Sunday, April 20, 2014


Picture of Point Arena in Northern California
The northern boundary of the proposed expansion of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary ends a couple of miles north of Point Arena. 
(Photograph courtesy of Jennifer Stock/CBNMS/NOAA)

Posted by Jane J. Lee 
in Ocean Views on April 18, 2014

In response to public interest, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposed the expansion of the Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries this week.

The main effect of any expansion plans, if approved, would be bans on oil and gas exploration within the sanctuaries, along with increased protections for water quality. Fishing, both commercial and recreational, is allowed in the sanctuaries, says Jennifer Stock, a spokeswoman for the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

The two sanctuaries—located off the coast of Northern California—are neighbors, and the proposed expansion of their boundaries would increase their combined area by 2,775 square miles (7,187 square kilometers). Currently, the Cordell Bank sanctuary, which is entirely offshore, encompasses 529 square miles (1,370 square kilometers) and the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary sprawls across 1,279 square miles (3,313 square kilometers).

If expansion plans pass muster, they would run from just north of San Francisco up the coast to Point Arena (map) in Mendocino County.,+CA+95468/@38.390004,-122.6860515,9z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x808118d7d648777d:0x755ce630f0324829

An Area of Plenty

“The Point Arena site is the strongest upwelling site on the coast of North America,” says Mary Jane Schramm, a spokeswoman for the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary.
That means it is nutrient and food-rich, drawing in a smorgasbord of marine life and supporting valuable fisheries, including Dungeness crab, herring, sardines, and salmon.

Picture of a pair of humpback whales lunge feeding
A pair of humpback whales feed off the coast of Northern California. 
(Photograph courtesy of Cornelia Oedekoven/NOAA)

Humpback whales have put in an early appearance this year, Schramm says, likely due to the presence of huge schools of bait fish—also known as bait balls—like sardines. “Fishermen coming in from salmon season are reporting seeing bait balls going from the surface to the ocean floor.”

Those life-giving waters also find their way south via the California Current, nourishing important fisheries and ecosystems all along the Golden State, says Stock.

Have Your Say

NOAA wants to keep the expansion process as transparent as possible, Stock says, which is why the public can comment on the plan between April 14 and June 30. Stakeholders can submit their thoughts online,!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NOS-2012-0228
through the mail, or at a series of public meetings in Northern California.

“NOAA has set an aggressive timeline,” says Stock. Officials want to make sure a decision is made within two years. And so after June 30, NOAA officials will comb through the comments and decide on a plan of action by December 2014 or early 2015.

Keywords:california conservation Cordell Bank Ecology environment Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary oceans science

Saturday, February 1, 2014


Activists' long-running quest to send Lolita back to her Pacific Ocean home has cleared a key hurdle.

Tell NOAA to list Lolita as a protected member of the endangered Southern Resident killer whale Distinct Population Segment (DPS)!documentDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0056-1841

January 29, 2014 By David Kirby

David Kirby has been a professional journalist for 25 years. His third book, 'Death at Seaworld,' was published in 2012.

It's been nearly 44 years since a young killer whale named Lolita was ripped from her family off the coast of Washington state and flown to Miami to perform tricks in a pool so small it violates federal law. Now, thanks to a surprising decision from federal officials, Lolita is one step closer to home.

On Friday, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed to include Lolita, now almost 50, as a member of an orca population, the Southern Resident killer whale community, that is listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The fish-eating Southern Residents were classified as endangered in 2005, largely because of declining salmon stocks, and captures of orcas for public display in the 1960s and 1970s, but that protection was not extended to Lolita, the only wild-caught Southern Resident in captivity. All the others have died.

Her life performing tricks for food “may violate the ESA’s protection against harm and harassment,” argued the Animal Legal Defense Fund and PETA in a statement. In 1995, producers from "NBC Dateline" visiting Lolita in her captive tank at Miami Seaquarium played recordings of Lolita’s family for her. "She responded quickly and seemed very interested, calling back to the recorder," writes FreeWeb. "The camera crew was forced to leave Miami Seaquarium, however, for obvious reasons."

Lolita’s tank doesn’t meet the minimum size required by the Animal Welfare Act, according to activists and scientists who have petitioned the government to enforce the law. 
She has no access to shade, and her only orca companion, Hugo, died in 1980 after bashing his head against the tank. Activists have tried for years to send Lolita, also known as Tokitae, to a sea pen in Washington, without success.

But last year, the ALDF, PETA, Orca Network, and others petitioned the government to propose the rule change to include Lolita on the endangered list, a move endorsed by the federal Marine Mammal Commission. 
Now NMFS officials have agreed, opening a 60-day public comment period, after which it has up to 18 months to make a decision.

“The fact that [NMFS] found the petition to be warranted suggests they are inclined to include Lolita” in ESA protection, wrote Dr. Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, in an email. “But it all depends on the public comments they receive. So I really can't speculate. But I think the zeitgeist is very different today than it was in 2005 re: captivity.”

The listing wouldn't guarantee Lolita a ticket home. Even if NMFS approves the rule, the Seaquarium can be expected to fight against letting its lonely whale go. The aquarium could contest a ruling in court or "file petitions to make their tired old case that transport would kill her," wrote Howard Garrett of Orca Network in an email.

If she were not completely healthy, the move might be detrimental, the Seaquarium could argue, or she might introduce new diseases into the natural environment. But Rose said the orca appears to be healthy enough to survive in a sea pen.

Orca Network has a detailed proposal for resettling Lolita in a serene cove, Kanaka Bay, off the coast of San Juan Island, Wash., that could be netted off to create a sea pen.
There, she could be taught to catch live fish and could listen to the sounds of the sea, including vocalizations from her family, members of the L Pod.

But it would not be a cheap project. Transporting a killer whale by air can cost up to $500,000, including insurance, and driving her across the country in a cramped tub inside a tractor trailer is not considered a safe option. Once in Kanaka Bay, annual costs could easily reach $100,000 or more for staff, vet care, and food.

Garrett is not worried about funding. “We’ll have no problem raising the money. We’re working on a budget now,” he wrote. “[But] we can’t hire anybody until we have a time frame for the project.”

Finally, it is unclear if Lolita would stay in her pen for life or rejoin her family. “I think they will definitely ‘talk’ across the pen netting, but whether she'll be able to go free is very much up in the air,” Rose said. “She is almost 50 years old, after all.”

Amusement parks like SeaWorld insist it is unfeasible and inhumane to return captive orcas to the sea. But what could be more humane than potentially reuniting Lolita with her pod? Orca family bonds are on par with humans'. If a human family member went missing for 45 years, he or she would surely be warmly welcomed back home.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


Thank you Champions for Cetaceans.
What is Kamogawa SeaWorld’s Connection to the Taiji Dolphin Hunt? Say No to The Importation of A Pacific White-Sided Dolphin

The only thing worse than abuse is lying to cover it up.

This tweet from SeaWorld caught my attention this morning, January 26. 2014, and I simply cannot it allow to go uncontested.

Here is what SeaWorld claims.

Immediately below that is information and documentation that begs to differ.

SeaWorld ‏@SeaWorld Jan 22

SeaWorld has long been opposed to the dolphin drive hunts in Japan. Learn the facts here: 


Seaworld are responsible for the taiji dolphin slaughters


What is Kamogawa SeaWorld’s Connection to the Taiji Dolphin Hunt? Say No to The Importation of A Pacific White-Sided Dolphin

What is Kamogawa SeaWorld’s Connection to the Taiji Dolphin Hunt? Say No to The Importation of A Pacific White-Sided Dolphin
Posted on February 26, 2013
      8 Votes

By Kirsten Massebeau

Kamogawa SeaWorld 2009 Pacific white-sided Dolphin by Keiba Kate.

In what seems a bold move SeaWorld a company already on the hot seat due to the death of Dawn Branchau, David Kirby’s recent book, “Death at SeaWorld”, and the soon to be released documentary, “Blackfish” have requested a permit to import a Pacific white-sided dolphin from Kamogawa SeaWorld in Japan. Kirara was born  May 3, 2006 in captivity at Kamogawa SeaWorld. In the statement for import permit Kamogawa SeaWorld states these points about the dolphin candidates parents Spica and Hokuto:

“Sire was incidentally captured in set net located at Araisaki, Kyoto prefecture, Japan on Feb. 8, 1994 and transferred to Kinosaki Marine World on same date. He was moved to Kamogawa Sea World on Nov. 8, 1994.

Dam was incidentally captured in set net located at honjo, Kyoto prefecture, Japan on Feb. 5, 1994 and transferred to Kinosaki Marine World on same date. She was moved to Kamogawa Sea World on Nov. 8, 1994. Kinosaki Marine World is one of JAZA aquariums. Both animals were not captured by “drive fishery”.(Source)

“In spite of NGOs’ opposition, the Japan Fisheries Agency added the Pacific white-sided dolphins to the catch-quota of the drive hunt in 2007. Since then, this species has been hunted and captured alive. — 86 dolphins were hunted until the last season (from September 1, 2010 through February 28, 2011) . It seems that about 85 percent of them were captured alive and sent to aquariums”. (Source)

According to Ceta-Base’s marine mammal inventory Kamogawa SeaWorld acquired three Pacific White-Sided dolphins from the “wild” in January of 2007 named: Great, Ku, and Sky. Leon and Span two other Pacific white-sided dolphins show no acquisition data (Source)  Ceta-Base also notes during Taiji drive fisheries, Season 2007/2008 & 2008/2009 21 Pacific white-sided dolphins were caught, 5 were killed & 16 live captured. (source) Many of the dolphins at Kamogawa SeaWorld are listed as wild caught. See the list here.

Elsa in their comments on the addition of Pacific White-Sided dolphins to drive fisheries cites aquariums as the source of motivation:

An internal communication sent by the Japan Cetacean Conference on Zoological Gardens and Aquariums (Senzo Uchida, Executive Secretary) on August 16, 2006 to the directors of zoos and aquariums which are members of the Cetacean Conference (see attachment) noted that Pacific white-sided dolphins are hard to obtain, and that not all aquarium directors who desire to obtain them have done so. The letter states, “Permission has not been granted to take Pacific white-sided dolphins at Taiji, and therefore drive fisheries for them are not allowed. But if the capture of Pacific white-sided dolphins becomes possible at Taiji, it will benefit aquariums with cetaceans, and fishers. (source)

Pacific-White Sided dolphins capture 
January 2013 by SSCS Cove Guardians

There are many other obvious reasons why Kirara should not be imported to the United States. Kirara will be removed from her family and moved across the world to live with strangers who may not be happy to have a new member in their space. She would also be forced to travel in a small coffin like container for approximately 20 hours before reaching her destination SeaWorld in Texas. (Source)

Speak out for the Pacific white-sided dolphins. For United States aquariums and marine parks to do business with any aquarium associated with drive fisheries is not upholding the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Asking NOAA for a hearing on this permit is imperative. The comment and request for a hearing ends on March 6, 2013 only days away so act now! Contact NOAA and politely ask them to refuse the permit and schedule a hearing. Request that Kamogawa SeaWorld prove they have no connection to drive fisheries with any of the dolphins they display. Read through the permit application and compose your objections and comments.

Written comments on this application should be submitted to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, at the address listed above. Comments may also be submitted by facsimile to (301)713-0376, or by email to Please include the File No. 17754 in the subject line of the email comment.Show citation box

Those individuals requesting a public hearing should submit a written request to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division at the address listed above. The request should set forth the specific reasons why a hearing on this application would be appropriate.


Jennifer Skidmore or Kristy Beard, (301)427-8401 from NOAA/NMFS. (source)

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This entry was posted in Cetaceans, Dolphins and tagged Dolphin, Japan, marine mammal protection act, Pacific white-sided dolphin, SeaWorld, taiji by Kirsten Massebeau. Bookmark the permalink.
Savita on July 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm said:

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Mel Komus on February 27, 2013 at 3:35 am said:
Excellent post with the details and information on how to speak for white sided dolphins!

Reply ↓

Kirsten Massebeau
on February 28, 2013 at 8:34 pm said:
Thanks Mel! Blocking this import is so important for the White Sided and all the dolphins from drive fisheries and live captures.

Reply ↓
Gail Levenstiem on February 27, 2013 at 1:24 am said:
Greedy, murdering Bastards!!!!

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Roger Arseneau on February 26, 2013 at 7:45 pm said:
Great information , they must be stop, there are to many atrocity for the love of money $$$$

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