Dead orca found in waters near Esperanza, B.C.

March 31, 2016

Department of Fisheries and Oceans staff have arrived in Tahsis to find out more about a young male orca found dead today.

The carcass of what is believed to be a northern resident killer whale was found in the waters off Esparanza

According to one witness in Tahsis where the orca was towed, there are no visible signs of injury.

The northern resident community of killer whales is comprised of a total of 16 pods.

They can be found in coastal waters from the midpoint of Vancouver Island to southeastern Alaska.


Scientists build health database for Puget Sound killer whales

Updated 8:29 pm, Tuesday, March 29, 2016

An overhead image of the newest member of the Southern Resident killer whale population, L122, just days after being born to first-time mother L91. Photo: NOAA, Vancouver Aquarium

The orcas that frequent Puget Sound are about to have in-depth personal health records, thanks to several research groups coming together to share data.

There’s no shortage of data on the southern resident population of killer whales. According to the experts, these 84 whales are some of the most studied marine mammals in the world.

But up until now, that data has been spread out between all the different research groups that study the whales.

Experts from the SeaDoc Society, the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, NOAA Fisheries and the National Marine Mammal Foundation gathered in Seattle on Monday and Tuesday to formulate a plan for putting all that data in one place to make tracking the health of each whale and the population as a whole that much easier.

“We do hope that by setting up a health database and using it in real time, that we can then have our finger on the pulse of these animals,” said Cynthia Smith, a veterinarian at the National Marine Mammal Foundation. “We can then predict when problems are coming along and hopefully manage those problems.”

Though still in the early stages of building the database, experts say they hope to be able to use the data like a doctor uses a human’s medical chart, from looking at individual issues to studying things that might threaten the whole population.

Researchers are still working out the details of how much data they will share, or how they will provide access, but they have already started compiling some data, and plan to meet again next year to review the database’s successes and faults, said Joe Gaydos, a veterinarian with UC Davis and chief scientist with the SeaDoc Society.

Gaydos said more data will be gathered by researchers on the water this summer, and that will be incorporated into the database next year, helping paint a better picture of each whale and the whole population’s health.


Legal action against French marine park over orcas

Sunday March 27, 2016

An employee trains orcas at Marineland on the C​​ôte d’Azur

Environmental campaigners have said they are taking legal action against a French marine park over the treatment of its orca whales and other animals after a number were killed during a storm.

Marineland in Antibes reopened a week ago after suffering severe damage indeadly storms that struck the Côte d’Azur in southern France in October.

Many animals and fish at the park died, including Valentin, a 19-year-old orca that succumbed to internal injuries a week later.

The park was deluged with mud, killing sharks, sea lions and turtles, because it was left without electricity to pump in clean water.

Sea Shepherd, an international NGO, organised a protest attended by about 250 people outside the park on Sunday. It said the orca enclosures remained highly unsatisfactory and that the animals should never have been subjected to such danger.

Its founder, Paul Watson, said: “We are against the keeping of orca whales in captivity because it is simply not where they should be.”

There has been growing global opposition to keeping orcas, also known as killer whales, in captivity, particularly since the release in 2013 of Blackfish, a documentary on the treatment of orcas at SeaWorld in the US.

SeaWorld announced earlier this month that it would no longer breed captive orcas and that the current generation would effectively be its last.

Sea Shepherd has lodged a legal complaint against Marineland, claiming that the park mistreats its animals and pollutes the local environment. The NGO expects a first hearing to be held in September.

The park denies charges of mistreatment and said in a statement on Sunday that “the conditions of wellbeing of the marine mammals are carefully and strictly controlled by several organisations, as well as European and international regulations.”

Marineland is already subject to a preliminary investigation following complaints of animal cruelty by three French NGOs.

Source: The Guardian

Keiko Controversy, Fight over Orca Sanctuaries

March 26, 2016

By: Danielle H. Foster

In the wake of Sea World’s announcement to put an end to their killer whale breeding program, news sites have been flooded with Op Eds from both pro and anti-captivity advocates.

Most of those on the anti-captivity sides, while applauding Sea World’s  decision, continue to call for the company to go further and put their animals in ocean sanctuaries. One piece by Jean-Michel Cousteau in the LA times pointed to the simi-release of Keiko as evidence that placing captive whales in sanctuaries as not only possible but necessary.

Cousteau points out how much more enriched Keiko’s life became once he was placed into his seapen in Iceland. He was exposed to the sites and sounds of his natural environment, not possible in a bare concrete tank. During his ocean walks he was able to swim long distances, increasing his health and stamina. He even go the chance interact with wild orca.

Mark Simons, a former Sea World trainer and long time captivity advocate, wrote his own reaction to Cousteau’s article. Simons makes the wild claim that Keiko’s release was equivalent to “animal abuse” and yet fails to back up his claim with substantial evidence. Simons was the husbandry director for the Keiko project and yet doesn’t go into detail on the claims he makes in the article. He even contradicts himself at one point.

“[Keiko] never foraged or ate on his own. Other than the fateful 23 days he was deliberately left at sea”

Keiko was never “deliberately left at sea” he instead swam away from the support boat and didn’t return the rest of the day. Keiko had been following the support boat on walks away from his seapen for several years prior to this. I find it highly unlikely he couldn’t have found his way back within a few days if he hadn’t wanted to remain at sea.

And while it’s true Keiko’s interactions with wild whale were rocky at best, the fact remains that when Keiko returned from his 23 day solo excursion he hadn’t lost any weight. Measurements were taken and no girth was lost. 23 days of not feeding would have brought Keiko’s weight down significantly. He was able to forage on is own.

The issues with Keiko’s release lie with how he was prepared and managed, not with Keiko’s potential to “survive”.

But all of that to me is beside the point. Simons, like many in the pro-captivity community, fail to argue on point. Cousteau and many others (though not all) in the ani-captivity community are not advocating for Sea World’s whales to be set free. There is a vast difference between retirement to a seapen and full return to the wild. If Sea World advocates want to continue to fight against retirement to natural seapens then can they please argue the points made by advocates rather than going off on tangents?

Sea World’s advocates, on the rare occasions when they do, argue against seapens rather than sidestepping into full release, claim that the health risks are too great. They claim that because Sea World’s whales have been in a sterile controlled environment their entire lives they lack a sufficient immune system to deal with exposure to disease and pollution that is present in the world’s oceans.

It’s an argument that doesn’t hold water for me. If captive whales had compromised immune systems due to captivity then logically Keiko should have caught something and died within months his transfer to the seapen not years. What’s more, a fact largely ignored, is that captive dolphins have been transferred from concrete tanks to natural pens and lagoons without issue for decades. There are many facilities out there that don’t hold their bottlenose dolphins in concrete tanks but instead house them in netted lagoons, as natural environment as you can get and still be in captivity. On occasion these animals are brought to these natural enclosures from other captive facilities, facilities where they were held in concrete tanks. There is no great health risk to the dolphins already in the lagoons and those brought from other facilities. Why would the “health risks” be any greater for killer whales than it is for bottlenose dolphins?

Shamu Goes Out With the Tide: SeaWorld CEO On Its Abrupt Change — And What Comes Next

March 24, 2016

When he became CEO of a very troubled SeaWorld last spring, Joel Manby wasn’t sure he actually would need to end the killer-whale shows that had ranked as a leading American tourist attraction for decades. His predecessor was sacked after the documentary Blackfish tarnished the public myth of happily tamed orcas named Shamu living to entertain audiences at SeaWorld, yet Manby took the job thinking that the business model might be salvaged.

But last week Manby — and SeaWorld — finally succumbed to the new reality. The company announced that SeaWorld parks would gradually phase out their iconic orca-trick shows over the next few years and begin a difficult transition. The new mission of the parks in Orlando, San Antonio and San Diego would be to provide “experiences that matter” by leveraging a marine-life conservation theme, instead of thrilling audiences to expertly choreographed play between human trainers and natural killers that could gut their masters within seconds if they chose to.

“We built the brand around Shamu many years ago and made people fall in love with killer whales,” Manby told me, “but now the paradox is that it’s one of the leading reasons people are uncomfortable with SeaWorld.”

SeaWorld simply had to announce a phase-out to the shows, he explained, because of Americans’ rising suspicions that that these well-trained animals were being mistreated merely by being captive. The company was scrambling to preserve the past; it even had SeaWorld employees posing as animal-rights activists to try to infiltrate the opposition, a practice that Manby ended in February.

Sun Belt vacationers increasingly were bypassing SeaWorld; regulators were encircling the shows; and investors were continuing to punish the $1.4-billion enterprise.

“The world is moving in a different direction,” Manby said about the abrupt corporate paradigm shift. “Society is changing and moving in a different direction, and we needed to get ahead of it. Our research showed it would be a losing battle” to continue the shows in the face of this rising tide of hostility.


SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (SEAS) Shares Bought by Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc.

March 23, 2016

12 Month Chart for NASDAQ:SEAS

Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. raised its stake in SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NASDAQ:SEAS) by 0.1% during the fourth quarter, according to its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The institutional investor owned 380,903 shares of the company’s stock after buying an additional 547 shares during the period. Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. owned approximately 0.45% of SeaWorld Entertainment worth $7,500,000 as of its most recent filing with the SEC.

Other large investors have also made changes to their positions in the company. Morgan Stanley increased its stake in shares of SeaWorld Entertainment by 107.1% in the fourth quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 294,965 shares of the company’s stock valued at $5,808,000 after buying an additional 152,573 shares during the last quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund increased its stake in shares of SeaWorld Entertainment by 420.7% in the fourth quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund now owns 324,909 shares of the company’s stock valued at $6,397,000 after buying an additional 262,509 shares during the last quarter. Clark Estates Inc. NY acquired a new stake in shares of SeaWorld Entertainment during the fourth quarter valued at $1,219,000. Penn Capital Management Co. Inc. increased its stake in shares of SeaWorld Entertainment by 527.7% in the fourth quarter. Penn Capital Management Co. Inc. now owns 992,221 shares of the company’s stock valued at $19,537,000 after buying an additional 834,152 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Rhumbline Advisers increased its stake in shares of SeaWorld Entertainment by 6.2% in the fourth quarter. Rhumbline Advisers now owns 65,549 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,291,000 after buying an additional 3,815 shares during the last quarter.

Shares of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NASDAQ:SEAS) opened at 20.01 on Wednesday. The firm has a market cap of $1.68 billion and a PE ratio of 35.11. The company’s 50-day moving average is $18.34 and its 200-day moving average is $18.45. SeaWorld Entertainment Inc has a 52 week low of $16.86 and a 52 week high of $22.68.

SeaWorld Entertainment (NASDAQ:SEAS) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, February 25th. The company reported ($0.11) earnings per share for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of ($0.10) by $0.01. During the same quarter last year, the business posted ($0.21) earnings per share. The business had revenue of $267.90 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $267.70 million. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 1.3% compared to the same quarter last year. Analysts forecast that SeaWorld Entertainment Inc will post $0.82 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 1st. Shareholders of record on Monday, March 14th will be given a dividend of $0.21 per share. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, March 10th. This represents a $0.84 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 4.20%.

Several brokerages recently weighed in on SEAS. FBR & Co. reaffirmed a “buy” rating on shares of SeaWorld Entertainment in a research note on Monday, December 28th. Vetrdowngraded shares of SeaWorld Entertainment from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $21.33 price objective on the stock. in a research report on Tuesday, December 22nd. TheStreet raised shares of SeaWorld Entertainment from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Friday, February 19th. Janney Montgomery Scott initiated coverage on shares of SeaWorld Entertainment in a research report on Thursday, February 4th. They issued a “neutral” rating and a $20.00 price objective on the stock. Finally, Wells Fargo raised shares of SeaWorld Entertainment from a “market perform” rating to an “outperform” rating in a research report on Friday, March 18th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have assigned a hold rating, six have given a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. SeaWorld Entertainment has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $21.83.

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc (NASDAQ:SEAS) is a theme park and entertainment company. It owns or licenses a portfolio of brands including SeaWorld, Shamu and Busch Gardens. It has 11 destination and regional theme parks that are located across the United States.

Source: Financial Market


SeaWorld Used Invasive Breeding Drugs on Female Orcas

March 22, 2016


SeaWorld has announced an end to the forced breeding of their captive orcas. TheInternational Marine Mammal Project (IMMP)’s many lawsuits and research were clearly part of their motivation to end breeding, taking advantage of the “Blackfish Effect” from the documentary that opened the facts of captivity to the world. Many other organizations and individuals worked tirelessly for years to end the cruel keeping of intelligent, social, and wide-ranging orcas in small concrete tanks. If it “takes a village” to raise a child, it takes a lot more of the community nationwide to succeed in showing SeaWorld’s leaders the errors of their way.

IMMP has just uncovered the extent of manipulation of female orcas for the artificial breeding program that SeaWorld is finally ending.

A few years back, SeaWorld commissioned a study using invasive research on female captive orcas to determine how to manipulate their reproductive cycles. The objective was to boost the number of babies by reducing the time between pregnancies through artificial insemination and drugs. Ultimately, such intervention produced more orca babies born to perform in SeaWorld’s three parks. This practice benefited the bottom line at the expense of these highly intelligent and sentient apex predators.

SeaWorld, in response to last fall’s amendment to a permit by the California Coastal Commission that would ban breeding of captive orcas in their San Diego park, claimed at that time that orcas have a “right to breed.”

But SeaWorld was abusing such rights themselves by making baby factories out of their orcas and dolphins using the drug altrenogest, a synthetic progesterone analog, according to the research, which is used routinely in domestic horses and pigs to boost production of young.

The evidence for this invasive research on female orcas is contained in a scientific paper touted by SeaWorld as an example of its contribution to the science of orcas. The article is “Reproductive Physiology and Development of Artificial Insemination Technology in Killer Whales (Orcinus orca)” from the scientific journal Biology of Reproduction, August 1, 2004 vol. 71 no. 2 650-660. SeaWorld lists this particular paper here on its website, ironically called “SeaWorld Cares”.

The scientific paper states: “This project was funded by SeaWorld Corporation and is a SeaWorld Technical contribution no. 2004-01-T.” The lead author is listed as based at SeaWorld San Antonio in Texas.

Three of SeaWorld’s female orcas were used in this research study, which the authors termed: “…the first successful conceptions, resulting in live offspring, using artificial insemination in any cetacean species.”

Not just female orcas are subjected to this invasive forced breeding. Such use of artificial hormones to help induce pregnancy, according to the paper, has also been done with Pacific white-sided and bottlenose dolphins at SeaWorld.

To read the full article to go the Huffington Post

Marineland Antibes Reopens

March 21, 1916

© Reuters

An animal park in Southern France reopened its doors this Monday, March 21, five months after the terrible weather that caused many deaths among its animals. He was then the subject of various scandals: the death of a killer whale and watercourse pollution accusations surrounding (and therefore also the basins of the park). In addition, the current climate is rather tense for animal shows and captivity of orcas.

Marineland was therefore forced some changes. The new director of the park, Arnaud Palu states “this opening is an opportunity for a fresh start with three essential missions: conservation, education and research.” A teaching team is dedicated to the public “The idea is simple: to ensure that people who come here leave in aillant learned something.”, Adds the director.

A complete overhaul of all the performances with animals was performed. “The performances are based much more on the emotional, with fairly powerful music. We will discover the animal through closer behavior of their behavior in the wild,” explains Arnaud Palu.

A soundtrack different does enough happiness to these captive animals?