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Olympic City Next to Exploit Captive Orcas

Olympic City Next to Exploit Captive Orcas

In light of the growing opposition to keeping whales and dolphins in captivity for our amusement, the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics plans to showcase two wild-caught orca whales and use an endangered dolphin as a torchbearer before the opening ceremony during this years games in Sochi, Russia.

Russia started successfully capturing orcas from the wild in 2003, which has so far resulted in the inexcusable deaths of some who were either killed during the captures, or who died shortly after being taken into captivity. Unfortunately, quotas for 6 to 10 orcas have continued to be issued every year for the Sea of Okhotsk. Last fall another seven were taken from their families, two of whom will be moved to Sochi for display, according to Erich Hoyt, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) research fellow, author and co-director of the Far East Russia Orca Project.

“These will be the first orcas ever displayed in public in Russia and the dolphinarium will be hoping to make money during the Olympics by holding them captive. Sadly, these two orcas will have to endure a stressful journey, flying across seven time zones, some 7,427 kilometres (4,614 miles) to spend the rest of what remains of their lives in a small tank,” said Hoyt.

What we already know about the lives and behavior of orcas in the wild, their strong family bonds and what captivity does to them should be enough to deter us from ever trying to take them from the ocean only to deprive them of their freedom and confine them in stark tanks for entertainment or the guise of education, but there’s money to be made in this business, so it goes on.

Taking the orcas for display was bad enough, but Russia has added insult to injury with its announcement in October that it would be using a wild-caught Black Sea bottlenose dolphin as a torchbearer before the opening ceremony. A trainer will reportedly hold the dolphin’s fin with one hand and the torch with the other while they swim across a small pool on February 4.

Incidentally, Black Sea bottlenose dolphins are listed as endangered on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. According to the IUCN, one of the reasons for their decline is live capture, yet in recent years 1020 dolphins have been taken annually in the spring from a small area in the Kerch Strait many of whom were sold into the entertainment industry.

As the Digital Journal notes, not only do these animals have nothing to do with the games, but using them flies in the face of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Environmental Mandate, which makes conservation a top priority, and Agenda 21, which insists the games will be conducted, “with the preservation of the natural environment in mind,” and strongly suggests that “all upcoming Olympic developments will be carried out with a commitment to environmental consciousness and sustainability.”

Apparently, Russia didn’t get the memo.

The move has led to opposition from the public and organizations including WDC and the Global Olympics Dolphin Campaign, which is not only opposing their use in Sochi, but is also fighting against Japan’s bid to host the 2020 games because of its participation in whale and dolphin slaughter.

TAKE ACTION!

Please sign and share the petition asking Russia to release these orcas immediately and refrain from taking any more from the wild.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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102 comments

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4:10AM PDT on Sep 10, 2014

Never heard of Black Sea bottlenose dolphins before, thanks for sharing :)

7:17AM PST on Dec 31, 2013

Really Mandy H? Did you not read my post? Miami is in America last I heard.....

9:58AM PST on Dec 13, 2013

I can't understand! Is everyone deaf,dumb and heartless? We all know these beautiful animals are loyal to their familys and can't totally be trusted in captivity and that it is so...unfair and unnessary and should not even be considererd okay!Where is your sense to know right from wrong?Why does the laws have to be made to do the right thing?Leave these animals where they belong with each other,find non animal ways to make your money you despertly want and or need!Stop using and abusing animals,because you can!!!We need to stand against these kinds of people and say no more.Things get changed for he better,but we need support from as many as possiable. Slavery,etc. seemed hopeless to change,but nothing is impossiable ,we need to make a stand and say let the animals alone!!Set them free!!!

9:41AM PST on Dec 13, 2013

I can't understand! Is everyone deaf,dumb and heartless? We all know these beatiful animals are loyal to their familys and can't totally be trusted in captivity and that it is so...unfair and unnessary and should not even be considererd okay!Where is your sense to know right from wrong?Why does the laws have to be made to do the right thing?Leave these animals where they belong with each other,find non animal ways to make your money you despertly want and or need!Stop using and abusing animals,because you can!!!We need to stand against these kinds of people and say no more.Things get changed for he better,but we need surport from as many as possiable. Slavery,etc. seemed hopeless to chage,but nothing is impossiable ,we need to make a stand and say let the animals alone!!Set them free!!!

6:34AM PST on Dec 13, 2013

I can't say I'm too surprised to hear that it's Russia that's doing something so inhumane.

4:19AM PST on Dec 13, 2013

Thank you for sharing such important information.

11:21PM PST on Dec 12, 2013

Signed. This is wrong on so many levels.

4:14PM PST on Dec 12, 2013

funny how this is like an olymipcs many years ago when one man called all the shotsthen it was hitler now it's pukin.

6:58AM PST on Dec 12, 2013

Why can't people just buy tickets for a boat ride to see orcas? It would be cheaper and safer for everyone, including the cetaceans.

6:30AM PST on Dec 12, 2013

John C 'I'm against this, but perhaps we should get our own house in order, before we move on to someone elses.'

There are (or were) around 44 captive orcas worldwide. Twenty two of these are held by SeaWorld. Essentially, one American company owns nearly half the global captive killer whale population.

There are long term campaigns afoot to release some of these individuals. One of these is for Lolita, who is held in Miami seaquarium. She, like the baby whales taken just now in Russia, was also forcibly taken from her very close knit family of resident type whales, when she was just a baby, about 3 years old. Again like the Russian captures, other whales - close family members - died in the panic, including small baby whales. We know this because they were later found, their bellies slit, stuffed with rocks, chained back up and with anchors attached so they would sink and their deaths not be made public for fear of the outcry that inevitably ensued. This is how Lolita found herself in Miami Seaquarium where, for decades since, she has been performing tricks for paying customers and SeaWorld has been making a fat profit from her trauma and misery.

If you would like to voice your opinions to Miami Seaquarium about this, their email address is: guestservices@msq.cc

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