Friday, February 26, 2010

Time for a Federal Investigation into SeaWorld's Negligence in Death of Trainer

Posted by David Phillips
Executive Director
Earth Island Institute

Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins

Dear Friends,

It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Dawn Brancheau, who by all accounts was a loving and talented caretaker for Tilikum (Tilly), the killer whale who took her life at SeaWorld Orlando just days ago.

Along with sadness of this tragic event we can’t help feeling anger toward those who insist upon exhibiting these wild creatures in habitats that can drive them to violence. Dependent on sonar/sound to navigate their vast ocean homes, dolphins and whales are in constant state of distress living in cramped pools, bombarded by noise, stressed by food deprivation and forced to perform.

We understand the love these trainers must feel for the orcas they train, but make no mistake - this wasn’t just a terrible accident, it was a calculated risk on the part of a billion dollar captive dolphin and whale industry. Facts suggest that SeaWorld was well aware of Tilicum’s deadly attacks on trainers.

Captivity is Cruel; Don't Go To A Show

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SeaWorld allowed public and trainer contact with an orca that was a known risk, and after 3 deaths they’re suggesting that it actually continue. SeaWorld has been admonished in the past by an official with the US National Marine Fisheries Service for failure to take prudent and precautionary steps with Tilicum’s health and welfare.

The latest claims that Tilicum was distracted by the trainer’s ponytail are absurd and force us to infer that SeaWorld is guilty of negligence and that it is now trying to cover up repeated deadly orca attacks by resorting to outrageous and disingenuous claims.

We believe this situation warrants the immediate initiation of a federal investigation into SeaWorld’s possible negligence and violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Further information suggests that SeaWorld has covered up additional acts of orca attacks in order to protect its multi-million dollar investment in these creatures and the millions more they make on the backs of their performances.

Finally, we find their claims about conservation and education shallow. If these shows are meant to encourage people to help save these precious creatures then why aren’t they doing more to end the brutal slaughter of thousands and thousands of dolphins and whales off the coast of Japan, Norway and the Southern Seas. Instead, they turn a blind eye, when they could dedicate significant resources to stopping it.

Overall, we believe the conduct of SeaWorld in this matter is reprehensible. SeaWorld’s actions are a gross threat to dolphins, whales, and people and should not be allowed to stand.

These animals belong in the wild.

We support efforts to stop the dolphin slaughter and capture in Japan as well as to educate the public about these magnificent mammals. In the past they led the effort to rescue, rehab and release the killer whale Keiko, made famous in the movie “Free Willy.” Keiko went from languishing in small pool in Mexico City to swimming with wild whales in his native waters in Iceland. He ended up swimming to Norway and living there in a bay with some human care until he died.

After many years training dolphins (including, "Hugo" the very first killer whale in captivity in the Eastern USA), Ric O’Barry came to understand the cruelty that these mammals endure for our entertainment. After the loss of the dolphin “Cathy”, one of the famous Flipper dolphins, O’Barry became an advocate of marine wildlife, working to ensure the safety of all dolphins including killer whales. The Oscar nominated documentary “The Cove” shows, through O’Barry’s eyes, the capture of these graceful creatures under terrible conditions, as well as the wholesale slaughter of dolphins in Japan.

Captivity is Cruel; Don't Go To A Show

Sign on the attached petition:

Thanks for your help!

Ric O'Barry
David Phillips
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

Cove Movie Dolphins Die in Turkey

By Susan Millward, Executive Director
Animal Welfare Institute

The Save Japan Dolphins Coalition is outraged by the deaths of four dolphins at the Sealanya Dolphin Park in Turkey. The dolphins were captured from the wild in Taiji, Japan in 2008 as part of a notorious annual dolphin drive hunt.

"These dolphins were captured in Taiji in the killing cove as depicted in the documentary The Cove, where they were ripped from their families," stated Ric O'Barry, Campaign Director for Save Japan Dolphins. "Their families were then butchered for meat -- the sale of the live dolphins subsidizes the killing for the fishermen. Under these conditions of extreme stress, the deaths of these dolphins in Turkey's Sealanya Dolphin Park were inevitable. Dolphins die an early death in aquarium tanks due to boredom, disease, and stress."

Their short lives in captivity were a stark contrast to their lives in the wild before they were unlucky enough to stray into the path of Taiji dolphin killers. After being spotted with their podmates, they were chased with boats and driven to shore by the fishermen using noise. In panic they were herded into a shallow bay, cut off from the ocean and their former life. These four were then handpicked for a life in captivity in far off Turkey, while their podmates were horrifically butchered for meat, fertilizer or pet food. The Taiji dolphin hunts are the cruel reality of modern day aquariums and “swim-with-dolphins” tourist programs that source from the wild. The money paid by Sealanya Dolphin park for the dolphins is a direct incentive for the Japanese fishermen to continue the hunts that result in the deaths of thousands of additional dolphins a year.

The Taiji dolphin hunts are the subject of an Oscar-nominated film The Cove which features our Coalition’s campaign director Ric O'Barry, who has spent almost half his life trying to shut down the hunts. The hunts run from September through March and in all around 1000 dolphins are killed or captured in the hunts every year. Later this year The Cove, which received a slew of audience awards during its US run, will open across Japan, and, for the first time, the Japanese public will be exposed to the truth that lies on their shores. A media blackout has prevented the story from reaching the Japanese people, who know little about the dolphin killing operation.

Susan Millward, Executive Director of the Washington DC-based Animal Welfare Institute, stated: "The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) refuses to step in and monitor their members and colleagues: The Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) who are directly involved in the Taiji dolphin captures. The Taiji Whale Museum is one of several dolphin brokers in Taiji and a member of JAZA. So long as the aquarium industry has paying customers who want to see dolphins, they will provide a market for wild-caught Taiji dolphins, and the hunts will continue."

Eight other Taiji dolphins who were captured with those who died remain at the Sealanya Dolphin Park.

The Save Japan Dolphins Coalition was formed in November 2006 to combat the killing and capture of dolphins and other small whales in Japanese waters.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Music Industry supports Save Japan Dolphins

Already nominated for an Oscar, the environmental thriller THE COVE brings to light the machinations of the Japanese dolphin hunters. More than 1,000 dolphins are brutally killed each year in the fishing village of Taiji. In protest of this crime against marine mammals, Ocean Care and the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition have also received support from the music industry.

"I will never be able to rid my mind of those horrific pictures," recalls musician and composer Rick Laine. "It was back in 1993 when I first saw films on how dolphins are butchered in
Japan and I was appalled." The native Englishman then worked his way through the negative emotions experienced through that event by writing the song "Cruel Heart."

Together with the Swiss music producer Hape Schuwey, Laine revised the catchy song and donated it to Ocean Care for its campaign against dolphin drives. The Swiss organization then produced a video clip to the song that includes some exclusive film material of wild dolphins which it received as a donation from the renowned American video artist, Diana Thater.

Written and composed by Rick Laine, featuring M.G. Grace, "Cruel Heart" can be procured as a song and ring tone over iTunes. The proceeds flow completely into the campaign against the Japanese dolphin drive.

For further information:

Photo CD Cover - Cruel Heart

Download Cruel Heart on iTunes.

Watch video clip on YouTube.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"The Cove" Goes to the Oscars

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins Coalition

Great news! The award-winning documentary “The Cove” is now in the official running for an Oscar for Best Documentary, along with four other documentaries. The next month will see unprecedented publicity for “The Cove” and our Campaign.

While an Oscar nomination is a tremendous testament to the skill and art of the filmmakers of “The Cove,” it also sheds a welcome light on the actions of the government of Japan in trying to cover up the dolphin slaughter and the poisoning of Japanese people by mercury-laced dolphin meat.

Big thanks go to all “The Cove” filmmaking Team, especially to Director Louie Psihoyos, Executive Producer Jim Clark, Producer Fisher Stevens, and all the team at the Oceanic Preservation Society.

They took big risks and worked hard to make a brave film, and we at Save Japan Dolphins honor them for their well-earned awards including this nomination!

The March 7th broadcast of the Oscar presentations will reach nearly a billion people around the world! People will see “The Cove,” and will be hearing about “The Cove” over the next month.

Our Save Japan Dolphins Team will be working with the media around the world to highlight our ongoing Campaign to educate the Japanese people and end the slaughter of dolphins, once and for all.

I also want to thank all of you who have volunteered your time and given us donations – your support has meant a lot to all our Save Japan Dolphins Coalition Team and me. Without your support, “The Cove” movie would never have been made. Without your support, all the film festivals and honors gleaned by “The Cove” would never have happened. And without your support, the annual slaughter of the dolphins would still be a big secret.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

It is time now for a big push for our cause, especially in Japan, where the lies and blackouts by the Japan Fisheries Agency and the dolphin killers can at last be pierced.

And we must ensure that “The Cove” shows throughout Japan all spring and summer, working to stop the next killing season throughout 2010.

Thanks for your help and support! If you would like to donate to our efforts to get the word out and keep the pressure on in Japan, please

We are also asking you and your friends and neighbors to sign our petition to end the killing of dolphins. We are seeking 1 million signatures, and now have more that 659,000 online. Go to:

Thanks for all your efforts for the dolphins! I know we can end the slaughter, if we work together and get the people of Japan to see “The Cove”.


Ric O’Barry