So You Want to Free Willy, Too

Written by Nate Green

After watching Ric O’Barry in The Cove, it’s hard not to want to free any dolphin you come across in captivity. O’Barry has been at the forefront of dolphin rescue since the ‘70’s, after watching Kathy, one of the five dolphins who played Flipper, commit suicide in his arms. O’Barry is now working to free the largest member of the dolphin family: the orca. Along with a former SeaWorld trainer, two other marine mammal experts, and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), O’Barry is listed as a “near friend” of Tilikum and Katina from SeaWorld Orlando; and Corky, Kasatka, and Ulises from SeaWorld San Diego. The five orcas are named as plaintiffs in PETA’s lawsuit against SeaWorld. Tilikum is the orca that grabbed and killed his trainer in 2010.


PETA is asserting that the whales are, in effect, involuntary servants: held in captivity, ripped from their families in the wild, subject to sperm collection and artificial insemination, and forced to perform; all for SeaWorld’s profit. PETA is arguing that this is illegal… under the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in 1864. PETA claims this is the first suit of its kind: seeking to apply constitutional rights to animals. Continue reading

Interview with Erich Hoyt on his new book

Reading the new 2nd edition of Erich Hoyt’s MPAs for Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises gave me a lot to think about. What a fascinating topic and the book is… I’m not sure I have words. It is an impressive volume packed with information on cetacean species, highly detailed information on their habitat and migratory patterns, and lots of background on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

1. MPAs are a complex, but critical strategy to protect whales, dolphins, porpoises and other marine species. What are some of the biggest constraints to the success of MPAs and what are some steps to help overcome them?

EH: One constraint is getting them implemented. All MPAs start out on paper. It can be in the interests of government, industry or certain stakeholders in keeping them only on paper. There is inertia of course, too. Many areas stay as paper MPAs for years. I always say that all MPAs start out on paper but it is up to the stakeholders — the local communities, researchers, government ministries, conservation groups and those who care — to work separately and jointly to make them real MPAs that function to help protect marine wildlife and ecosystems. It is also important to realize that once effective protection is put in place, it is necessary to monitor and review the situation from time to time and make changes as needed to keep the MPA functioning and, indeed, improving. Continue reading

IUCN Press release: Whales & dolphins need more protected areas

For more information, review copies or to set up interviews, please contact: Ewa Magiera, IUCN Media Relations, t +41 22 999 0346, m +41 76 505 33 78, ewa.magiera@iucn.org

For immediate release: September 5, 2011

Whales & dolphins need more protected areas

Background: A new book, Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises is released, calling for accelerated efforts to conserve marine mammals by protecting a greater area of the ocean. Currently only 1.3% of the ocean is protected but many new Marine Protected Areas are being created. Erich Hoyt, the book’s author and IUCN’s cetacean specialist, examines current and future developments in ocean protection. The book is a key resource for cetacean scientists and managers of Marine Protected Areas. Since most of these areas promote whale and dolphin watching and marine ecotourism, the book is also useful for finding some of the best places to spot the 87 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises in 125 countries and territories around the world. The book is published by Earthscan / Taylor & Francis and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. Continue reading

The Focus is on Marine Mammal Protected Areas

Hoyt mpas bookThe July-August 2011 issue of the influential MPA News features several articles about marine mammal protected areas with interviews and articles exploring the issue featuring Brad Barr, Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, Kristina Gjerde, Erich Hoyt and the International Committee on Marine Mammal Protected Areas (ICMMPA). The ICMMPA is planning its second conference 7-11 November 2011 and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society is one of the sponsors (more information at www.icmmpa.org).

The WDCS “Homes for Whales” campaign is mentioned in MPA News. Free subscriptions are offered to this monthly newsletter which currently is sent out to marine protected area scientists, conservationists, managers and government departments in more than 120 countries. It is also available for download at http://depts.washington.edu/mpanews/MPA121.pdf.

Erich Hoyt’s new Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises is available in the US Friday, August 5th. MarineBio will be giving copies of the book FREE with your $150 donation. See our donations page for details.

The whales are saved!?

From commercial whaling at least, for now…

From the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society:

WDCS Press Statement:

Moratorium remains intact: Pro-whaling advocates fail to get commercial whaling condoned

Agadir 23rd June 2010 – After two days of closed-door discussions delegates to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) were unable to reach consensus on a proposal (the ‘deal’) that would see the legitimization of commercial whaling. Continue reading

Watch the Story of “Jenny”

MarineBio’s Director of Marine Mammals, Erich Hoyt, urges you to watch this powerful video then make your voice heard to stop the IWC.

With a decision on a proposal that will lift the ban on commercial whaling for the next ten years only a few weeks away, and the members of the European Union still struggling to find a common position concerning a practice which is strictly prohibited by law within European Union waters, leading European actor, Mario Adorf has added his voice to the anti-whaling movement by narrating a moving campaign film on behalf of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS). Continue reading

A Message from Erich Hoyt

A Message from Erich Hoyt on Defending Antarctic Toothfish in the Ross Sea:

I am a whale researcher and conservationist, writes Erich Hoyt, Senior Research Fellow with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and MarineBio’s Director of Marine Mammals. Recently I became very interested in toothfish in Antarctica. At up to 2.5 m long they can be the size of a porpoise or dolphin. Left alone, they live for up to 50 years; they don’t breed until they’re about 16 and not every year thereafter. But aside from some remarkably similar reproductive parameters how is this relevant to my interest in whales and dolphins? Continue reading

First high seas MPA in the Antarctic Region

The first high seas Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Antarctic region has been declared in an area south of the South Orkney Islands. The proposal was successfully pitched by the UK delegation to the meetings last week of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Tasmania. The South Orkneys MPA is situated in the northern Weddell Sea, east of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula — a prime area for feeding humpback whales.

At just under 94,000 sq kms, the protection of the South Orkneys MPA is of a significant size. Overnight the global area of protected waters, with this announcement, increased by 4% according to Louisa Wood, from the IUCN Global Marine Programme. The global area of protected waters now stands at 0.92% of the world ocean — still far behind the land with as much as 12% protected, according to some estimates. Continue reading

Killer schmiller – whales need love too!

MarineBio Director of Marine Mammals discovers that killer whales create and visit social clubs just like people do

Story from BBC:

Up to 100 fish-eating killer whales come together in the Avacha Gulf, off the coast of Russia. But no-one knew why the whales form these huge superpods, when they normally live in smaller groups.

Now scientists report in the Journal of Ethology that these groups act as clubs in which the killer whales form and maintain social ties. Continue reading

Indonesia protects blue whale hotspot…

Great news from MarineBio’s Director of Marine Mammals, Erich Hoyt:

Lembeh Strait, IndonesiaThe Indonesian Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi has announced the designation of the Savu Sea National Marine Park — a blue whale hotspot that becomes the 15th largest MPA in the world. The announcement came at the World Ocean Conference in Manado, Indonesia, in May 2009. Continue reading