Blackfish Archives: Birth And Death At Dolphins Plus

Over the past decade I have accumulated a lot of documentation related to marine mammal captivity. So I am going to start publishing items of interest.

This video comes from Russ Rector, who died in 2018 and was a colorful, relentless and vocal critic of dolphinariums. One of his key strategies was simply to send people out to film at various facilities, because he knew that the realities of captivity could not be hidden from view, and when things happened he wanted it on video.

He sent me this edit of a longer video a few years ago. It shows the birth of a calf at Dolphins Plus in the Florida Keys, and how a moment of creation turns into a moment of tragedy.

Russ had no love for Dolphins Plus, and also in 1993 secured from former employee David Valdez this sworn testimony about practices and incidents at Dolphin Plus.

Hurricane Irma Vs. Florida Keys Dolphins

This image of Hurricane Irma’s projected track from the National Hurricane Center puts a bullseye on the Florida Keys. It may change course, but it is making me wonder what the various dolphin facilities in the Keys that keep dolphins in lagoons will do to protect their dolphins (Dolphin Research Center and Dolphin Connection, Theater Of The Sea, and Dolphins Plus).

The Florida Keys are now under an evacuation order. Leaving the dolphins in their net pens has risks (if the pens get torn up they can tangle up the dolphins and drown them). So does letting them out into open water, which is the preferred protocol, and the dolphins usually show up again looking to be fed. During Hurricane Andrew, DRC opened the gates. One dolphin, Anessa, chose never to return.

Of course, Miami Seaquarium, and Lolita, are also at risk. During Andrew a wall of water washed through the facility.

Especially dangerous times for captive marine mammals in Irma’s path of destruction.