Tag Archives: The Cove

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.

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Ric O’Barry Live from Taiji, Japan

Ric O'Barry, photo from http://www.thecovemovie.com

For the last several days, Ric O’Barry has been live streaming via ustream from Taiji, Japan.  Mr. O’Barry, the world’s most known dolphin activist,  is discussing dolphin captivity, capture and slaughter.

I just learned about it – woops – and thought I would pass it along right away.

Click now and sign up for a reminder for a live broadcast tonight, Saturday, January 7, 2012, at 8:00 pm E.S.T.

For more information about what you can do to be part of a worldwide movement to save the world’s dolphins, go to 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.

Whether the Georgia Aquarium dolphin shows are educational

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog on this topic, and if you had the great good fortune to have seen the videos in the blog, you would have seen first hand via video shot by a customer of the Georgia Aquarium that the Aquarium’s dolphin extravaganza was, shall we say, a little lean on educational value.

Seeing unvarnished home movies likely provides something a tad closer to the reality of the dolphin show than a highly polished piece that the Georgia Aquarium would put together as an advertisement.  Make sense?  It does to me, too.

Those home movies are no longer available, but since I want to continue to provide information and facts surrounding the Georgia Aquarium and dolphin captivity, it appears that I’ll have to rely at least in part on the G.A.’s own video.  But before I show you the video, let me set the stage a bit.  It may look like I’m straying off topic, but just hang with me.  I’ll bring it all home.  I promise.

In your mind’s eye, picture the strawberry pie on the menu at Shoney’s.  The big, center-posted picture on the cover.  With radiating smaller pics of fried chicken, Salisbury steak (both with a gravylike schmear), and maybe even shrimp, interspersed with various starchy concoctions, some with peas thrown in for color.

But the pie: the uber bright and shiny red of, not really the strawberries so much (yes, I think there were actual strawberries in there) as the goo that surrounds the strawberries.  The goo that jiggles, but not the same way that Jello jiggles.  Translucent, but again, not the same way that Jello is.  You know it.  More like  snot, really.  But darn red.  A mighty fine red, but one that you know isn’t real.  And this, this picture of the pie that is on the cover of the menu, that is now in your mind’s eye, with its perfect dollop of whipped cream, well, not real whipped cream, really, but some light and fluffy mixture of milk flakes, talc, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oil . . .  Crap.  I really didn’t mean to ruin that (open air quotes) whipped cream (close air quotes) for you.  Oh, who am I fooling?  You’re probably on your way to that single-use plastic container of Cool Whip right now.  (Are these people going to sue me for mentioning them in the same piece as the Georgia Aquarium?  Oh, I am just mean!)  Anyway.  Picture the pie.  The bright red goo.  The perfect dollop.

Flash forward to your having ordered it.  Now watch the pie as it approaches on the tray brought by the hard-working and underpaid (oops, slid into another social issue) waitress.  The reality is not quite as lovely as the advertisement.  The advertisement promised something that it didn’t deliver.

And by comparison, with that picture of the pie in your mind, that fake, fake, fake, fake, fake red of the pie that still somehow appeals to the inner 6-year-old-at-Shoneys-for-the-first-time, consider that the Georgia Aquarium is tinkering with that same appeal. The strawberry pie lie.  The reality isn’t what’s on the cover.  But what’s on the cover is what the restaurant needs you to believe so that you’ll order it.  So what does the Georgia Aquarium need you to believe?

I guess, first and foremost, it wants you to believe that the dolphins are happy.  Happy in captivity.  Happy that they are not in the ocean swimming freely with their close-knit community of family.  I guess there’s a lot they would like you to believe.  That dolphins live longer lives in captivity.  But there is also stuff they don’t want you to know.  They don’t want you know that the average life span of a dolphin in captivity is five years, when dolphins in the wild live far longer.  Or that the aquariums often give captive dolphins daily doses of medicines to control ulcers and intestinal and respiratory issues.  So you can probably expect a Georgia Aquarium online commercial to show you what it wants you to believe.  I expect you’ll see something that looks like happiness.  Jumping.  Splashing.

But what about the education part?  Surely they’ll highlight that aspect, too.  It is supposed to be central to the purpose of the dolphin show, right?  Education.  Right?

And here we are at the finish line, getting ready to watch one of the Georgia Aquarium’s own videos – one that it has placed on Youtube with all the agreements and consents that one gives when posting to Youtube – to see how it invites customers to come be educated about happy dolphins.

Soooooooo.  What did you learn about dolphins?  What do you expect to learn based on the Georgia Aquarium’s own enticement?  What education do the eleven dolphins who are held captive at the Georgia Aquarium provide to justify their continued captivity, held away from the open ocean for which they were designed?

To actually learn about dolphins and whales in captivity, watch A Fall From Freedom.

And don’t go to the dolphin show.

In the meantime, if you need entertaining, just take a gander at what we actually allow to entice us into believing that the food is good.  Or the dolphins happy.

This burger was made from happy cows, too!

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.

Dedicated to SeaWorld and the Georgia Aquarium

So, yes, with a measure of fun, I am questioning the factual basis of some of the assertions about dolphin and orca captivity from some dolphin-owning institutions. Assertions about the life spans in captivity being longer than ones in the wild (not true).  Or that the dolphins thrive in captivity (a little harder to quantify, but read on, not true).

Now, before you go all, “Oh, that Martha.  She’s so extreme.  Dolphins are fine in captivity, and there is a valid educational part of the dolphin shows” on me, just take a gander at the educational content of the dolphin extravaganza at the Georgia Aquarium shot by a visitor:

I’m figuring that you’ll be like most of us, including some members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that expressed annoyance, shall we say, upon their exit from just having seen the very same dolphin show.  I believe some of them observed that there was something like, oh, zero educational content in the show.  And I repeat, these were zoo and aquarium people who make their living based upon the acceptability of animal captivity, not we “fringe anti-caps.”

And to the point of whether dolphins like captivity, take a look at the celebration of life in wild dolphins:

compared with live streaming video of captive dolphins:

http://www.seewinter.com/winter/media/webcam-3

You’ll have to copy and paste that one in your url; it won’t link live.  It may be a bit of a bother, but believe me, you want to do this to see the whole story.  And if Winter isn’t visible on this web cam, check one of the other ones; Web Cam #1 is where she and her dolphin companion strut their captive stuff for the paying public.

Which side are you on?

To take action for dolphin freedom, just take one step. Call, write, blog, tweet, donate.  I’m betting you’ll see how great it is to stand for these extraordinary beings, and will take one more step after that.

Welcome.

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.

Life in harm’s way

Dolphins are in danger in Japan. Today the danger is caused by a combination of humans’ having captured them and put them in pens and a typhoon that is beating those dolphins against the pen and potentially tangling them in the netting and drowing them. In the oceans the dolphins have for millions of years protected themselves in the face of weather. But when humans remove from them not only their freedom, but any of their means of self-preservation, there is nothing that they can do to protect themselves.

The only hope for these dolphins is that the Japanese release them so that they can protect themselves as they know how.

Save Misty the Dolphin has compiled a list of Japanese officials whom you may contact to request that these dolphins be released during the typhoon. Time is critical.  This must happen now.

Please make the calls. Please make several calls. Please share with your friends and have call parties. See who can reach the most. Share stories. Write blogs.

Whatever you can do, please do.

Buh-bye AT&T – I don’t pay dolphin exploiters

Bernie Marcus, founder of Home Depot, has exported his “icon in the big boxes” to the aquarium concept and is hoping that “this sets the stage for future aquariums.”  The concept that killed small town America and mom and pop hardware stores has now targetted dolphins through a $110,000,000 dolphin facility.  The killing analogy is not off the mark, since dolphins and whales in captivity are known to have significantly shortened life spans relative to their natural, “loose and wild” counterparts.

I will not be attending.  I encourage you not to attend.  I encourage that you read and watch videos about dolphins and other cetaceans in captivity (here is a new interview with a trainer at Sea World, who will soon testify about the conditions for both the orcas and the trainers at that facility).   Learn what highly intelligent and complex creatures they are.  Read about the life-saving exploits of dolphins toward humans.  And think.  Think  about the education that your children get

Do you really think they are happy in captivity?

about dolphins at Sea World or at the Georgia Aquarium.  That dolphins can jump really high, and do flips, let trainers ride them in the water, toss balls in the air, and they are really happy-looking?  All of that disgusts me.  That we would compromise the life of a creature to pay admission, be amused and call it education.  But I am  encouraged.  A bit bemused that Georgia would add an aquarium when they are on their way out.  But on their way out they are.  And that is a good thing.  A very good thing.

So in the meantime, AT&T will lose me as a customer.  Join me.  Do this for the dolphins.

Here is a list of the sponsors of the Aquarium or the dolphin show:

AT&T                          Air Train                      Coca-cola                  Georgia Pacific        The Home Depot                         The Southern Co.                        Sun Trust            Turner Broadcasting                           Accenture                                      UPS                         Acuity Brands                                        Publix                                      Clear Channel      Microsoft                                                 Unisys                                         11Alive.com