“WDCS, together with The Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Welfare Institute, released the first-ever nationwide opinion poll gauging attitudes about keeping orcas, also known as killer whales, in captivity for public display that shows more Americans oppose than support the practice. The poll found that only 1 in 4 people are in favor of the practice.
Overall, support for keeping killer whales in captivity is low, the poll found, at 26 percent. More telling of the tide of public opinion, however, is that strong opposition to this practice is triple that of strong support, with 24 percent of respondents indicating they are strongly opposed and only 8 percent strongly favoring the practice. The data suggests the tide is turning and support for captivity is waning.
The data also suggest that opposition only increases as Americans further consider the question of orca captivity. Whatever educational value the public recognizes in orca exhibits is outweighed by concerns over the impacts of removing these animals from their natural habitat and keeping them in captivity. Significantly, the poll reveals that a vast majority, 71 percent, of respondents say that if zoos, aquaria and marine mammal theme parks were to end the practice of keeping killer whales, it would make no difference in their desire or decision to visit. The June survey reached a nationally representative sample of more than 1,000 U.S. adults.
“With recent events shining a spotlight on performing orcas in places like SeaWorld, including the deaths of two trainers and current court challenges questioning the legality, safety, and appropriateness of keeping killer whales in confinement, we felt it time to measure public attitudes about orcas in captivity,” stated Courtney Vail, campaigns manager for WDCS. “The public has glimpsed the darker side of the captivity industry and is becoming disenchanted with it. The true face of captivity is actually quite repugnant.”
Other key findings of the poll include:
* Opposition to the practice is motivated more by concern over the welfare impacts to orcas in captivity than by the notion that keeping orcas in captivity represents a danger to humans.
*Over 80 percent of respondents believe that the inability of orcas to engage in natural behaviors, and the negative consequences of confinement in small pools—including stress and illness—is a sufficient reason to stop keeping orcas in captivity.
*Americans want to learn about orcas. Eighty-seven percent of those surveyed have sought to learn about whales either through live or virtual means. While one-third of the sample had visited a zoo, aquarium or marine mammal theme park, two-thirds had learned about orca whales through museum exhibits, IMAX films, news, television and online sources, revealing that more Americans are seeking information about orcas from sources other than zoo or aquaria.
*The results, when broken down by gender, are even more striking. While men are evenly divided on the question (32% favor, 34% oppose), women oppose orca captivity by a highly significant margin of more than 2-to-1 (21% vs. 45%). Astonishingly, just 5% of US women “strongly” support captivity for this species, and only 11% of men.
(*Only 5% of women and 11% of men “strongly” favor orca captivity)
Despite recently reopening its `Dine with Shamu’ show where trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed, complete with new lift-bottom floors intended to provide some protections from dangerous encounters with orcas. SeaWorld is mired in legal and regulatory challenges on the heels of the recent determination by the courts that affirmed the safety violations cited by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA’s citation slapped the SeaWorld with a `willful’ safety violation –its most severe category–and a $75,000 fine following a six-month investigation of the February 2010 death of trainer Dawn Brancheau. SeaWorld originally contested the citation issued by OSHA in August 2010, and spent nearly two weeks in court providing testimony to oppose the OSHA ruling. The hearing concluded in November 2011. Although the judge’s verdict downgraded the category of the violation and associated fine from `willful’ to `serious,’ it upholds the original citation against SeaWorld and required outlined safety measures be implemented within 10 days of the verdict becoming final.
As the time has come due for SeaWorld to implement those safety measures affirmed by the court, it has instead decided to further contest the OSHA citation and fight the judge’s ruling by requesting an appeal for review by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC). Procedurally, either SeaWorld or OSHA can request a discretionary review from the presidentially-appointed review board of the independent Commission, and as a result, the battle continues.
OSHA may also decide to file a cross petition to reinstate the original violation against SeaWorld back to `willful,’ because of SeaWorld’s continuing unabated and unprotected exposure of trainers to safety hazards. The court ruled that SeaWorld must adopt safety abatements that provide equal or greater protection than staying out of the water altogether, and although in-water interactions have ceased for the time being, trainers are still exposed to safety hazards in the absence of physical barriers being utilized at the parks. SeaWorld had until last week to certify that those abatements were in place.
With this appeal, SeaWorld is most likely anticipating that the abatements it has installed – such as a fast-rising false-bottom floors in one of its pools – will not satisfy OSHA’s requirements and permit a return of the trainers into the water with the killer whales. Any of the OSHRC commissioners may also, at his or her own motion, bring a case before the Commission for review. Employers and other parties may appeal Commission rulings to the appropriate US Court of Appeals. The fight may be far from over.
“SeaWorld refuses to acknowledge that it might be captivity that is the problem, rather than their inability to manufacture a controlled environment for these orcas,” stated Courtney Vail, campaigns manager for WDCS. “They are missing the point completely if they think they can eliminate the risks associated with an artificial and stressful environment. Captivity is a depravity, and until this is recognized, SeaWorld will be fighting a losing battle. Spare air and lift-bottom floors will never protect a trainer from the speed and intensity of an orca attack. I think the public is catching on and is now in a better position to make a choice that is in the best interest of trainers and orcas.”
According to poll data which indicates that the public’s desire to visit marine parks is not contingent upon having captive orcas, SeaWorld could adopt a different business model that eliminate its orcas in captivity, and focus on conservation and education, including rehabilitation of sick or injured animals.
In light of these findings, support for the continuing confinement of orcas in captivity appears to be waning, and WDCS continues its call for an end to this practice. The physical, social and mental needs of orcas cannot be met in captivity and the public display industry is a threat to populations in the wild that are targeted by live capture operations used to supply public display programs worldwide.
Visit WDCS’s Orca Watch to learn more details about orcas in captivity.
Current distribution of captives
A total of 42 orcas are held in captivity (13 wild-captured plus 29 captive-born) in 11 marine parks in 6 different countries.”
Suffering from a bit of writer’s block so just “diving” in to get back into the swing. Thought this was interesting (afraid I can’t cite the source…apologies to the creator…but I am NOT taking credit, just passing the info along).
I am also contemplating giving up meat and fish but FYI, here are some helpful tips re seafood.
“Fortunately, there is something you can do about it. Sign your name to our Sustainable Seafood Pledge, and take a break from eating these overfished species:
Atlantic Flat Fish
And while you’re helping to give these species the chance to repopulate, try some of these delicious and nutritious sustainable alternatives:
Pacific Sardines (wild caught)
Salmon (wild caught, from Alaska)
Barramundi (farmed, from the U.S.)
Rainbow Trout (farmed)
Arctic Char (farmed)”
On West Coast, Looking for Flotsam of a Disaster
By MALIA WOLLAN
Published: March 13, 2012
Wreckage from the tsunami off the coast of Japan last year is slowly making its way to American shores, and beachcombers say the debris has begun to reach land.
Poaching and illicit trade of southern and Atlantic blue fin tuna, Antarctic whale hunting under the bogus auspices of “scientific” research, barbaric capture and slaughtering of wild dolphins in Taiji, massive consumption of shark fins, and so on. – It adds up to at least 10% of the global fish catch for 2% of the world’s population.
The Japanese say they have “new found commitment to conservation”. Bullshit! – And now the Japan Times reports that Japan is using ~¥2.28 billion or U.S. $29 million of earthquake and tsunami relief funds for whale hunt security. “These monies apparently went to equip the whaling ship Shonan Maru 2 with unspecified security equipment designed to battle against the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Ady Gil.”
Recognizing that pragmatic ideas and swift actions are needed (time kills), and that emotional responses alone won’t impact this sickening business, what follows are lessons from Jacques Cousteau’s 1974 Foreword to The Errant Ark by Philippe Diolé. Cousteau commented on the book’s thesis saying, “Man will be doomed. Doomed, that is, unless he has the will to allow animals to survive, free, in their natural state, in their primitive purity. For to preserve animal life is to preserve the environment; and to preserve the environment is to preserve mankind.”
Cousteau added “Every creature is irreplaceable…” and “The quality of human life requires that animals be free, just as it requires that man himself be free.”
He continued saying “All the films shot in the sea by Calypso’s team…preach a single message: that of respect for life.”
“In the sea, face to face with…an almost human dolphin, and even the yawning jaws of a shark, we sense the shame of killing; indeed the impossibility of killing. Yet, it is an ancient belief that animals exist to be killed. It is not even necessary that an animal be edible to be slaughtered. The relationship between men and animals seemed always to end in the same way: with the death of the animals.
Now we prefer to make friends of marine animals instead of killing them. Friends, I said; and not servants. Which means that this new relationship must not be developed for profit, for the sake of training animals to perform in a circus…It disturbs me greatly when I see or hear of dolphins being taught to leap through flaming hoops…To my mind these are violations of the freedom which is the right of our companions on the highway of evolution.”
In closing Cousteau says…the principle of respect for the personality of an animal, with all that this implies of wonder at the fact of life and of mistrust at man’s interference in that life.”
The Japanese cite their culture as a reason. Poor excuse. Preserve tradition but evolve, ancient beliefs and cultures have to adapt and change.
If only we had Captain Cousteau’s vision, passion, voice, and leadership today!
Kudos to the makers of these and other videos that illustrate the sickening truth:
Taiji (Japan) dolphin slaughter
Japanese overfishing (poaching)
More select videos under Playlists @ www.youtube.com/user/FrogmenChannel
Richard E. Hyman
Author of FROGMEN
Yesterday I listened to a fascinating yet troubling webinar about marine debris and the anticipated arrival of Japanese tsunami marine debris in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in early 2012.
It was hosted by Marine Affairs Research and Education (MARE) http://marineaffairs.org/marinedebris.html, publisher of MPA News and founder of http://www.marinedebris.info, an online community and discussion forum on research, management, and prevention of marine debris. Hosting partners included Blue Ocean Sciences http://blueoceansciences.org and the EBM Tools Network http://www.ebmtools.org
The speakers were:
1.) Carey Morishige, Pacific Islands Regional Coordinator, NOAA Marine Debris Program
2.) Ray Born, US Fish and Wildlife Service Permit Manager, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
3.) David Swatland, NOAA Deputy Superintendent, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
4.) Scott Godwin, NOAA Resource Protection Specialist, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
5.) Andrea Neal, President, Blue Ocean Sciences; and Administrator, Digital Ocean Collaborative on Marine Debris
6.) Julia Parish, Field Project Support Assistant and Field Camp Leader, Kure Atoll State Wildlife Sanctuary
They shared satellite images and ground truth information of vast amounts of debris in the Pacific Ocean resulting from the tsunami that destroyed parts of Japan in March of this year. The buoyant portion of that debris is still making its way across the ocean with anticipated landfall expected at the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as early as the first quarter of 2012.
These islands are home to 23 endangered or threatened species including the Hawaiian monk seal, short tailed albatross, and several sea turtle species. The islands also provide habitat for 14 million sea birds, including nesting habitat for over 98% of the Laysan and black-footed albatross worldwide.
Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, which is within the national monument, is the US Federal Aviation Administration’s designated diversionary runway for transpacific flights. It’s sea wall, which protects the runway, has been damaged by and remains threatened by marine debris, e.g. shipping containers and actual ships.
I’m reminded of Jacques Cousteau’s early collaboration with NASA. – For a time this year NASA’s satellite imagery was successfully tracking the debris but unfortunately as the debris disbursed satellites could no longer track it. – Cousteau and NASA used to also derive images from U2 aircraft imaging but the Pacific’s area is too vast to effectively conduct overflights to track debris. Thus, the scientists are now relying on sophisticated computer models to track the debris but models can’t necessarily account for variables such as wave action and storms.
Unfortunately ocean debris is not a new problem. It does however continue to grow. Although there is no good news, at least scientists have begun establishing baseline data. They don’t know the total volume of ocean debris but I think they were referring to the Tsunami’s aftermath, not total ocean debris, when they stated that it is estimated to be 52 million metric tons.
Due to ocean currents, debris travels great distances. In the Pacific there are two particular areas, “garbage patches” where the currents collect an inordinate amount of debris. In between is the “convergence zone”, which also happens to be the Hawaiian Archipelago.
Particular concerns regard hazardous materials, larger structures like the aforementioned shipping containers and ships themselves, which run aground and damage coral reefs, and invasive species like vermin, insects, and seeds, which can all be very problematic and take years if not decades to eradicate.
The organizations mentioned are interested in hearing from sailors traveling between Hawaii and Japan who see debris and request specific information regarding the debris seen and very importantly accurate position coordinates.