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These Facts on Captive Orcas Will Make You Sit Up and Take Notice NOW - One Green Planet.

These Facts on Captive Orcas Will Make You Sit Up and Take Notice NOW - One Green Planet. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

Here at One Green Planet, we are blue in the face (no pun intended) trying to argue the case that orcas belong in the ocean, not in concrete cages. We have reported on the aggressive tendenciesthat these animals can develop when they are cooped up, championed the very serious message behind the film “Blackfish,” and pointed out that SeaWorld’s recent decision to install fancy new “whale treadmills” can never compensate for the phenomenal exercise levels their orcas would receive if they were in the wild.

And although we have heard plenty of stories about humans’ idiotic and exploitative behavior toward these majestic creatures (Russia’s latest decision to display two wild orcas during the 2014 Winter Olympics was a prime example of this), we have strived to remain optimistic about the long-term future of orcas.

However, there comes a time when the talking has gone on for long enough. Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), an environmental protection group devoted to the welfare of these wonderful cetaceans, certainly think so.

Their latest report, “Fate of Captive Orcas in 2013,” makes it clear that they are on a mission to educate the public about the uncomfortable truths behind the whale captivity industry. Some of the facts covered are:

Since the whale captivity industry began, at least 145 orcas have been taken into captivity from the wild.Of these, 125 (or 90 percent) have died.Of the 33 orcas who were born in captivity and have since died, they each survived an average of 4.5 years.There are currently 52 orcas held in captivity around the world.

When you consider the fact that wild orcas can live for up to 90 years (female) and 60 years (male), with the median survival time ranging from 30 to 46 years, these are some pretty staggering statistics.

WDC’s thirty-second commercial (in which the viewer is forced to make eye contact with a whale trapped in a sardine tin) drives the anti-captivity message home in a highly emotional and poignant way, and forces us to ask ourselves one simple question: why?

Some have argued that the earliest period of commercial orca captivity in the 1960s was instrumental in dispelling public myths that orcas were mindless, unfeeling killers. But what possible justification could there be for counting to hold them prisoner now, in 2013, when even a five-year-old boy recognizes the inherent injustice of it?

If you want to help captive orcas, share this article (or some of our other posts on orca welfare) with friends and family, educate yourself about the whale captivity industry, and show your support to organizations such as the Oceanic Preservation Society, WDC, Sea Shepherd, and  Keep Whales Wild. WDC’s short yet powerful video can be seen below:

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#Orca News. These are news about captive orcas only (with a few exemptions)

#Orca News. These are news about captive orcas only (with a few exemptions) | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

These are news about captive orcas only (with a few exemptions). If you are interested in news about wild orcas, I suggest the fabulous Orca Network!June 13, 2014:

On Wednesday the U.S. Congress unanimously passed an amendment that will force the U.S. Department of Agriculture to update their rules that protect captive orcas and other marine mammals. Especially Lolita might benefit from this, since her tank at Miami Seaquarium is disgustingly inadequate. But the bill also increases the pressure on SeaWorld to reconsider their business model.

Source: The Dodo

June 11, 2014:

Voice of San Diego recently held a public roundtable about what SeaWorld and "Blackfish" mean for San Diego. It turned out to be very interesting and lively debate. Here are a couple links to a review and the complete event, which I highly recommend to watch:

 

Orcinus blog
USTREAM video of the debate

To comment on a specific question during the debate: Skyla was exactly 2 years and 4 days old when SeaWorld separated her from her mother Kalina. Also less then 3 years old at separation had been Katerina, Kayla, Keet and Kohana (more on that issue here).

June 11, 2014:

Here are a couple websites who provide further information about the captive killer whale situation in China and Russia, where a new facility is planned in St. Petersburg for 2017 (which is probably where some of the orcas at Nakhodka are supposed to go to):

 

China File
behind the glass of aquarium (on Russia)May 20, 2014:

32-year-old male Bingo is reported to be in poor health, suffering from inflammation in lung and bronchia. According to Port of Nagoya Aquarium, first signs of illness were detected in December last year, with confirmation of fever in early April plus an inflammation-like shadow on the lung in early May. Bingo is also moving rather slow and can no longer participate in the public show. Doesn't sound good for poor Bingo...

Source: The Chunichi Shimbun

May 7, 2014:

The Russian Orcas Project has received the official reply from Rosrybolovstvo (Russian Fisheries Agency) about orcas captured in 2013. The Russian authorities confirmed that 6 orcas were captured: five by "Sochinsky Delphinariy" LLC and one by "Belyi Kit" LLC ("White whale"). They did not specify the age and sex of the captured orcas, neither the dates they were captured.

Source: Russian Orcas

Note: the one whale caught by "Belyi Kit" LLC is presumably the young male that went to Moscow

April 23, 2014:

9-year-old girl Kalia is pregnant, apparently due around December 2014. Ulises is rumoured to be the father through artificial insemination (AI). This means that Kalia was merely eight years old when SeaWorld AI'd her. There were (or maybe still are) plans to transfer Kalia to SeaWorld Texas, which would separate her from her mother Kasatka. One can only hope that SeaWorld doesn't proceed with such an insane move (which, despite their press releases, they have done an awful lot of). Kalia needs all the help she can get, being forced into pregnancy at such a young age...

Source: Digital Journal

Note: in the article it is made known for the first time that Takara at SeaWorld Texas had a miscarriage in March 2012 (she had been AI'd with Kshamenk's semen in July 2011).

April 23, 2014:

SeaWorld treats some of its marine mammals with psychoactive drugs, according to a judicial document. Trainers give their orcas the psychoactive drug benzodiazepine, according to the sworn affidavit filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in a dispute between the park company and the rival company Marineland.

Source: BuzzFeed

April 16, 2014:

SeaWorld has lost its appeal of safety citations issued by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Source: CNN

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Resident orca whales suffer triple threat of pollution, noise and lack of food: U.S. study.

Resident orca whales suffer triple threat of pollution, noise and lack of food:  U.S. study. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

Triple threats of pollution, vessel noise and the availability of food are making it hard for a group of orca whales that live along the continent's West Coast to increase beyond an estimated population of 80, says adecade-long U.S. study.

Southern resident orcas can be found in the Salish Sea off Vancouver Island and Washington State, and have been seen as far south asMonterey Bay, Calif., and as far north as Chatham Strait, Alaska.

NOAA Special Report: Southern Resident Killer WhalesOldest known orca in world spotted near Vancouver IslandVIDEO Killer whales hunting sea lions captured in YouTube videoVIDEO Dolphins, orcas delight watchers in Vancouver, Squamish

Lynne Barre, a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said Monday from Seattle, Wash., that experts don't consider the southern residents in recovery, so the animals will remain an endangered species.    

"Right now, they're not growing as fast as our recovery criteria would require for them to be taken off the Endangered Species List," she said. "They've been hovering around the 80s for quite some time."    

There are estimates the southern resident population once numbered at least 140 animals, and was perhaps as high as 200, but that was before nearly 50 were removed from the population in the 1960s and '70s and placed into theme parks, Barre said.    

She said since 2003 NOAA scientists have collected data, ranging from fecal and biopsy samples to satellite-location data and behavioural observations, in order to provide a comprehensive look into the health of the population, and to inform recovery efforts.

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May 9, 2014 We are watching and visiting the whales in their home Please observe, love and respect them from a distance.

May 9, 2014 We are watching and visiting the whales in their home Please observe, love and respect them from a distance. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

On May 1 J26, Mike, was photographed off the Russian River, about 50 miles north of San Francisco, on May 1, the first record of J pod off California. Yesterday (Thursday) morning they apparently rounded Neah Bay and headed into the Salish Sea, then were seen passing San Juan Island heading north this morning (Friday), and coming back south down Boundary Pass this evening. That adds up to well over 850 miles traveled in less than eight days, confirming once again the orcas' ability to travel more than 100 miles per day over long periods. As this report goes out J pod is chattering mightily on the Orcasound hydrophones.

Back in June 2007 members of L pod were photographed in Chatham Strait, Southeast Alaska. Previously thought to range only as far north as the Queen Charlotte Islands, B. C., this sighting extended their known range about 200 miles to the north. The same whales were photographed 8 days later off Victoria BC., over 800 miles to the south, which was the first confirmation of 100 miles per day as typical travel speed. This amazing tendency to travel great distances, even with young juveniles and a 100+ year-old great-great-grandmother, may be contrasted with the typical tank sizes found in captive orca entertainment parks.

A large group of Transients called the T65As, with the new baby, were still around southwestern Georgia Strait, but as J pod came north today the Bigg's Whales progressed further north.

Gray whales haven't been seen off South Whidbey Island since May 5, which is an early departure if indeed they have left for the spring.

A young minke whale was seen and photographed romping around with its mother May 3. The NE Pacific Minke Whale Project analyzed the photos and provides a wealth of knowledge about these minke whales and minkes worldwide.

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California Bill Would End #Seaworld Shamu Shows, Protect Orcas.

California Bill Would End #Seaworld Shamu Shows, Protect Orcas. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

The release of “Blackfish,” a scathing documentary about SeaWorld and the orca entertainment industry, set off a wave of protests and boycotts from Willie Nelson, Richard Branson, and elementary school kids alike.

Now the controversial film is making another splash, with a California bill to end Shamu shows at SeaWorld San Diego. The proposal would also ban orca import and export, plus captive breeding in California. If it passes, the 10 killer whales currently held in San Diego could be retired to sea pens. They’d be on display, but no longer asked to perform tricks for thousands of spectators.

When California Assemblyman Richard Bloom, a Santa Monica Democrat, announced the bill earlier this month, the director of “Blackfish” was there to promote it, along with an animal welfare activist and two former SeaWorld orca trainers.

“This is about greed, and this is about corporate exploitation, both of the whales and the trainers, but most importantly the whales,” said John Hargrove, a former SeaWorld killer whale trainer during the press conference.

“Blackfish” implies a connection between the 2010 death of senior SeaWorld orca trainer Dawn Brancheau, and the animal’s treatment in captivity. It shows the wild whale roundups and links the trauma of separating calves from mothers to aggression. On their website, SeaWorld points out that it hasn’t removed whales from the wild for 35 years.

After the film’s release, SeaWorld launched a PR blitz, taking out full-page newspaper ads to defend its record on animal care and rescue, and calling “Blackfish” propaganda. Former SeaWorld trainers have defended the company, and Brancheau’s family distanced themselves from the film.

In the wake of the bill’s announcement, SeaWorld hired lobbyists to fight it in Sacramento. Pete Montgomery of Montgomery Consulting formerly was the director of government affairs for BP North America, and Scott Wetch currently represents Chevron, food conglomerate Archers Daniel Midland, and California CSS Consortium, a group of petroleum and energy companies advocating carbon capture and sequestration.

“We engage in business practices,” said SeaWorld in a statement, “that are responsible, sustainable, and reflective of the balanced values all Americans share.”

It seems unlikely that the “Blackfish” bill will find the majority it needs in the California legislature. But if it does, Shamu Stadium may eventually go dark and more people will have to follow the lead of the school kids that boycotted SeaWorld — by getting their whale watching fix in the wild.

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52 Orcas: A Week For Every Whale. Our goal is to honor the distinct identity of each of these majestic creatures.

52 Orcas: A Week For Every Whale. Our goal is to honor the distinct identity of each of these majestic creatures. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

[Editor's note: At the end of 2013 there were 52 orcas living in captivity around the world. Every week this year, 52Orcas is profiling an orca so we can better understand his or her life history.  Here are all the whales the group has featured so far in 2014 -- and come back each week to see the new featured orca.]

For over 50 years humans have developed relationships with captive orcas (aka killer whales). At the end of 2013, there were 52 orcas housed at various marine parks around the world. Each of these creatures has a unique history that we will document through a series of profiles: graphic representations of the international captive killer whale population. Every week we release a whale, sharing their unique story. Our goal is to honor the distinct identity of each of these majestic creatures.

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The Truth About 'The Truth About Blackfish'.

The Truth About 'The Truth About Blackfish'. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

It's never easy, coming in from the outside of an emotional debate over a popular public entertainment -- the kind that performing killer whales provide -- to adequately judge that debate's real merits, as in the ongoing battle over orca captivity that has been inspired by the documentary Blackfish. Both sides of the debate claim to own real expertise on the subject, so it often comes down to a matter of evaluating the competing facts.

It's always a dead giveaway, however, as to the adequacy of each side's arguments when one of the sides decides not to really engage in the facts but chooses instead to emphasize character assassination of the opposing side.

 

That is precisely how the Blackfish debate has unfolded. The documentary's producers and backers, while handling a deeply emotional subject with grace and reserve, have hewn to the facts -- as did their film.

Sea World, on the other hand, has run and hidden: first refusing to participate in the film, then refusing even to come on CNN when asked, refusing any public accountability for its practices. Its few media defenders, rather than debate facts, have simply indulged in mindless bullying.

And when it finally did go public with its response to the film, it did so in a completely non-transparent way -- undertaking a closed-shop public-relations campaign predicated around websites, videos, and ads. And the primary subject of that campaign has not been an effort to rebut the factual issues raised by the film, but an attack on the people involved in the film and an attempt to impugn their motives. A smear campaign.

Which is why, at a deep level, SeaWorld is losing. It is now fighting off legislative attempts to outlaw orca captivity. Its stock has been in decline. Its chief stockholder, Blackstone Group, recently sold off large shares. More importantly, its attendance figures are in decline, with no sign that the trend will be reversing anytime soon. Indeed, the more people who see Blackfishthe more likely it is to accelerate.

This campaign is embodied by SeaWorld's web-based effort at responding to the film, namely, its website titled "The Truth About Blackfish."

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#Orca Research Trust | Studying Marine Biology. " Great site for all. @OrcaAvengers "

#Orca Research Trust | Studying Marine Biology. " Great site for all. @OrcaAvengers " | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

Whales, dolphins and porpoises are collectively called cetaceans.  A whale biologist therefore is often referred to as a cetologist.

Here are a few frequently asked questions.  Try doing a search on in the internet for ‘whale research careers’ and ‘whale biologist jobs’ to give you some ideas of what you may need in the way of skills.

If you are considering volunteering with the Orca Research Trust, be sure to check out the information and availability in our Volunteers section (under ‘Help Us’) and read all that information before contacting us.

How do I become a whale biologist and study orca?

 

You can choose two main paths – the academic path – where you study at university or similar and then take a job as a cetologist or you can being by volunteering and working your way into the job as you go.  Each has its advantages and disadvantages.  The main thing to remember, no matter which method you choose is that you will be working long and hard hours for very little (if any) pay.  The job of a cetologist might look very glamorous on the surface, but the reality is that you need to be dedicated and committed to hard work and the animals.

The Orca Research Trust STRONGLY disagrees with careers associated with cetaceans in captivity.  Despite the clever marketing of the captivity industry we believe that there is no longer a role to be played by keeping these sentient beings in concrete tanks and we do not endorse people to seek work or volunteer positions with these facilities.

 

What kind of university / college courses should I take to be a cetologist?

If you choose to follow the academic path to become a cetologist you will need a wide range of knowledge.  Ideally this will start from when you are still in high school and progress through college and/or university. However, some adult students turn to being a cetologist after they have already completed another degree.  Regardless, it is good to have a strong focus in science courses, including biology, chemistry, ecology, fish biology, zoology, and conservation courses.  Having a strong computer science and mathematics background is important as well. Courses in statistics are critical to study in this field. It will take a minimum of four years to get your Bachelor of Science degree and 2 – 6 more years to get your Masters and/or further study for your Doctoral degree.

If your path leads you towards academic study it is still very important that you build up skills which you will need when you finally begin to do your own field and/or lab work.  See the section on ‘field based careers’ for more information.

 

 

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Ending Captive Cruelty. Why is this marine conservationist supporting whale and dolphin captivity?

Ending Captive Cruelty. Why is this marine conservationist supporting whale and dolphin captivity? | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it
Holiday companies like Virgin, Thomas Cook, Cosmos, Thomson and First Choice are offering trips to see captive whales and dolphins in places like SeaWorld, Aquatica and Discovery Cove in the US, and Atlantis in the United Arab Emirates. Ask them to stop – sign our petition now. 

 

Holiday companies like Virgin are members of ABTA, the UK Travel Association.

ABTA's guidance states:

 

 “Animal handling and contact by the public should be discouraged.”

 “Animals should be able to escape other individuals, public view and interaction at all times"

 “Performances… should only involve natural behaviour's"

 

So why are these trips still being offered to the public? Why are the likes of Virgin Holidays still profiting from the cruel captivity industry?

Sir Richard, you claim to be an environmentalist concerned with whale conservation. WE THINK YOU CAN DO BETTER.

Captivity is NOT conservation. It's NOT education. It's NOT fun. It IS cruel.

If you want to get close to the wonders of the ocean then go and see orcas in the wild.

You can read the background to our campaign to end tour operator support for whale and dolphin captivity.

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#SeaWorlds Science: A claim based on what evidence?.

#SeaWorlds Science: A claim based on what evidence?. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

 By Sam Lipman

Displaying orcas in captivity is good science and great for conservation education -- so say SeaWorld and most of the other facilities displaying cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) around the world. However, there are many who would disagree: researchers who study orcas in the wild, animal welfare advocates... even the founding father of SeaWorld!

In the words of George Millay, the man who opened the entertainment facility that has fallen under hot scrutiny in the Blackfish documentary, "SeaWorld was created strictly as entertainment. We didn’t try to wear this false façade of educational significance." 

The first SeaWorld park opened in 1964 in San Diego, California (where there is now a proposed bill that, if passed, will make orca shows illegal). They put their first orca on display one year later, only the fourth orca ever captured from the wild and the original 'Shamu'.

It wasn't until fifteen years after that education was introduced to the SeaWorld parks for the first time. A 1989 amendment to the Marine Mammal Protection Act in the USA meant that they had no choice but to bring in a supplement to their animal circus shows. However, a second amendment in 1994 meant that this entertainment industry could largely self-regulate and this is still the case today. 

Educational systems of profit-making marine amusement parks appear fundamentally flawed due to commercial obligations. 

Truths are twisted to fit in with the facts of captivity. For example, in the past SeaWorld provided educational material stating that wild orcas live between 25 to 35 years. Today they claim that “no one knows for sure how long killer whales live”. However, scientific studies of free-ranging orcas have produced more precise data, estimating females to live on average 50.2 years (80 to 90 years maximum longevity) and males to live on average 29.2 years (50 to 60 years maximum longevity). In other words, orcas have similar lifespans to humans. This data for wild orca life-expectancy is widely accepted in the orca research community, so the question begs to be asked, why will SeaWorld not accept it? Does it have something to do with the greatly reduced median life-expectancy for their captive orcas, which is less than 8.9 years?

In 2006, SeaWorld's 'Ask Shamu Team' stated in an email, "There are some people who claim killer whales live 80, 90 even 100 years old, but it is important to note that such claims are not backed by any scientifically documented evidence as far as we know." That explains it then - they just didn't know about the science that had been published 16 years prior and cited by a further 195 articles. Surely it would be responsible to read everything there is to read about orcas before keeping one? (SeaWorld own the majority of the 54 orcas currently in captivity).

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“Court Failed Morgan”: Experts React To Imprisoned Orca’s Life Sentence.

“Court Failed Morgan”: Experts React To Imprisoned Orca’s Life Sentence. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

 By Melissa Cronin

After news broke that a Dutch court ruled Morgan, the wild-caught orca held at a marine park in the Canary Islands, wouldn’t be freed, outraged reactions have been cropping up around the internet. We asked orca experts and advocates for their reactions to the ruling:

Gabriela Cowperthwaite, director of the CNN documentary "Blackfish," said: 

This is a story that could have ended remarkably. But SeaWorld's tentacles stretch far and wide. This decision is based on fiction. We were in the Netherlands when they matched her vocalizations with a Norwegian killer whale pod. Local law required her to be returned. But the Dolphinarium was working closely with SeaWorld and SeaWorld needs fresh DNA for their breeding program. So they moved her to Loro Parque to be part of SeaWorld's "collection." She's not faring well at all.

Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist and orca expert with the Animal Welfare Institute, said that the decision is likely “the result of pressure brought to bear on the court by corporate interests than any objective application of the law.” 

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There’s Good News for Puget Sound’s Orcas, But They Still Need Our Help.

There’s Good News for Puget Sound’s Orcas, But They Still Need Our Help. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it
In good news for Puget Sound’s beloved orcas, whose future survival is in question, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced it will consider expanding critical habitat for them along...
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We’re Ending #Orca Captivity One Law at a Time.

We’re Ending #Orca Captivity One Law at a Time. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it
There is much great work to be done litigating on behalf of animals, and this includes orcas in captivity.

Via Wildlife Defence
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Honor the Orcas, dive in.

Honor the Orcas, dive in. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it
Honor the Orcas, dive in.

Delphin Orca

Research Specialist at Earth Science Institute World.

Working in partnership with: Captivity free, #PandorasJourney

Earth Science Institute World Project's:

Why Geology rocks.

The forgotten scientists.

Honor the Orcas, dive in.

Titan Exploration Industries: Wildlife campaigners of the World.

Protecting the Oceans.

All about Geo-Science.

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Miami Seaquarium - how has this been allowed to spiral into such decay?

Miami Seaquarium - how has this been allowed to spiral into such decay? | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

No one warned me. Nor had I seen any other footage of Miami Seaquarium. I had only seen footage of Lolita the killer whale in one of the smallest captive killer whale tanks in the world. I wasnt prepared that when I visited Miami Seaquarium that I would be stepping back to the 1950′s.

It starts off pretty enough. Visitors drive over a beautiful bridge into Biscayne Bay – surrounded by water. The irony is not lost on me. The beauty ends as soon as you get to the park gates. Visitors are greeted with this welcoming sign.

 

As you can see it states that any photos/footage you make isnt allowed for public display: you must get written permission beforehand. Why is that? What do they have to hide? I have seen youtube videos of the dolphin and killer whale shows filmed by ordinary people who visited Miami Seaquarium. Did each and everyone of them get written permission beforehand? Is this just a scare tactic that Miami Seaquarium are using on its paying customers? I am sure that I didnt see any signs like this at SeaWorld. It all seems very suspicious to me.

As soon as I take five paces into the park it becomes all too apparent why there are no filming signs for public display at the front gate: A depression descends on me quick time. It appears as if the park has been left untouched in its original state since when it opened in 1955. The floor has cracks in it and is uneven, the buildings look something out of a bygone era, the public areas look like a concrete jungle with trees on either side – maybe the owners are hoping that the trees will disguise the fact that this marine park looks the same as when Ric o Barry trained captives back in the 1960s.

I am here to see Lolita. She is a magnificent killer whale who was captured in 1970 off of Puget Sound and has lived in what could be possibly one of the smallest ‘whale bowls’ since then. She is in a tank which measures 60-foot by 80-foot by 20 feet deep. She has many, many good people working for her to get her to a seapen so she will have more space, learn to hunt again and possibly be reunited with her family.

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Orcinus orca.

Orcinus orca. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

Geographic Range Orcinus orca is found living in all oceans of the world. They have been spotted from as far north as the Artic Ocean near pack ice to as far south as the Antarctic Ocean. Although Orcinus orca seems to prefer colder waters, they have also been observed in tropical waters. There seems to be no or very little migration due to weather and water temperature, but killer whales will move to other areas when food becomes scarce. (Estes, et al., 2006; Ford, et al., 2000; Heintzelman, 1981; Mann, et al., 2000)

Habitat Killer whales live in aquatic marine habitats. They are found in all oceans of the world. Normally prefering depths of 20 to 60 m, killer whales also visit shallow waters along coastlines or dive to 300 m in search of food. Killer whales generally occupy the same home range year round. (Estes, et al., 2006; Heintzelman, 1981; Mann, et al., 2000; Norris, 2002; Slijper, 1979)

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#SeaWorld Signs Up for Public Debate – Yes, You Read That Right.

#SeaWorld Signs Up for Public Debate – Yes, You Read That Right. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

Since the release of the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” SeaWorld has tried everything in its power to divert attention away from its shady business operation, which most recently, has included the use of psychoactive drugs on its orcas and the impregnation of ANOTHER female orca before her appropriate breeding age.

Open letters denouncing “Blackfish” were penned, videos from SeaWorld supporters were released, and the entertainment giant even created its own volunteer “Truth Team,” to show the world that SeaWorld isn’t guilty of anything and to protect our “privilege” of “experiencing marine mammals up close in ways that are educational, inspirational and that advance science.”

So, let’s get this straight — we now have a right to take away another’s chance at freedom because we are “privileged” to see them? Debatable, SeaWorld, debatable, along with pretty much everything else the company has said.

Yet, surprisingly, SeaWorld has finally decided to engage in a public discussion even though, at the start of 2014, the company quickly wimped out of a public debate challenge initiated by the team from “Blackfish” and the Oceanic Preservation Society (makers of “The Cove” and the upcoming eco-thriller “6”).

Quietly announced on EventBrite, The Voice of San Diego posted ticketing information for a panel discussion to be held on June 5, 2014 that will be focused on the following question: What does SeaWorld offer San Diego and how do we balance animal rights concerns with the company’s contributions in our region?

This event is most likely an offshoot of the debate surrounding the now postponed decision for San Diego’s “Blackfish bill,” which was introduced by California Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) earlier this year.

While it will be great to see SeaWorld finally speaking more directly to the public about its operations, the panel discussion already has the markings of the company’s other shaky PR gimmicks.

First off, the event is not called a debate, but rather a panel, and out of the four panelists, only one is considered “counter” to SeaWorld’s mission. The event page lists the following speakers:

Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist with the D.C.-based Animal Welfare Institute; she was a key consultant for “Blackfish” and likely helped craft the so-called Blackfish bill;Susan Gray Davis, former UC San Diego professor who wrote a book about SeaWorld San Diego and can speak to local contributions;SeaWorld Senior TrainerSeaWorld Veterinarian/ Researcher  

Who the SeaWorld trainer and veterinarian/researcher are remains to be seen, but looks like it’s a case of three against one. If there was any interest for a real public debate concerning marine mammal captivity, then the panel would have been more balanced instead of one-sided (although, it should be noted, that Naomi Rose is a strong voice of support for the anti-captivity movement, yet she is still just one voice from this side).

What’s more, the panel discussion seems like just another attempt to get SeaWorld out of the deep, consuming water that is the “Blackfish Effect” (which has resulted in protests along with a drop in attendance in early 2014), as can be concluded by the panel’s very narrow, SeaWorld-tailored question on what the company offers San Diego. True, the remainder of the question mentions a potential jumping off point for animal rights topics (“how do we balance animal rights concerns with the company’s contributions in our region?”), however it’s main focus is on how SeaWorld benefitsSan Diego — not the welfare of its orcas and trainers, which is where the real debate needs to stem from.

It seems we’ll all just have to wait and see what happens with this panel discussion (hopefully there will be some progress — we’ve been waiting, SeaWorld, c’mon, now!), but in the mean time, tell us what you think with a comment below – do you believe this debate is a good thing or will it be just another one of SeaWorld’s attempts to twist the truth?

Image source: Glen Scarborough/Flickr

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Orcas' Hebridean overture - The Earth Times.

Orcas' Hebridean overture - The Earth Times. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it
The Earth Times
Orcas' Hebridean overture
The Earth Times
The 'West Coast Community' of killer whales is at risk of extinction; West Coast orca pod image; Photo by N. Van Geel/HWDT.
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Orca Research Trust | Talks & Tours with Dr Visser.

Orca Research Trust | Talks & Tours with Dr Visser. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it
Dr Visser is in high demand as a guest speaker.  As many of the functions she is booked for are events closed to the public (e.g., school-class talks, or members-only club nights) most are not listed here.

However, public talks are also scheduled.  Pending & current events are listed below.   If you would like to hear Dr Visser give one of her inspirational talks (which are illustrated with stunning images of the Orca she works with), keep an eye on this site in the Upcoming Events section.

Alternatively, consider arranging and booking a talk yourself.

Talks-Tours@orcaresearch.org

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Imagine if you will: You are in the Pod of Orca's taken from the Ocean.

Imagine if you will: You are in the Pod of Orca's taken from the Ocean. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it
Imagine if you will: You are in the Pod of Orca’s taken from the Ocean. This Article is a mixture of thoughts on why humans act the way they do & still claim to be more Moral than any other species.Most of the Worlds human population claims to be morally good & its only those humans that show us how wrong they are based on their actions on a daily basis. You are preparing dinner with your wife & the kids are playing in the living room, when all of sudden your front door is kicked in, windows smashed and you are stunned by a flash bang grenade. (Buzzing in your ears, eyes wide open but cant see.)The children are screaming for you to help them, you hear their cries but are helpless to save them, the wife is trying to stand up, you can hear Men shouting all around you: ” Just take the little ones!  We have our orders.”You finally recover, lifting your wife up to her feet, standing there looking around you only to realize that your children have been taking from you, you can hear them in the distance, you call out their name, but they cant hear you, they are gone, never to be heard from again! Its tough to imagine this is it not? We as humans, or the majority of humans see the this as a disgraceful act, that is if it happens to us. We seem to think its not okay to do that sort of thing if it involves humans, but if its another species ( Orca’s will be the focus of the day & every day in my writings. As I care dearly for these wonderful Mammals! ) then we don’t see it as a crime against nature or even care as much as we should!  Its why I am ashamed to be part of this so called ” Human-kind ” because the majority of humans are not kind. In my humble opinion: If the majority of humans can treat other Animals on this Planet as if they have no rights to a long, happy life just as we expect to do. Put yourself in the Animals place, do you feel happy, no did not think so!Imagine if you will, simply imagine if it was us in captivity, punished to do tricks for food, how would you feel? What would you do?  Why do we insist in killing so many animals for food for one ( Will be writing about how many Animals are killed for food in the next update.) or keeping Animals in captivity? Greed seems to be the answer, after all you can pack stadiums to watch Animals that should be free & wild that are in fact being mistreated so they can keep performing for the enjoyment of the easily led, sick & twisted crowd.   Instead our kind has treated Animals as if they are play-things in order to turn a profit. Just imagine if all the other Animals treated us as if we were play-things, would we have a right to complain?  The way we wish to be treated by other humans seems to have been forgotten by most of the population. The way people treat each other is disgusting because there is so much killing going on all over the World but apparently its okay because they are all in a better place now or depending on what is believed a terrible place. We treat life as if its not important, but maybe its no surprise due to the fact that most of human-kind believe that after they die they are going to a better place to live forever. Most people don’t even see the irony in this thought process.  With that sort of mentality its hard to see any real changes about how we treat the Animals on this Planet & even the Planet itself will soon not be able to support us because we are slowly killing it. If we are an intelligent species, why do we act so dumb? Why is it okay for the masses of the population to enforce their way of life according to historic teachings, that we are somehow better than all the other species. The mistreating of Animals has been going on for Centuries & it will never stop unless people realize just how important the life they have is worth living & not just looking forward to death, which is my understanding of most of the beliefs of certain groups within the human race. This World is being run by the masses of people who would rather look forward to what happens to them after they die instead of living an actual real life, nothing else matters.  For the future of all the species on Earth its Human-kind that has to wake up and realize that the World would get on quite well without human’s whereas humans would not get on so well without other species on Earth.
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Mhari Bellow's curator insight, January 12, 2015 3:58 AM

Thanks for posting this @OrcaAvengers love ya, see you soon xx ,,,

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5 Reasons Why #SeaWorlds Orca Breeding Program Is Seriously Bad News.

5 Reasons Why #SeaWorlds Orca Breeding Program Is Seriously Bad News. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

After speculation that a 9-year-old orca was pregnant at SeaWorld, the marine park has confirmed that the whale, named Kalia, is in fact due in December. As The Dodo reported, Kalia is pregnant at a remarkably young age. While SeaWorld has a long history of questionable breeding practices, the fact that captive breeding programs exist at all is problematic -- the more orcas bred in captivity, the more orcas that are forced to live in captivity. Here are five of the worst examples and outcomes of SeaWorld's captive breeding practices:   

1. SeaWorld breeds its orcas way too young.

Kalia isn’t the only orca to have been bred too young. Several other females have been bred early despite scientific studies say that the average age in the wild that female orcas begin to reproduce is 14.9 years. Here are some of the more notable instances:  

- Taima gave birth to a male calf at SeaWorld Orlando in 1998 -- age 8

- Kohana, SeaWorld San Diego, had her first calf, Adán on October 12, 2010 -- age 8 

- Takara gave birth to her first calf, Kohana on May 3, 2002 -- age 10

2. SeaWorld breeds orcas shown to have aggressive tendencies.

The subject of the CNN documentary “Blackfish,” Tilikum is known for his aggressive tendencies. He was involved in the deaths of three people (two trainers and one trespasser) at SeaWorld -- including Dawn Brancheau in 2010.

 

Despite all this, Tilikum has been an incredibly prolific breeder, siring a whopping 21 calves -- all of which could carry his genetically predisposed aggressive tendencies. This practice has been criticized heavily by animal advocates, who say that a whale with a history of violence should not be bred.

3. SeaWorld artificially inseminates whales to keep them continuously breeding.

After wild orca capture became illegal, SeaWorld had to resort to artificial insemination to keep its orcas producing offspring. In order to do this, male “stud” whales are trained to present their genitals to trainers who then proceed to capture the ejaculate. Trainers then use a tube with a camera attached to insert it into the female. While not drastically harmful to the animals, this is far from natural behavior and often doesn’t result in pregnancy.

 

4. SeaWorld’s orcas are inbred.

Perhaps the most problematic facet of SeaWorld’s breeding program is the matching of genetically-close individuals like Nalani, a female orca at SeaWorld Orlando, who is the offspring of a 37-year-old female named Katina and her own son, a male named Taku. So Taku is both father and half brother to Nalani. Another example is Kohana, a female born at SeaWorld San Diego in 2002, who was moved to the marine park Loro Parque in Spain, where she was bred with Keto, the brother of her mother. She gave birth to Adan in 2010, but refused to raise him, so staff had to bottle-feed him. 

 

5. SeaWorld’s breeding program results in a high number of stillbirths.

Orcas are notoriously difficult breeders -- even more so in captivity. In fact, until the whale Kalina was born in September 1985, no captive-born orca was able to survive more than a few days. Before Kalina, the 10 orcas born in captivity were all stillborn. In 2010, a 21-year-old mother orca named Taima died while giving birth to a stillborn baby at SeaWorld Orlando.

 

#BoycottSeaWorld

 

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High School Students Protest Prom At #SeaWorld Demand Freedom For Orcas.

High School Students Protest Prom At #SeaWorld Demand Freedom For Orcas. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

One San Diego student is gaining ground in his campaign to move Mt. Carmel High School’s prom from SeaWorld by launching a petition that has already gained over 600 signatures. Zach Affolter set up the petition after he noticed friends’ were upset about the location of their prom.

 "They were just like, 'Hey, our prom's at SeaWorld … I'm still going to go but I really don't feel good about going,'" said Affolter who attends a nearby high school.

While he told local 10News that he understands it may be too late for the school to move the prom -- the event is scheduled for May 31 -- he has been gaining lots of attention and traction for the cause to boycott the marine parks. The petition is also aimed at the district’s middle and elementary schools, which still take classes on field trips to SeaWorld.

The petition reads:

Not only are these activities promoting animal abuse and cruelty, instead of the ever-important values of conservation and environmentalism, but it also surrounds students in the middle of a controversy. Never should students feel the need of removing themselves from an activity or feel guilt when participating.

Affolter notes that his goal is not to close SeaWorld -- but for the company to end its captive orca breeding program and release its whales to sea pens.

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#SeaWorld and Blackfish: Part 5. Good food, free medicare, mental stimulation, and exercise:

#SeaWorld and Blackfish: Part 5. Good food, free medicare, mental stimulation, and exercise: | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it

SeaWorld also claims it provides “restaurant-quality fish, exercise, veterinary care, mental stimulation, and the company of other members of their species.” Not to quibble, so silly is the claim overall—but a live salmon caught and swallowed by a wild orca is fresher than what is served in a restaurant.

What is more relevant is that the diet and all else experienced by the captive orca is contrived, alien, and fundamentally different from what is experienced in the wild, at all levels. In the wild, the orca is part of site-specific, complex, interactive, dynamic food chains. Choice of diet, which can include everything from small organisms to chunks of large whales, depends on a multifaceted suite of ever-changing, interacting factors that can never be replicated in a tank. Both the wild orca and the other species sharing its natural habitat affect each other.

The ability of the orca to feed is dependent on the energy derived from the food equaling the energy expended in capturing the food, and all other aspects of living. The less food, the greater the output of energy, until a state of diminishing returns occurs, with a subsequent decrease in orcas—manifested as a decrease in fecundity, immigration to more fruitful locations, or starvation. That is why, in a naturally evolved predator-prey relationship, it is the amount of prey that determines the survivability of the predator. None of this becomes evident from seeing captive orcas, who are simply fed via the same methodology that has done such a horrifically efficient job of destroying so many of the world’s fish stocks: the commercial fishing industry. Predators don’t deplete their prey; humans, being independent of the caloric value of the prey (by virtue of their unique access to technology), do!

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Orca Profiles in Captivity: No. 5 of The San Diego 10 - OB Rag

Orca Profiles in Captivity: No. 5 of The San Diego 10 - OB Rag | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it
OB Rag
Orca Profiles in Captivity: No. 5 of The San Diego 10 OB Rag This is the fifth in a series of ten in which we meet one of the San Diego 10 orcas and hear from an advocate who continues to be one of the voices of these imprisoned voiceless,...
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#OrcaAvengers would like to thank all new followers, really appreciated, thank you all.

#OrcaAvengers would like to thank all new followers, really appreciated, thank you all. | #OrcaAvengers | Scoop.it
#OrcaAvengers Honor the Orcas, dive in. https://t.co/CqgQHVYnG6 An Earth Science Institute World Project: #CaptivityFree.
Delphin Orca's insight:

Research Specialist at Earth Science Institute World.

Working in partnership with: #Captivityfree, #PandorasJourney

Earth Science Institute World Project's:

Why Geology rocks.

The forgotten scientists.

Honor the Orcas, dive in.

Titan Exploration Industries: Wildlife campaigners of the World.

Protecting the Oceans.

All about Geo-Science.

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