Saturday, April 11, 2015

SeaWorld: From a glamorous fantasy to the dark reality.

This was originally written March 30, 2015.

I live on the Space Coast of Florida. I'm on the east coast and what some consider Central Florida, which is the surrounding area of Orlando.

Captivity never made much sense to me, but I didn't give it much thought until a friend enlighten and educated me. At that point, I was reminded about The Cove and started following Ric O'Barry. When I found out that the Sea Shepard's Cove Guardians were actually on the ground in Taiji and actually Live Streaming during the six month drive hunt, I was glued to them. I couldn't believe this was still going on after all these years! As many of you who follow me know, I was watching the live streams on my cell phone, sometimes very late at night and in bed, and posting 'red cove' and 'blue cove' days. I have to tell you, I don't know how these people do it day after day for six months, but I have the utmost respect for them... I was going a little bit crazy by the end of the 2014-2015 season.

I am still in the process of reading Death At SeaWorld by David Kirby. I am learning a lot about the wild orcas... and maybe I haven't read enough yet.

Although I do not outwardly support captivity by going to circuses, zoos, SeaWorld or Marineland, I've always wondered. Yes I have gone, but I don't any more and I have discouraged others from going.

I have always wondered especially about SeaWorld. Could they really be that bad? After all, living in Florida, they are practically rammed down your throat as to all the good they do as far as rescue and release. On the other hand, living in Florida, why would I need to go to SeaWorld to see marine mammals in captivity when I can drive 5 minutes (for free) and see wild dolphins frolic in the water? I have sat at the waters edge, in pure amazement and joy, and watched a mother swim with her baby, watched a dolphin chase a group of fish against the sea wall and jump to catch one trying to get away and just swim free.

I can drive 5 or 10 minutes and watch manatee families stick their noses out of the water and lift their heads to look at you looking at them. I've sat and watched mother and babies side by side eat the vegetation on a quiet day. I've seen big ones just hanging out and not as big ones slowly move around.

To me, these are the enjoyable and unforgettable moments with nature... not the blaring music of “let me entertain you” show of dolphins and orcas behaving unnatural. There is something to be said about being one with nature.

So anyway, back to “it can't be that bad”. Yes it can and it is.

I was living in Florida when Dawn was killed by Tilikum. It was horrible news. But once again, our local news accepted SeaWorld's explanation of the pony tail and to me, it was kept pretty much brushed under the carpet. Instead of 50 Years of Caring, SeaWorld should do something about the 50 Years of Lies... some outright lies, half lies, lies by omission and some even pants on fire! They even were caught in lies in court after Dawn's death, about her death and other incidents.

Yes, I watched Blackfish. To me, it was the story, a very sad story about a whale, who like others was ripped from the sea to become a circus freak and sperm bank. Anyone that knows anything about breeding any kind of animal will tell you his sperm is not the sperm you want to use repeatedly for your gene pool. I guess after 50 years of research and education, SeaWorld didn't learn that in biology yet.

So although I continue to follow postings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, things have been kind of quiet. Until one day, SeaWorld starts making a camotion with #AskSeaWorld, You Ask, We Will Answer campaign. {I did ask, they haven't answered.} I found it odd that they started this campaign at this time because I actually thought they would be waiting for any changes for when their new CEO starts in April... BUT oh my goodness... a book is being released! Not a book by SeaWorld (although I wish they would, but they won't) but by an ex-Ocra trainer!!

BENEATH THE SURFACE THE WHALES, SEAWORLD, AND THE TRUTH BEYOND BLACKFISH by John Hargrove was released on March 24th, 2015. When I went to to pre-order my copy, I was totally amazed at the negative comments already made for a book yet to be released. Sometimes this is a good sign that the book is about to make some pretty big waves! And it has. Can SeaWorld be that bad? YES it can!

I can understand John's desire to be a trainer. I grew up watching Flipper and always wanted to swim with the dolphins but instead I get just as much pleasure watching them swim in the wild and play and forge for fish. Some boys want to be firemen, John wanted to be an orca trainer. It's fine when you are in your 20's and 30's but the hazards of the job catch up with you, the older you get, and I am sure never one is ever really explained that to you at entry level. I don't know about you but most 20 year olds tend to think they are pretty much invincible. In both cases, you pray and are lucky to get out alive.

There is something to be said about loving your job. To be able to wake up every morning and go to a place where you know you are good at it, enjoy being there and enjoy doing what your doing. While you are doing it, you can block out any negativity around you for awhile... but compound it with injuries that are less forgiving and a realization that some policies aren't cutting it anymore, it becomes time to leave.

John didn't have a pet during those years. It made sense. With the crazy hours he kept, the traveling, it made sense BUT his pets were the orcas he worked with day in and day out. I understand the sense of loss he felt leaving them behind. A few years back, I had to give up my dog who had rescued me, traveled with me and started a new life here in Florida together. I understand the hole you have not seeing them again.

I was appalled at the rate of pay trainers received to work with these beings. I made that much in a career of retail and know others who made more. These under-paid trainers were the ones who were to control the orcas so veterinarians could preform exams on the orcas and you know the veterinarians made more.

Through John's daily experiences and insight into the world of captive orcas, you see that things inside this world are not as they seem.
  • A company that holds threats over your head of not only a job,but of the welfare of its orcas in your care, has something very wrong with their corporate mentality.
  • To continue to isolate orcas and keep them in pools that are undeniably too small, day after day, year after year, is nothing more than animal cruelty.
  • To deprive them of fish?! Abuse!
  • To shuffle ocras by airplanes across country and around the world is unnecessary stress. If you don't need that whale at the park why are you still breeding????
I have to say, I loved Jon Stewart's question to John Hargrove on the Daily Show. When discussing calves being taken away from their mothers, Jon asked, well, couldn't they be studying abroad?

This became longer than I expected. I just want you to know that I highly recommend BENEATH THE SURFACE by John Hargrove. I appreciate reading what it's like under the canopy of the fantasy and have learned a lot. I have a new found respect for the trainers, the captives but not SeaWorld. I don't believe, after 50years, SeaWorld has done anything right for their trainers or whales, and all it other captive animals.

New York Times Best Sellers List- Gold Seal

I believe Maya Angelou when she says when you know better, you do better.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Year At The Beach: January 2015 Part 3

A Year At The Beach
January 2015

I have lived my life in coastal towns on Long Island, New York and in Florida. The beach was never more that a fifteen minute drive, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer, depending which beach I decided to go to. I grew up and watched “Flipper” and still call to the local dolphins, here flipper, here flipper... to me, Flipper was a Florida animal. My best experiences with dolphins has been in Florida, in the wild.

While staying in a beach-front house on North Captiva Island, I had the absolute pleasure of watching a dolphin family swim every morning as the sun rose and every evening as the sun set. For the week there, every morning I would wake up before every one else, make coffee and sit outside waiting for “my” new friends to swim by and start their day, and mine. I can't tell you what an awesome feeling it was to watch what seemed to be a mom, dad, and baby play and/or swim by. In the evenings it was more of the same heading back in the opposite direction. Sometimes I'd get lucky and then would frolic about right in front of me. One evening Dad scared me when he decided to chase fish towards the shore. He was so fast that I didn't know he could stop or turn as fast. I jumped because I thought he was coming right up on shore!! I was and still am amazed.

Now living on the coast in Florida, I have many great places to hang out with may new “friends” in the wild. Right here, is the Indian River. I have seen so many dolphins swimming and playing here. I've seen that rush towards shore chasing fish again or in the river near the boat ramps. I love watching mom and baby swimming by the bridge. It's my go-to place for relaxing and enjoying dolphins doing what dolphins do best, swimming free.

It's 2015, and we should all know better that captivity is just plain ole wrong. Scientifically we know so much more about other species, but especially mammals. Living here in Florida, it makes me so sad that there are so many captive entertainment venues that speak of educational benefits when in actuality the only thing educational is that they are behaving this way in captivity which is very different than in the wild. It's very disheartening.

Just think about this: Disney World continues to grown and change with the times. Between the 3 main theme parks, look at the types of exhibits, rides, attractions, programs, and shows they have. They are only restricted by their imagination! Although Animal Kingdom has some animals, they are not there to do tricks for you.

The tricks captive animals are made to do are virtually unnatural. As an example: dolphins in the wild do not eat dead fish. They are taught to eat dead fish as a reward for certain behaviors and/or tricks. If they do not eat, they are force fed by tubes to keep them alive until their spirit is broken and begin to respond to tricks and dead fish.

Monterrey Bay Aquarium in California is one recommended aquarium that truly educates the public about ocean conservation without large mammals in captivity.

Now what if? What if the orcas and dolphins were retired to sea pens and 21st Century Imagination Exhibits were put in there place. All you have to do is check out social media and YouTube to see the possibilities.

More to come...

A Year At The Beach: January 2015 Part 2: #tweet4taiji

A Year At The Beach
January 2015
Continued ~2~


Taiji is a small coastal town in Japan. From all outward appearances that I can tell, it seems to be a scenic town that loves dolphins and whales. But, “don't judge a book by it's cover” comes to mind.

In 2009, The Cove {movie} brought to the attention to anyone who was paying attention the horrific dolphin drive hunting in Taiji, Japan. This hunting has been going on longer than from 2009 but with the knowledge and scientific proof the question is: WHY? This is 2015, and we know better. The only answer I come up with is GREED!

I have never been to Taiji so I can only speak of what I have seen via photographs and the Live Stream of the Sea Shepard’s Cove Guardians.

The dolphin drive hunting is a daily practice during September through March, which is the migration period of dolphins and small whales following their food {fish} and warmer waters. Each morning just as the sun rises, an average of 12 banger boats leave the Harbor and head out on the ocean for their thirst of blood money.
January has been and is known to be a horrific month for dolphins as it is a busy migration month right past Japan. Sometimes within an hour, sometimes a few hours, these hunters locate a pod on the horizon and begin the drive back in to the cove. As we, as humans, depend on our sight, dolphins depend on their sonic hearing. The hunters use this against them by dropping metal poles into the water and bang on the poles with metal creating a wall of sound that is horrible above water, so imagine how it is under water and frightening to the dolphins. Above ground, it sounds like a construction site. The boats surround the pod all the time banging their poles as the frightened dolphins try to flee by swimming away from the sound but towards Taiji. They swim as hard, as fast as possible away not realizing they are swimming towards more horror.
This is where I have asked you to “Think Blue”. This is when I pray to God that these dolphins will swim deep, swim away, swim fast and get away from the monsters on the boats before it is too late... and sometimes they do, just not often enough.
Imagine how frightened they must be and how exhausting. By the time the drive is right outside the Harbor, I still hope and pray but it's not usually good. A couple of banger boats usually go into the Harbor to switch into skiff boats and come back to continue to help with the driving of the pod to the cove.
Once they reach the cove, their fate is sealed with nets.

This is a RED COVE DAY! 

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Year By The Beach: January 2015 Part 1

A Year By The Beach
January 2015

I've started off the New Year without resolutions but with goals. For some reason, if you call them resolutions you don't keep them BUT if you call them goals, they are measurable and attainable.

I have a new primary doctor, thanks to “affordable care” and already taking care of issues physically and mentally. My goals are measurable and hopefully attainable. A lot of my other goals are based on attaining these goals.

I have many things that need to be done around the house that have either been started and not completed or strictly maintenance. Some things are still waiting because I had help, that I no longer have; some not done because of my own physical limitations; some not affordable to have someone do it or they only half do it. My goal is to be able to get my independence back and do for myself.

My Etsy Shop, The Journey's Gifts, was put on vacation mode just around Christmas. The shop needs to be refreshed and I have many new items I'd like to work on for the new year.

If you follow me on Facebook, you will see that I have been following the Sea Shepard Cove Guardians very closely, as well as Ric O'Berry's Dolphin Project and others. I am amazed or more so appalled that the horrific savage slaughter and captivity of majestic dolphins and small whales continues six months of the year.

If you've seen “The Cove”, you know what I am talking about. If not, I suggest you watch it. I will be posting in an effort to advocate and educate as many people as possible this year. My hope is that this year is the end of captivity and slaughters. And just for your information, I am against the continued captivity and entertainment in sea aquariums, dolphinariums, shows, swim with in captivity. In this day and age we should be doing better as we DO know better. More on this to come.

I haven't been “home” since 2010, and this Christmas was more difficult than in the past. I have nieces and nephews that are 2 and 4. What a great age for the holidays. My goal is to get up there this year for the holidays... I'm just hoping it is a mild winter when I get there.

So, today being the day that most people stop whatever resolutions they started on the first, I am just gearing up!
Happy New Year!

A Year By The Beach - January 2015 Intro

Good Afternoon,

I've been away from here and a lot of places for a while... BUT I am back!

I am back from a very dark place and very thankful.  I have been writing posts off-line and will be sharing them over the next few days... and in the days to come, as well as getting back into the groove of things.

Truth is, I fell into a depression.  I was prescribed an anti-depressive that took me to the darkest place I think I've ever been.  After stopping it and getting it out of my system, it was unbelievable.  It was like all the lights went on and the sun was shining all at once!  I have a new plan that doesn't include depression or anti-depressives.  More later.

Anyway, I have a lot to catch up on but just have to do it in phases.  PAIN is my number one issue right now.  I am not ready to have a hip replacement but I have to get my life together and ready for it.  

So for now I wish you all well and hope you will follow along as I get my shit together.