors  – like catching it own prey, swimming in the natural rhythm of the ocean and its seasons, swimming fast, swimming far, and swimming deep – puts a constant stress on the dolphin that nature does not.  And I know that you know what stress does to the health of a living being.

So, in the end, none, I repeat, none of the show is about education.  Its sole imperative is to entertain.  To entertain you so that you will come back, and you will tell your friends to go to the entertaining dolphin show.  And your friends will tell their friends.

Here’s what I’m hoping.  That you’ll recognize the moral bankruptcy of the dolphin show.  And you won’t go.  And you’ll tell your friends not to go.  And your friends will tell their friends.

And just one short post-script: be on your guard against being lulled, fooled or warmed by current dolphin and whale movies into supporting captivity by going to a dolphin show.  Here’s a dolphin and whale movie that you can watch on your computer that will allow the warm-and-fuzzies you get from those Hollywood movies not to send you straight to the Georgia Aquarium or SeaWorld to watch dolphins that were not saved, but enslaved.

Let the dolphins be free; watch a documentary, go to the beach, hug your dog.

No AT&T? No problem. No dolphin extravaganza either.

Where dolphins are home

Just a short status update on my transition from a supporter of dolphin captivity, AT&T.  In case you have missed it, AT&T is a proud supporter of dolphin captivity.  And I am not.

So, the relationship was doomed.  No matter how great the service was, or wasn’t, where there is an alternative, I knew one choice was right for me: leave AT&T and its Dolphin Extravaganza.  As Georgia Aquarium says, the most amazing show this side of Broadway.  Are you kidding?  Those dolphins, 10 of the 11 born into captivity, one wild caught, have a life that should look like the one above, but they live in small concrete tanks.  And will until they die, either prematurely, because dolphins do not live as long in captivity.  Or unmercifully, at an old age.  I am just not sure how the people who make a living from dolphin captivity sleep at night.  But one thing I’ll guarantee ya: the pillow where they rest their head each night was purchased by dolphin captivity; every night, 365 1/4 days a year.

And it gets worse than captivity, if death is worse.  The jury in my head is still out on that one.  But I’m leaning toward captivity being the far crueler and more unusual.

So now, instead of an iPhone3 with AT&T, I have an iPhone4 and FaceTime (!!!!), with Verizon.

Fewer dropped calls.  Truth.

And no dolphin extravaganza on my conscience. Or my pillow.

Now, how about that 2X4 from Home Depot?  Yep.  I’ve switched to Lowe’s.