Thursday, August 29, 2013

Roxanne a Risso's dolphin was rescued on the shore at Jones Beach Island in Babylon on Thursday, June 6, 2013 by the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation. (The Riverhead Foundation)


Photo Gallery :
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Roxanne the Risso's Dolphin who was injured and rehabilitated on Long Island is back in the ocean, swimming with her friends.

Roxanne didn't begin to relax until she was 10 miles offshore.

It's where her heart finally stopped racing and the marine biologists who rescued her began to breathe again.

"She's doing great! She's really very calm, she's exactly the way we want her to be," said Kim Durham, the Riverhead Foundation.

Dolphin strandings don't often end this way.

Roxanne washed-ashore near Fire Island back in June. She was badly diseased and barely alive.

"She was at death's door," Durham said.

The staff at Long Island's Riverhead Foundation spent the summer nursing Roxanne back to health. Then, raised thousands of dollars for her release including contributions from Eyewitness News viewers and local schoolchildren.

"You don't always get to see it, so it's like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!" a student said.

The trip offshore took more than four hours. And when it was finally time to say goodbye, all it took was one, really big push.

Five minutes later, other dolphins appeared out of nowhere. It was a welcoming party, perhaps, for a long-lost friend.

"It's always a great feeling when you can see that you have a positive outcome from what you're doing," said Rob DiGiovanni, the Riverhead Foundation.

"Releases don't come often, successes don't come often, so when you have one, it's amazing," Durham said.

Roxanne is a rarely-seen species known as a Risso's Dolphin. Her survival is good for her and great for us.

She now has a satellite tracking-device that will allow scientists to study her data for years to come.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Updated August 28, 2013, 1:30 am
TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan has started using advanced biotechnology to protect endangered whales and dolphins against poachers, supplementing existing DNA testing, officials said Tuesday.

A newly developed government-financed litmus test will show within minutes whether meat samples seized from poachers are whale or dolphin meat, Council of Agriculture officials said.

Poachers previously tried to avoid prosecution by cutting the heads off dolphins or whales which they caught.

Three years ago the council began using DNA tests to identify the meat, but results took five days to arrive.

"Now it needs only 10 minutes to verify any samples," Kuan Li-hao, an official from the council's forestry bureau, told AFP.

The litmus paper is designed to be activated by the unique structure of a protein in whales and dolphins, said Yang Wei-cheng, an associate professor of Taiwan's National Chiayi University who heads the research team.

More than 30 officials from the customs, coastguard and other government bodies attended a training session in Taipei Tuesday on the new detection method.

Around 100 more officials will take the training course by September 5, Kuan said.

All species of whales and dolphins have been protected by Taiwan's conservation law since 1989.

Violators face a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to 1.5 million Taiwan dollars (US$50,000).

While poaching continues, the council said the number of offences was declining.

Monday, August 26, 2013


After outlawing dolphin amusement parks in the country, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has banned raising other marine mammals like whales, walruses, seals, in similar parks.

By Pratul Sharma - NEW DELHI Published: 26th August 2013 08:24 AM Last Updated: 26th August 2013 08:24 AM

After outlawing dolphin amusement parks in the country, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has banned raising other marine mammals like whales, walruses, seals, in similar parks.

In its August 13 order, the Central Zoo Authority, which falls under the ministry, advised state governments to reject proposals to set up amusement parks or aquariums for housing dolphins and marine mammals.

Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan was instrumental in banning the dolphin parks, after wildlife activists protested, saying that taking the mammals out of their natural habitat of sea and rivers amounted to cruelty. “The state governments are advised to reject any such proposal for dolphinariums to any person, organisations, government agencies, private or public enterprises that involves the import and capture of cetacean species including marine mammals for commercial entertainment, private or public exhibition and interaction purposes whatsoever,” the order said. Marine mammals include over 100 species which include seals, whales, dolphins, and walruses.

In its earlier order of May 17, the Centre said it had decided not to allow dolphinariums in the country as they can seriously compromise the welfare and survival of all types of marine mammals by altering their behaviour and causing them extreme distress. The ministry had received a plea which said that scientists who researched dolphins’ behaviour suggested that given their unusually high intelligence, they should be seen as “non-human persons” having specific rights and that it is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purposes.

The cetaceans in general do not survive well in captivity. The ministry order capped several proposals that were in pipeline in several states such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Maharashtra.  The ministry said all such proposals required ministerial approval because keeping marine mammals under captivity would come under the definition of zoos.  In a separate order, the ministry prohibited the removal of shark fins. Under this policy, possession of shark fins that are not naturally attached to the body of the shark, would amount to “hunting” of a Schedule I species.  The ministry said sharks, rays and skates were important parts of the marine ecosystem.  “Owing to the high demand of shark fins in the industry, it has been reported that the fins of the sharks captured in the mid-sea are removed and the de-finned sharks are thrown back, leaving them to die a painful death. This has decimated the population of the Schedule I species,” a ministry official said. India is home to about 40-60 species of sharks. However, the population of some of these have declined over the years due to several reasons including the over exploitation.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Uploaded on Dec 11, 2011 ~James Bradicich

Our film examines dolphin life in captivity. We highlight the negative psychological and physical effects captivity has on dolphins, complimented by our overarching theme that dolphin captivity is unacceptable. We showcase the opinions of University of Southern California (USC) college students and dolphin trainers to supplement our message. 

As a result of the unnatural interactions captive dolphins have with humans performers and thousands of screaming fans, captive dolphins can develop stress-related illnesses that oftentimes lead to a shortened lifespan or ultimate death. These permanent mental and physical effects cannot be replaced by eventual adaption.

Although the captivity industry is a multibillion dollar business and shows no sign of slowing down, there are still ways the public can get involved. As shown at the end of our film, you can get involved by joining Ric O'Barry's dolphin project, utilizing social media to advocate for the cause and pledging to not support the captivity business. 

Please join the environmental revolution and pass this video on.


Jennah Blau and James Bradicich

USC Students and animal rights activists

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


By The Associated Press 
on December 02, 2013 at 2:02 PM, 
updated December 02, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Continuing coverage of the Portland Aquarium and its owners.

KEY WEST, Fla. — The former president of an Idaho aquarium convicted in the illegal shipping of protected sharks and rays from Florida has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

A federal judge in Key West on Monday imposed the sentence on 40-year-old Ammon Covino, former president of the Idaho Aquarium in Boise and co-founder of Portland Aquarium in Oregon. Covino is also barred during two years of probation from working in a wildlife exhibit.

Court documents show Covino admitted involvement in illegally obtaining and shipping three spotted eagle rays and two lemon sharks for the Idaho Aquarium. 

Intercepted communications showed Covino told Florida shippers to ignore the law.

The aquarium itself also pleaded guilty, agreeing to pay a $10,000 fine and donate $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Federation.

Court documents also accused Covino of trying to illegally acquire lemon sharks for the Portland facility. However, co-owner and Ammon's brother Vince Covino said that there are no lemon sharks or spotted rays at the Portland Aquarium. 

"All animals at Portland Aquarium have been legally acquired and properly permitted," Vince Covino said in a statement earlier this year. "Portland Aquarium has demonstrated its patience in waiting for proper permits as evidenced by empty otter and puffin exhibits. Both species are still in the proper permitting process and will not arrive on site a day sooner than they are legally approved."


Covino and Conk, who cofounded the Idaho Aquarium, were caught trying to purchase spotted eagle rays and lemon sharks illegally in Florida to be shipped to Idaho. The two will be sentenced in December in federal court in Florida, and each faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

Written by Michelle Kretzer 21 hours ago

Originally posted on August 23, 2013.

Update: Hundreds of Animals Die at the Portland Aquarium—and Austin May Be Next

In just three months at the Portland Aquarium, more than 200 animals have reportedly lost their lives. Bamboo sharks, sea horses, stingrays, garden eels, and many species of fish have died from starvation, infections, a power outage, attacks by incompatible tank mates, getting caught in drain screens, being hit by falling rocks, escaping from their tanks, and unknown causes. A marine biologist at the facility stated that it was "cutting corners to save money" and that "so many deaths … were … preventable." 

The Oregonian newspaper reported that since February—almost seven months ago—the aquarium has not had a veterinarian on contract to care for the approximately 10,000 animals it confines. Also according to The Oregonian, the aquarium owners, Ammon and Vince Covino, "acknowledge that the facility has gone without regular veterinary services." The Oregon Humane Society has launched an investigation, and PETA has asked it to pursue criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against everyone responsible, including the Covinos.

Meanwhile, we've turned our attention on the new aquarium that the Covinos want to open in Austin, Texas. Even though they apparently haven't obtained all the required building permits, reports indicate that they have started construction and may already be holding animals at the site, including sharks, iguanas, lizards, a kinkajou, and possibly a crocodile. PETA has contacted Austin Animal Services and asked it to conduct an inspection to determine whether the animals are suffering as a result of abuse, neglect, or stress from the loud construction noise.

We're also calling on the City of Austin's Health Authority to get involved because the agency is charged with enforcing Austin's prohibition on keeping dangerous animals, which the law defines as any animal who is "capable of inflicting serious bodily injury to a human." Iguanas can suddenly charge and bite without warning, sometimes causing serious injury, and captive kinkajous are also known to bite and scratch humans. Crocodiles are reported to be 168 times more dangerous than sharks, killing 2,500 people every year. PETA is urging the City of Austin's Health Authority to take custody of all the dangerous animals being held at the site.


While we go after marine-animal prisons through legal channels, you can help go after them via the accountant's office by never buying a ticket.


Portland Aquarium opens

PORTLAND, OREGON -December 8, 2012 - A giant octopus moves around his tank at the Portland Aquarium, Monday, Dec 10, 2012, at 16323 S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard in Oak Grove. Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian 

By Victoria Edwards, The Oregonian on August 19, 2013 at 4:00 PM, updated August 21, 2013 at 1:52 PM

More than 200 marine animals died this spring at the Portland Aquarium from starvation, infection, high temperatures, animal-on-animal attacks and unknown causes, according to a death-log obtained by The Oregonian. Among the casualties were bamboo sharks, sea horses, garden eels, sea stars, crabs and dozens of fish.

Barbara Baugnon, a spokeswoman with the Oregon Humane Society, which helps enforce state animal-cruelty laws, said her agency is investigating the nine-month-old aquarium. She declined to provide specifics.

During the period covered by the death log, Feb. 18 to May 16, aquarium owners acknowledge that the facility has gone without regular veterinary services. The aquarium's former veterinarian said that even when he was under contract the facility failed to properly quarantine new arrivals and routinely delayed emergency treatment to save money.

"I feel those animals were subject to undue pain and suffering to save money," said Mike Corcoran, an exotic animals veterinarian who left in February over what he said were concerns about animal welfare. Corcoran said he repeatedly recommended quarantine procedures that were never put in place.

The log kept by aquarium staffers and provided to The Oregonian by a former employee recorded deaths at the aquarium virtually every day. Corcoran called the death toll "excessive."

Vince Covino, who opened the Portland Aquarium with his brother Ammon in December, declined to be interviewed but responded to questions submitted by email. He said the aquarium's death rate, which he declined to specify, is consistent with what he's observed at other aquariums. "And in many cases, we believe we have done better," he wrote. "We spare no expense in ensuring our animals have the best health care possible."

Aquariums typically don't share mortality rates, said Chris Spaulding, director of the aquarium science program at Oregon Coast Community College, making it difficult to establish an industry standard.

"The goal is to minimize losses as much as possible," he said.

"There is loss at aquariums; you can't deny that," said Caroline Emch-Wei, a 25-year-old marine biologist who volunteered at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport for five years before starting late last year at the Portland Aquarium. "But there were so many deaths that were straight up preventable."
Emch-Wei left the Portland Aquarium shortly after Corcoran and echoes his concerns. "They were cutting corners to save money," Emch-Wei said.

Vince Covino estimates that the Portland Aquarium houses 10,000 animals representing 3,000 species. Given that number, 200 deaths in three months would represent an annualized mortality rate of 8 percent.

By comparison, the much larger Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport estimates its collection at 15,000 animals representing 250 species. Erin Paxton, public relations coordinator for the aquarium, said the Newport facility experiences an annualized mortality rate of "significantly less than 1 percent."

The Covino brothers

The Covino brothers opened their first aquarium in 2011 in Boise, Idaho, their home state, and announced plans last summer to open a second facility at the former Black Angus Steakhouse on McLoughlin Boulevard south of  Milwaukie. Neither of them has a degree in marine biology, Vince Covino said.

Although most animal exhibitors are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there is an exception for cold-blooded animals. Like many such facilities, the Portland Aquarium operates without a marine aquarium license, inspections or accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, considered the gold standard of best practices.

The collection of certain marine animals, however, is regulated by state and federal authorities.

In February, Ammon Covino was arrested in Boise on one count of conspiracy and four counts of unlawful sale or purchase of marine animals. He is accused in Florida of buying four eagle rays and two lemon sharks without proper permits and transporting them to their Idaho Aquarium in Boise.

While the charges against Ammon Covino center on the Idaho Aquarium, the grand jury indictment alleges that he also tried to illegally acquire lemon sharks for the Portland Aquarium last fall, when the facility was still under construction. Ammon Covino pleaded not guilty to the charges in April, and a trial is set for September. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison on each count, prosecutors say.

Marine biologist Emch-Wei said Ammon Covino's arrest was the breaking point that prompted her to leave.

Vince Covino said those coming forward with allegations are either disgruntled former employees or people who don't know enough about marine life to understand Portland Aquarium operations.

The aquarium's original director, Steve Blair, came to Portland with 25 years of experience with marine aquariums, including a stint as assistant curator at the nonprofit Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, southern California's largest aquarium and one of 38 in the United States accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Blair directed installation of the Portland Aquarium but left just days before it opened. He declined to speak about the circumstances of his departure, citing a confidentiality agreement. Vince Covino confirmed that Blair signed a separation agreement.

Corcoran, the former veterinarian, said Blair left because he was butting heads with the owners over animal care and safety. Vince Covino said Blair wasn't the right fit.

New management

Shane Dietz, who succeeded Blair, has 20 years of experience setting up and maintaining aquarium tanks and worked at Petco for 12 years, including stints as an aquatic specialist and aquatic manager. He has no degree in marine biology or a similar field.

Dietz said transportation, a process beyond control of the aquarium, causes 98 percent of aquarium deaths. He explained that fish suppliers sometimes place animals in small boxes that may be flown thousands of miles, sitting on hot tarmacs and jostling in delivery trucks before reaching their destination.

That causes stress, he said, which can lead to infection or disease. Delicate specimens, such as sea horses, sometimes can't recover after being transported, he said.

Dietz said the aquarium acquires other animals, such as cold-water fish and crabs, from fish markets because it does not have a permit from the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department required to collect some marine animals for exhibition. Those animals, meant as food, are often beat up and mishandled. "Unfortunately we can't always bring the animal back from the brink of death," he said.


Aquariums typically quarantine new arrivals for at least 30 days to allow them to recover from the stress of shipping and prevent the spread of disease, according to Corcoran and other aquarium managers.

Corcoran and another former Portland Aquarium marine biologist, Lisa Van Etten, said she believes that insufficient time in quarantine led to many of the Portland Aquarium deaths.

A quarantine log kept by aquarium employees and provided to The Oregonian indicates that few of the dozens of new fish and marine animals that came to the aquarium were quarantined for 30 days or more.

Van Etten, who left the aquarium in June, said the entire population in a tank would sometimes die after animals were introduced, which she attributed to inadequate quarantine procedures.
Dietz contended that new animals are isolated for a minimum of 35 days. He said the quarantine log provided to The Oregonian doesn't give a complete picture because he keeps multiple logs for multiple quarantine systems and animals can be moved from one to another. He also said animals may spend time in quarantine before coming to the aquarium, resulting in a shorter quarantine once they arrived.

Veterinary care

Corcoran, now an exotic animal veterinarian in Arizona, made weekly visits to the aquarium and was on call for emergencies, a typical setup for an aquarium of that size, he said. On his weekly visits, he said he sometimes saw animals that had been suffering for days from serious medical conditions. When he asked employees why he wasn't called for an emergency visit, he said they told him the aquarium didn't want to pay the added expense.

Vince Covino said aquarium managers always approved special requests for veterinary care. However, he said some employees and managers sometimes disagreed about what merited an emergency call. "A vet visit is lower cost than replacing an animal, so even if we were only concerned about money, we would be foolish to not call in a vet for the safety of an animal," he said.

Since Corcoran left, the aquarium has not had a veterinarian on contract. Dietz, the aquarium's director, said he's in the process of signing on a Seattle veterinarian who specializes in exotic and marine animals to fill that role.

Meanwhile, the Covinos are in the process of building their third aquarium, scheduled to open in Austin, Texas, in December.

-- Victoria Edwards

Friday, August 16, 2013


Please speak for the Taiji Dolphins. 
Sign and share these petitions. Please.
We need a blue Cove. We need peace for those dolphins :

Tuesday, August 13, 2013



By Jason Garcia, Orlando Sentinel

7:55 p.m. EDT, August 13, 2013

Attendance and earnings plunged at SeaWorld theme parks this spring, but the company said Tuesday it expects improvement during the rest of the year thanks in large part to its new Antarctica expansion in Orlando.

"We're very pleased with the performance of this attraction. Our cluster of parks in Orlando are our highest-performing group on a year-to-date basis," SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Atchison said during a conference call with analysts. Antarctica is "something that's a big game-changer for us, in terms of our brand and the guest experience."

The comments came after a second quarter in which SeaWorld lost $15.9 million, a sharp reversal from the same period last year, when it turned a $39.1 million profit.

Total revenue slipped 3 percent to $411 million.

Quarterly attendance at the company's 11 U.S. parks tumbled 9 percent during the quarter, dropping to 6.6 million from 7.2 million a year ago.
SeaWorld blamed several factors, including unusually heavy rain in Florida.

Neither the Walt Disney Co. nor Comcast Corp., both of whom recently reported earnings for the same quarter, cited weather effects at Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando. But Atchison noted that SeaWorld's business is heavily concentrated in Florida — its five Florida parks produce 55 percent of its annual revenue.

SeaWorld also said poor weather in Virginia, where it has two parks, and an earlier Easter holiday this year contributed to the second quarter's shrunken attendance.

It said some of the attendance decline was deliberate, as the company aggressively raised ticket prices and culled certain discounts. Total revenue per guest jumped 7 percent during the quarter, from $58.75 a person to $62.67.

Costs associated with the company's recent stock offering and subsequent debt repayments also contributed to the quarterly loss.

SeaWorld executives nonetheless said they are optimistic about the remainder of the year. Despite the second-quarter struggles, SeaWorld generated $650 million in revenue during the first half of 2013, a 2 percent increase from a year ago and a company record.

A big reason for their optimism is Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, the new "land" that opened in late May at SeaWorld Orlando. SeaWorld executives say it is the largest park expansion in company history.

Antarctica did little to help SeaWorld's second-quarter head count. Attendance shrank in April and May as visitors waited for the new area to open but jumped in June, with the two trends essentially offsetting each other.

But Atchison said the attraction is now spurring gains in attendance and sales. The company is banking on the attraction being a big driver of growth during the July-through-September quarter, a period during which SeaWorld usually generates as much as 60 percent of its earnings.

"This new, one-of-a-kind attraction has been well-received and is driving the level of incremental interest and revenue that we expected," Atchison said.

"We do various surveys and collect data about the guest response, which has been very favorable," he added. "We're still running hour-and-a-half-to-two-hour lines with Antarctica, which is a good problem to have."

SeaWorld said it continues to expand beyond its theme parks, announcing plans Tuesday for a second television show. "The Wildlife Docs" will spotlight zoological operations at Busch Gardens Tampa and will premiere this fall, airing during the same Saturday-morning block of programming as the company's first show, "Sea Rescue," which is entering its third season.

During Tuesday's conference call, Atchison made sure to highlight some of the company's recent scientific and conservation efforts. They included the first successful hatchings of penguins artificially inseminated at SeaWorld San Diego and the first successful cesarean section performed on a shark at Discovery Cove in Orlando.

The emphasis on such advances, which Atchison said could eventually help conservation efforts in the wild, comes with SeaWorld's killer-whale program under heavy scrutiny thanks to "Blackfish." That critical documentary, which chronicles the capture and captivity of the killer whale that killed a SeaWorld Orlando trainer in February 2010, passed the $1 million mark in U.S. ticket sales last weekend, according to

SeaWorld has aggressively attacked the film this summer, but executives made no mention of it Tuesday. or 407-420-5414
Copyright © 2013, Orlando Sentinel,0,2576777.story

Photo: SeaWorld trainer Amber Cavett
( SEAWORLD ORLANDO / October 31, 2008 )

Sunday, August 11, 2013

LESS THAN 30 DAYS Until IOC Names 2020 Host City; How YOU Can Help; New Article & Video!

LESS THAN 30 DAYS Until IOC Names 2020 Host City; 
How YOU Can Help; New Article & Video!

We DO NOT advocate a boycott of Japan or Japanese products, nor do we wish to incite any negativity toward Japanese citizens. Many Japanese people are unaware of this horror or are against it. We want to put pressure on Japan’s government to stop funding these slaughters, and let them know that neither the WORLD nor the International Olympic Organizing Committee condones such cruelty.

August 10, 2013 | News, Protests

Update — lots to talk about, dolphin lovers!

As you know, the Global Olympic Dolphins Campaign is calling upon the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to follow the rules of their own Environmental Mandate and address Japan’s cetacean hunts. The Japanese government, by permitting the hunts and captures, is ignoring international outrage over these slaughters. We are asking the IOC to disqualify Tokyo, Japan’s Host City Candidacy for the 2020 Olympics, unless the slaughters stop! Japan’s actions are a violation of the spirit of the Olympics, the Olympic Charter, as well as their own National Olympic Committee’s Environmental Policy, as touted on their website.

Less than 30 days left!!! Time is running out! September 7th–the date on which the host city will be chosen–will be here before we know it. We have to keep up the pressure to make sure the IOC follows its own Charter!

Japan professes to abide by all Olympic Charter mandates, including being committed “to obey environmental law and other environmental guidelines.” Japan’s actions demonstrate that just the opposite is true–they are violating environmental laws and pillaging the oceans of marine animals. A country demonstrating such contempt for the environment and its inhabitants doesn’t deserve the honor of hosting Olympic games.

Here’s how you can help our campaign succeed in convincing the IOC to reject Tokyo’s Host City candidacy–unless the Japanese government ENDS the Taiji Dolphin Slaughters and whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary!

Visit our website for more information! Our “About” page contains a more detailed description of our organization.  See our “Facts” page for background material regarding the hunts.  Our “Take Action” page shares more ways you can help dolphins and whales. Visit our “IOC Emails” page to see all of our written correspondence with the IOC. You can also view our Olympic Dolphins campaign videos and read news stories about us here!!

Sign and share the Petition!  If you haven’t already signed our petition, please do so here, and don’t forget to share it! :)

Follow us on Twitter (click here!)! Please help us tweet about our campaign! You can retweet ours, or write your own using hashtags #Tokyo2020, #IOC, #Olympics, #Tears4taiji

Write to the IOC! Let’s flood the representatives with letters and emails! We’ve made it easy for you! See instructions on our “Take Action” page (see the final item in arrowed list).

Attend a local Japan Dolphins Day Event! Demonstrations are happening worldwide on 1 September, 2013. Fore more info, visit the global Japan Dolphins Day events page here.

See The Cove and Blackfish!  For many cetacean advocates, The Cove was the impetus which compelled them to action. In this 2009 Academy Award-winning documentary, starring Ric O’Barry, ex-trainer turned world-renowned dolphin activist, a team of investigators go undercover in Japan to document the Taiji dolphin massacres — and expose the inextricable link with the captive dolphin industry.  Blackfish is a new documentary film which chronicles the tragic story of Tilikum, SeaWorld’s largest captive breeding bull orca, who is responsible for the death of three people — including senior trainer, Dawn Brancheau. The movie also exposes the abuse, suffering, wrongness and devastating consequences of keeping orcas imprisoned in captivity.  Several people who witnessed the attacks come forward to share their stories, and former SeaWorld trainers also speak out

Read Death At SeaWorld!  In this powerful book, investigative journalist David Kirby exposes dark truths about the captive cetacean industry and the protracted suffering endured by their prisoners.  This carefully-researched book focuses on the tragic life of Tilikum, and his involvement in three deaths, as well as the highly flawed and controversial practices of SeaWorld.  Ex-trainers share their experiences, regarding Sea World’s unforgivable practices and the immense cruelty of keeping orcas in captivity.

Watch Livestream coverage of the Taiji Dolphin Hunts.  The killing begins again on September 1st — unless we stop it!  Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians and Save Japan Dolphins Cove Monitors independently report live from the Cove in Taiji throughout the killing season.  Follow @CoveGuardians and @sjdolphins on Twitter for updates.  Cove Guardians’ broadcasts can be viewed here.

~*MUST-SEE! Exclusive two-page article in The Daily Record!*~

Shona's article in premier Scotland paper 6.10.13 resized for update

Shona Lewendon, petition author and founder of Olympic Dolphins, has just been featured in a two-page spread in one of Scotland’s premiere newspapers, The Daily Record! This article is a must-read for anyone interested in learning more about Shona’s inspiration for her petition; how her boys support her and how she copes with work, parenting and directing a very large global activism campaign.  The article can be found here! Please share far and wide! <3

~*Our Latest Video: A Compilation Of Images From Our Worldwide Protests on 29.6.13*~

On 29 June, 2013, we held our second series of worldwide events, following (and superseding!) the success of our Global Taiji Action Day ~ Olympic Challenge events held on 22 February 2013.  Over 80 demonstrations were held on these two days.  Check out our latest video, featuring a photo montage honoring our demonstrators during Global Olympic Dolphins Campaign events (a montage from our 22 February events can be found here)!  Thousands of supporters, from all over the world, joined forces in protesting Japan’s bid for host city of the 2020 Olympics Games. We are so appreciative of all event hosts and attendees who devoted their time and energy to join the cause!

To all who have supported this campaign, THANK YOU from our hearts. Together, we truly can change the world!  Always remember the Golden Rule of Activism:  ~*NEVER BE SILENT! NEVER GIVE UP!*~


Friday, August 9, 2013


(RU) / Gerlingen 09/08/2013

When fishing of wild orcas and beluga whales in the waters of Russia, the animals are separated from their social groups and many are already dying before their actual trip in zoos and dolphins in the United States, Egypt, Turkey and other countries begins.

Also, the transport is connected to the animals with a lot of stress and danger, for they are reloaded in Belgium, leading to numerous deaths among marine mammals. According to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre at least 263 living belugas from Russia were exported between 1990 and 2010. Now the animal rights organization PETA Germany eV turns off (for all animals of the group Whales Latin term) to an end and to prohibit the capture and export of marine mammals with a request to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, the sad fate of the freedom-loving cetaceans.

"Russia hunt whales, in order to export to marine zoos around the world. Mainly, these are to beluga whales, but "Dr. Tanya Breining, campaign manager for marine mammals at PETA Germany eV" there are also other types caught Russia is an influential and powerful nation in the world as a promising model for dealing should be used with whales and other marine mammals. "

Fortunately, rejected the American NOAA Fisheries on 6 Augustus the request of Giorgia aquarium on the import of 18 belugas from Russia from. The reason for this, the apprehension was called, among other things, the beluga population could not recover from the excessive fishing expeditions Russia. Moreover, it is in five animals at only one and a half year old calves that are still breastfed and are thus dependent on their mothers. Against this background, PETA expects that President Putin led the return of the whales in their home waters.

Leading scientists and billions of people around the world agree that cetaceans do not belong to dolphins - no matter how big they may be. The highly intelligent and social animals are extremely limited in psychological and physiological differences in each concrete pools.

The populations of cetaceans in freedom can not be maintained if the stocks are minimized by the hunting and export of animals. Marine mammals need legal protection and habitats in which they may not be hunted and captured.

PETA advocates a ban on marine mammals in zoos and dolphin shows and fight for a ban on exports of animals.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Our friend from Alaska shares his meeting with Beluga Whales

This is an account of beluga hunting sent to us by an Alaska native. For obvious reasons, he doesn't want his identity or location known.

"Belugas seem smarter than I thought. I recently had a chance to work out here in remote Alaska for a while. I was invited to partake in beluga hunting. Being an Alaskan Native myself and city educated, of the non-rural type, I thought how neat and went along.

Sad. Honestly these little beings travel here in a pod of about an average of 14. I think they are all family in the pod. Well, after one is harpooned and buoyed, it is followed by the boat and followed by its other whale companions. When it slows up and cannot follow the fleeing whales, it starts screaming. I heard it through the hull of our aluminum boat. The other whales turn around and commence to attack the boat.

They butt the boat over and over, some of them getting a good 30 yards run only to run into the boat rocking us all, then seeming to kill themselves for their hurt family member. Well this is what the locals here want, a whole family to die so they can have an easy hunt.

I was told that the population of beluga here has dropped considerably, and that they have always fled the hunt. Only in recent years have they started ramming the boats. They do not seem to care that their own heads bleed after they ram the boat; they continue until they perish. The boats used here are large 30-foot aluminum double-hulled boats. It seems a shame.

The reason I wanted to tell you all this is, I may be Alaska native, but for me it was really sad. Those little things stick together to the end."
Thank you to Olaf Janssen for the letter and the photography

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Why can't Russian belugas move to Atlanta?
The U.S. has denied the Georgia Aquarium's request to import 18 belugas from Russia, a landmark decision in the long-running debate over whales in captivity.
Wed, Aug 07 2013 at 3:36 PM

Belugas swim in formation in the Chukchi Sea between Alaska and Russia. (Photo: Laura Morse/NOAA)

The Obama administration threw cold water on the world's largest aquarium this week, rejecting its proposal to buy 18 beluga whales from Russia. It was the first attempt in more than 20 years to import marine mammals recently captured from the wild.

The decision, which is drawing praise from many animal advocates, comes at a turbulent time for marine theme parks. Already beset by criticism since an orca killed a SeaWorld trainer in 2010, the industry is now waging a public relations battle against unflattering portrayals like the new film "Blackfish" and the book "Death at SeaWorld." While much of that controversy focuses on orcas' danger to humans, it has also revived a longstanding debate about keeping such social, intelligent mammals in pens for public display.

The Georgia Aquarium wanted to import 18 Russian belugas for display in Atlanta and at several partner facilities, including three SeaWorld parks and Chicago's Shedd Aquarium. While captive belugas present different issues than captive orcas, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration still deemed the Georgia Aquarium's proposal too ecologically murky. Federal law allows wild cetaceans to be captured or imported for public display, but also imposes limits designed to protect vulnerable species.

"The Georgia Aquarium clearly worked hard to follow the required process and submit a thorough application, and we appreciate their patience and cooperation as we carefully considered this case," NOAA's Sam Rauch says in a statement. "However, under the strict criteria of the law, we were unable to determine if the import of these belugas, combined with the active capture operation in Russia and other human activities, would have an adverse impact on this stock of wild beluga whales."

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service offers three reasons for declining the request:

NOAA Fisheries is unable to determine whether or not the proposed importation, by itself or in combination with other activities, would have a significant adverse impact on the Sakhalin-Amur beluga whale stock, the population that these whales are taken from;
NOAA Fisheries determined that the requested import will likely result in the taking of marine mammals beyond those authorized by the permit;
NOAA Fisheries determined that five of the beluga whales proposed for import, estimated to be approximately 1½ years old at the time of capture, were potentially still nursing and not yet independent. 

The belugas in question were captured from Russia's Sea of Okhotsk between 2006 and 2011, according to NOAA, and currently live at Utrish Marine Mammal Research Station on the Black Sea Coast. While scientific data about the size and stability of this beluga population are spotty, the agency notes that belugas in general are not well-suited to captivity, and their species is vulnerable to an array of manmade dangers.

"Beluga whales are social animals that typically migrate, hunt and interact together in groups of ten to several hundred in the arctic and subarctic waters of Russia, Greenland and North America," NOAA explains. "Beluga whales face a number of threats including ship strikes, pollution, habitat destruction and entanglement in fishing gear."

Belugas at the Georgia Aquarium. (Photo: Mike Johnston/Flickr)

In a statement emailed to MNN Wednesday afternoon, the Georgia Aquarium calls NOAA's decision "deeply disappointing." It argues the proposal was not only in full accordance with U.S. and international laws, but would also "help ensure the sustainability of beluga whales in human care" at its facility and others throughout North America.

"Sadly, the decision places the long-term global sustainability of an entire species in limbo," writes spokeswoman Meghann Gibbons. "Throughout this process, we have worked closely with NMFS, and we plan to continue pursuing what options are available to us under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to ensure the ongoing survival of beluga whales."

The aquarium has 60 days to appeal the ruling in U.S. District Court, and its statement suggests it sees legal justification for pushback. "We strongly believe our application presented extensive, research-based evidence which met all requirements of the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act under federal law," Gibbons writes, "and illustrated the critical importance of these belugas to ensuring a future for the species globally, while having no detrimental impact on the population of their origin in Russia."

Two belugas have died at the Georgia Aquarium in recent years, along with two whale sharks, prompting some animal-rights advocates to view any expansion plans with suspicion. NOAA received nearly 9,000 comments during the proposal's 60-day comment period last year, many of which expressed doubt about the well-being of captive belugas. (The Georgia Aquarium later issued a lengthy response to a wide range of critiques.)

Activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has gone even further, arguing marine parks and aquaria violate the 13th Amendment by enslaving whales. A federal judge threw out a PETA lawsuit against SeaWorld last year, however, ruling that whales don't have the same constitutional rights as humans. "The only reasonable interpretation of the 13th Amendment's plain language is that it applies to persons, and not to non-persons such as orcas," wrote U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller.

But aside from the ethical implications of keeping intelligent, migratory whales in captivity, NOAA's ruling suggests the capture of wild belugas — which Russia has been doing for more than 20 years — could pile too much pressure onto an already-vulnerable marine mammal. "The ongoing live-capture trade since 1989 may have contributed to a cumulative decline over the past two decades," the agency writes, "and we considered this in combination with other past, present, and foreseeable future actions."

Related Topics:
#Arctic, #Conservation, #MarineLife, #Oceans, #Whaling, #WildAnimals #belugas

Wednesday, August 7, 2013



by David Kirby August 18 . 2013

The recently captured cetaceans are stuck in the small tanks of a research station, waiting to be released. Captive whales have been able to re-enter the wild successfully, but authorizing their release is an uphill battle. (Photo: Stuart Gregory/Getty Images)

Earlier this month, the federal government surprised marine-mammal activists and observers by denying a permit for two aquariums and SeaWorld to import 18 beluga whales captured off the coast of Russia

The whales have been languishing in small tanks at the Utrish Marine Mammal Research Station. With their ultimate fate uncertain, a new petition is now asking Moscow to set the belugas free.

Posted by the anti-captivity group Fins and Fluke on the website, the petition states:

"We are petitioning the Russian department of Fisheries and the Utrishskiy delphinarium (which commissioned the capture) to first allow a panel of experts to assess and evaluate the health and well-being of these mammals. We are then asking that pending the health of each beluga, the team be granted permission to rehabilitate and release these animals back into the ocean, where they belong."

The import application was filed by the Georgia Aquarium, though many of the animals would have been destined for display at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium and all three SeaWorld parks.

The biggest fear among activists now is that all 18 whales will simply be auctioned off to the highest bidder, in countries that lack animal-welfare protections afforded in the United States, weak as they are.

"We are well aware that some of these Beluga Whales may be deemed unfit for release," the petition says. "And we are asking that the Utrishskiy delphinarium consult the expert panel to make the right decision on the type of facility these animals may end up residing in."

The wayward whales "have endured enough stress just with their capture alone to last a lifetime," notes the petition, adding that several captive cetaceans have been successfully rehabilitated and released into the wild.

These include the orca Keiko, who was the star of Free Willy, a young female orca named Springer, who just had a calf, and Tom and Misha, two wild-caught captive dolphins "still doing well in the ocean after their rehabilitation and release over a year later." Recently three wild-caught captive dolphins in South Korea were also set free.

So far, the petition has collected more than one-third of the 10,000 signatures sought, something that thrills Fins and Fluke president Alex Dorer.

"This idea had always been in place for us since news of the Georgia Aquarium's application was made public, we just didn't think we'd have the chance to actually do it, Dorer says. "We were convinced for quite some time that the import was going to be approved so we didn't think it was possible to move forward. Now the import was denied our first order of business was to reach out to several experts and make our petition public."

Fins and Fluke "made a vow to see this to the very end, and although the decision not to import these Beluga's (sic) has been made final, they are still sitting in a holding facility in Russia," she adds.

"We are hoping that ultimately these Beluga's have a fair chance at a happy, healthy life outside of a tank or a holding sea pen. It's important to us that at the very least we find out the health of these animals and allow a panel of experts to be consulted on a plan of action."

What are the chances for success? "We understand Russia is an extremely difficult country to work with, but we are hoping that they take the chance and become another country recognized for doing the right thing for cetaceans," Dorer says.

"We are extremely hopeful but we are also very realistic and do understand that there is a huge possibility that these Beluga's could be sold to a marine-park facility." Indeed, she adds, "It is entirely possible these Beluga's have already been sold, and if that's the case I would be heartbroken."

Last week, TakePart reported on a beluga trainer injured during a performance at Marineland, in Ontario, Canada. It appeared as if the whale may have bitten down on the knee of the trainer, who was reportedly hospitalized, though Marineland isn't commenting.

Was that beluga trying to send us a message, that life in a tank is stressful for such intelligent, sentient creatures? We will never know. But the timing, no matter how coincidental, is instructive. The unintended message that we might take home from that captive beluga may have been: "Captivity is painful. Let my cousins go."

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(Photo: Tyson Paul/Getty)



Pledge action link is below here, please act!

August 7, 2013David Kirby

NOAA has rejected a permit request from the Georgia Aquarium that would have allowed the import of 18 beluga whales into the U.S. from Russia. 
In a move that surprised and delighted anti-captivity activists, the U.S. government on Tuesday denied a permit to the Georgia Aquarium, which also included requests from the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and SeaWorld, to import 18 wild-caught beluga whales from Russia.

It was a blow to the captive display industry and, many observers say, emblematic of a turning tide in public and governmental attitudes toward keeping such intelligent, social creatures in tanks for human enjoyment.

“Following a number of public engagement efforts, NOAA Fisheries today announced it is denying the Georgia Aquarium’s request for a permit,” the agency announced in a written statement. It based the move on “the requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).”

Limited importation of some wild-captured marine mammals for public display is permitted under the MMPA. But according to the government, this was the first request for import in more than 20 years.

“The Georgia Aquarium clearly worked hard to follow the required process and submit a thorough application, and we appreciate their patience and cooperation as we carefully considered this case,” the statement from NOAA went on to say. “However, under the strict criteria of the law, we were unable to determine if the import of these belugas, combined with the active capture operation in Russia and other human activities, would have an adverse impact on this stock of wild beluga whales.”

The application to import the whales, which TakePart reported on last October and would have been divided between the Georgia Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, and the three SeaWorld parks in Florida, Texas, and California, ultimately failed to meet “several” MMPA criteria. The government ruled:

We determined that the import permit will likely have a significant adverse impact on the species or stock.

We determined that the requested import will likely result in the taking of marine mammals beyond those authorized by the permit. 
We determined that five of the beluga whales proposed for import, estimated to be approximately 1.5 years old at the time of capture, were potentially still nursing and not yet independent.
The public pushback against the import permit has been formidable, with most of the 9,000 opinions submitted during a public comment period last year expressing dissent. “The comments that were most helpful to our decision-making process addressed the specific MMPA and regulatory criteria that we must use to make a decision and discussed why the commenter felt the application did or did not meet them,” the NOAA statement said.


I pledge not to buy a ticket to water parks where whales and dolphins are held in captivity for profit. My money will not be used to confine animals that should be in the wild.
In addition, I pledge to support organizations like Save Japan Dolphins, who are advocating on behalf of these vulnerable and highly intelligent animals.


It’s hard to imagine that the dolphin doing flips at SeaWorld is in pain but in reality, these animals are suffering. The whales and dolphins you see at these water parks are often violently captured in the wild, separated from their families, and forced to perform for crowds thousands of miles away.
Whales and dolphins are highly intelligent animals who suffer acute sensory deprivation when they’re confined. While in captivity, they experience numerous physical and psychological problems that they wouldn’t otherwise in the wild.
These sensitive, majestic animals deserve to be treated with respect, not confined to excruciatingly small spaces and forced to perform tricks. Organizations like Save Japan Dolphins are fighting to make sure that these animals are no longer held in captivity. You can help their work by voting with your wallet and refusing to support the confinement of whales and dolphins.




Aug 7, 2013
Last Updated: 4:43 AM ET
Actress Kim Basinger is celebrating after winning a major victory against SeaWorld bosses.

The longtime animal rights activist teamed up with leaders from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to fight plans that would allow bosses at the Georgia Aquarium and its SeaWorld affiliates to import beluga whales from Russia.

Thanks to their actions and exposes, and the fallout from controversial new film Blackfish - about the lives of whales in captivity, officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have denied SeaWorld's latest request to stock their parks.

PETA spokesperson Moira Colley tells WENN, "This is a move that marks the beginning of the end for the wretched exhibition of enslaved whales.

"Thanks to movies such as Blackfish and PETA's lawsuit against SeaWorld for violating orcas' 13th Amendment right to freedom, people have learned of the rodeo-style capture of whales from their pods in the ocean.

"What's left is for the public to be further upset that captive adult whales are masturbated by their trainers to produce semen and artificially inseminated to produce young: another atrocity that must be stopped. And then finally, the abusement (sic) parks will close, and the whales and dolphins will be removed from their cement bathtubs and returned to the oceans, where they belong."

She adds, "Kim Basinger’s heartfelt plea to NOAA on behalf of the 18 belugas who were cruelly torn from their families in Russian waters helped ensure that the agency made the right decision today to deny permits to import the animals for a life in small tanks at US amusement parks like SeaWorld.

"PETA is grateful to her for helping see this campaign through."!+Celebrities:+Kim+Basinger+wins+fight+against+SeaWorld