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Candace Calloway Whiting
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Candace Calloway Whiting has studied and trained marine mammals, and has degrees in marine mammal behavior and oceanography. She volunteers for the Center for Whale Research in Washington State and the Wild Dolphin Foundation in Hawaii, and has written extensively on issues pertaining to the oceans and marine life. She is also involved in horse rescue and the protection of wild horses.

Entries by Candace Calloway Whiting

Tiny Baby Elephant Rescued as Elephants in Africa Face Extinction

(2) Comments | Posted August 19, 2014 | 11:35 AM

"Behind the numbers is a real tragedy of a very sentient creature, who really knows that there's a genocide going on," Ruggiero says. "They understand the concept of mortality. They show signs of mourning dead. They understand what tusks mean. They'll pick them up from a carcass."Richard Ruggiero,...

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Empty the Tanks; One Woman's Dream Resonates Worldwide

(0) Comments | Posted May 9, 2014 | 4:43 PM


If you take Gandhi's statement, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world," and blend it with Mother Theresa's "If you want to change the world, pick up a broom," you will have Rachel Carbary's formula for creating a...

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Former Dolphin Trainer Speaks Out on the Horrors of Captivity

(2) Comments | Posted February 28, 2014 | 9:37 AM

Former dolphin trainer Gail Woon is now an anti-captivity activist who is speaking out about her previous work at the Dolphin Experience (UNEXSO) in the Bahamas, on Grand Bahama Island. (Photo provided by Gail Woon)

As shown in the film...

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Dolphins, Whales and Humanity -- Worldwide Response to Whales Lost in the Everglades

(1) Comments | Posted December 6, 2013 | 10:26 AM

While the recent pilot whale stranding in the Florida Everglades is an example of events that seems to occur all too often and usually results in the death of entire pods, in this case most of the whales have survived the initial stranding.

This is definitely a good...

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Ocean Fish and the Oil Industry - Conflict Brews as the Trinidad Tobago Fishing Community Stands Up to Big Oil

(0) Comments | Posted November 22, 2013 | 1:36 PM

Members of a small nation with the hearts of a lion are standing up to big oil in order to protect fish, and their fishing way of life.

"We don't just want to hear about meagre compensation for our financial hardships. We want to fish, living the...

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Stuck on Whales and Dolphins - Remoras Are Not as Creepy as They Look

(0) Comments | Posted November 18, 2013 | 4:14 PM

This orca was recently tagged offshore of Hawaii. (Photo by Robin Baird, Cascadia Research Collective).

They look creepy and slimy enough, as though they are sucking the blood of their host, but remoras are not giant leeches - it turns...

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Seeing Dolphins in Oahu, Hawai'i - Wild is the Best Way

(10) Comments | Posted November 3, 2013 | 5:47 PM

2013-11-01-bettybobresidentsolitary.jpgPhoto courtesy of Wild Side Specialty Tours.

Oahu's western shore offers a daily wild dolphin show, and with a good pair of binoculars you can see spinner dolphins from shore as they leap and twirl before settling down for their daily nap....

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In the Wake of Blackfish -- Is it Time to Retire the Last Killer Whale Whose Capture Was Shown in the Film?

(108) Comments | Posted October 29, 2013 | 7:20 PM

There will be an encore showing of 'Blackfish' on CNN, November 2, 9 p.m. Eastern time.

In the film Blackfish the devastating capture of young whales for SeaWorld and other amusement parks is shown, including one young calf who was shipped to the Miami Seaquarium and given the...

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Eating Raw Whale Meat While Dishing up Baloney -- How Industry is Imperiling the Oceans While We Aren't Looking

(0) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 1:31 PM

In early September a string of unusual whale and dolphin strandings prompted an ad hoc group of whale and dolphin advocates to come together for the express purpose of developing a public international stranding network and database. The database will place information at the fingertips of researchers who...

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Mass Whale Stranding Proven to Be Caused by Sonar

(1) Comments | Posted September 26, 2013 | 8:41 PM

Photo permission © International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

A report released yesterday by a panel of scientists, conservation organizations and government agencies have positively linked a mass stranding of whales to sonar used by Exxon/Mobile during an offshore survey. In...

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Offshore Oil Exploration Linked to 50 Percent Reduction in Cod Catch

(0) Comments | Posted September 24, 2013 | 2:11 PM

While a debate rages over the deleterious effects of seismic oil exploration on whales and dolphins, it turns out that our commercial fish stocks may be as vulnerable to the noise as are the marine mammals.

Cod populations are depleted everywhere, and the blame has been directed variously...

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Elephants, Killer Whales, and Treadmills: Exercise Is No Substitute for a Real Life

(0) Comments | Posted September 23, 2013 | 5:28 PM

The lives of orcas and elephants are remarkably similar, unhappily so in those areas where they interface with humans. Both have been hunted and captured, both are forced to perform tricks and live in unsuitable enclosures.

In the wild the social structures of these two species are similar -- both are based on a matriarchal system and can include several generations. Both use sound in ways unsuspected by people until relatively recently -- orcas can emit sounds at a pitch that is too high for us to perceive, and elephants communicate over long distances with sounds so low that they are below our ability to hear. This was discovered by a humpback whale naturalist, Katy Payne. The African Elephant Specialist Group reports:

"Elephant vocalizations range from high-pitched squeaks to deep rumbles, two-thirds of which are emitted at a frequency too low for the human ear to detect. Such low frequency calls may be heard by other elephants at distances of at least eight kilometers.

Recent studies also show that foot stomping and low rumbling emitted by elephants generate [sound] waves in the ground that can travel nearly 20 miles along the surface of the Earth. Elephants may be able to sense these vibrations through their feet and interpret them as warning signals of a distant danger. They may therefore be communicating at much farther distances than previously thought."

Their large size, high intelligence, and complex social lives make both species unsuitable for captivity, and both have killed and injured humans in circuses, zoos, and theme parks. The unnatural circumstances and monotonous enclosures coupled with harsh husbandry (chains, prods, hooks and beatings are used to 'dominate' elephants, while orcas are subjected to dental drilling and other procedures) inevitably lead to problems.

For the most part, the animal keepers do everything they can to help the animals, and the elephants come out way ahead on that score. Increasingly, zoos in some parts of the world offer larger habitats, environmental enrichment, and stable social groups. The orcas, however, still have featureless cramped tanks and are moved from place to place.

Tilicum has been testing an exercise current. (Creative Commons photo by milan.boers).

Seaworld recently announced that they have devised a way for the whales to get exercise, and David Kirby writes at Takepart:

"This week, a theme-park website called Mice Chat posted an item about a new 'whale treadmill' being tested on the orca Tilikum at SeaWorld in Orlando.

According to the site, the 'treadmill' is actually a pump that simulates swimming by producing a moving stream of water within a killer whale tank, somewhat akin to the "endless pools" that swimmers train in. Speeds in the "flow channel," which is "whale vandal safe," range from 10-to-30 mph. There is a feedback control system, which presumably means each animal can determine its own speed, and there are water areas outside the stream, for easy egress. The machine, which can be moved from pool to pool, will be used in all three SeaWorld Parks, if successful."

He quotes Dr. Naomi Rose, Animal Welfare Institute:

"This development will improve the whales' overall fitness and endurance and anything that improves the welfare of the animals is a welcome change. However: 1) this innovation was something SeaWorld could have added a long time ago, so why didn't they? It's clearly a response to changing public sentiment rather than a proactive recognition that the animals' welfare requires more and 2) it does not address the lack of variety in the whales' social and physical environments. It will not relieve their boredom or their social limitations. It's better, but it is not good."

Which brings me back to the elephants.

In 2006 an elephant named Maggie lived a solitary life in an Alaska Zoo. Her companion had died years before, and because of the cold winters Maggie spent much of her life indoors in cramped quarters. She was overweight, out of shape, and bored. Hoping to get her fit and keep her entertained, the zoo spent $100,000 and had a custom treadmill designed for her, then attempted to entice her on with all of her favorite treats.

Maggie turned her trunk up at the idea, and after several months the zoo released her to a sanctuary in California where she happily roams on acres of land with other elephants.

Maggie at her home at the PAWS Ark2000 sanctuary (Creative Commons photo by Richard Probst).

Seaworld's attempt to provide exercise for the whales is a tacit acknowledgement that their facilities are inadequate, and if the lucky elephant Maggie is any indication, it may mean that the next step is retirement for the killer whales too.

(Photo permission by Orca Network).

Even a swimming current would do little for whales that are kept like this, but advocates hope that orcas and other whales and dolphins can be retired to ocean sanctuaries equivalent to those provided for elephants. The one below is proposed for "Lolita", the lone killer whale at Miami Seaquarium.

Proposed killer whale sanctuary in Washington State (photo courtesy of Orca...
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Keiko (Free Willy): 20 Years Later, History Proves His Release to Have Been the Right Decision

(2) Comments | Posted September 17, 2013 | 5:44 PM

Twenty years ago the first captive orca to be successfully rehabilitated passed away in the wild, where he had lived for five years before succumbing to pneumonia. Like other semi-orphaned animals that are raised by humans, he remained engaged with people even though he was fully capable of living life...

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Panicked Whales Are Stranding in Area of Seismic Exploration

(10) Comments | Posted September 13, 2013 | 4:29 PM

Last Saturday (Sept. 7, 2013), approximately 100 frightened pilot whales came into the harbor at Rif in Snaefellsnes, West Iceland -- 10 of them dead or dying. Some were butchered, possibly while still alive.

From the Iceland Review:

Róbert Arnar Stefánsson, biologist at...

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Terrifying and Destructive to Whales and Dolphins: A Glimpse Into the Reality of Seismic Exploration

(6) Comments | Posted September 12, 2013 | 11:12 AM

Seismic: seis•mic adjective \ˈsīz-mik, ˈsīs-\ : of, subject to, or caused by an earthquake; also : of or relating to an earth vibration caused by something else (as an explosion or the impact of a meteorite) : of or relating to a vibration on a celestial body (as...
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Hawai'i's Unique "Blackfish," False Killer Whales

(2) Comments | Posted September 4, 2013 | 7:35 AM

The compelling documentary on captive killer whales, "Blackfish", recently opened at the Kahala Theaters on Oʻahu, and viewing it may lead you wonder if these fascinating whales can be seen around Hawaiʻi. The answer, according to Cascadia Research Collective biologist Dr. Robin Baird, is...

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Hawaii's Captive Dolphins Are Linked to the Taiji, Japan, Brutal Captures

(6) Comments | Posted August 29, 2013 | 4:08 PM

On the first of September, the annual bloodbath in Taiji, Japan, is scheduled to resume. Hundreds of dolphins and small whales are brutally slaughtered annually by a handful of fishermen there -- despite worldwide protest -- while the government of Japan remains mute, turning a blind eye to the senseless...

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