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New California Bill Seeks to Ban Orcas in Captivity – March 12, 2014

If passed, legislation will mean an end to killer whale shows at SeaWorld, San Diego

A new bill has just been introduced in California that would phase out orcas captivity in the state. Assembly Bill 2140 (pdf), introduced by Assemblymember Richard Bloom last week, seeks a ban on keeping killer whales in captivity for human entertainment and retire all captive orcas to sea pens.

Orca at SeaWorldPhoto by Jesse MeansAn orca performs a flip during a "Shamu - Believe" show at Seaworld, San Diego. Depite growing evidence, SeaWorld rejects claims that forcing killer whales to perform is dangerous to both orcas and trainers.

While the proposed legislation, dubbed the Orca Welfare and Safety Act, doesn’t specifically name… more

by: Mark J. Palmer

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A Tragic Love Story Between a Friendly Orca and his Human Neighbors – February 28, 2014

Book Review: The Lost Whale: The True Story of an Orca Named Luna

Luna was a small (which means still rather large) young orca separated from his pod and mother, who began to come up to boats and people in a manner that could only be characterized as “friendly.” Which astonished a number of people around the British Columbia community in Nootka Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.  Orcas, also known as killer whales, are well known in these waters but they generally skirted or ignored boats and people. Not Luna.

A pod of ocras in the wildPhoto by Thomas on FlickrWild orcas, like this pod photographed off the Vancouver coast, are highly social animals… more

by: Mark J. Palmer

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Chimps and Bonobos Prove that Moral Behavior is a Product of Evolution – January 17, 2014

Book Review: The Bonobo and the Atheist

Dr. Frans de Waal doesn’t want to change your religion. He does, however, want to change some misconceptions about our human ethical and moral values; values he feels are very much a part of our evolutionary heritage. He finds his evidence in some remarkable studies of the bonobo (known also as the “pigmy chimpanzee”) and the chimpanzee, our closest evolutionary relatives.

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There are several books out by noted scientists that cast aspersions on beliefs in religion and God. De Waal is frankly appalled by some of these claims – he feels, while he himself is not a believer, that religion is… more

by: Mark J. Palmer

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Feds Deny Georgia Aquarium Permit to Import 18 Beluga Whales – August 7, 2013

Lucrative US captive marine mammal market barred to the beluga hunters for now

Yesterday, the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) denied Georgia Aquarium’s request for a permit to import 18 beluga whales caught in the wild in Russia citing “requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).”

The whales were destined for several aquariums in the US, including the three SeaWorld facilities and the Shedd Aquarium.

Had the Fisheries Service approved the import, it would have been the first time in 20 years that marine mammals caught in the wild would have been shipped over to supply these sea circuses, with tremendous financial benefits to the aquariums involved in the deal.

Belugaphoto by Bill… more

by: Mark J. Palmer

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New US Fisheries Rule Will Help Resolve Dolphin Safe Label Dispute with Mexico – July 11, 2013

Regulation extends current protections for dolphins to tuna-fishing operations across the world

The United States issued a new federal fisheries rule on Tuesday that extends current protections for dolphins to other tuna fisheries around the world. The new rule will improve reporting on the safety of dolphins and at the same time resolve a bitter World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute between the US and Mexico. The new rule issued by the US National Marine Fisheries Service will go into effect on July 13.

“This rule helps protect dolphins by requiring tuna fishermen to confirm that dolphins were not chased, netted, or captured in nets,” said David Phillips, executive director of Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project. “It makes the rule uniform… more

by: Mark J. Palmer

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