Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sharon Osbourne, Don’t Swim with Dolphins!

Sharon Osbourne recently participated in a Swim with Dolphins program and that attracted the attention of those who believe dolphins should not be forced to live in captivity. I am an ocean activist so I am in conflict with Sharon Osbourne, but I must clarify what I mean by “conflict”. I define it as something that is caused by having a different level of understanding of an issue. At first glance, Swim with Dolphin programs appear benign, but there is a darker, more sinister reality.

I am neither a fan nor a detractor of Sharon Osbourne. I understand from friends who follow celebrities that she is an articulate, hard-working professional who is extremely committed to her projects. Sharon, we have a project for you. Please join our campaign to put an end to whale and dolphin captivity.

I am not aware of any incidents of dolphins in the wild injuring people, but there have been numerous injuries during Swim with Dolphins programs. These incidents are labeled "accidents", but it is hard to believe that despite their expert swimming ability a dolphin could "accidently" ram someone and break bones.  These dolphins are not as happy as their captors claim.

Dolphins in captivity have a very high death rate and they suffer from pneumonia, various infections, stomach ulcers, and stress, and whales and dolphins that are born in captivity often die within the first weeks or months of their lives. Dolphins are amazing, highly social, sentient creatures and captivity causes endless pain and suffering. The optics of Swim with Dolphin programs are enhanced by smoke and mirrors, but make no mistake, there is pain behind the dolphins’ smile. 
The horrific dolphin slaughter in Taiji is driven by the live dolphin trade. I am a Cove Veteran and I have witnessed the dolphin slaughter in Taiji. The dolphins that survive this brutal drive fishery are traumatized because they witnessed the death of their families. These captives are packed in coffin-like boxes filled with ice and shipped as cargo. They then spend the remainder of their lives “dying to amuse us”.

Please watch the Academy Award winning move, “The Cove”.  If you love dolphins, seeing this movie is a life-changing experience. Here is something else you should see.

Folks, we want Sharon’s support, so please, no personal attacks. I have no quarrel with Sharon, but I acknowledge we have a different level of understanding regarding dolphin captivity and we hope to close the gap.  

Sharon, come stand with the Cove Guardians in Taiji.  When you speak, people will listen. The dolphins need you because the slaughter starts again in September.

For the Oceans,


Janice Oceans (on Facebook)
@janice_oceans (on Twitter)

To learn more about Swim with Dolphin programs, go to

This is an good article from the BBC

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Unknown Orca

Many years ago, I visited an aquarium and remember seeing an orca in a small circular tank that appeared to overlap with another small circular tank. I recall feeling a bit sick as I watched this large animal try to build up enough speed in this confined space to jump out of the water on command.    
My childhood memories often revealed that things that appeared to be massive were in reality quite small when viewed through the eyes of an adult. As I recall, these connecting pools seemed extremely tiny, but it was the size of the orca in relation to the size of the tank that was most disturbing. This orca was in a fishbowl.
What I did not know then was how wrong it is to confine an orca to a tank. Flipper was always laughing, smiling, and having so much fun. Having a pet dolphin was really cool. What I did not know was that Kathy, the dolphin who played the role of Flipper, committed suicide. What I did not know was the horrific suffering that Kathy and all whales and dolphins in captivity endure on a daily basis.  
I do not know the Orca’s name and I don’t know the location or name of the facility. I live in Canada and there are limited options in this country so it must have been somewhere in the United States; perhaps a border town. 
This poor animal would have lived and died without contact with her orca family and without living a life of freedom in the ocean which is the birthright of all cetaceans. Who was this once magnetic creature? Was she constantly breathing polluted air, suffering from ulcers, and inflicted with skin infections caused by the chemicals in her tank? What type of captivity-related disease caused her death? How many years was her life cut short?  What I do know is that she committed no crime and she did not deserve to lose her freedom or her life.    
My father is no longer alive and my mother can’t recall ever taking us to an aquarium so this remains a mystery and I wonder if this is a memory or just my imagination. Maybe this was something I saw on television. Perhaps it was a dream or a forerunner; an experience I will have in future. If this is a recollection, maybe it was rekindled to inspire my work as an ocean activist.
If I cannot determine her identity, perhaps I might concede she never existed and that would make for a happy ending because if she did not exist, she did not suffer, but attributing this memory to a dream would be a much too convenient resolution.
I think she was real and I would like to know who she was, but I don’t know if I ever will. Her family never knew what happened to her and it is very possible I won’t either.
Perhaps she will always be the unknown orca.
For the Oceans,

Janice Oceans (on Facebook)
@janice_oceans (on Twitter)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Taiji, Japan, and the Global Community

The world was shocked and saddened by the earthquake, tsunami, and the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan. Many people in Japan are bravely suffering through what is probably the most traumatic experience of their lives.
People ask me if the current situation in Japan will impact my activist activities. It might change the strategy, but not the goals and objectives. I will continue to oppose anyone from any country who kills whales or dolphins. The current situation in Japan does not grant them any latitude.
The whaling industry is having serious financial problems and it is unlikely it will receive a cash injection when there are so many cities and towns that need to be rebuilt. And what about Taiji?  There is no question that Taiji continues to be a public relations disaster. The actions of a few have tarnished the reputation of the nation and this has impacted the willingness of some to donate to Japanese relief agencies, but fortunately individuals as well as nations have joined in the effort. They made this choice because it was the right thing to do.
We share the same values of family and community as do the citizens of Japan. But what about the issues where we differ?  Japan views whales and dolphins as resources that can be harvested, bought, sold, and eaten. This separates the Japanese from those who are trying to help this nation in crisis.
What is to become of this divide?  Will the current crisis in Japan widened the gap or will it bring us closer together? I hope Japan will join the rest of the world; a world with an appreciation for biodiversity and a world of global citizens who are intrinsically linked by the oceans we share and protect.
In my blog, “New Year’s Predictions for Taiji”, I wrote “Eventually Japan will have no choice but to stop issuing permits to kill small cetaceans. The international opposition to the dolphin slaughter in Taiji continues to grow and Japan cannot financially afford to isolate itself from the world by legally permitting acts that are considered criminal is most other countries.”   I stand by my prediction.
The countries who kill whales and dolphins are Japan, Iceland, Norway, and the Faeroe Islands of Denmark so that means the vast majority of the countries in the world oppose Japan’s commercial whaling activities and the dolphin slaughter, but in response to our complaints, they call us racists.  Will it now be harder for Japan to play the “racist card”? Are all those people from all around the world who are donating money to help rebuild Japan “racists”?  This defense was always pathetic, but now it will also be insulting.   
For the Oceans,