Tuesday 1 July 2014

Addressing the Seaworld Myths Article.

The following article looks at some issues believed to be myth, but in my opinion some of the things stated also need addressing as the information is not correct and the best way to get the info right is to work together and unravel the discrepancies, so here is my opinion to the statements.

This series will look at statements circulating publicly about the parks, some by those for the parks and some by those against.  Some, like the fact that Shamu’s mother was killed by a harpoon, are true.  Others are complete fabrications.  And some, like today’s, either add unrelated information or omit facts, on purpose or by accident.

Did you know that “62 Orcas Have Died at SeaWorld – Not a Single One From Old Age?”
That’s the title of a piece appearing on The Dodo and written by Jacob Krushel.  It uses data from the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS), the nonprofit behind the film “The Cove,” to come to its conclusion.
The first problem is the inclusion of Komogawa Sea World in Japan (unlike how it’s written by Krushel, note the space I placed between Sea and World, as that’s the actual spelling of the park).  Activist groups, such as Sea Shepard, often attempt to link the American chain with this Japanese park in an effort to tie SeaWorld (US) with the Japanese drive fisheries, from which Komogawa has a history of obtaining animals.
 I agree and said so on the articles that Kamogawa shouldn't have been included, so taking those out it makes 45 dead orca at Seaworld -  Baby Shamu 2,  Bjossa, Canuck, Canuck 2, Frankie, Gudrun, Haida 2, Halyn, Kahana, Kalina, Kandu, Kandu 3, Kandu 5, Kanduke, Katerina, Keanu, Kilroy, Kona, Kona 2, Kotar, Nootka, Nootka 4, Orky 2, Ramu, Samoa, Sandy, Shamu, Shawn, Splash, Sumar, Taima, Taku, Winnie, Winston, 1986 Kandu 5's calf,  1994 Nootka 4's calf,  1996 Gudruns calf,  2006 Unna's female calf , 1987 fetus found at necropsy of Koana 2,  1991 Seaworld Florida Kenau dies during 12th month of pregnancy, 1992 Samoa dies during labor killing calf,  2001 Haida 2 dies during 5th month of pregnancy ,2010 Taima dies during labor 1994 Haida 2's female calf, Vicky.

Though SeaWorld has had a longstanding business of exchanging animals with this Japanese park, it does not have a financial interest in Komogawa nor in the orcas that reside there.  But did SeaWorld capture and sell orcas to Komogawa?
Two of Komogawa’s early orcas came from the same notorious orca capture as Lolita at Penn Cove in August 1970.  A 1977 chart of live capture statistics for killer whales on the US and Canadian Pacific Coast, compiled by SeaWorld’s Edward Asper and Lanny Cornell, shows that 80 orcas were caught at this event.  Four died in the netting (the three juveniles who were later weighed down with stones and chains, along with an adult), and sixty-nine were released, resulting in seven captures.

Based on data from Erich Hoyt, those seven orcas were named Tokitae (Lolita), Lil Nooka, Winston (Ramu), Clovis, Ramu 4, Jumbo, and Chappy.  They went, respectively, to the Miami Seaquarium, Sea-Arama in Galveston, Texas, SeaWorld San Diego, Marineland Antibes in France, and Marineland in Australia.  Jumbo and Chappy were both sent to Komogawa Sea World, where they both died within four years.
 Winston was actually sold to Windsor Safari Park UK, he was extremely aggressive and when it was decided that Ramu was becoming too big for his tank and as Seaworld were looking for a young male for their breeding programme, since they had been banned from capturing after the Penn Cove incident, he was sold to them.

This famous capture was conducted by Ted Griffin and Don Goldsberry under the company name of Namu, Inc.  It was not until later that Goldsberry would would work as a direct contractor for SeaWorld and the marine park company would apply for permits to capture in Washington State waters.  SeaWorld was not involved in any way with the capture and sale of Jumbo and Chappy, so they can be eliminated from The Dodo’s list.
 Where does it say in the Dodo article that Seaworld were banned at Lolita's capture?
It was in 1976 Washington state waters were closed to killer whale captures, in the aftermath of the notorious Budd Inlet killer whale capture of the same year. The whale roundup and capture was witnessed by Ralph Munro, an assistant to Washington State Governor Dan Evans. Munro happened to be sailing in Puget Sound at the time. He reports that Sea World's captors were using aircraft and explosives to herd and net the whalesa clear violation of the terms of their collection permit. When Washington State Governor Dan Evans learned of this, he sued Sea World. All of the whales were eventually released, and a Seattle district court ordered Sea World to give up its permit-granted right to collect killer whales off Washington. There is no doubt of Seaworld's involvement in these captures!

Komogawa Sea World eventually began acquiring orcas through the Icelandic live capture fishery.  It is well established that SeaWorld, under the guidance and expertise of Don Goldsberry, played an instrumental role in this fishery’s formation.  But according to “The Icelandic live-capture fishery for killer whales, 1976-1988,”  a 1988 paper by Johann Sigurjonsson and Stephen Leatherwood:
“With the exception of permits issued to a French national for 2 animals in 1975 and 2 in 1976, all permit holders have been Icelandic.  The Sædyrasafnid or its director, Mr. Jon Kr. Gunnarsson, received permits for 56 animals and, and the more recently established company Fauna of Hafnarfjordur, permits for 16 animals.”
There are a number of activists who believe SeaWorld was secretly running the entire Icelandic operation, but using the Sædyrasafnid Aquarium as a frontman.  Likewise, a 2001 report by WDCS, titled “Captive Orcas: ‘Dying to Entertain You’” states that FAUNA “was nothing more than a ‘cover’ enabling Sea World to covertly continue capture operations.”  The problem with such statements is that there is no documentation or testimony to back them up.  Without such, the facts must be taken at face value with SeaWorld having no direct role in the sale of Icelandic orcas to Komogawa Sea World.
With regards to the Icelandic captures - there is documented evidence showing Seaworld's association -  when Goldsberry went to Iceland. He did not want to be officially involved in the new capture operation but agreed to lend his expertise to W.H. Dudok van Heel, zoological directory of the Dutch Dolfinarium Harderwijk, and J¢n Kr. Gunnarsson, director of S‘dyrasafnid, an aquarium near Reykjavik. Their first captures were two young whales, netted during the autumn of 1976, which were airlifted to the Netherlands; one remained there while the other was forwarded to San Diego's Sea World after six months.
The same team captured six orcas in October 1977, and a further five the following year. Sea World had now received nine new whales in two years, enough to satisfy their immediate requirements and they therefore dropped out of the project. Gunnarsson then took over the Icelandic captures using International Animal Exchange of Ferndale, Michigan, USA, to handle sales to the world market. The going rate for a healthy young orca in November 1979 was $150,000 excluding delivery costs from Reykjavik, in 1980, the prices ranged from $200,000 to $300,000.
By the early 1980s, Sea World wanted more Icelandic orcas. Their import application to the US National Marine Fisheries Service was refused, however, partly because the status of the species in the North Atlantic was unknown. Sea World considered capturing Antarctic orca, but the logistics were forbidding. Instead they prepared a permit application for Alaska.
In 1983, Sea World announced a grand scheme to expand their operations and mount a five-year capture plan in south-eastern Alaskan waters. They proposed capturing 100 orcas, 90 for research purposes and eventual release, ten to be kept for Sea World parks. Despite outcry from conservationists, the National Marine Fisheries Service issued the permit. Sea World agreed to mount a photographic identification study but the state governor and many Alaskan residents and conservationists were strongly opposed to any captures. After months of protest, Sea World finally withdrew.

With the collapse of the Alaskan operation, Sea World tried several new strategies to obtain orcas. In late 1986, Sea World's parent company, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, purchased Marineland of the Pacific for $23.4 million. Sea World officials promised to keep the park open but two months later moved Orky and Corky, the parks' two star orcas, from Los Angeles to San Diego and closed down Marineland.
Regardless how Seaworld got their orca's they were determined to get them in any way possible.

It’s important to also take into consideration that there was a well documented transaction where SeaWorld acquired false killer whales, which may have been connected to drive fisheries, from Komogawa in order to exchange them for an orca in Holland, who was then shipped to the states.  But this did not involve Komogawa’s orcas at all, so as SeaWorld had no investment in the Japanese park’s killer whales, the twelve deaths at Komogawa listed by The Dodo should not be included.
Sometimes, what’s hidden is what makes the difference.
This is true, but if Seaworld have no involvement in Kamogawa, how could they trade 6 of their false killer whales for a Dutch held orca? 
This link has details for the Gudrun transaction  which shows Seaworld's involvement in collecting and delivering those animals. It also shows Brad Andrews and Jim McBain lying by saying they had no knowledge of a direct exchange of Kamogawa animals, and the links in that article prove that they physically were involved in the collection and delivering of those animals. How can they be so involved if there is no connection to Kamogawa?

 The Dodo article lists quite a few stillbirths, miscarriages, and infant deaths among its mortality numbers.  In all, there are 50 deaths, including neonatal, juvenile, and mature, listed at SeaWorld’s existing three parks since 1971.

How does this hold up to the Southern Resident population?  As of November 1, 2013, the Orca Network listed 80 individuals – 25 in J pod, 19 in K pod, and 36 in L pod.
58 orcas are listed as missing or dead since 1998.  But when looking over the list, not one stillborn or miscarriage is listed.  Why this omission?  In the book “Cetacean Societies: Field Studies of Dolphins and Whales,’ Hal Whitehead and Janet Mann write in the chapter on “Female Reproductive Strategies of Cetaceans:”
“In almost all studies of living cetaceans in the wild, female reproduction has been measured by the presence of a living calf – miscarriage and neonatal mortality are not recorded.”
Does this apply to wild orcas as well? In a June 7, 2010 press release by the Humane Society of the United States, Dr. Naomi Rose responded to statements made by SeaWorld regarding stillbirth rates in the wild.
According to Rose: “The successful birth rate in the wild is unknown — scientists cannot distinguish a miscarriage, stillbirth, or death of a calf before reaching 6 months of age when observing wild orca populations. From one well-studied orca population, it is estimated that the calf survival rate to six months is 60 percent, but this is merely an estimate and refers to six-month calf survival, not successful birth, which includes all live births where the calf survives for some period of time, usually about a month. . . The stillbirth rate in the wild is also unknown.  Births are rarely observed in the wild, let alone stillbirths.”
There is a way to estimate the rate of stillbirths and miscarriages that take place in the wild.  One method appears in “Life History and Population Dynamics of Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in the Coastal Waters of British Columbia and Washington State,” written by Olesiuk, Bigg, and Ellis and published in 1990 by the International Whaling Commission.
The paper defines neonate mortality as occurring between birth and 0.5 years of age, including stillbirths.  Researchers based their estimate on a combination of neonate bodies recovered, typically washed on shore or beached, and survival rates of newborn calves. Based on the number of stillbirths recovered, the researchers determined that 20% of neonate deaths are stillbirths and that the neonate mortality rate should be around 43%.  This corresponds with a separate study which determined a 42% neonate mortality for the Northern Resident community.
The problem with utilizing these rates to approximate stillbirth and neonatal mortality numbers in the Northern and Southern resident populations is that they’re based on a very small portion of the overall population.  If a census of a larger number of individuals where conducted, there is the possibility that these rates could increase or decrease significantly.
No such estimate has been made for other populations, such as the North Atlantic orcas that were caught off Iceland. Researchers will often cite a neonatal mortality rate between 37% and 50%, which are the approximations Olesiuk, Bigg, and Ellis came up with their two methods.  The average rate between the two is the 43% mentioned above.
Naomi Rose has estimated the neonatal mortality rate, including stillborns, to be 50.2% in captivity.  This number should be reflective of all facilities that have held orcas since the early 1960′s, not just SeaWorld.

 For example, there were seven cases of neonatal death involving Corky prior to 1987. Those should factor in to the overall 50.2% for the industry, but not be included in SeaWorld’s overall neonatal mortality count as Corky was not a SeaWorld owned orca at the time.
There were actually six deaths as Corky's 7th calf was miscarried at Seaworld San Diego. As listed above there are 45 dead orcas whilst in Seaworld's care.
45 dead orca at Seaworld -  Baby Shamu 2,  Bjossa, Canuck, Canuck 2, Frankie, Gudrun, Haida 2, Halyn, Kahana, Kalina, Kandu, Kandu 3, Kandu 5, Kanduke, Katerina, Keanu, Kilroy, Kona, Kona 2, Kotar, Nootka, Nootka 4, Orky 2, Ramu, Samoa, Sandy, Shamu, Shawn, Splash, Sumar, Taima, Taku, Winnie, Winston, 1986 Kandu 5's calf,  1994 Nootka 4's calf,  1996 Gudruns calf,  2006 Unna's female calf , 1987 fetus found at necropsy of Koana 2,  1991 Seaworld Florida Kenau dies during 12th month of pregnancy, 1992 Samoa dies during labor killing calf,  2001 Haida 2 dies during 5th month of pregnancy ,2010 Taima dies during labor 1994 Haida 2's female calf, Vicky.
In order to properly compare The Dodo’s list of SeaWorld deaths with wild populations, it is necessary to add stillbirths, miscarriages, and other neonatal mortalities at that 43% rate to wild orca death counts worldwide.
But as that’s practically impossible based on incomplete survey data with most wild populations (Naomi Rose, during the California Assembly hearing on AB-2140, the Orca Welfare and Safety Act, gave an estimate of between 50,000 and 100,000 orcas in the wild), we can go the other way and remove all stillbirths, miscarriages, and deaths under six months of age from The Dodo list, resulting in 33 deaths since 1971.
Did you know 33 Orcas Have Died at SeaWorld – Not a Single One From Old Age?  Although it looks like that’s getting close to changing. Corky’s in her late 40′s and Tilikum is in his 30′s.  And they’re just two getting up there in years.
In order to make the comparison to captive and wild mortality rates, you also have to factor in that Seaworld state that their orca receive superior veterinary care and state of the art dental care and apparently eat restaurant quality fish - the wild orca do not.
You would also have to factor in that Seaworld state that their orca live in a pristine environment free from pathogens and bacteria, yet 15 of their orca have died from diseases caused by fungus and bacterias in their environment - wild orca do not live in such conditions, nor get killed by mosquitos nor do they swim in chlorinated water, so how do you make a comparison? 
Lastly as Seaworld created so many hybrid orcas with no conservation value what so ever as they have no equivalents in the wild, how can you compare the 2 species when there is no equivalent to compare to? As you can see from the link here the hybrid orcas seem to have more aggressive incidents than their Icelandic tank mates too, something else that doesn't happen in the wild and leaves questions as to how you would compare that?

Lastly as for their ages, bear in mind Seaworld is celebrating 50 years - from those 50 years only 5 of their 29 orcas have made it past 30 and 3 of those were not Seaworld orcas and bought as adults from other parks. 

Corky thought to be born 1966 making her 48 -  not a SW orca
Kasatka captured 1978 making her approx 38 -
Katina    captured 1978 making her approx 38 -
Tilikum captured 1983 making him approx 33  - not a SW orca
Ulises captured 1980 making him approx 38  -   not a SW orca

Six are in their 20's

Kayla 1988      making her 26
Orkid 1988     making her 26
 Kyuquot 1991 making him  23
Takara 1991  making her 23
Keet 1993       making him 21
Shouka 1993  making her 21

 5 are teenagers
 Keto 1995       making him 19
 Unna 1996    making her 18
 Tuar 1999      making him 15
Tekoa 2000  making him 14
Nakai 2001     making him 13

13 are still not in their teens
Kohana 2002   making her 12
 Ikaika 2002      making him 12
Kalia 2004       making her 10
Skyla 2004     making her 10
Trua 2005      making him 9
Nalani 2006     making her 8
Malia  2007     making her 7
Morgan 2010    making her approx 6
Makaio 2010   making him 4
Sakari 2010    making her 4
 Adan  2010  making him 4
Makani 2013   making him 1
Kamea          not yet 1

From a 50 year history , 13 of their orca are not even teenagers so is it really getting close to changing? Once again as you stated right at the start the missing information tells quite a different story. 

'' Although it looks like that’s getting close to changing. Corky’s in her late 40′s and Tilikum is in his 30′s.  And they’re just two getting up there in years.'' 
Your statement here may lead people to think there are many not far behind them in age, but once you look at the whole picture you see that really isn't the case.

And did you know that the sinking with stones of those three juvenile orcas at Penn Cove in 1970 is connected to a stuffed gorilla? That’s for next time.

There were 5 weighted - four juveniles died, as well as one adult female who drowned when she became tangled in a net while attempting to reach her calf. In his interview for the CNN documentary "Blackfish", former diver John Crowe told how all five of the whales had their bellies slit open and filled with rocks, their tails weighted down with anchors and chains, in an attempt to conceal the deaths.

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