Tag Archives: Georgia Aquarium

More dolphin education from the Georgia Aquarium. Not. Unless dolphins picking the Super Bowl winner is educational.

Before we get to the dolphin education brought to you by CNN and the Georgia Aquarium, and to a lesser extent the Super Bowl, I’d like you to meet the two dolphins now housed at the Georgia Aquarium, reported by CNN to be Shaka and Lily, who are the subjects of today’s post.

Shaka Wild Caught dolphin from Georgia Aquarium

Shaka, a wild-caught dolphin, caught in 1988, estimated birthdate in 1985, Georgia Aquarium. Photo from Ceta-base's Phinventory

Shaka:  Shaka was wild-caught.  I’m not very good at dolphin research yet, so I can’t tell you precisely where Shaka was taken, or how many dolphins from her pod were taken from the ocean on that memorable day.  But thanks to Ceta-base (because the government doesn’t do a very good job of tracking the dolphins in captivity), we know that she was captured on May 27, 1988, and arrived at Dolphin Quest Bermuda on August 20, 1988.  Estimated to have been born in 1985, Shaka has been used to breed dolphins for the captive industry.  She has lost at least two calves in this effort to supply more captive dolphins, one in 1996 and one in 1997.  Dolphins generally breed only every five years, maybe a bit less, because in the wild, the calves stay with their mother continuing to learn how to be a dolphin.  So Shaka was busy.

Lily Georgia Aquarium bottlenose dolphin

Lily, also at the Georgia Aquarium, born April 9, 2004. Photo from Ceta-base's Phinventory

Lily.  Lily, on the other hand, was bred in captivity.  She has never lived in the ocean.  Born to Cirrus (Circe) with sperm from Khyber (Keebler) on April 4, 2004, she now lives at the Georgia Aquarium.

I’m at a bit of a loss to  know what to say next about Shaka and Lily, because I’ve seen the latest installment in what sort of “education” about dolphins the Georgia Aquarium provides that justifies keeping these sentient creatures in a tank, and am left speechless, almost.  When I watched the following video, the universe supplied me with words like imbecilic and disrespectful.  The word “education” was not found in the parade of words that floated past.

But lest you worry that the video will be shocking, let me assure you, this is just a moronic display of disrespect of the dolphins to sell news over at CNN and get more people to watch the Super Bowl (as if) and come to the Georgia Aquarium.  Same old story.

So to the morons and imbeciles, I humbly apologize.  I know, I know, labels only label me, not you.  Whatever.  Just watch this educational spot and see if you don’t agree that, even if you can’t put your finger on precisely what is wrong with this picture, you know that it is wrong.

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Seeing how these creatures are being used, please do not go to the dolphin show.  Not here.  Not there.  Not anywhere.  And to add your voice to those who have put their finger on the wrongness, take the pledge with Save Japan Dolphins not to go to a dolphin show.  Share it with your friends.

If you take the pledge, I thank you.  And I bet, Shaka and Lily thank you.

If you’d like to let CNN know that this spot makes it clear that two of the four mammals in it appear to be clueless about how off the mark they were on selecting this spot, you can contact them at 404.827.1500.  I wonder who thought this one up?  CNN? Or the Georgia Aquarium?

For more information, you might want to watch a trailer to The Cove.

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:

Urp.

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

Namaste.

Free Recycled Shopping Bags

Watch out! It's Recyclosaurus!! (Kroger)

If anyone has read my blog lately, they may pick up on the idea that, among all my other traits, I am, shall we say, extremely disorganized.  Thank god for chairs and computers and books and printers and notebooks and pen and paper.  Words are a wonderful world of partially-furnished organization.

I also love organization.  It’s soooooooo cool.  But I just don’t have the knack to do and keep it done in the physical world.  So my life, in the home organization department, is pretty much spent getting organized (to a greater or lesser degree) and then spending the next two years on the sliding board of disorganization, only to land in the disorganization mudpit at the bottom of the slide, where it becomes so obvious that disorganization is now a problem that I must do something about it.

Which brings us to this article.  This last home organization cycle has lasted for more than two years.  That is to say, I’ve been living in the mudpit for awhile, peppered with periods or even moments where I cleaned up enough to notice an improvement and then stopped.  If you follow this blog, you’ll notice that I have been climbing back up that sliding board since the weekend of Christmas.

So disorganized?  Yes.  But will I find single-use plastic shopping bags in this mess?  No.  Because, while disorganized, I’m also an environmentalist and lover of the planet who tries in my disorganized way make choices about my lifestyle that are consistent with my love of the planet.

No single-use plastic in this disorganized gal’s house.  Instead, I find, in my cleaning adventure, a medium-sized pile of recycled shopping bags.  Not a huge pile, because it isn’t really true that Hoarders invited me on their show, and if someone suggests that, Hoarders and I both know it isn’t true.  But a pile, yes, and one bigger than I can use to do my food-shopping.  Fresh vegetables really don’t take that much room in shopping bags.

And of course, you’re ahead of me.  You know why I have that medium-sized pile.  You all (except the most organized) experience those moments walking into the grocery store, the “Crap!  I forgot the recycled shopping bags!” moments.  The ones you even stomp your foot and snap your fingers about, right there in the grocery store.  But I refuse to use single-use shopping bags.  Nope.  Not gonna do it.   Ergo, medium-sized pile.  If I were more organized, I could say medium-sized stack.  But, alas, I am not, and cannot.

So, I just decided this morning that if you, dearest (you have no idea how dear, unless my stats are showing) reader, would like to have one of my existing shopping bags, please leave a comment and I’ll send one to you.

Bag that saves dolphins. http://www.savejapandolphins.org

It’s not like I’m the Imelda Marcos of shopping bags; I don’t have that many.  I just have more than I need and thought I would share.  Simple.  So, when my paltry pile is empty, I won’t purchase more just so I can send one to you.

Hm.  Wait a minute.  Maybe I will.

If you take a pledge not to use single use shopping bags in your comment on this piece, I will send you a brand new one.

Show your love for the planet.  Leave a comment. Pledge to not use single-use plastics shopping bags.  I can’t send an on-request, particular kind, but I think you’ll like them.

Hey, pledge in the comment to work on an ordinance for your City Council  to end the use of single-use plastic bags within its jurisdiction, also providing contact information for your Mayor and City Council members, and I’ll send you five new recycled shopping bags.

But you won’t find a Publix bag in the lot, because they sponsor the diabolical dolphin show at the Georgia Aquarium, and I will never give my money to Publix, unless I am visiting my mom, where that is apparently all they have.

Wait.  Ooh.  If you sign the pledge at Save Japan Dolphins to not go to the dolphin show and comment on this article indicating the date and time (for verification, because I’m a bitch) you signed the Pledge at Save Japan Dolphins, I will send you five new free recyclable shopping bags, too.  I’m still not guaranteeing the message.  But you’ll like them, unless you’re a bolt of cloth.  Note that Save Japan Dolphins has not approved this; this is just me on a Saturday morning drinking coffee.

And what about my medium-sized pile?  I’ll continue to palm them off on my most honored first and last born and his amazing sweetheart.

Late-breaking edit: I’m thinking a five-bag maximum makes sense.  I wouldn’t want you to start creating your own pile.  So, if you both pledge to not go to the dolphin show AND agree to work on an ordinance in your town, you’ll get twice the karma points, but not the number of bags, except for Georgia, whose awesome commitment brought this consideration to the surface.  And can only do this for U.S. addresses.  At least for now.

Note: It doesn't say "Organize it." or maybe I would have? Basically.

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.

Give the gift of dolphin and orca freedom

This Holiday season, when you receive that solicitation from Sea World, the Georgia Aquarium or another aquarium or swim-with enterprise to buy your family a few minutes in the presence of captive dolphins or whales, just say no.

No matter how “cute” and friendly or massive and majestic they are, when you buy a ticket to the show, you are purchasing cetacean slaughter as well as capture and captive breeding.

Whatever their origin, this captive life is characterized by housing in a morbidly small tank, or occasionally more than one tank, away from the communal and familial groups with whom they live in the wild, with insufficient quality of life, unable to display the behaviors that they have for more than 30,000,000 years.

When you buy that ticket, you are purchasing force-feeding to train them that dead-fish-in-the-hands-of-humans is food.  You are buying a ticket in a crap shoot that the next dolphin or orca will adjust to captivity. Or will survive captivity.  And the stake for each captive is her life.

For a gift this year, why not try spreading the message of freedom and respect for these naturally peace-loving marine animals?  Buy a copy of The Cove for someone who does not yet know of the horrors occurring right now in Taiji, Japan.  Donate to Save Japan Dolphins or buy apparel that saves dolphins.  [Someone in my life is getting a Save Japan Dolphins bracelet and maybe a sweatshirt and a hat or two.  Wonder who?]  Watch the free documentary A Fall from Freedom with your friends and family.  Contribute to the ongoing legal efforts to free Morgan and Tokitai (Lolita).

So push “play” and watch this marvelous video by Gudrun Wiesflecker, if you haven’t already, as you read these last few words.

While the story of captivity is not a pleasant one, the story of willful blindness isn’t either.  The lasting reward of contributing to cetacean freedom, on the other hand, is a gift worthy of any holiday, but especially these now upon us.

It probably will not be the last time I say this to you, but Happy Holidays.  Peace and freedom to you and to all cetaceans, now and forever.

Cove Blue for Jiyu

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.

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.

The knee bone of dolphin killing

It is a sad morning around the world today because of

  • 26 men in Taiji, Japan,
  • a network of dolphin brokers,
  • aquarium owners, such as SeaWorld (Orlando, San Antonio, San Diego) or the Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta), and their member organizations, for instance, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums,
  • trainers and their organization, the International Marine Animals Trainers’ Association,
  • individuals who have made a business of “wildlife”,
  • the customers who attend “the dolphin show,” and
  • a lot of silent men and women.

Even here in Atlanta, where the Georgia Aquarium has “only” one wild-caught dolphin in its possession while the other ten were bred in captivity, the impact comes home to roost.  Why?  Because it is the dolphin show, ultimately, whether with wild-caught or captive-bred dolphins, that creates the market for dolphins that causes the slaughter.  Kinda like, the shin bone being connected to the thigh bone via the knee bone.  While some aquariums may suggest that they are not connected directly, they’re kinda like that thigh bone.  The Taiji hunters: they’re the shin bone.  The knee bone of this operation, the thing that holds it all together, that keeps it moving, that keeps it on its feet, running like gang busters, that is to say,  killing dolphins, is the show.  Without the dolphin show, there would be no slaughter.

In A Fall from Freedom, Brad Andrews, Chief Zoological Officer of Sea World Parks & Entertainmet, makes the case that it is the dolphin show that saves the dolphins; that twenty years ago, we were shooting them as a menace.  He states that the show has elevated them to our awareness such that we want to protect them.   Let me repeat.  Chief Zoological Officer.  Not Chief of Marketing.  I could maybe handle that statement from the Chief of Marketing.  It would be his job to say whatever he needed to get us paying dollars for dolphins.  But I expect science from a scientist.

Mr. Andrews, there are over 110 dolphins, including the 8 Risso’s that were killed last night, who have been killed this year alone in just one small cove in Japan.  The love factor isn’t saving them.  It’s killing them.  Intentionally.  Premeditatedly.  By design.  Because of the dolphin show.

So this morning, after 8 more were killed yesterday in Taiji, I am having one of those mornings, where I am deeply saddened by the collective effort to kill dolphins, that is to say, the collective effort of a few who whether they like it or not benefit from dolphin death, and then the silence of the rest.

This morning, I do not want to see a video of a person swimming with even a wild dolphin.  To me, at the risk of offending some of you, it is just the other end of the aquarium spectrum.  The dolphins are free, but we are still intruding.  When the few who are responsible intrude, there are thousands behind who are not responsible.  There are those who will hire the “Sea Worlds” of tour boats of less responsible people.  We will go to them, call it research, call it education, put the money in their pocket, and leave behind them a wake of petroleum and trash.  We will go to the dolphins, and teach them that they can trust us, when they cannot.  Not now.

This morning, the morning after yesterday’s tragedy in Taiji, I am wanting, more than anything, for us to truly respect them.  They are neither our entertainment, nor our therapy, nor a curiosity to be studied, nor a language to learn.

Can we not simply leave them alone?

To stop being part of the silence, for starters, you can attend on April 14 from anywhere there is dolphin captivity and sign a pledge that you won’t go to the dolphin show.

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