January 28, 2014 |
See orcas up close and listen to them chatter underwater during a sea kayaking tour off the waters of Canada's Vancouver Island. The six-day trip to British Columbia is in part inspired by the 2013 documentary "Blackfish," which highlights the plight of orcas kept in captivity. ROW Sea Kayak Adventures based in Idaho invites kayakers on a guided "Blackfish" tour to the Johnstone Strait, Vancouver's inside passage and home to a sanctuary for the big black-and-white orcas, also known as killer whales.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 15, 2014 |
A prominent marine biologist who was fined $12,500 for feeding killer whales in an effort to lure them closer to her video cameras says the yearslong case was the " worst nightmare I could ever imagine. " In addition to the fine, Nancy Black -- whose work has appeared on PBS, National Geographic and Animal Planet -- was sentenced to three years' probation and ordered to serve 300 hours of community service. In exchange, she pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act by offering food to the orcas, "specifically chunks of gray whale blubber," according to her plea agreement . Black, a researcher and co-owner of Monterey Bay Whale Watch, and her supporters have argued a ttaching a rope to a piece of blubber from a gray whale that had already been killed by orcas did not rise to the level of illegal feeding cited in federal law. But the biologist had faced a 27-year prison term and $700,000 fine after she was initially charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor counts in 2012.
December 12, 2013 |
Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite's riveting documentary "Blackfish" tells the story of Tilikum, an aggressive bull orca who has lived the last 30 years in captivity. The film's central debate circles around what exactly caused the whale's behavior linking him to the deaths of three people over the years - natural aggression or the trauma and boredom of captivity? With the death of SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, Cowperthwaite felt compelled to investigate. Through interviews with experts and former SeaWorld trainers, and footage of the animals in the wild and in captivity, the filmmaker puts forth a compelling case for leaving orcas in the wild.
November 13, 2013 |
In the latest skirmish in a years-long legal battle prompted by the death of a SeaWorld trainer in Florida, a federal appeals court heard arguments in a case challenging a ban on close contact between SeaWorld staff and killer whales. In 2010 at the Orlando park, killer whale Tilikum snatched trainer Dawn Brancheau from a platform and thrashed her around underwater until she died . Federal workplace investigators later cited SeaWorld , saying trainers were exposed to hazards because they were allowed unprotected contact with the killer whales.
August 29, 2013 |
Attendance at SeaWorld parks across the country has dropped 6% in the first half of the year, but is the decline due to bad publicity or bad weather? SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. has endured some harsh publicity lately with the debut this summer of "Blackfish," a documentary about the mistreatment of orca whales in captivity, particularly at SeaWorld Orlando in Florida. In its latest financial report, SeaWorld Entertainment reported attendance of 10.1 million in its 11 parks in the first half of the year, down from 10.7 million in the same period in 2012.
August 1, 2013 |
SeaWorld would no doubt prefer that the public forget about Dawn Brancheau, the trainer who died in an attack by a killer whale at its Orlando theme park more than three years ago. But that's unlikely to happen in the near future - not after the recent release of the documentary "Blackfish," which explores why Tilikum, a whale involved in two previous deaths, attacked Brancheau during a performance. Conclusions are hard to draw, but if nothing else, the public is learning to ask harder questions about whether it is humane or right to keep these intelligent, social marine mammals in aquarium tanks, performing for crowds.
January 25, 2013 |
PARK CITY, Utah - It was Samantha Berg's dream job: swimming with orcas. But with only a bachelor's degree in animal science from Cornell University and no hands-on experience with whales, the then-22-year-old assumed she was not qualified to perform stunts in a SeaWorld pool with the powerful 8,000-pound animals. Still, she decided to send her résumé to marine parks nationwide in the hopes that she might land a low-level gig and learn more about sea life. To her surprise, she was called in for an audition at SeaWorld's Orlando park, which asked her to prove her physical acumen by diving 25 feet underwater, picking up a weight, returning to the surface, carrying heavy fish buckets and then jumping up on stage even as she was struggling for breath.
August 26, 2012 |
FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. - Two dozen hardy travelers were clustered near me on the top deck of a 114-foot ferry, most of us shivering under cloudy skies as a colorful mosaic of water and land slid by the vessel, the Victoria Clipper III. We were sailing through the San Juan Islands, an archipelago of hundreds of isles between mainland Canada, Vancouver Island and Washington state's northwestern coast. As we cruised north from Seattle, rolling hills were replaced by dark green forests and rocky bluffs that overlooked fiord-like inlets.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 7, 2012 |
A federal judge appeared dubious Monday about a lawsuit filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that seeks the release of orcas from SeaWorld on anti-slavery grounds. PETA attorney Jeffrey Kerr told U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller that invoking the anti-slavery 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in hopes of freeing the orcas is "the next frontier of civil rights. " But Miller told Kerr that he cannot find a legal precedent for allowing a lawsuit to be filed on behalf of the orcas under the 13th Amendment.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 20, 2012 |
Tour boats were buzzing with activity Thursday as sightseers spotted dozens of killer whales cruising the Southern California coast. Whale-watching vessels reported seeing 20 to 40 of the marine mammals, also known as orcas, swimming up the coast from Dana Point to Long Beach. It's not uncommon for killer whales to roam Southern California waters in search of sea lions and other prey, according to the experts who track and identify them. Seeing them in such numbers, however, is unusual.