Monday, October 28, 2013

Marine mammals in captivity

CNN is showing the documentary Blackfish, about captive orcas used in Sea World and other marine parks for entertainment. It's disturbing but worth seeing. Sea World refused to talk for film, but responded to the film here. Scroll down to the Comments, where Naomi Rose, the Humane Society of the U.S. staff marine scientist, responds to Sea World's statements.

The film illustrates conditions that are an important reason I'm an elephant seal docent at a natural rookery. Piedras Blancas is free, always open to the public, held in trust by the people of California for the people and wildlife of the world. Welcoming people and introducing them to the seals, and an unstructured experience outdoors with wildlife, is the best way I can think of to counteract corporate ownership of our entertainment and the idea that these animals can be owned and caged.

The best response to captive animals is not to patronize these establishments. Some day we'll look at them with the revulsion we feel for Nazi concentration camps.

On a lighter note, lots of seals are enjoying the beach now:

 These are all juveniles, although some are much bigger than others. Better hunters, I guess!
 The young males tussle with each other. Mothers of teenage boys always find this instantly recognizable.
 This young seal is probably six or seven years old, judging by the size of his nose (technically, proboscis).
Her's a side view. The nose starts to grow when the seal is about five years old, so it's a rough estimate of age during those years. Male seals are considered mature at age eight, but probably are not dominant enough to mate until they are twelve.

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