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Are Wild Orca Captures About To Begin Again?

February 15, 2011

 

The orca, the largest dolphin and pack predato...

Image via Wikipedia

Capturing killer whales from the wild has always been enormously controversial: first in the Pacific Northwest, where the first captures took place, and then in Iceland, where the marine park industry went after the Pacific Northwest capture industry was shut down (Iceland eventually shut it down, too). Marine parks, acutely aware of the bad publicity that came from taking killer whales from their wild pods, developed the techniques to breed killer whales in captivity, and since the mid-1980s the majority of killer whales in marine parks have been captive bred.

But it would be wrong to assume that killer whale captures in the wild are a matter for history. Killer whales are enormously valuable to marine parks around the world, and breeding them in captivity is not a simple matter. Recently, according to the Orca Home website, Russia extended a permit for the live capture of killer whales in Russian waters, and Japan might, too:

February 6, 2011:
Capture plans in Russia and Japan

Russia has extended the permit for allowing up to 10 killer whales to be captured from the wild, reports the Russian Orca Project.
And there rumours that Taiji has applied for permits to capture 5 orcas, one to replace Nami who was sold from Taiji to Nagoya and died on 14 January this year, one for Taiji and the others are probably destined for new projects in China.

It’s been a long time since the world has seen wild captures, and new captures would be highly controversial. Hardy Jones of BlueVoice.org, has long tracked the situation in Japan, and produced this video about a 1997 capture:

A lot less is known about Russian orcas, but a friend steered me toward this video that documents the the lives of killer whales that live off the Kamchatka Peninsula:

Part 1

Part 2 (which includes video of a 2003 capture operation that goes sadly wrong, starting at about 1:30)

I’ll be keeping an eye on what’s happening in Japan and Russia. No matter what you think of marine parks, I find it hard to believe even marine park enthusiasts can or would support this inarguably cruel and brutal process of procuring killer whales for family entertainment.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2011 4:16 pm

    We know there are thoughtless investors who will pay crews to attack and capture orcas or dolphins anywhere they can grease en0ugh palms to get a permit. And the same or other investors will dig a hole in the ground, line it with concrete, put bleachers around it and call it a dolphinarium or whale stadium, while tourism hypsters will splash the exciting news on billboards and all over the media.
    So it’s up to those who care about our whale and dolphin friends to provide the thoughts and facts to the world, to show that cetaceans suffer greatly when taken from the sea and from their communities and families. People in the captivity business need to know they are dealing in a brutal industry, and potential customers who might want to visit the display tanks should know they will witness animals stressed to the breaking point, suffering for their entertainment.
    Many thanks to Tim for staying on this and helping to get the word out.

  2. Karina permalink
    February 15, 2011 6:09 pm

    My heart clenches watching those orca’s being separated.
    I have always had a fascination with killer whales but I won’t go to a Dolphinarium/ marine parks and never will. At the moment I’m planning to head up to Canada somewhere to join those orca kayaking tours! It’s so much better to see them in the wild.

    Once again thanks Tim for such an informative blog, keep up the good work.

  3. Karen Hanegan permalink
    February 16, 2011 12:30 am

    Many thanks Tim, for keeping us up to date with your blog.

    I simply cannot stand the thought that these cruel, mindless roundups and captures might begin again. As mentioned in the video, and proven by the evidence of the orcas that have been kept in so-called dolphinariums or seaquariums, their life expectancy is slashed to only 5-10 years, if not much shorter than that. We simply cannot allow this to keep happening!

    This “industry” is always driven by greed – those of individuals, corporations or governments out to make money without any heed of the damage they are doing. It seems greed always is the driving force behind anything that is bad or wrong in the world.

    Please keep us up to date on this matter.

  4. Jeff permalink
    February 16, 2011 9:06 am

    Tim, thank you for following this issue for us. It’s hard to believe that wild orca collections seem destined to resume, especially considering the death and morbidity of the past year, both in terms of trainers and captive orcas. Thanks.

    • Barbara Mieirs permalink
      February 20, 2011 10:48 pm

      Jeff, I agree with you, as well as the other humans with a soul who have posted comments. And not only to consider the deaths and morbidity of the past year, but of many past years. We have grown so much as human beings, but we won’t be truly united until this attrosity stops, and we agree around the world to stop these actions. Also, I want to thank Tim for sharing this info. So many more people NEED to see these videos and read the stories. Peace and love

  5. Suzanne Chisholm permalink
    February 16, 2011 6:23 pm

    Thanks very much, Tim, for covering this important topic. It’s ironic that at a time when many people are realizing how harmful captivity is for orcas, that countries like Russia and Japan still think it’s acceptable to take orcas in a brutal fashion from their ocean home. It’s equally scary what recently happened in the Netherlands – in a country generally respected for its approach to animals. A wild young orca, Morgan, was taken from the sea off the Dutch coast, brought to the Harderwijk Dolfinarium, and “rehabilitated.” Now that she’s healthy, it has been determined that it would be too difficult to return her to the sea. Unless something changes very quickly, Morgan is doomed for a life in captivity. This is a terribly dangerous precedent for all cetaceans.

  6. February 19, 2011 4:47 pm

    We know there are thoughtless investors who will pay crews to attack and capture orcas or dolphins anywhere they can grease en0ugh palms to get a permit. And the same or other investors will dig a hole in the ground, line it with concrete, put bleachers around it and call it a dolphinarium or whale stadium, while tourism hypsters will splash the exciting news on billboards and all over the media.So it’s up to those who care about our whale and dolphin friends to provide the thoughts and facts to the world, to show that cetaceans suffer greatly when taken from the sea and from their communities and families. People in the captivity business need to know they are dealing in a brutal industry, and potential customers who might want to visit the display tanks should know they will witness animals stressed to the breaking point, suffering for their entertainment.Many thanks to Tim for staying on this and helping to get the word out.
    +1

  7. March 1, 2011 10:54 am

    Thanks for sharing this information Tim. It seems like we’ve gone back in time a few decades when I read about wild captures like that. Here’s hoping that something can be done before anyone actually does this 😦

  8. amber west permalink
    December 18, 2012 4:22 pm

    What a shame that humans do this to other species. For MONEY. They are so beautiful and graceful and knowing how can anybody hurt one? Why must there always be somebody who wants to capture that and put it in a bottle? Once you do, all that you loved about it in the first place is gone. Now just an empty shell.

    • de Villiers permalink
      December 24, 2012 4:15 am

      @amber west
      Loved your response. So apt. Have always loved Orcas (in the wild!!) and am so pleased that pwople out there are tryiing to make a difference to those dear souls in captivity.

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