I had the pleasure of being able to catch a one-time screening of Blackfish at the USA Film Festival in Dallas this weekend. I had high expectations for this film following many positive and amazing reviews; I was blown away and all my expectations were all met plus some!
The film opens with a powerful scene that will draw you in almost instantly. The interviews performed by ex-SeaWorld trainers were incredible: moving, emotional and heartbreaking at times. Several of their accounts in this film were brand new to the public. Former employee Carol Ray shares a memory about the removal of the original baby Shamu, Katina, and her mother, Kalina’s heart wrenching reaction had me in tears along with the entire theater. Another former trainer, John Hargrove, recalls a similar event with yet another baby ripped away from its mother. Seeing the chilling footage of this beautiful being crying out for her baby broke my heart; that scene will forever remain vivid to me.
Tilikum, the Killer Whale responsible for Dawn Brancheau’s death in 2010, is not portrayed as a killer or monster in this movie. It’s apparent the film maker was careful to paint a more insightful picture of an Orca who has spent many years of his life suffering. Many detailed narratives from previous trainers and Orca experts add to this to prove to the public a very important point skipped over by the media; perhaps Tilikum isn’t the only one responsible for such an awful situation. The film is thought provoking enough you will question the very facility you thought you trusted!
Brace yourself for other scenes in this movie that will move you to tears; bring tissues because you will need them! The terrifying near-death scenes of Orca attacks on trainers will have you gripping the edge of your seat. SeaWorld’s awful PR spins of these attacks later presented to the public as “trainer error” will leave you feeling betrayed and angry. Lastly, SeaWorld’s complete and utter disregard for their employees safety will leave a lasting impact sure to change your views on captivity forever. Overall this film was powerful, emotional, sensitive, and informative. It will forever be viewed as a “game changer” in the business of holding Killer Whales in captivity. Visiting SeaWorld will never be the same for you once you’ve viewed this film.
Blackfish is slated for national theater-wide release this summer. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled on the Blackfish website and Facebook page for more up-to-date information. You won’t want to miss this, I assure you!
We tend to get the same question on a daily basis, “What can I do to help?”. We have constructed this guide specifically for you in mind! Below are ten tips to be a better animal advocate for our oceans:
1) Utilize social media! Teach yourself how to use Facebook and Twitter. There are many great videos and how-to’s on the Internet. We highly recommend this video for Twitter and these written instructions for Facebook.
2) Read as many articles and books as possible. If you see us post an article on our Facebook page you should take the time to read it; we post these articles to further educate you on important issues.
3) Read petitions before you sign them. We say this to ensure that you know exactly what you are backing when you sign it. More times than not people don’t actually read the petitions wording and end up supporting something that they actually don’t agree with.
4) Respond to a call to action! If you are unable to fax or call then email or pass on the information to someone who can. The more people that respond and take action the bigger the impact we will have.
5) Share information on social media! Once you’ve figured out the basics of Facebook and Twitter, we strongly suggest “sharing” articles, books, movies and images on a regular basis. In doing so you are spreading the word to other people.
6) Wear t-shirts related to your cause when you are going to be “out and about”. You may garner some attention or you may lead someone to decide to educate themselves further! We can’t help but suggest a Fins and Fluke, Occupy Marineland, Sea Shepherd or Save Japan Dolphins t-shirt!
7) Talk to your friends and family about the causes that are most important to you. This goes hand in hand with reading the most recent articles and studies so you know exactly what you are talking about.
8) Write a blog! Even if it’s just about your thoughts on Taiji or global warming, you are still doing your part. If we can all come together and support each other for the oceans it’s worth it in the end. If you have an article or blog post you’d like us to repost please send it to our email or Facebook page!
9) Volunteer for an organization you respect. All around the world there are opportunities to get involved whether you are in a landlocked state or out on open water. We recommend getting involved in any shape or form and lending your spare time to something you care about. If you can’t volunteer we highly suggest donating even a small amount to an organization the you support.
10) Finally, keep up the great work! We are impressed and inspired by people who care and who continue to strive to improve the earth we live on. In reading these tips it’s apparent that you have compassion for our oceans and we appreciate you!
For many grocery shoppers a dolphin-safe label on their tuna can be a huge incentive to buy that product. Let’s face it; millions of people around the world adore dolphins. Buying a can of tuna that is advertised to the public that no dolphins were harmed can bring a sense of comfort. But what does the “dolphin-safe” label really mean? Does it mean that dolphins were safe from catch methods, or does it mean that there is no dolphin meat in that product?
The current US laws on dolphin-safe labeling can be extremely misleading to the public. When the Marine Mammal Protection Act was created and later enforced, dolphins in US waters were finally safe from tuna fishermen. However, this does not address tuna fish caught in other parts of the world. The dolphin-safe label seen on almost all cans of tuna in American grocery stores does not actually cover the protection of dolphins, and other marine life, outside of the Eastern Tropical Pacific. The label actually only takes the method of fishing into consideration and NOT the bycatch. Taking into account that tuna is the number one seafood import in America this news should be extremely alarming to consumers. “Dolphin-safe” labels should not be deemed eco-friendly or even dolphin-friendly for that matter.
After further digging it is apparent that the tuna fishing industry is left unregulated by any agency. The Campaign for Eco-safe tuna reports that “98% of tuna sold in the United States originates from unmonitored and untracked fisheries where thousands of dolphins are killed every year”. Does this mean that there is a possibility that dolphin meat could actually be in your tuna can? Recent statistics say that 1 in 5 people believe that “dolphin-safe” means no dolphin meat is in the can itself. The sad and very tragic fact of the matter is that dolphins have been harmed and killed due to tuna fishing methods and later discarded as bycatch.
Shark Conservation, for many animal advocates, is a hot topic. With a study released just last month in Marine Policy we are looking at a large drop in shark population numbers. The study suggests that 3 sharks are killed every second, totaling around 100 million a year. Where are all these sharks going, might you ask? Obviously a large percentage of these majestic predators are being slaughtered for the shark-fin trade, but what about the tuna industry? It is reported by several organizations that sharks are indeed a bycatch in the tuna fishing business. The fishing practices of these companies also cause harm to other species of animals in the oceans including whales, turtles and seabirds. The sad truth to this matter is that sharks have also been harmed and killed by tuna fisherman and later discarded.
It’s time to take a stand; action is everything! The current Dolphin-safe Tuna labeling is outdated and destructive to our oceans. The United States needs to update the tuna fish labels and allow a neutral international commission to regulate, track, and oversee the tuna Fish caught in our oceans and sold in our stores. We truly need a new system that considers bycatch instead of catch methods. As a consumer we urge you to please educate yourself further in this matter, talk to your local lawmakers and make conscious efforts to decrease your consumption of canned tuna.
Marineland Canada is one of Ontario’s most popular tourist attractions. Until Phil Demers, a Marineland senior trainer, went public (via the Toronto Star) with how Marineland treats its animals, no one really knew about the horrific conditions in which those animals live and die. You can find the Star’s extensive investigation series into what goes on behind-the-scenes at Marineland here.
In response to Demer’s actions, Marineland and its owner, John Holer, fired and sued Christine Santos, who happens to be Demers’ girlfriend. And now Demers has been sued as well, AND he has been threatened with additional legal action as well. Demers and Santos now face crippling legal bills, just to defend themselves, and financial ruin if they can’t muster a legal defense.
What can you do to help?
1. Please make a donation of any amount to Phil and Christine’s Legal Defense fund on Indiegogo. Even a donation of $5 or $10 – will help. If you can afford more, fantastic! And we are grateful for any amount you can give, large or small. The Indiegogo campaign has just two weeks to run, and we need to blast through the fund-raising target of $25,000, and go as high as possible, to show Marineland that it can’t get away with using lawsuits to attempt to punish and bankrupt whistleblowers. Click here to donate – the site is easy to use, please contact us if you have any questions or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. After you’ve donated, please change your Facebook and/or Twitter profile picture to the shot of Phil and Smooshi, the walrus whose welfare motivated Phil to speak out about Marineland. Then consider updating your Facebook status to: “I’ve just changed my profile picture to show I made a donation to help fight for the animals at Marineland, and to protect marine park whistleblowers. If you would like to take a stand, too, find out more here,” and include a link to the donation site. You have permission to use the photo in this article.
3. Please help us spread the word on Twitter. Here are some sample tweets you can copy & paste:
Pls take a stand 4 #marinepark #animals & against #whistleblower intimidation by @MarinelandCan #Smooshi #Kiska http://www.indiegogo.com/Marinelandabuse
@MarinelandCan intimating #Whistleblowers – take a stand & donate to help #Animals & #Smooshi & #Kiska http://www.indiegogo.com/Marinelandabuse
I donated to #Whisteblowers intimated by @MarinelandCan to save #animals & #Smooshi – you can too here: http://www.indiegogo.com/Marinelandabuse
Help #Whistleblowers & #Smooshi by donating to #Whistleblowers who take a stand against @MarinelandCan here: http://www.indiegogo.com/Marinelandabuse
4. Spread the word on any other social networks you use including Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr etc.
5. Finally, if you have any legal connections, or know of any Ontario lawyers who might consider taking Demers’ case on pro bono or at a reduced rate, please private message us or email email@example.com
As a new organization we are keen to set goals for ourselves in the new year. We have decided to write a list of new years resolutions for 2013; these are all things we wish to achieve realistically. All of these points are in no particular order, we deem them to all be important and hope to resolve each one.
- A member from our team, Paige Nelson, will be present for the Marineland opening day protest. We will continue to “cover” MarineLand and the ex-trainers who have bravely spoken out about the neglect to the marine mammals presently living at this facility.
- Continued pressure on Yahoo to stop the sale of Whale meat on their website. You can find an important petition here. Additionally we will be starting an email campaign on this in the near future.
- We are going to continue to promote this petition to APHIS & the USDA to reinstate the swim-with-dolphin-program regulations. We believe in protecting the dolphins, even if they are forced to be in captivity (something we obviously wish to change in time).
- We are hoping to raise enough funding for the first Marine Sanctuary in Europe for baby Marco’s the dolphin. You can find more info about this here.
- The pressure will be kept on IMATA & WAZA for the sake of the dolphins in Taiji. Another important petition to take action right now can be found here.
- Keep your eyes peeled for more information pertaining to the application to de-list the Southern Resident Killer Whales. There will be talking points available and instructions on how to make a public-comment.
- We will continue the good fight for better Manta Ray protections world-wide. We are hoping to have some events pertaining to this in the future.
- We will keep the pressure on Resorts World Sentosa regarding their 24 wild-caught dolphins. The goal is to have them all released back into the wild. An event to send an email to the resort is here.
- We would like to see a world-wide ban on Shark Finning. We will be hosting several events nation-wide throughout the year calling for a ban on the sale of Shark fin soup. Keep your eyes peeled on our facebook page for those.
- Lastly, we will continue to support other organizations that share the same common goals as us. We hope to partner with a few very important organizations in the future to cover as much ground as possible.
The list may seem long and daunting, but we are a group of passionate, hard-working and dedicated individuals to our cause. Keep your eyes peeled, 2013 is going to be a good year for our oceans!