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Making More than Just a Memory: An Article by the AMMPA (Alliance for Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums)


Each year, millions of children, such as Katrina Simpkins of Indiana, patronize zoos and aquariums like Clearwater Marine Aquarium. (Photo by Katrina Simpkins).

National Poll Finds Accredited Marine Parks, Aquariums and Zoos Best Places for Children to Learn About, Connect with Marine Mammals. Children have a natural curiosity about dolphins, whales and other marine mammals. The best way for parents to encourage this interest – and to inspire a lifelong passion for wildlife conservation – is to log kids off the computer and visit an accredited marine park, aquarium or zoo, where learning best happens. That’s according to a new national public opinion poll that says the public strongly believes seeing and experiencing live animals is the best way for children to learn about marine mammals. Released today by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, the survey of more than 1,000 adults found that97 percent of people agree that marine life parks, aquariums and zoos are important because they educate children about marine mammals–animals that children might not have the opportunity to see in the wild.

Ninety-four percent of those polled agree that children are more likely to be concerned about animals if they learn about them at marine life parks, aquariums and zoos, and that visiting these facilities can inspire conservation action that can help marine mammals and their ocean environments. The poll, conducted by Harris Interactive®, also found that 94 percent of people agree that zoological parks and aquariums offer valuable information about the importance of oceans, bodies of water and the animals that live there. Parks provide important interactions that are a critical first step in promoting kids to take action to help animals and their habitats,”said Marilee Menard, executive director of the Alliance.

Additionally, the poll found that 89 percent agree that children learn more about marine mammals at an aquarium or zoo than in a school classroom, and 88 percent agree that you can learn about animals at marine parks in a way that can’t be replicated by watching film or TV programs. Some 91 percent agree that seeing a marine mammal at these facilities fosters a connection to the animal. When children – and adults – see and experience the excitement of being close to marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, and sea lions, it resonates in ways that even the most vividly illustrated book or video cannot. It is an emotionally enriching experience that fosters a sense of caring for these animals and their ocean environments,” said Menard, whose Alliance membership represents 48 accredited facilities that account for the greatest body of experience and knowledge about marine mammal care and husbandry in the world.
Other findings from the new public attitude survey include:

• 40 percent of Americans (about 125 million people) have visited a marine park, aquarium or zoo in the last 12 months, including 56 percent of households with children (about 20 million households).

• 94 percent believe the people who care for the animals at marine life parks,aquariums and zoos are committed to the welfare of the animals.

• 7 percent (ages 18-24) would be interested in swimming with dolphins.

• 93 percent believe that many of the successes to save endangered or declining species are at least in part a result of work done in marine life parks, aquariums and zoos.
90 percent agree that species in the wild benefit when their biology and physiology is studied in marine life parks, aquariums and zoos.

•90 percent believe that interacting with dolphins in a marine life park, aquarium or zoo offers people a deeper understanding and appreciation of this mammal.

We pride ourselves on providing an educational and enjoyable experience for families,” Menard said. “Professionals at Alliance member institutions work every day to inspire guests of all ages to share their commitment to marine mammals, the need to protect them in the wild and to conserve ocean habitats.”

Methodology: 

Harris Interactive® conducted the study online on behalf of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums between Aug. 29 and Sept. 6, 2011 among a nationally representative quantitative survey of 1,011 U.S. adults ages 18 and over. The data were weighted where necessary to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of age, sex, race/ethnicity, education,region and household income. The propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums is an international association of marine life parks, aquariums, zoos, research facilities, and professional organizations dedicated to the highest standards of care for marine mammals and to their conservation in the wild through public education, scientific study, and wildlife presentations.

A very special thanks to Lindsey Lucenta for providing this article which was written by the Alliance for Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. Thanks again Lindsey.

~Jenna~

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Marine Mammal Husbandry


The purpose of animal husbandry on marine mammals including cetaceans, like Panama is to monitor their health and ensure that they are healthy.

Animal husbandry incorporates all methods and practices used to monitor the health of all marine mammals in human care. Trainers, animal care staff, and veterinarians employ structured routines to monitor and maintain the health of all animals in their care through daily medical examinations and constant observation. All work with the animals is then recorded on computers and charts for both easy reference and long-term tracking. Husbandry procedures include exhaling, obtaining fecal and urine samples, blood testing, and ultrasound and the goal of these procedures is to ensure the animal remains healthy in a zoological setting.

1. Exhaling

Naku shows us how exhaling can help monitor a whale or dolphin's respiratory health.

An exhale is when a trainer asks a whale or dolphin to give them a strong blow from their blowhole in order to obtain blow samples that will later be tested by veterinarians to determine their respiratory health.

2. Hydration (cetaceans)

Hydration helps prevents cetaceans from developing kidney problems. (photo by the Kohala Center of Hawaii)

Hydration is a procedure done to keep a whale or dolphin hydrated by carefully inserting a clean tube down the animal’s throat. This is because unlike humans, dolphins do not have a gag reflex which can make the procedure pretty easy for the trainers. A funnel that contains fresh water is connected to the tube.

3. Blood Testing

Many captive marine mammals are trained to voluntary present their tail flukes (cetaceans and manatees) and flippers (seals, walruses, and sea lions) for blood sampling. (Photo by SeaWorld)

One of the best ways to determine animal health is by taking a blood sample from animals in human care. When blood is taken, a marine mammal is asked to voluntary present either it’s tail fluke, or flipper. In cetaceans, the animal lays in a vertical position with pressure being applied to the tail flukes. When the blood is being drawn, it’s drawn the from the major vessel running along the underside of the fluke. In most seals, and sea lions, the blood is drawn from their flippers while remaining still. The blood sample is then taken to a lab where it would be tested to determine illness.

4. Urine/Fecal Sample

Urine and fecal samples are used to determine eating pattern and hormone levels.(photo is public domain).

In order to collect urine or fecal samples, the trainer must first clean the animal’s urogenital opening with an antiseptic gauze pad before placing the cup into a position that would be easy to catch either urine or fecal and apply pressure on the bladder or anus carefully with the palm of the trainer’s hand. The animal then fills the cub.  The samples are then used to determine an animals’s eating pattern (feces), or to determine if an animal is either pregnant or ready to breed.

5. Milking

Milk samples from nursing animal mothers can help veterinarians check for hormone changes and study ratios of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. (Photo by Zooborns.com).

Milking is when the mammary glands of a marine mammal is attached to a breast pump by having the animal voluntary lay in a haul-out position. Although the samples are mainly used for research purposes, they are also used to hand-rear baby animals that have been either rejected by their mothers or their mothers had died shortly after birth.

6. Sunscreening

During her rehabilitation, Winter was given sunscreen lotion to prevent her from getting sunburn as a result of the hot Florida sun. (Screenshot from 'Winter: The Dolphin That Could" DVD).

In the wild, dolphins that spend most of their time resting on the surface of the water would be more likely to develop serious skin problems from years of exposure to the sun. In zoological facilities however, cetaceans receive sunscreen that can be applied to their melon and other external parts of the body to prevent sunburns. At some facilities like SeaWorld, a sprinkler is provided to keep the skins of marine mammals cool damped during the hottest days of the year.

7. Semen Collection

It takes months of training to successfully train cetaceans such as Ulises the killer whale for semen collection. (Photo is public domain).

Semen collecting is the method of obtaining semen from a breeding male for the purposes of research and to one day artificially inseminate breeding females without ever having to transfer the males to other facilities for breeding loans. During this procedure, when the male sees a small plastic bag, he will voluntary roll over and present his penis before admitting semen samples to the trainer.

8. Body Measuring

Every two to four weeks, marine mammals such as manatees, are always measured to determine their body length and height. (Photo by ABC Animal Training.)

The most common husbandry practice at marine zoological facilities, body measuring is a procedure that measures the physical growth of an animal. The animal may lay either vertical or dorsal-up while trainers or keepers use a measuring tape to measure their length and girth. In cetaceans, some of these measurements may include the dorsal fin, tail flukes, and pectoral fins while sea lions and seals may only have to include the flippers.

9. Weighting by Slide Out

Slide outs are very helpful when it comes to recording an animal's weight. (Photo is public domain).

Slide outs are used to weight an animal using a flat, low-laying electronic scale. This procedure requires the animal to slide on top of the scale and lay still for just a few seconds while it’s being weighted. The scale shows how much an animal weights and can determine if that weight is healthy or not.

10. Tooth Care

A harbor seal is getting it's teeth cleaned by it's trainer during a husbandry session. (Photo is public domain).

Dental procedures are very important when it comes to caring for marine mammals in captivity. About several times a day, trainers swap, and brush the teeth of marine mammals to prevent possible tooth infections that would otherwise cause life-threatening illnesses to the animals. The teeth are then flushed with water after the teeth are bushed. However, if a tooth is infected, then a veterinarian will be required to perform an x-ray exam to determine how bad the infection is before deciding on where to go from there (a tooth cannot be surgically amputated unless it’s proven to be seriously infected and it’s at all means to save an animal’s life).

11. Eye Dropping

eye drops are used to treat and prevent eye problems in pinnipeds. (Photo by SeaWorld).

In pinnipeds such as sea lions and seals, eye problems are very common. While their eyes have evolved for seeing well underwater, it’s not known why they develop eye problem such as blindness, and cataract. In human care however, such problems can either be treated or prevented with the use of eye drops. A small drop of this medicine is carefully inserted into the pupil and allow it to sit and the medicine will absorb into the entire eye after several minutes.

12. Ultrasound

Many animals such as killer whales and dolphins are trained to hold still and relax during ultrasound exams. (Photo by SeaWorld).

Another valuable tool in animal husbandry is the use of an ultrasound. This procedure allows veterinarians to scan the animals for internal anatomy images. It’s also very useful to establish norms for individual animals  so that if some sort of change does occur, such as possible illness, treatment can occur instantly. Ultrasound is also used to detect pregnancy and monitor fetal health as well as determine the optimum time for mating females.

No training session nor husbandry procedure is ever forced.

It must be reminded that none of these husbandry procedures are forced and are all voluntary by the animals themselves. Each and everyone of the animals that are in human care are trained with the same tools along with other behaviors.

I hope you all find this list of husbandry procedures to be a helpful resource.

~Jenna~

Tell Alibaba.com To Stop Selling Manta Ray Leather


A young girl watches Nandi the manta ray swim in her exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Georgia Aquarium.

The Manta Ray is one of the largest species of ray in the entire world but yet, it’s endangered of becoming extinct due to over fishing, by-catch in drift, and set nets. I am writing a post about manta rays because a commerce site called Alibaba.com is known to sell boots, and wallets made from manta ray leather. This is completely inexcusable because many countries have recognized the protection of these beautiful animals through international bodies such as the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals, and the Endangered Species Act. Just recently, the manta ray was listed under this convention and this requires all member countries to take action to ensure that the rays and their habitats are protected. Currently, manta rays a listed as vulnerable to extinction  by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.  Yet despite this protection, Alibaba.com manages to sell products that are made from these gentle giants.

You can petition Alibaba.com to stop selling ray-based products at http://act.oceana.org/letter/l-manta/?akid=2314.428302.pFyWms&rd=1&source=mailing&t=3&utm_campaign=rays&utm_medium=mailing&utm_source=enews

Learn more about manta rays at: http://www.georgiaaquarium.org/animalguide/oceanvoyagerbuiltbythehomedepot/mantaray.aspx

http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/gallery/descript/mantaray/mantaray.html

"For in the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught." --Baba Dioum.....This is true with manta rays and other troubled sea life.

And thank you for speaking out for manta rays.

~Jenna~

How to Feed and Enrich an Otter


A captive Asian small-clawed otter catches a live fish in it's exhibit at SeaWorld San Antonio on August 11th, 2010. Photo was taken by yours truly.

One time, when I went to camp at SeaWorld in San Antonio, Texas, I went into the lake where the ski stadium is located with my camp group to collected some freshwater fish that would help feed the small-clawed otters in their exhibit. As a group, we would round the fish up by walking behind them before putting a net in the water to catch them.  The fish, which are taken alive from the lake, are then taken into the animal care department before they are placed into the otter exhibit to serve as both food and enrichment to the otters. This is because in the wild, hunt food by using their vibrissae to detect movements of prey in the water. They use their forepaws to locate and capture items rather than their mouth. To recreate that behavior, animal care staff at SeaWorld San Antonio acutally catches fish from lake where the ski stadium is located and bring the live fish to animal care where they are prepared to be brought to otter exhibit. For the otters on exhibit, the live fish in their exhibit is not only a form of a feeding session performed by their caretakers, but, it is also an enrichment session for them too. However, if a trainer is training them, it’s a good idea to start with a large enrichment item first because then, they would be much more responsive to training afterwards.

This small-clawed otter gives a recyclable object for it's trainer during a show at SeaWorld San Antonio on August 12th, 2010.

More Orca FAQs


While resident orcas will remain in the same pod for life, this is not the case for transient orcas. Photo of orcas Unna, Kyuqout and Tuar was taken on July 24th, 2008 by yours truly.

Hello everyone,

In response I got from Yovani Valdes regarding my first blog entry that was about frequently asked questions about orcas, I decided to add a sequal to that blog entry. This entry is all based off six of seven questions that were asked by Yovani and the one other question that I have found on yahoo.com.

1. How are new pods formed?

Females will begin to branch off from from their birth pods when they start having calves of their own. From there on, they will eventually start new lines of their own even though they will continue to travel closely with their mothers and other family members.

2. How large can pods get?

Orca pod sizes can range from two to forty animals.

3. What’s a transient pod?

Most transient orcas may have short term associations with other pods from time to time. Photo by National Geographic.

Transient orca pods are small loosely-based social structures that may consist of an adult female and two or three of her offspring. However, while the eldest male calf will remain with the mother for life, the other calves must leave her. Transient calves will leave their mother’s pod at around 5-12 years. Females have been known to travel with other transient animals who they may or may not be related too while males will travel with one group after another for time to time. However, the only exception to this rule is if female offspring fail to produce any offspring of her own and will remain with the mother for life.

4. What are the intervals between births?

Born year around, killer whale calves may nurse from their mothers for up to two years. Photo of Katina with her son Makaio was by taken by yours truly in July 2011.

 

Female orcas will give birth to a single calf every 3-5 years. On average, females will probably give birth to 4-6 calves during her lifetime.

5. When do they start breeding and until what age?

While female orcas will mature at around 7 to 10 years of age, it could be another six to nine years before they have their first calf. The average age for females to give birth for the first time is around 11-15 years. They become post-reproductive in their mid-forties.

6. Why do dorsal fins bend? 

There are a series of theories about why an orca's dorsal fin bends. photo is by Public Domain

Although it’s not really known why an orca’s dorsal fin bends, many believe that gravity may have something to do with it. For example,  when orcas dive under water, the surrounding water helps support the dorsal fin which is made of nothing more than muscle and connective tissues. Also, orcas who spend most of their time at the surface with their fins protruding out of the water has greater chances of flipping over on a long-term scale. Additionally, the collagen becomes more flexible when warm such as exposure to the sunlight. However, there are also theories about collapsed dorsal fins being genetic (there there’s evidence to support that too).  Yet because the dorsal fins of male orcas can grow up to six feet tall, the height of the fins may have a great tendency for the fins to naturally collapse or become wavy over time. However, it must be reminded that neither the shape or droop of a whale’s dorsal fin are not indicators of an orca’s health, or well-being.

If you have anymore questions about orcas and other marine mammals, feel free to email me at Animaltrainer104@aol.com

Hope you all have a great weekend everyone,

~Jenna~

Orca FAQs


Trua is a six-year-old male killer whale, or orca who resides at SeaWorld in Orlando.

Hello there everyone, sorry I was not able to blog for a while. This was because I have been busy with school and homework and it has been slowing me down lately. However, since I know a lot of people who regularly visit my blog are big time orca lovers like myself, I have come up with some FAQ’s that I have been asked by a few people regarding killer whales.

  1. What’s a killer whale’s social life life?                                                                                                                                                                     Orcas live in groups known as “Pods” which can consist of anywhere from 2 or more animals. Many of these pods are matrilineal and are led by an older female known as a matriarch.  The matriarch, her siblings, their offspring, her offspring, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren all belong to the same pod. Because these matrilineal pods are stable for a long period of time, all pod members may contribute to calf rearing and ensuring that calves survive their first few years of life and learn all the ways of the pod.  While this is very common among resident orcas, this is not always true for transients in which pods may involve females leaving their birth pods to form their own pods and forming short term association with non-related breeding males. Meanwhile, their brothers are known to travel either alone or form short-term associations with other males. Overall in most pods, both male and female offspring will stay with their birth pods for life.
     2.  How to killer whales hunt their prey?
         While it’s well known that resident and offshore killer whales feed on fish, squid, sharks, and rays and transients feed on sea birds          and marine mammals, every orca population has it’s own prey and hunting techniques regarding how to catch it. For example, killer whales in Norway have been known to consolidate and maintain tight balls of herring by rounding huge schools into a large ball before taking turns slicing through it. Meanwhile, orca populations in New Zealand have been known to catch stingrays by first sinking themselves to the bottom by blowing out air trough their blowholes before picking up the rays by their stingers (which leaves them immobilized and thus not being able to sting the orcas). In Argentina, transient orcas have been known to catch seals and sea lions by beaching themselves on the beach before catching and dragging them into the water. However, transient and offshore orca populations off the coast of California have been known to use cooperative hunting in order to harass large animals like sharks and baleen whales.
 3. Why do some killer whales have worn down teeth?
     The reason why some killer whales have worn down teeth is the result of the long term effects on their diet. For example, offshore orcas off the coast of California are known to have worn down teeth as a result of feeding on sharks and feeding on certain species of fish. As a result, the teeth will start to naturally wear down over time due to the rough skins of sharks and other fish species they may feed on. However, some transient and resident orca populations in the North Atlantic have been known to posses worn-down teeth too, just like their some of their captive counter parts.
4.  Is it true that all killer whale pods have their own calls?
     Yes they do. In fact, these calls may range from 0.5 to 25 kHz with the peak energy of 1 to 6 kHz and orca experts believe that various calls function when it comes to group recognition and coordination behavior. However, individual pod members share the same or similar dialects as the other members of their pods. While researchers believe that that is some type of structure to the calls, the dialects are not the same as languages. While dialects vary from one population to another, each pod has their own dialect “accent” that allows researchers to determine which pod may be in the area by listening to clips of their vocalizations. Whales learn the calls and dialects of their pods from their mothers during their first year of life. Yet, while researchers have been studying killer whales  for almost four decades, little is known about how their communication system works.
5.  How long can a killer whale live?
While there are reports of a very few orcas living into their eighties, the average lifespan is no more than 60 years. The average lifespan for males is around 30 to 35 years while their female counterparts may live around 45 to 55 years. This is likely due to the child rearing roles females play in orca society.
6. Why do orcas perform the various surface behaviors that can normally be seen at SeaWorld killer whale shows?

Katina the killer whale breaches during a killer whale show at SeaWorld

While some researchers believe that certain surface behaviors may be some sort of sign that they might be communicating with other animals, some believe that it could be a display of playfulness, aggression mating call, or a navigational purpose. These behaviors may include, breaching, sharking, pec slap, and spy hopping. However, the full purpose behind the behaviors are not fully understood.

If you have any more questions regarding orcas, feel free to email me at Animaltrainer104@aol.com and have a great evening everyone.
~Jenna~

Lolita The Killer Whale: Why She Can’t Be Released


Lolita spyhops out of curiosity at the Miami Seaquarium in June 2009. I will NOT talk about Lolita's tank for we all agree that it's so old and outdated, that the Seaquarium should consider building her a larger tank that's big enough for both her, her dolphin companions, and even a couple orca companions too.

In recent years, there has been a lot of argument over whether or not Lolita, a 45-year-old Killer Whale at the Miami Seaquarium, should be released back into the wild because the community of orcas where she came from has been well known to researchers since the 1970′s.   This article will talk about why Lolita is not a great candidate for release and why she would have to remain in human care for the remainder of her life even if it involves moving her to either another facility or building her a new tank.

1. Lolita has lived in captivity for 41 years and has fully trusted people.

Since 1970, Lolita has been cared for by trainers and vets at the Miami Seaquarium. Over the years, Lolita has learned to trust her trainers thanks to her possible brother/cousin Hugo, who taught her how to trust and deal with trainers as well as enjoy daily routines.  Lolita’s trainers spend their time interacting with her, especially if there’s no show going on. Trainers will spend time playing with her and the Pacific White Sided Dolphins who share her pool.  Playtime for any animal is important as it strengthens relationships and gives Lolita exercise.  She is also curious about people too. Before shows starts, Lolita will sometimes come up out of curiosity and check them out.  The only two things I do believe that Lolita really needs are a bigger and better tank and a few orca companions although she does get along with her dolphin tank mates. She has her own schedule like any SeaWorld orca too and does not find change to be reinforcing. She’s fed at 9:45 in the morning and gets a good two hours of rest and receives daily play sessions along with her dolphin companions. She is not forced to perform in any shape or form and can refuse to perform anytime. She is fed regardless of what behavior she exhibits.

2. Although Lolita’s pod is known to researchers, there is no guarantee that they would accept her a pod mate.

One anti-captivity argument is the fact that Lolita’s pod is well known to researcher.. While it is true that her birth pod, the L-25 pod has been studied by researchers for over three decades now, there is little to no guarantee that they would accept her as a legitimate member of their pod. You see, killer whales are social animals and most pods will only affiliate with whoever their parents have introduced them too such as other pods they normally travel with. When you think back with Keiko, all interactions with wild pods ended with Keiko returning to the boat were his care takers were aboard because the majority of interactions he had with them were aggressive. For the living members of the L-25 pod, Lolita would considered a stranger to them rather than another pod mate. Also, in the case of rescued juvenile orca Springer, interactions with her pod were aggressive until one of her aunts stepped in to raised her.  Most of the members of the L-25 sub pod who were alive at the time of her 1970 capture have died over the years and only two pod mates who were alive during that time are still alive. They are L-25 (Ocean Sun who was believed to have been born in 1928) and her supposed sister L-12 (Alexis who is believed to have been born in 1933) and both animals have been argued to have possibly be Lolita’s birth mother. While long-time whale researcher Ken Balcomb argued in a 2003 documentary that L-12, Alexis was her mother, other activists suggests her possible sister Ocean Sun. Yet, unlike Corky, there are no known photographs of Lolita with either one of these animals that were taken prior to the 1970 Penn Cove capture. So, only DNA testing would tells us the truth.

3. Even if Lolita was moved to a sea pen, she would still be a captive animal that requires human care. 

Most activists who want to see Lolita moved to a sea pen don’t realize that by having Lolita reside at a sea pen, she would still be in captivity, except, she would reside in an enclosed area that would be surrounded by the ocean. While the pen itself would take months to build, Lolita herself would still require long-term care by zoo professionals that she currently receives at Miami Seaquarium, except, this care would be possible through public support and public funding which can only be made possible by the sea pen being opened to the public, this will help with funds needed for her care. Lolita should not be kept alone in the pen, and whoever  is operating the sea pen would be required to find a suitable companion for her because again, there’s no guarantee that her wild pod would ever recognize her a legitimate family member.

4. The Salish Sea is still under threat as a marine habitat thanks to habitat destruction, increase tourism, and pollution.

While various pollutants have been banned in the United States in the 1970′s, pollution is still threatening the Salish Sea’s marine ecosystem. For example, toxic substances accumulate in higher concentrations as they move up the food chain. As the top predator in the Pacific Northwest, Killer Whales are considered to be the most polluted marine mammals in the oceans. The toxic build up of pollution starts before birth when the mother passes these pollutants on to her offspring and later through nursing. In the Pacific Northwest, the Chinook salmon, the primary food source for Southern Resident Killer Whales is endangered due to stream-side logging, increase in agricultural development, spread of disease and competition by salmon hatcheries, and over-fishing worldwide. The lack of wild salmon has caused orcas to not have enough fat reserves that would ensure their survival during the long winter months. It has been observed that the orcas of Salish Sea are not fat and healthy as they should be, due to summer gorging; it causes a lot of concerns about their survival and their well-being in the coming months. The Salish Sea commonly crowded with a variety of boats coming in and out of their habitats for various reasons. During the summer months, much of the Salish Sea is busy with boat traffic and that is noise pollution. Of all the known senses of cetaceans, sound is the sense they rely on the most. With shipping, marine tourism and navy activity every increasing in the ocean, so much noise is being introduced into cetacean habitats, thus, interrupting their normal behavior, and even driving them away from feeding and breeding areas they rely on for survival. Recent studies have shown that noise pollution, especially navy sonar, has been linked to mass standings, and severe hearing damage in cetaceans. Cetaceans rely on sound to navigate, communicate with other animals, find and catch food.

5. If Lolita was released and is not accepted into a wild pod, there could be a chance that she could become a “wild-friendly cetacean”. While we may be able to teach Lolita how to hunt, we can’t teach her the ways of wild orcas, like how to avoid boats, and use sonar to navigate through murky waters. If Lolita was released and not accepted by her wild pod, her story could end like Keiko’s did; he traveled across the Atlantic Ocean alone where ended up in Norway and began interacting with boaters, and ultimately The Salish Sea is known for its summer boat traffic, a friendly Killer Whale would not be a safe Killer Whale. L98 Luna was a good example of this.  He was boat friendly and was eventually killed by the propellers of a tug boat.   If Lolita approaches boats she puts herself in danger and puts the boaters in danger. This could create a very damaging situation.  The chances of Lolita being re-captured before she is killed would be very low.

I have made my case regarding Lolita and  it’s concluded that Lolita cannot be released back into the wild but, remain in human care for the rest of her life. There’s no guarantee that releasing her would be successful and she is not an experiment, nor should be treated like one. I would suggests that she should be given either a bigger tank that would be large enough to house her and her dolphin companions with the possibility of one day acquiring another Killer Whale companion or be moved to a SeaWorld park where she could at least be around other orcas. However, there is little chance to no chance of her ever being moved to another facility because Lolita does not like change.

Big thanks to Nicole Perkins for editing this blog entry in hopes convince activists that Lolita is not a great candidate for release. Thanks again Nicole, your help was great one.

~Jenna~