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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See on www.adventure-journal.com

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

See on Scoop.it#OrcaAvengers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: Glen Scarborough/Flickr

See on www.onegreenplanet.org

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

See on Scoop.it#OrcaAvengers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image source: Glen Scarborough/Flickr

See on www.onegreenplanet.org

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

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

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

See on www.thedodo.com

14 New Species of Dancing #Frogs Discovered in India

See on Scoop.itOur World.

Scientists from the University of Delhi have discovered 14 new species of dancing frogs. The lead scientist of the research is University of Delhi professor Sathyabhama Das Biju. The frogs, which belong to the Micrixalidae family, were found in remote areas of the mountains of Western Ghats in southern India. 

The name “dancing frogs” comes from the unique foot-flagging behavior the male frogs make. The males use the behavior to try and draw the attention of females. Take a look: 

See on www.sciencespacerobots.com

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

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

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

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

How do I become a whale biologist and study orca?

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

See on www.orcaresearch.org

Government destroys 50 sharks in trial programme – but fails to catch a single great white blamed for fatalities.

See on Scoop.itOur World.

ADAM WITHNALL Wednesday 07 May 2014 More than 170 sharks have been caught and 50 destroyed as part of Australia’s controversial culling policy, government figures have revealed.

Opponents of scheme say it is hurting the wrong shark species and doing nothing to protect beach-goers.

Officials said the programme was “successfully restoring confidence” among beach-goers in Western Australia, but opponents have been critical after it emerged that the animals caught did not include a single great white – the species most often blamed for fatal attacks.

The trial scheme involved placing drum lines along seven of the state’s most popular beaches, and while tiger sharks were the most commonly caught there were also five protected makos, four of which were either killed or found already dead on the line.

The largest shark caught measured was at Floreat Beach, and measured 4.5m (15ft). All the animals destroyed were longer than 3m (10ft).

The government is now seeking permission to extend the programme for the next three years, but opposition politicians described attempts to justify the cull as “utter nonsense”.

See on www.thedodo.com