December 22, 2015:
Unna at SeaWorld Texas has passed away yesterday, just a week before her 19th birthday. She had been battling a fungal infection for several months (see below).
Over the years SeaWorld attempted many times times to get Unna pregnant, but without success. In 2006 she went through the trauma of a stillbirth.
Source: WFAA 8 abc
December 9, 2015:
Two days ago 9-year-old female Ran 2 and 7-year-old male Earth switched places to improve breeding possibilities. Ran 2 is now at Kamogawa Sea World and Earth at Port of Nagoya Aquarium. In the process both young orcas are now separated from their mothers Stella and Lovey, which is among the most traumatising events imaginable for a killer whale.
December 9, 2015:
Renowned orca researcher Dr. Ingrid Visser and attorney Matthew Spiegl have published a scientific paper titled “CITES and the Marine Mammal Protection Act: Comity and Conflict at Loro Parque”, which is an eye-opener on how marine parks manipulate legal procedures to “launder” an illegally obtained animal, in this case Morgan.
Source: Free Morgan Foundation
November 10, 2015:
SeaWorld intends to change its San Diego killer whale show to a more “natural” one, phasing out the current circus act.
Makes life safer for the trainers, not so much improvement for the orcas. SeaWorld is obviously desperate to fight the tidal wave of change in the attitude towards killer whales in captivity. Hopefully they’ll come to realize that the current business model needs to change completely, not just on the surface.
November 10, 2015:
U.S. Representative Adam Schiff has announced that he will introduce the Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement (ORCA) Act. This landmark legislation would phase out the captivity of orcas so that their display ends with this generation. Specifically, it would prohibit the breeding, the “taking” (wild capture), import or export of orcas for the purposes of public display. This legislation would allow for the orderly phasing out of the display of this species, giving orca-holding facilities time to transition to a more humane future.
It has to be seen whether this legislation can be turned into actual law. Hopefully rather soon, before SeaWorld starts shipping off their orcas to future parks in the Middle East…
Source: Rep. Adam Schiff
November 10, 2015:
A new video has been published that shows the terrible conditions at which beluga and killer whales are held at TINRO’s Seaside Dolphinarium in Russia. Apparently one of the orcas there, a little female, has been named Malvina. The director of TINRO calls orcas “parasites” that “steal” fish, which tells all about this “research” facility…
Source: Captive Russian Orcas
October 13, 2015:
19-year-old male Valentin passed away yesterday at Marineland Antibes, France, after the park had been hit by major flooding on October 3rd, which destroyed 90% of the park and did major damage to the tank’s water system.
Valentin’s mother Freya had already died this June (see below). There are also reports that 14-year-old female Wikie is in trouble as well.
October 9, 2015:
SeaWorld received a major blow to its controversial breeding program when the California Coastal Commission only approved the planned expansion of SeaWorld’s San Diego facility under the condition that SeaWorld ends captive breeding. The relevant amendment basically prohibits SeaWorld from breeding, exporting or importing killer whales except for a very limited number of rescue cases.
September 29, 2015:
28-year-old female Unna at SeaWorld Texas is battling a serious fungal infection.
Source: Voice of the Orcas
September 29, 2015:
Look out, SeaWorld, there is a new website out there fact-checking your statements! It is run by killer whale experts Dr. Naomi A. Rose, Dr. Ingrid N Visser and Candace Calloway Whiting.
Source: SeaWorld Fact Check
August 15, 2015:
Three more killer whales have been caught in Russian waters over the past month. Two have been captured by TINRO, the Russian Pacific Scientific Research Fisheries Center, based in Vladivostok in charge of coordinating fisheries research in the Russian Far East (Pacific) waters. The other one was caught by a local team thought to be hired by either by the White Sphere/White Whale/Aquatoria group of companies or by Primorsky Aquarium in Vladivostok which opens its new facility this autumn and is thought to want to exhibit killer whales.
Source: Erich Hoyt
August 26, 2015: Update from a Russian News site with quite horrific details regarding the fate of adult orcas killed during those captures. Apparently all three captured orcas are now at TINRO’s Seaside Dolphinarium.
“Earlier, captors kept belugas in the sea pens at one the bays of the Chkalov island. Currently, there are two young killer whales owned by TINRO-Center. Yuri Blinov, deputy director of TINRO, said these orcas will provide some research at first, but then they will be sold and more likely to China. – “We can’t release such goods back to the ocean!”
At the end of July one more whale was captured, tagged and released to the ocean. But that was done not for scientific research, not at all. Bronnikov A., local businessman says, it’s necessary to know where the whales are and how many of them located in the area. “We are in this industry for long”, – he added, – “And we vote for import substitution: who needs a captive-born whale from our enemies – Americans? Only wild, only from Far-East!” A price of a wild-caught orca from the Sea of Okhotsk can reach the mark of $15 000 000.
Ph.D. Olga Shpak researches orcas and belugas for last few years. She is convinced, that most part of captured orcas are from the same troubled population. Their behavior and the number of the whales in this population are unknown. “Once we tried to take a sample and we got too close to the orca. Probably we disturbed the whale: it swam closer to our boat and strongly slapped the water surface with its flukes,” – says Olga, – “Where is the guarantee that these animals won’t harm anyone in captivity, like Tilikum? I won’t give that guarantee.”
This is not a secret: the capture is a strictly concealed process. While applying for a job in a capture-team, each catcher leaves it’s signature in the document which says not to disclose information about the methods of capture. But since there are no secrets to the closest village, local people know their “heroes” and how they “take” the orca from the sea. “Everything is simple: you or an orca. All grown females and males, who tried to save the juveniles from captors, were killed.”
Last month, three more orcas arrived to the sea pens at TINRO-Center, where Narnia was kept before. Black shiny noses of young whales pointed at the corner of their “cage”, while the air filled with loud and plaintive crying sounds. During the first week of August, a few grown orcas swam close to the shore near Livadia – place, next to the Srednaya bay, where all the captured whales go. Did that pod of adults hear these crying sounds and try to find their lost pod members? Absolutely possible.”
June 20, 2015:
33-year-old female Freya passed away today after fighting an undisclosed illness for several months. Freya leaves behind 20-year-old son Valentin.
She suffered four stillbirths between the years 1991 and 2003. Freya was caught off Iceland in October 1982 at about age 1, together with long gone Haida 2, Kim 2, Nootka 4 and an unnamed male calf.
June 3, 2015:
Miami Seaquarium is finally no longer allowing trainers to work in the water with Lolita. This comes as result of a citation issued by Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 2014.
Source: Miami New Times
May 31, 2015:
By a landmark bill the Canadian Province of Ontario has banished the breeding and purchase of orcas. Unfortunately this bill does not include 39-year-old Kiska, who remains in solitary confinement at Marineland Ontario..
Source: The Georgia Straight
March 27, 2015:
Former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove has written a brilliant book (Beneath The Surface) about his experiences as a killer whale trainer.
Highly recommended to learn more about the conditions of killer whales in captivity, especially at SeaWorld.