Killer Whales Are Conceiving, but the Pregnancies Are Failing

June 29, 2017

Endangered killer whales that frequent the inland waters of Washington state are having pregnancy problems because they cannot find enough fish to eat, according to a new study. Researchers analyzed hormones in excrement collected at sea and found that more than two-thirds of orca pregnancies failed over a seven-year period. They linked those problems to nutritional stress brought on by a low supply of Chinook salmon, the whales’ preferred diet, per the AP. “A large number of whales are conceiving, but when nutrition is poor, they don’t sustain those pregnancies,” says Sam Wasser, lead author of the paper and a biology professor at the University of Washington.

Southern resident killer whales along the West Coast have struggled since they were listed as an endangered species in 2005. They now number just 78, down from a high of 140 decades ago. The whales face threats from a lack of food, pollution, and boats. The new study, to be published in the journal PLOS ONE, zeroes in on food supply as an important stress factor among these fish-eating whales. Unlike other killer whales that eat marine mammals, the orcas that spend the summer in Puget Sound primarily eat salmon, mostly Chinook. Many species of Chinook salmon along West Coast are listed as threatened or endangered because of a host of factors, including loss of habitat from urban development, dams, fishing, pollution, and competition from non-native fish. (Read more orca stories.)

Source: Newser.com

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SeaWorld Stock Sinks Amid Federal Probes; Care of Key Orca Kasatka Debated

June 27, 2017

SeaWorld shareholders had a sinking feeling Monday — three days after the Orlando-based theme park company announced it was under investigation by the SEC and U.S. Justice Department.

Fallout from the critical 2013 documentary “Blackfish” continued to take its toll. Share prices fell 6 percent to under $15 but inched back over $15 in after hours and early Tuesday trading.

(Before “Blackfish,” shares were as high as $39.65. At one point in September 2016, they had tanked to $11.77.)

Late Friday afternoon, SeaWorld revealed it had received a DOJ subpoena this month “concerning disclosures and public statements” it and “certain executives and/or individuals” made around August 2014, “including those regarding the impact of the ‘Blackfish’ documentary, and trading in the company’s securities.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission also asked for information; SeaWorld didn’t say when.

But former SeaWorld orca trainer John Hargrove, who appeared in “Blackfish” and wrote a book slamming his former employer, told Times of San Diego: “I’ve known about this SEC thing for two years. SeaWorld was covering it up somehow.”

A SeaWorld spokesman wouldn’t go beyond its 128-word statement on a Form 8-K filing — an unscheduled notice to shareholders of important company information.

SeaWorld San Diego’s David Koontz stressed Monday that the filing states: “The Company has cooperated with these government inquiries and intends to continue to cooperate with any government requests or inquiries.”

But MarketWatch also noted: “SeaWorld already faces an investor lawsuit focusing on the documentary, contending that executives ‘knew or were reckless in not knowing that “Blackfish” was impacting SeaWorld’s business.’ The suit seeks class-action status and compensation for investors who purchased SeaWorld shares between April 18, 2013, and Aug. 13, 2014, and a trial date of Sept. 18, 2018, has been set, according to SeaWorld’s filings with the SEC.”

Meanwhile, SeaWorld critics accused the company of not sharing honest information on the health of one of its prize orcas — SeaWorld San Diego matriarch Kasatka.

A widely shared post Saturday on the Dolphin Project alleged that Kasatka, mother of four SeaWorld killer whales and grandmother or great-grandmother of eight others, was near death from an undisclosed fungal infection.

SeaWorld in August 2016 said: “We have been treating Kasatka for a bacterial respiratory infection for several years.”

But Hargrove, who once worked with Kasatka, told Times of San Diego that SeaWorld was “doing everything known to science to keep her alive” for the sake of avoiding a third orca death in relatively quick succession — including the male Tillikum in January.

Hargrove shared photos that he says show open sores, and lesions over the orca’s face and skin, indicative of a massive fungal infection. Also what looks like “necrotic tissue,” or dead skin. (He said the photos were by a park visitor known as “Elizabeth.”)

Recent photo said to be of SeaWorld matriarch Kasatka. Image copyright Elizabeth via John Hargrove

“She has no immune system left,” he said in a phone interview. “She’s doped up with antibiotics. … I’ve never seen a whale torn up so badly.”

SeaWorld posted an FAQ in which it denied Kasatka has a fungal infection. But it allowed that “If an animal needs help, we provide it,” not ruling out use of antibiotics.

Citing recent photos, Hargrove also alleged that trainers were injecting hazardous-to-humans Regu-Mate into fish fed to Kasatka.

Hargrove called it a “very dangerous drug that only male trainers are allowed to administer” and only if they wear gloves. Female trainers could suffer infertility, he said.

He said the drug — marketed by Merck — has “gnarly, bad side effects for the whales.”

On Monday, spokesman Koontz confirmed the use of Regu-Mate, an equine drug also known as altrenogest that suppresses estrus in mares — keeping them calm in their cycles of uncontrollable “heat.”

“Kasatka is currently on Regu-Mate for birth-control purposes only,” Koontz said. “Regu-Mate is not part of her treatment program for her respiratory infection.”

Regarding the lesion accusations, Koontz said: “Our veterinarians suspect that her illness may have extended to her skin, or may be the result of the medication she is receiving.”

He said Kasatka has been regularly “sloughing off” the outermost layers of her skin in a number of areas on her body.

“However, her behaviorists and veterinarians see new growth underneath, which is good,” Koontz said. “This sloughing skin is also hyperpigmented, which is also probably secondary to some of her medication. There is no necrotic tissue.”

Although Hargrove has been an expert witness on orca health in various court cases, Koontz said the former Pacific Beach resident “is not a veterinarian and is not familiar with Kasatka’s condition, so it’s unclear why he would make those allegations.”

Moreover, Koontz said: “While we will continue to provide the best care for Kasatka, we know that this is a progressive disease, and understand that as she and her immune system age, she will continue to have a more difficult time fending off the illness.”

He said SeaWorld’s animal care team “remains passionately committed to ensuring her illness is properly managed and that above all else she continues to live a quality life.”

Tracy Reiman, executive vice president of SeaWorld nemesis PETA, said in a statement Monday: “The fate of captive orcas is to endure a miserable life and death. It’s too late for Kasatka, but it’s not too late for SeaWorld to start building sea sanctuaries for the other orcas trapped inside its tiny tanks, including Kasatka’s daughter and newborn grandchild in San Antonio. The decades of orca torment must end now.”

Fellow animal-rights advocate Naomi Rose — a renowned marine mammal scientist with the Animal Welfare Institute — said: “Without more information, I cannot say that Kasatka is near death.”

But statistically, she said, “it is likely that Kasatka will die soon. Kasatka is very old for a captive female whale (she is about 40-41 years old). Most female orcas who have died did so well before their 40th year. Only a handful are older than 35 at this time (Corky, also in San Diego, Lolita in Miami, Katina in Orlando and Kiska in Canada).”

But she agreed with Hargrove that SeaWorld is “not being forthcoming or transparent about the situation.”

“They should simply tell the truth about her health,” Rose said via email Monday. “This should not be something we are all speculating about – we should know, because SeaWorld should be accurately and without drama telling the public what is happening.”

SeaWorld spokesman Koontz said that the park would continue to provide updates on Kasatka’s condition — via its websites and social media (such as June 20 Facebook Live below) — “as we have new information to share.”

“It is worth noting that pneumonia, or respiratory inflammation or infection, is the number one cause of illness and mortality seen in all cetaceans, both in the wild and in zoological care,” he said. “Unlike wild orcas, Kasatka has been provided quality veterinary care to treat her respiratory infection.”

To View the original article and watch the two VIDEOS visit the source at Times of San Diego.com

UPDATE: SA mystery of the killer orcas continues as 4th great white found dead

June 26, 2017

Cape Town – The mysterious orca predation of endangered great white sharks is on again, according Marine Dynamics 

On Saturday, 24 June the shark Cage diving company confirmed that another great white shark was found dead with wounds indicative of an orca attack.

This comes after a suspected orca whale killing spree of great white sharks gripped the coast of South Africa in May 2017, resulting in the first ever dissection of a white shark following an attack of this nature.

Biologist Alison Towner has confirmed that another 4.2m male great white shark was found dead with the same injuries as previous sharks – livers neatly removed but little else eaten – indicating orca predation. 

Towner told Traveller24 that the attacks are largely being attributed to a pair of orca, nicknamed port and starboard due to the slanting of their dorsal fins, also see at Dangerpoint over the weekend. 

She says the two orcas are known to be shark hunters, as they have apparently killed other shark in species in the area.

Towner says these two animals were also spotted in the bay, when the previous attacks took place. 

But what’s most concerning about this rather unusual behaviour is the lack of Great White Shark activity – with Marine Dynamics posting to its blog about little to no sightings in the area.

As a result there are is no cage diving or boating activity. 

Towner says that winter in South Africa is prime hunting season in SA, when you would typically expect to see the highest number of great white sharks – but unfortunately that’s not the case as the is no white shark activity around the island.  

Great White sharks would instinctively avoid the area, because of the orca threat, says Towner who says a positive is that both species are highly transient and migratory and “don’t specifically live in this area and would just be moving through”.

But at present, the long term patterns or effects of the orca predation remain unclear. 

“It is worrying and we don’t know what the long term impact of these attacks will be,” says Towner.   

Timeline of great white killings

Following the dissections in May, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), confirmed that orca whales were responsible for three shark killings, and that they were targeting the large nutrient-rich livers of the sharks. Various small pods of orcas were also spotted around Gansbaai during the time the killings occurred.

In all three previous cases Townsend confirmed the livers of the sharks in all three cases were neatly removed, with almost surgical precision, but little else was eaten. Even the hearts of the two of the sharks were left intact. 

“We have never seen anything like this,” said Towner at the time, who contributed to the dissection of the sharks. In all three cases, “there was a large gaping hole between her pectoral fins where they were torn apart to reveal her body cavity … and that their large livers were completely missing. This information, combined with the recent sightings of orca and disappearance of white sharks in the area, provides convincing evidence that the orcas are responsible for the shark’s death.”

“This is an extremely rare occurrence,” she said in an email with Traveller24, “This is also the first time worldwide the carcass of a white shark was recovered post orca predation, let alone three carcasses within one week!”

The first dead shark—a massive one-ton great white—washed up on the shore in Gansbaai on 3 May. The first people at the scene were initially perplexed as to how such a large shark could have died, and it wasn’t until a dissection, authorised by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in conjunction with the White Shark Research Group, Marine Dynamics and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, revealed that the shark’s liver was missing.

The next day, another 3,5 meter shark washed up on the shore at Franskraal beach, and a later dissection revealed that this one’s liver was also missing.  “This is a difficult yet fascinating time,” said Towner on the Marine Dynamics blog. “It is something rarely documented in marine top predator behaviour in South Africa,”

On 7 May, a third dead shark washed up, this time in Struisbaai, matching the injuries of the previous two specimens, and cementing the suspicion that these were not just random isolated incidents. “Obviously this is a very sad time for us all,” said Towner, who was on hand to assist again. “Nature can be so cruel and the dexterity these enormous animals are capable of is mind blowing, almost surgical precision as they remove the liver of the white sharks and dump their carcass.”

How and Why are Orcas targeting Great White Sharks?

Known as the “Wolves of the Sea”, orcas are the true apex predators of the ocean, and the only known predator of the great white shark. 

They are extremely intelligent, specialised hunters, feeding above sharks on the overall oceanic food chain. They hunt in organised social groups, using echo-location, strategy, and teamwork to kill their prey, which can be anything in the ocean, from seals, to dolphins, dugongs, otters, turtles, birds, squid, and sometimes even land mammals.

According to the DEA statement, the orcas were targeting the squalene rich livers that assists sharks with their buoyancy. This substance is also highly nutritious pound for pound, compared with the muscle tissue. Although this type of selective feeding on livers is extremely rare in orca whales, seals have been known to predate sea birds where they often remove and consume only the stomach/abdominal content and not the rest of the carcass.   

Orcas are also suspected to be responsible for a decline in Cape Town’s cow shark population, and have been known to predate these sharks. Alison Kock, a Marine Scientist for Shark Spotters, reported recovering several cow shark carcasses in a similar condition with their livers removed, in False Bay subsequent to a series of orca sightings.

How the orcas are able to extract the livers so neatly from the sharks is a bit of a mystery. But footage off the coast of California showed team-work between the orcas pushing a white shark to the surface, belly up, biting into its flesh, before letting buoyant, oil-rich liver as it float out of the cavity. 

What does this mean for Great White Sharks in South Africa?

Orca whales are widely distributed in the ocean, extending from the Arctic to the Antarctic, into the tropics, and are present in both coastal and oceanic waters.

According to figures from the DEA, orca whales are fairly common along the coast of South Africa, and some 785 sightings have been recorded ranging from the Western Cape all the way to Northern KwaZulu-Natal. “The sightings of Orca pods appears to be increasing in South Africa,” they said in a recent statement, but these sightings could also be attributed to more people on the ocean with eyes on the water.

The incidents have already affected the number of great white sightings, as the sharks leave the bay to avoid the orcas. The killings are a blow to the already struggling population of great white sharks in South Africa, a local population which some scientists say is facing extinction.

The DEA, along with various shark scientists and marine mammalogists, is currently collating all the scientific information about the incidents, and they are urging the public to be aware that this is a natural phenomenon, and might have to do with changes in seasons or temperatures and prey regimes of the orcas.

Source: Traveller24.com

SeaWorld under investigation by two federal agencies

June 25, 2017

SeaWorld is under investigation by two federal agencies who subpoenaed statements made by the company and its executives on or before August 2014 regarding the impact of the “Blackfish Documentary,” according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings published Friday. 

The theme-park company reports receiving subpoenas in June from the U.S. Department of Justice as part of an investigation into statements about the 2013 anti-captivity documentary “and trading in the Company’s securities.”

The filing also indicates the company received similar subpoenas from the SEC, although it is unclear when those were received. 

“The Company has cooperated with these government inquiries and intends to continue to cooperate with any government requests or inquiries,” the filing says. 

The filing also indicates the company’s board of directors formed a special committee with legal counsel to determine how to handle these investigations on June 16, two days after the company’s shareholder meeting. 

The full SEC disclosure reads as follows: 

In June 2017, the Company received a subpoena in connection with an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice concerning disclosures and public statements made by the Company and certain executives and/or individuals on or before August 2014, including those regarding the impact of the ‘Blackfish’ documentary, and trading in the Company’s securities. The Company also has received subpoenas from the staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with these matters. On June 16, 2017, the Company’s Board of Directors formed a Special Committee comprised of independent directors with respect to these inquiries. The Special Committee has engaged counsel to advise and assist the Committee. The Company has cooperated with these government inquiries and intends to continue to cooperate with any government requests or inquiries.

Source: My Dayton Daily News.com

BRIEF-Seaworld Entertainment says committee unanimously recommended that board reject chairman david d’alessandro’s offered immediate resignation

June 23, 2017

June 23 (Reuters) – Seaworld Entertainment Inc:

* Seaworld entertainment says on June 22, committee unanimously recommended that board reject chairman David D’alessandro’s offered immediate resignation

* Seaworld Entertainment says disinterested members of board thereafter unanimously resolved to reject D’alessandro’s immediate resignation

* Seaworld Entertainment Inc – disinterested members of board agreed with D’alessandro’s that he will step down on December 31, 2017

* Seaworld Entertainment Inc – in June 2017, co received a subpoena in connection with an investigation by U.S. DOJ

* Seaworld Entertainment-U.S. DOJ subpoena concerning disclosures, public statements made by co, certain executives and/or individuals on/before August 2014

* Seaworld Entertainment Inc- on June 16, board of directors formed special committee comprised of independent directors with respect to DOJ inquiries

* Seaworld Entertainment- received subpoenas from staff of U.S. Sec in connection with matters including those regarding impact of “blackfish” documentary, others Source text: (bit.ly/2sAeVXj) Further company coverage:

SeaWorld subject of federal probes related to CNN’s ‘Blackfish’ documentary

June 23, 2017

SeaWorld revealed in a public filing Friday that two federal agencies are investigating the company for matters related to CNN’s “Blackfish” documentary.

The company said it’s the subject of separate probes — one from the Justice Department and another by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The investigations are looking into “disclosures and public statements” made by company executives in August 2014 or earlier “regarding the impact of the ‘Blackfish’ documentary” and SeaWorld’s stock, according to the public filing.

The filing states that the company’s board of directors formed a special committee earlier this month to help SeaWorld respond to the inquiries. The company says it “has cooperated with these government inquiries and intends to continue to cooperate with any government requests or inquiries.”

Additional details about the investigations were not immediately available. The Justice Department and SeaWorld declined to comment, and the SEC did not immediately respond to an inquiry.

CNN released “Blackfish” in 2013. It details alleged mistreatment of orca whales by SeaWorld workers, and it led to massive amounts of backlash. The Orlando, Florida -based water park operator responded to the film by calling it false, misleading and “emotionally manipulative” propaganda.

Animal rights organization PETA launched a campaign against SeaWorld. PETA claims SeaWorld’s animals live shorter lives in captivity than they would in the wild.

SeaWorld has fought back. In recent years, the company has taken numerous steps to boost its image with a series of ads that feature SeaWorld employees discussing the care that animals receive at its parks. The company has said in the past that PETA has been spreading lies.

Last year, SeaWorld announced that the killer whales currently in its care will be the last generation of the mammals enclosed at the water parks.

Source: Money.CNN.com

Orca whales spotted in Yaquina Bay

June 19, 2017

A small pod of orca whales was spotted in Yaquina Bay Sunday afternoon.

According to a video from the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the whales were likely “on the hunt for seals and sea lions.”

The “transient” killer whales regularly show up at the Oregon coast in April.

They follow gray whales as they migrate north, and usually linger around Yachats all the way to Lincoln City.

To see the video visit the source at katu.com

Gangs of aggressive killer whales are shaking down Alaska fishing boats for their fish: report

June 19, 2017

The orcas will wait all day for a fisher to accumulate a catch of halibut, and then deftly rob them blind. They will relentlessly stalk individual fishing boats, sometimes forcing them back into port.

Most chilling of all, this is new: After decades of relatively peaceful coexistence with cod and halibut fishers off the coast of Alaska, the region’s orcas appear to be turning on them in greater numbers.

“We’ve been chased out of the Bering Sea,” said Paul Clampitt, Washington State-based co-owner of the F/V Augustine.

Like many boats, the Augustine has tried electronic noisemakers to ward off the animals, but the orcas simply got used to them.

“It became a dinner bell,” said Clampitt.

John McHenry, owner of the F/V Seymour, described orca pods near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands as being like a “motorcycle gang.” 

“You’d see two of them show up, and that’s the end of the trip. Pretty soon all 40 of them would be around you,” he said. 

report this week in the Alaska Dispatch News outlined instances of aggressive orcas harassing boats relentlessly — even refusing to leave after a desperate skipper cut the engine and drifted silently for 18 hours.

“It’s gotten completely out of control,” Alaska fisherman Jay Hebert told the paper.

Fishing lines are also being pillaged by sperm whales, the large square-headed whale best known as the white whale in Moby Dick.

“Since 1997, reports of depredation have increased dramatically,” noted a report by the Southeast Alaska Sperm Whale Avoidance Project.

A remarkable 2006 video by the Avoidance Project captured one of the 50,000 kg whales delicately shaking fish loose from a line. After a particularly heavy assault by sperm whales, fishers are known to pull up lines in which up to 90 per cent of the catch has disappeared or been mangled.

Source: National Post.com

IS SEAWORLD’S ORCA KASATKA LOSING HER BATTLE WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS?

June 17, 2017

In August 2016, SeaWorld released information that Kasatka, the matriarchal orca at SeaWorld San Diego had been suffering from a bacterial respiratory infection. The park announced that the whale’s chronic health problems were finally taking their toll. Kasatka, they said, was “having a more difficult time fending off the illness,” due to a weakened immune system. Photographs received by the Dolphin Project just yesterday, appear to show the orca could be losing her battle for life.

The photographs, taken by a park visitor who wishes only to be known as Elizabeth, are alarming. They were captured as Kasatka and other orcas were being lined up for the administration of medication. Elizabeth explained:

When Kasatka lifted her head out of the water her lower jaw looked completely disfigured. She appeared extremely lethargic and did not swim around the pool as she normally would. When a trainer asked her to do a behavior for the crowd she did a pathetic attempt at a spy-hop. She seemed barely able to get her head out of the water. When the trainers were through, they dismissed the group of orcas and they all left except for Kasatka who moved only a few feet from the wall and stayed logging in the same spot until I left.

The images of Kasatka appear to show that the orca is suffering from more than a chronic respiratory infection. She could also be battling a fungal infection that has failed to respond to treatment.

Former senior trainer John Hargrove, author of the NY Times best-seller, “Beneath the Surface”, told Dolphin Project that what Kasatka has are not injuries but open sore lesions from a massive fungal infection:

Captive orcas are regularly treated for persistent fungal infections. The severity of this fungal infection demonstrates the diminished capacity of Kasatka’s own immune system. The constant need for massive amounts of antibiotics to keep orcas healthy in captivity decimates their immune system. Sadly, when I look at this photo, all I see is a diseased whale. Historically, when a necropsy is performed on an animal with this level of fungal infection, the fungal lesions are far worse internally than they are externally. It is also an incredibly painful way to die.

Regu-Mate.

We were also curious about the medication being administered. Although not used to treat fungal infections, Hargrove said he’s almost certain that it’s a drug called “Regu-Mate.” As a former senior trainer, Hargrove was trained and authorized to personally administer it to orcas at SeaWorld:

We used it for a trial period at SeaWorld but stopped due to its dangerous side-effects. Regu-Mate is only allowed to be administered by a male trainer wearing latex gloves (as seen in the photo) as it can cause infertility in female trainers.”

He explained that in premenopausal whales it’s used as a form of birth control but in postmenopausal whales, it is indicated as a medication to treat cancer, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, endometrial polyps and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Just last year in 2016, Hargrove testified as an expert witness regarding the types of drugs and their dangerous side-effects when used to treat captive orcas. His expert testimony included the drug Regu-Mate.

Kasatka was captured off the coast of Iceland in 1978. Estimated to be around 39-years-old, she is one of SeaWorld’s most successful breeders and has given SeaWorld four orcas — Takara in 1991, Nakai in 2001, Kalia in 2004 and Makani in 2013. Kasatka’s attack on trainer Ken Peters in 1999, played a huge role in the decision by federal administrative law judge Ken Welsch to rule that trainers must be protected by physical barriers when working with orcas. As one of only a few wild-caught orcas remaining at SeaWorld, losing her will almost certainly impact the hierarchy of the remaining orcas at SeaWorld San Diego.

Dr. Jeffrey Ventre, former SeaWorld trainer and cast member of the hit documentary, ‘Blackfish’, said:

Kasatka & Katina are the two most valuable killer whales in the history of SeaWorld. The value of matriarchs Kasatka and Katina is based on the stability they’ve provided to their social groups in California & Orlando, as well as their fertility, each producing many offspring. When I saw the image of her today, as a physician, it immediately reminded me of end stage AIDS. She is so immuno-compromised, covered in fungus, it’s clear that she is near death. I hope she passes quickly. The video sequence of her throttling Ken Peters, as seen in the ‘Blackfish’ movie, is the most shocking human – orca encounter ever seen, including with wild whales, in my opinion.

Samantha Berg, who appeared in Blackfish with Ventre and Hargrove, shared Ventre’s anguish:

I just saw the photo of Kasatka’s disease ravaged body. Inevitably Kasatka’s death will be portrayed by the SeaWorld corporation as a tragedy. SeaWorld will say they are saddened to lose (yet another!) family member. They will tell the public and the media that they did everything they could to give her a loving home, restaurant quality fish, superior dental care and a whole host of other lies that should be familiar to anyone who is dialed in to the anti-captivity movement.

Kasatka’s trainers will be sad, the public will mourn, and the news cycle will move on to the next story and Kasatka will be forgotten.

So, before she goes I want people to at least know this:

It is Kasatka’s LIFE – not her death- that is the real tragedy.

Kasatka was stolen from her true family in Iceland in 1978. She has spent the last 39 years in prison. Her crime? She was born a killer whale – a species so intelligent, beautiful and intriguing to humans that the owners of Seaworld knew they could put her on display and charge other humans just to watch her swim in a tank.

Kasatka’ body has not been ravaged by illness alone – she has been forced to perform via food deprivation for every day of her life for the last 39 years. She has also been forced to bear children that were then removed from her side and relocated to other corporate-owned prisons. Given what we know about the bonds between mother and calves – this is an even greater violation than food deprivation and amounts to extreme emotional abuse.

Kasatka is not an individual – she is a corporate asset worth millions of dollars to a corporation that cares about her only to the extent that she can continue to perform and generate revenue. Her owners don’t care how she feels or that she just might have memories of another happier life in the ocean.

Kasatka is one of only 4 remaining wild-captured killer whales still living in US Seaworld parks. With her passing there will only be 3 – Ulysses and Corky in San Diego and Katina in Orlando.

Sadly, the practice of capturing wild killer whales has not ended – the Russians continue to capture whales and the Chinese are building new facilities for whales to perform, breed and be on display.

Morgan, a killer whale who was “rescued” in the Netherlands remains in prison at Loro Parque in the Canary Islands even though she could have been a candidate for release.

While SeaWorld will say that Kasatka’s life performing circus tricks for food helped them to provide an educational experience for countless numbers of school children who stream through their turnstiles every year – this is also a lie.

Watching whales perform tricks in captivity is a distraction from the very real dangers facing our planet and our oceans right now.

Did Kasatka’s prison term help to educate park goers about ocean acidification, plastic pollution, fish farm effluent or dams that are right now causing salmon populations to crash and thus leading to the death and starvation of a wild pod of killer whales in the Pacific Northwest?

Will her death wake people up enough to address these issues?

Likely not.

At least in death, Kasatka’s decades of suffering will finally come to an end. My heart breaks for her, not because she is dying but because she deserved better.

RIP Kasatka.

While we hope SeaWorld will publicly address the health issues Kasatka is facing, Hargrove echoed our sentiments about the orca who has spent her entire life confined for entertainment purposes. “How sad,” he said, “that she’s been reduced to this after everything she has done for this company and all the money she’s made for SeaWorld.”

Here at the Dolphin Project, we wish Kasatka freedom. You can help prevent orcas being held in captivity by signing our pledge to never buy a ticket to a dolphin and whale show.

A quick note about Regu-Mate for clarity: Regu-Mate, made by Merck is the trade name for a synthetic hormone called Altrenogest. It is not used to treat fungal infections and is not indicated as such in the above article. The MSDS sheet for this drug is available at https://merckusa.compassites.com/product/view/8390045. It cautions pregnant women and others of childbearing age to exercise extreme caution when handling this product. Merck statesthat Regu-Mate is used in the management of prolonged estrus conditions.

Source: Dolphin Project.com

SeaWorld shareholders vote to remove chair at annual meeting

June 15, 2017

SeaWorld chair David D’Alessandro’s position is under threat after he failed to win a majority of votes for his re-election at the company’s annual meeting.The effective vote of no confidence comes after SeaWorld announced plans to award shares to some of its executives including D’Alessandro despite the company missing set targets and stocks plummeting in the face of negative PR surrounding the 2013 movie Blackfish

In a letter to shareholders prior to the meeting, SeaWorld said that D’Alessandro, along with eight other executives, had agreed to forfeit 40 percent of their share payout. The move didn’t help D’Alessandro however, who failed to receive the shareholders’ support during the meeting. 

According to SeaWorld bylaws D’Alessandro, who was appointed in 2010, is required to offer his resignation, with the board making a decision in the next 90 days over his future. 

“SeaWorld’s entire Board of Directors has been intensely focused on building value for shareholders by implementing a well-defined plan of fundamental change,” said SeaWorld in a statement to Attractions Management

“The Board will continue to proceed in the best interest of shareholders following this year’s Annual Meeting. The Board will determine what action will be taken within the next 90 days.” 

Source: Leisure Management