Dolphinaria-Free Europe is supporting the call to find Martinha, a rescued female common dolphin who has spent the past decade confined to a tiny backyard concrete ‘swimming pool’ after stranding on the coast of Portugal in 2007.
Martinha’s rescuers allowed her to languish in a waist-deep pool for 10 years, despite continued assurances that she would be rehabilitated and returned to the wild. In February 2017, the Martinha coalition received a letter from the Portuguese Government agency ICNF, on behalf of CRAM-Q stating that Martinha would not be released because of ‘chronic’ and ‘cyclic’ medical conditions (liver and digestive issues) but they were, however, looking for “alternative rehabilitation centres that could receive and take care of Martinha. Despite requests, there has been no evidence or confirmation of a move.
Following the announcement by Loro Parque that Morgan the orca gave birth to her calf on 22 September at the facility, DFE members The Free Morgan Foundation explain why they will continue their legal efforts on Morgan’s behalf; asking why she was allowed to become pregnant when potentially still under the ownership of SeaWorld who had decided to end their orca breeding programme, and also exactly who the father of Morgan’s calf is.
Below text courtesy of Free Morgan Foundation:
(FMF) remains committed to ensuring justice for Morgan and her calf. Morgan remains a protected Annex A specimen under EU law. The unauthorized act of breeding Morgan with SeaWorld’s male orca remains a focus of the FMF’s legal efforts. Our Petition before the European Parliament along with our pending court appeal in The Netherlands, are not affected by this troubling development. Quite the contrary; it reinforces our commitment to Morgan (and her calf) and the Rule of Law.
Based on the date of birth, we can now construct a timeline to measure SeaWorld’s culpability, including the breach of its promises to end captive breeding of its orca. In addition, Loro Parque’s recent statement under oath in a Spanish court denying that Morgan was pregnant and the records SeaWorld filed with the United States Government concerning the date of its abandonment and sale of the orca at Loro Parque, provides further evidence of unauthorized acts by Loro Parque exploiting Morgan for primarily commercial purposes in violation of EU law. The FMF will continue to seek the advice and counsel of our attorneys in Spain and The Netherlands.
DFE is saddened to hear the news that a female bottlenose dolphin, known as ‘Honey’, has been abandoned at the Inubosaki Marine Park in Choshi, Japan. Her case is an example of what DFE is trying to prevent in Europe.
Honey was captured from the wild in 2005 off the coast of Taiji, Japan, a location notoriously known for its annual dolphin drive hunts. She has outlived at least four other dolphins that have been displayed at the park.
The park allegedly observed a decline in visitor numbers following an earthquake and nuclear crisis in 2011, closing at the beginning of this year. Employees are reportedly still feeding all remaining animals. Honey has recently been described as having damaged skin, looking increasingly weak and floating listlessly in her small, uncleaned outside tank. She has also been displaying stereotypic (abnormal repetitive) behaviours, which are rife in captive dolphins as a result of unsuitable living conditions, frustrated biological needs and subsequent poor welfare.
Coalition member Marine Connection has been liaising with the Animal Rights Center Japan, which has been closely monitoring Honey’s situation, (as well as the remaining penguins, fish and reptiles), and is advocating for her rescue from the facility. The owners of the park have so far been ignoring all requests and enquiries regarding solutions for Honey, despite other dolphinaria in the country offering to rehome her.
Honey is an older wild-born individual, we believe she would be a good candidate for rehabilitation, pending medical clearance, with a view of either retiring her to a seaside sanctuary when available or potential release back into the wild.
Following recent media publicity over the death of the female calf born to one of the Southern Resident orca population, Tahlequah (J35), DFE member Viivi Senghore has written a heartfelt article on the mother/calf bond and how grief impacts cetacean mothers, both in the wild and in captivity.
‘We all know that the bond between a large-brained mammal mother and her child is one of the strongest ones there is. The recent news of a southern resident killer whale in The Pacific North West, Tahlequah also known as J35, and her dead calf has shown how a whale mourns a lost loved one. In my opinion, she has also shown us how destructive the captivity industry is to small cetaceans. A dolphin in captivity is forced to mourn her young far more frequently than in the wild. A life in captivity for a particular bottlenose dolphin called Veera is just one among countless heart-breaking stories.’
Finnish holiday companies such as Aurinkomatkat (Suntours), Apollomatkat (Apollo Travels) and TUI Finland are considering whether to follow Thomas Cook’s recent decision to stop selling tickets to facilities which display captive orcas. Thomas Cook Group decision will also apply to Tjäreborg, a Finnish holiday firm owned by the group.
Finnish travel company Aurinkomatkat currently sells tickets to several theme parks and aquariums with orca, however communications consultant Annina Metsola has commented that they will make their decision over the 2018 winter period.
TUI Finland said the company cannot comment until after the company releases its mid-term financial result, on August 6 – TUI’s website currently sells tickets to Loro Parque in Tenerife.
DFE welcomes this latest news and hopes that other tour operators will follow suit, to change their business model and phase out promoting/selling tickets to parks displaying orcas (and eventually all cetaceans).
There is more good news on the tour operator front. OceanCare, members of Dolphinaria-Free Europe, indicated that they have intensified their collaboration with Hotelplan Suisse in order to focus the commitment of the biggest Swiss tour operator to responsible dolphin tourism.
An education and awareness programme was put in place advising customers against visiting dolphinariums or swimming with dolphins. As a result of these actions, OceanCare is delighted to report that these offers are no longer actively advertised by Hotelplan Suisse.
Further information from OceanCare can be viewed in German at this link