The Russian “Whale Jail”

What you need to know

In early November news sites caught on to the illegal holding of over 100 whales in Srednyaya Bay near the Russian city of Nakhodka. There are several tiny pens which hold 90 beluga whales and 12 orcas and are guarded by armed men. The animals are believe to have been caught for sale on the black market to circuses and marine parks. An independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, claims the animals have been in detainment since July.

Developments in the case

Russian prosecutors determined the detainment of the animals was for illegal commercial purposes. President Vladimir Putin has ordered that the whales be released upon inspection and decision from specialists to ensure that they are fit for reintegration to the wild as many of the animals were very young when caught.

The four companies that were involved in the capture of the whales actually had permission to catch 13 orcas this year for conservation or educational purposes. The capturing of infants and young whales as a lot of these are is banned in Russia.

The Russian prosecutor general’s office has called on the Interior Ministry to launch an investigation into the capture and sale of seven orcas to China between 2012-2015.

Greenpeace Russia commented that typically when catching a whale from the wild one dies for every one that is caught. It is not an easy process to catch animals as big as whales and typically involves casualties no matter what.

Feb. 28: Charges have been brought against four companies for illegally capturing and holding the whales. These same companies have run into trouble before with illegally capturing and selling animals to amusement parks.

The Animals Health

As of February 28th, three belugas and one orca were marked as escaping their enclosures. Activists are certain this claim is false and that the whales, in fact, died in their holding cells, but to avoid further criminal charges the companies holding the animals filled out official police reports saying they escaped.

There are also cameras, human guards, and heavy-duty nets keeping them in place so the idea that one (let alone 4) escaped is just not believable.

Currently, the whales are being held in very tiny, cramped enclosures in the bay. Ice has also begun to take over the surface of the enclosures. Greenpeace Russia has deemed the conditions of the whales as torture.

How you can help

Please go here to see what you can do to help make sure these whales get released:
http://freerussianwhales.org/en/help/

Images and Video of the “Whale Jail”

 

Credits:

http://freerussianwhales.org/en/russian-scientists-released-photo-ids-of-11-orcas-from-whale-jail/

https://www.newsvl.ru/vlad/2018/10/30/175020/
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6755929/Owners-Russian-whale-prison-charged-illegally-capturing-belugas-orcas.html
https://www.sciencealert.com/whale-jail-spied-in-russia-lifts-lid-on-massive-animal-exploitation-industry
https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/06/asia/whale-jail-scli-intl/index.html

WDC, National Geographic, Free Russian Whales, The Times

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The Truth About Kshamenk

sahenneke1992

I made this blog because I want to set things straight. I want people who read this blog to be aware of the truth no matter how small or insignificant that has to do with how whales are being treated in captivity.

There is a popular rumor that has been going around for years about Kshamenk’s care at Mundo Marino, you have probably heard it and was moved by this rumor to act. It was believed that Kshamenk was kept in an extremely tiny side pool for most of his day with the exception of when he is performing making his condition thought to be worse than even Lolita’s.

The Wild Earth Foundation visited Mundo Marino in 2013 to assess his health  and living situation after giving suggestions from a 2006 assessment. Here is the  pdf if you want to read in full. The report addresses the park’s attempts at  meeting the standards expected from them by public opinion despite the fact  that they have no obligation to do so (legally). Here is the list of updates the park  has made starting with the main concern:

  • Although it has been suggested that Kshamenk and Floppy are kept
    permanently in the satellite pool, they are only held there occasionally,
    spending most of their time in the main pool.
  • The chiller capacity and backup systems have been improved, ensuring the
    right temperature in all the pools at all times, even during the summer months.
  • A shading structure was built
  • The water filter system has been replaced, improving the quality of the water
  • The old sound system was recently changed by a brand new one, which is
    directional, reducing the disturbance on the animals.

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I wanted to point out the fact that Kshamenk does not stay in the tiny side pool as was previously believed and hasn’t for, as you can see, years. I don’t know if he was being forced to previous to the assessment, but he is not now. It is good, great rather, to see Mundo Marino cooperating with public expectancy, but there is still more that we would like to see from them. We still want Kshamenk rehabilitated or at least kept in a sea pen or at the very least in a much better, much bigger pool. I know, we want all orcas in a sea pen, that’s what we want and that’s what we will always want, but in some cases this is not realistic. We will keep pushing for Kshamenk’s release from this sad situation, but if they are adamant about not giving him this and willing to build a bigger pool then we can not oppose it. I wish for something to change for Kshamenk even if it means a bigger pool and no freedom, just change for the better.

Please, please seek out information and not just read one article. Do internet searches to further understand situations and always understand that, despite being self assured, not everyone realizes they are wrong when doing a report. This could have been on purpose by the organization to draw attention to Kshamenk’s situation in a dramatic fashion or it could have been an honest misunderstanding. We are animal rights activists. Our entire existence is based off of fact, thorough research, and a desire to see animals being given a voice. Our word is sorely discredited when we make snap judgements based off of a single article that gets wildly out of hand. I have nothing but respect for the people who created the article, I do not mean to make it sound otherwise. Just make sure to do your research. This is what we are about.

What Is AB2140 and why do you need to know about it?

Better known as the Orca Welfare and Safety Act, AB 2140 will phase out the keeping of killer whales in captivity for entertainment purposes in California. Assemblyman Richard Bloom announced he had introduced the bill after being moved by the documentary “Blackfish”. The bill will make it illegal to import or export killer whales to different parks as well as orca embryos and sperm, captive breeding will also be put to an end, and all killer whales currently being held in tanks in California parks will be moved to sea pens to live out their lives and for attempted release. The bill will be revolutionary and experts say should make a ripple effect.

At the conference Bloom spoke of orca’s close knit family ties, their complex intelligence, and the fact that it is not justifiable to continue keeping them in an environment where they cannot thrive simply for human entertainment. If this passes the legislation will be the most comprehensive protection law for captive orca in more than 40 years. When looked at that way it seems as if the views on the captivity issue are quite outdated. Many scientists who specialize in orca research are backing Bloom’s legislation, hoping to end captivity for all orca.

Link to the bill (PDF):

http://cbsla.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/ab-2140-bill-language.pdf

Bloom is not targeting any particular park nor does he want a park to close because of his bill, but due to the fact that the only park in California that holds killer whales is Sea World it has garnered a lot of backlash from Sea World supporters and Sea World themselves. A Sea World spokesman criticized the Assemblyman for associating with “extreme activists” like PETA and others that routinely protest at their parks.

Important Petitions For This Cause

Here are some petitions that you can sign to show your support for this bill, it is very important to show the state of Califonia that the keeping of such intelligent, family oriented animals in captivity for entertainment is no longer a popular opinion:
Main one to sign – Take Part

Causes.com

Here is a fact sheet about the bill and the orcas that are currently being held in California:

My Stance On Sea World

As an anti-captivity advocate naturally I am against the holding of cetaceans for entertainment reasons. And I specifically want to point that out. While I believe Sea World is a corrupt company whose number one priority is making money, I do believe they do good in the world (even if they don’t put a substantial amount of their income into it). I don’t want Sea World to be shut down. I simply just want the shows to stop to stop the corruption of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity.

Why The Taiji Drive Hunt Is A Big Deal

No matter what way you look at it, the death of a single dolphin is sad. The best we can hope for is that if a dolphin has to die it’s to save it from misery. When a healthy dolphin dies it is just devastating. So, every year when the Taiji Drive Hunt starts up the season it is one of the most tragic periods of the year. Those who recognize the intelligence and empathy of these creatures feel an ongoing, never ending devastation and sorrow.

I know that not everyone knows about these drive hunts and, like many others, I would like to bring awareness to this…event… that they call a tradition. The Taiji Drive Hunt begins on September 1st and proceeds through April, or further. The animals are driven to a cove that has infamously been named The Cove where they pick out the ones they want to sell and slaughter the others.

  • First off the Dolphins are not so much a renewable resource. Unlike cows, we do not breed dolphins to produce meat and continue to replenish the species. Instead, we are hunting wild dolphins without giving back. The amount of dolphins, various species, killed during these hunts every year ranges from 800 to 2,000. These are absolutely devastating numbers.
  • The animals that are involved in the slaughter are inhumanely killed. The technique the fisherman use to kill the animals does not provide them an instant death.
  • Mercury. It can be a big deal. Being carnivores anything they eat will have mercury making the amount that they carry hold potentially horrible effects to humans. If humans consume enough meat that holds mercury it can cause some pretty bad issues. Dolphin meat is a definite health concern and it should honestly be illegal from that alone.
  • Last, but definitely not least. The hunt stocks aquariums all over the globe. It has been stated that U.S. aquariums do not participate in the purchasing of animals caught in these hunts, but whether that’s true or not it is known that Japan as well as other countries do get their animals from this event. Not only do these animals have to witness the horrifying massacre of their family, but afterward they are shipped off to a facility where they are trained to perform. When not in the shows they are left to nothing but mindless drones swimming around in circles in their tanks or floating out of miserable boredom. The hunt is funded mainly by aquariums when they purchase a dolphin from them. The price of a single dolphin can range from $40,000 – $80,000. Couple that price with each of the over 100+ dolphins they have sold this year alone and you can see why the drive is so persistent in staying around.

“But, it’s their tradition. Who are we to tell them to stop doing something they’ve done for over 400 years?” Yeah, apparently that is not the case. Documentation shows that this ‘tradition’ has only been going on for 45 years, not 400. And even if it had been going on for 400 years and was a legitimate tradition, why would that make it ok? It wouldn’t.

Here are some links to further educate you on the matter. They go far more in depth on the topic and explain the points that I’ve made. They can also point you in the right direction on how you can help end these hunts.

Save Japan’s Dolphins

Cove Guardians

Economics of the Hunt

If there are any other links or points you think I should add just say so in the comments or contact me personally.

Miscarriages In Performing Orcas Caused By Slide Out?

Image

The above photo is of Gudrun, an Icelandic female who lost her calf presumably after being told to go on the slide out during the later stages of her pregnancy.

It is common knowledge that a beached killer whale is a doomed killer whale. There are multiple reasons for this. One: They can’t get back in the water. Two: The weight of their bodies crushes their internal organs providing a slow, painful death. It is also common knowledge that there are whales out there called Transients, or Biggs whales that hunt other mammals and will tactfully beach themselves to get a seal if it is in the water. These whales are masters at this art and rarely over shoot their goals and get stranded; however they do not stay on the beach nearly long enough for their weight to have an impact on their organs. They get up there and get out whether they have the kill or not.

Now, let us discuss the very popular slide out (an unnatural behavior to Resident Orcas). Not only would these whales in particular (with the possible exception of Kshamenk who is a Biggs orca) ever beach themselves for any reason other than to die, they would definitely not do it for as long as they do in a show. The amount of time a whale will spend on the slideout varies, but it is always long enough for everyone to get a good picture and to gawk at their size. Sometimes the whales may even stay up there for the length of a speech. We know that the weight of a whale can crush their organs, but how long do they have to be on that stage before it really starts to do some damage? Not only that, but these whales perform every single day. It’s one thing for them to be on a stage out of water for 3 or so minutes, but to do it almost every day, sometimes several times a day, can start to raise questions on the effect it would have on the animal.

Of course it is very hard to tell if this does have an effect which is why this post is entirely speculation, but after reading Gudrun’s story and then looking at the statistics: http://orcapod.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Pregnancy_Stats it starts to make a person wonder. What is even more perplexing is that this hasn’t been thought of before or at least if it has then it hasn’t gone very far. Everyone knows that the slide out (for those who are close enough and those who look at pictures online) is the highlight of the orcas tricks. It’s amazing to see just how big they are and to be able to look in their eyes and see them looking back. So, this is definitely something that happens a lot every day for most whales. It has to at least have some serious consideration that this would have an overall effect on whales at some point, after so many and long beachings.

So, if this alone can effect a normal whale that typically slides out when involved in a show, then certainly it would have an effect on a pregnant mother especially in the more developed stages of the pregnancy. They have to sit up there without any support and pose for several minutes before being aloud back down in the water to relieve the strain they must be feeling. And it’s one thing to consider that it’s not only during the shows that these whales slide out. They also do it to be weighed and for practice before-hand. I do not know the specific details and which orca does what in a show. I don’t even know if marine parks have actually put a rule in place for pregnant whales and slide outs, but I think the overall effect may be worth looking into. I truly hope this isn’t the case, but it would make a lot more sense on why there are so many miscarriages and still births in captivity. The number is completely outrageous and very obviously a sign that something is wrong. Also keep in mind that the miscarriages and stillbirths could also, mostly, be attributed to the mothers stress of their captivity and probably many, many other stresses they feel about their situation. The stress factor is huge and I will admit probably the biggest reason for the unsuccessful births, but I can’t see how the slide out wouldn’t have an effect as well. Surely something so repetitive, even for just a couple of minutes, couldn’t go without an overall negative effect.

Again, this article is just speculation and I am more than open to thoughts and ideas and facts (if you have them) to prove one way or the other why my own thoughts are or are not correct. I would love the input. Please, remember to keep it civil when replying to this post. Rudeness will not be tolerated.

Gudrun’s Story: http://endkillerwhalecaptivity.tumblr.com/post/29580108236/john-and-jeff-had-previously-discussed-gudruns 

Suicide In Whales and Dolphins

Dolphin Commits Suicide in Hong Kong

False alarm: This dolphin did not die; however, the officials at Ocean Park say that this is normal behavior for this individual dolphin since her capture. Obviously this is not ‘normal’ behavior and something is very wrong here regardless.

Seeing this picture does bring up a good topic of discussion. Suicide in captive whales and dolphins is actually not new and some will dare to say it is common. Some of the famous suicides were done by today’s popular cetaceans.

Hugo

  Hugo

  Hugo is known well for being the whale that Lolita    shared a tank with at the Miami Seaquarium and then ultimately ending his own life by ramming himself headfirst into the side of their tank. It was reported that he has done this on several occasions, even breaking the aquarium glass at one point.

Kathy

Cathy

 Or otherwise known as one of the Flipper dolphins. While she was a cast member in this much loved TV series, Cathy really gained her fame after her death through the memory of her former trainer Ric O’Barry who, directly after her death, decided to fight captivity and to stop the Taiji dolphin slaughters.

Cathy ended her life by taking her last breath and sinking to the bottom of her pool, right in front of her former trainer, changing him and the face of captivity forever.

Aside from these two very sad tales there have been several cases where it is thought that dolphins and whales have committed suicide while being held in captivity. Through scientific research it is said that whales and dolphins are conscious breathers. They are not like humans where we breathe without thinking, every breath for them is a conscious effort. If they wanted to end it all all they would have to do is close their blowholes.

There are some people who dismiss that whales and dolphins are conscious thinkers. They say that they are programmed to survive and don’t have the intention to end their own lives. Some scientists say that despair is not something that marine mammals feel. This is where other scientists and many advocates have to disagree. It is common knowledge that even cats and dogs can feel despair so why would it make sense for something as intelligent as a whale or dolphin, who have been proven to have empathy levels higher than humans, to not feel these same intense emotions?

We are past the days when anthropomorphizing whales and dolphins is unreasonable. They have proven to us that they feel the same despair in the death of a family member as we do and they have also proven to us that, like us, they do not do well being locked up. Something that officials for whatever reason continue to overlook is that the average life span of a killer whale in captivity is less than half the life span of orcas in the wild. Killer whales in the wild can live between 50-80 years on average (males living the least amount of time and averaging around 50 years) which would mean that on average captive whales die before even entering adulthood by orca standards. It’s a very sad realization that has gone ignored for so long. What is even more sad is being able to look at Lolita and know that she is a miracle whale, but also realize that she could literally go downhill any day now. What is sadder than that? She is only middle aged.

It is a clear indication that, “Hey, something is wrong here.”