Monday, May 23, 2016

Superpod Five Killer Whale Conference is "The Future"

In its fifth incarnation since 2011, Superpod Five kicks off 18 July 2016 in Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island. This year's theme, The Future, will feature presentations and activities that blend the work of our youth leaders with whale watching, updates on research, dams, salmon, & more. 
Click HERE to go to this Friday Harbor website  
A lot has happened with the local killer whale population since #Superpod4, and notably, SeaWorld has announced an end to captive orca breeding. These current events will be popular topics in Friday Harbor and at the San Juan Island Community Theater, our primary terrestrial venue.

Photo series v J. Ventre #Superpod4 

#Superpod5 is the fifth in a series of gatherings, hosted by Voice of the Orcas, open to the public and attended by an international group of scientists, filmmakers, authors, journalists, former trainers, naturalists, & orca advocates. 

Ella van Cleave, Michelle Duncan, , and journalist Melissa Cronin at #Superpod3 on the deck of Headquarters

The official itinerary includes events beginning Monday 18 July through Friday 22 July, but many visitors arrive before the event begins, or depart several days after the event closes. Once arriving in the "San Juans," most folks don't want to leave, and all can understand why orcas prefer the surrounding waters to concrete tanks. The Haro Strait, separating the West side of San Juan Island, from Canada, can be seen in the short video below: 

In general, the ideas & connections made at superpod gatherings have been significant in helping to bring concepts like captivity, dam breaching, & salmon restoration to the public through presentations, documentary films, direct action, social media, and journalists who attend and report on it. Four film crews have attended past gatherings, including for Blackfish, and we're told a fifth crew, another documentary team, will be attending in 2016. 

Below, hear Katie Emmons, one of the event organizers, speaking at the Kodak Theater, Rochester, New York, with Phil Demers in the foreground: 


The Business:

If you have questions about #Superpod5, the event planning committee for 2016 consists of:

Kimberly Ventre @KimberlyVentre
Dr. Lori Marino @Whale_Sanctuary
Carol Ray @carolray_wa
Dr. Jeffrey Ventre @jeffrey_ventre
Katie Emmons @BlueFreedomOrg
Captain Jeff Friedman @orcawild

Kim has secured the community theater, is handling the #Blackfish whale-watch ticket sales on June 1st, and is the lead organizer of Superpod5. The Blackfish trip will be on the "Western Prince II." 

[ Watch this Space for a PAYPAL LINK to tickets, which will cost $92 USD, 1st come, 1st serve. Approximately 20 seats are available] 

Dr. Marino is speaking at the event and organizing a scholar-advocacy conference on the island. Please read the notice below and contact Dr. Marino if you would like to participate.  

Captain Jeff Friedman & Spencer Domico will be operating three whale watching vessels, The Peregrine, Imagine, and the new "J-1,"  during the event. For questions about getting on a WW boat, please contact Jeff. 

Jeffrey Ventre is organizing the speaking line up, utilizing this blog, Twitter, and direct communications to get people information, such as: 

1. Information about how to get to the island can be found HERE
2. Information about last year's event can be found HERE
3. The history of the event can be found HERE
4. The website for the event (built by Jeff Friedman) is HERE 

Note that you can register for Superpod events at the site. The information is used to estimate how many will be attending & planning venue size.  Also, this event is free & open to all, but there are costs, including rental fees for the community theater, over $2000. In an effort to keep the event free to attendees, there is an option to donate on the website

In "we hope it happens" news. The Blackfish Musical acting troop is trying to fund-raise in an effort to perform at #Superpod 5. They have a link for their campaign, HERE, and a video below. We're hoping they can perform on the final night, at the theater:  

Carol Ray has secured Superpod5 headquarters, is a potential speaker and is an organizer of the event. Reach out to her for general questions. Carol is one of the cast members of the new documentary, Voiceless. See her in the new official trailer, below: 

Katie Emmons is one of our youth leaders and director of the new documentary, Voiceless, which will be premiering at #Superpod5. You can see Katie interviewing Dr. John Jett for her film HERE 

In this second video, Katie explains what Voiceless is: 

We're excited for #Superpod5 as it will attract folks from distant places who all share a love of killer whales, nature, and conservation, in general. Please use hashtag #Superpod5 as we approach this event. Based on early numbers, it will likely be the most attended superpod yet. We are expecting 300 to 400 attendees. Please return to this space for updates on tickets and the schedule, below: 


MONDAY:  Friday's Crab House social / Welcome at Community Theater 
TUES: Presentations / Speaker / Flex Time / Social 
WED: Presentations / Blackfish Cast Whale Watch Trip on Western Prince II 
THURS: Presentations / Speakers / Social 
FRIDAY: Presentations / Closing 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Our Statement Regarding SeaWorld’s announcement to End Captive Orca Breeding

SeaWorld’s announcement to end captive orca breeding is a step in the right direction, for orcas, and we support efforts to phase out all marine mammals from captivity. 

SeaWorld’s partnership with the Humane Society is significant [two former foes pledging to work together] and we hope the company will become a leader in ocean conservation, help to restore salmon runs, and assist the animal justice community in obtaining nonhuman rights for cetaceans. We understand it took courage for CEO Joel Manby to make these changes; Kudos to his leadership. 

It must be pointed out that SeaWorld’s shift is a financial decision and the public itself has made this happen over a several year time span. THANK YOU for not buying a ticket. There are some inaccuracies in the announcement, such as the characterization of Keiko's release effort and no mention of other species still incarcerated at the park. 

We’d like to send love to Tilikum, who continues to languish alone in Orlando, and wish we could comfort him in his final hours. In the end, his message was heard. Thank you, Tilly

Voice of the Orcas: 

John Jett Ph.D. 

Carol Ray M.A. 
Jeffrey Ventre M.D. 
Samantha Berg M.Ac. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

SeaWorld Can Extend Tilikum's Legacy Beyond the Show Pool

For the benefit of science, allow for open & collaborative histological examination of Tilikum's cadaver

To Whom It May Concern:  

Myself, and the other members of VOTO, Samantha Berg, John Jett, and Carol Ray, have been informed that Tilikum, a SeaWorld killer whale in Orlando, is near death. We are saddened by this announcement, although it is not unexpected.  

Tilikum has developed an antibiotic resistant bacterial infection of the lungs, with pneumonia being the leading reported cause of captive killer whale mortality. Efforts to treat Tilikum have failed due to decades of antibiotic and antifungal therapy, medications that three-of-us at VOTO have fed him, and medications he was on in 2010 when he killed Dawn Brancheau, as reported by APHIS, here

Tilikum IS the Blackfish Effect. He changed the world from a small tank at SeaWorld in Orlando. Photo: VOTO 

Tilikum has been getting fed antibiotics consistently for at least two decades, primarily because of his badly damaged teeth, including open bore holes that must be flushed with antiseptic solution 2-3 times daily. These bore holes can lead to fish particles, roe, and other debris getting into the jaw and eventually into his blood stream, causing chronic low grade infection(s), and able to seed various organs, including the lungs. The end result is that, now, Tilikum is filled with bacteria that are resistant to powerful and broad spectrum medications that SeaWorld is dosing him with. 

Tilikum is, at this time, likely suffering from pulmonary edema, or excess fluid in his lungs. When the surface area of his alveoli diminishes sufficiently, he will suffocate in a stretcher, at SeaWorld. In a last ditch effort to obtain air to oxygenate his tissues, he will likely thrash in the stretcher, and go through a period of "death throes," prior to finally passing. This is a particularly dangerous time for the animal care and training staff on hand. 

A crane is reportedly standing by, possibly to recover his body if he should pass. This information is unconfirmed, but it does correspond with SeaWorld's recent announcements seen in this video:

Many citizens, including some in the scientific community, are hopeful that SeaWorld will dedicate Tilikum's cadaver to science. This gesture would advance our understanding of the impact of captivity on marine mammals such as Tilikum. 

Histological samples of dorsal fin collagen would help us understand collagen fibrillogenesis in killer whales, and why dorsal fins collapse in captivity. Kidney tissue samples could help us understand the effects of chronic dehydration on orcas, like Tilikum, who require gelatin as a dietary supplement. Cardiac tissue could be examined for evidence of physical deconditioning. Eye tissue could be used to understand the effects of looking upward toward trainers, a behavior that is probably contributory to early cataract formation in show animals that must look for hand signals from trainers, on stage. Blood tissue can be used to test for elevated titers of viruses such as West Nile, St Louis encephalitis, and other mosquito transmitted "bugs" associated with zoos, but not seen in wild animals. Immunoglobulin levels could provide information on captive orca immunity. Detailed bone and joint examinations could be examined for evidence of various arthritides. DNA testing could help identify Tilikum's natal pod, and so on. 

Take the NFL as an example 

Samples of brain tissue were critical in understanding the newly described condition (seen in NFL players) known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopaty (CTE), and as depicted in the feature film "Concussion," with Will Smith. The NFL was initially resistant to outside scientists performing these studies, but is now helping to fund them. SeaWorld can mimic the NFL, and CEO Joel Manby can get credit for the change, something that might give him some job security.  

Killer whales in captivity are also known to slam their heads on solid objects such as gates and concrete walls, especially adult male killer whales, with Kanduke being a famous example. Tilikum's brain tissue, or perhaps a new MRI, as depicted in Blackfish, could push our understanding of the orca brain forward, a brain four times larger than our own. 
An MRI can be used to scan Tilikum's brain. This has been done once, previously, & was depicted  in Blackfish movie 

SeaWorld has an opportunity to extend Tilikum's legacy beyond the performance pool and to substantiate it's claims of performing relevant science. We are hopeful they will take up this idea for the benefit of science, the public, policy makers, whale lovers, and for future killer whales. 

Thank you, Tilikum, for your sacrifices. Your legacy will live on through us and the millions of people your story has touched.  

Jeffrey Ventre MD
Blackfish cast member
Former trainer at SeaWorld 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Powerful Letters Connect SeaWorld with Taiji Cove & have a Blackfish Movie Twist

The connection between SeaWorld and the brutal drive hunts at Taiji, Japan, has been known for decades. SeaWorld's former Vice-President & head veterinarian, Dr Lanny Cornell, famously told PBS Frontline that, "The drive fishery process is not necessarily an inhumane process."

Two Pseudorca (false killer whales) Teri (L) & Hana (R). It it now known Teri was captured in Taiji, Japan, on 21 Feb 1983

Cornell worked for SeaWorld from 1973 to 1987 and was later hired to be Keiko's veterinarian, an apparently opportunistic move considering his former employer, SeaWorld, continues to smear the Keiko reintroduction; an effort which transported an orca from Mexico to Oregon and finally to the sea, where he lived from 1998 until his death in 2003. 

Keiko gained thousands of pounds after moving to the ocean from Mexico

After Keiko swam to Norway, Dr. Cornell reported, "His physical condition was robust & showed no sign of weight loss."

In a new twist involving Cornell, a paper trail from Kamogawa Sea World to Dr. Cornell at SeaWorld, demonstrates the process of how small cetaceans are moved through Kamogawa to other facilities like SeaWorld:

No. 1 male is Teri, and No. 2 female is Suki who were moved  from Taiji ultimately to San Diego

This letter reinforces that the animals were for SeaWorld, with "Yours Faithfully" as the closing

This diagram was included by SeaWorld in the agreement paperwork  
It also shows, surprisingly, that ex-SeaWorld trainers, including four who appeared in the movie Blackfish, worked directly with drive-hunt-captured whales from Taiji, unknowingly.

This diagram was also shared with Kamogawa Sea World  to show how the false killers would be moved to USA

Like many secrets at the company, the trainers were kept in the dark regarding the brutal collections. Some were told the whales they worked alongside were "rescued." Just today, former trainer Samantha Berg commented:

"Makes me even sicker that I didn't know anything about Taiji or the drive fishery back then... "

As it turns out, Carol Ray, Samantha Berg, Dean Gomersall, and Jeffrey Ventre all worked directly with drive-hunt-whales at the Whale & Dolphin stadium in Orlando in the 1990's. These whales were Teri, Suki, Hana, Yaki & Zori, and all died young. Like belugas & killer whales, pseudorca do poorly in captivity at places like SeaWorld and the Georgia Aquarium. 

Ex trainer Jeffrey Ventre performs with Yaki, a whale captured in a drive hunt 
While the paper trail is new, we can only confirm that Teri & Suki were taken directly by the infamous killer-fishermen at Taiji's cove. We do know that Yaki, Hana & Zori were also drive-fishery-captured, but don't know precisely where they were corralled up & out of the ocean, in Japan. The odds are that it was Taiji, but we don't possess the documentation.

Samantha Berg with Suki, a whale captured at Taiji, Japan in 1983
We wonder how these revelations will effect the dozen or more current trainers at SeaWorld in Orlando that worked with these drive-hunt-whales. This will be disturbing news to them, too.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Unanimous Coastal Commission Ruling Breathes Life into #Blackfish Bill AB2140

Anyone who carefully observes or works for SeaWorld (SW) probably realizes that things with the company are sometimes not what they appear to be. 

SW spends tens of millions, annually, to craft perceptions, win politicians, lobby, & also to tarnish critics. As an aside, imagine how far that money could go toward salmon restorationBut at SW, sending bus-loads of hourly employees to a political event in an attempt to influence optics for the CA Coastal Commission is a good return on investment, usually

Update: SeaWorld sues [read on]

On 8 October 2015 SeaWorld bused hundreds of hourly employees & family to the Long Beach Convention Center to create an illusion; to conflate the fact that only 21% of Americans support orca captivity with the fantasy that captivity has strong & widespread public support. It doesn't, and more & more people are figuring out what it truly means to be "pro-cap."

Dr Ingrid Visser with Actress-Model Pamela Anderson. Both spoke at the hearings. Photo by Kim Ventre 

Long Beach was the site of the California Coastal Commission's (CCC) hearing on SeaWorld's proposed Blue World project (BWP). An expansion that is (or was) intended to boost SeaWorld's captive orca population through natural & artificial insemination methods. The hearing was an historic one in terms of attendance & public engagement. 

SeaWorld's self-titled "mob buses" brought in plenty of support, but employees may have been on the clock because those workers evaporated like California's water supply.  

#EmptyThe.... Chairs! -- Did SeaWorld want to avoid overtime to workers on the clock? 

Maybe SW was being frugal and didn't want to pay its people overtime [we were told they were on the clock] because when the buses departed back to SW headquarters the "mob" was gone.  And despite Commissioner Cox's efforts to cement SeaWorld's legacy at San Diego, the few SeaWorld employees remaining didn't like what they heard. 

2 bad days @ work. You'd think a risky job, like pro football player, would come with union protection. Not @SeaWorld

In a unanimous vote the CCC granted SeaWorld the right to build Blue World, but with a major condition: No more orca breeding 

As reported by The Times of San Diego: 

By a 12-0 vote, the California Coastal Commission blessed the Blue World Project. The decision came at an overflow meeting in the Long Beach Convention Center that saw dozens of passionate speeches, including one by animal-rights activist Pamela Anderson. 
But Commissioner Dayna Bochco of San Francisco... proposed an amendment to prohibit any breeding of orcas, their artificial insemination or their trade or transfer among other parks. Another condition is a cap of 15 whales at the San Diego attraction, which now houses 11. 
Bochco’s amendment to Condition 1 passed 11-1, with only Greg Cox — a San Diego County supervisor — dissenting.

The "no breeding" condition didn't sit well with SeaWorld's leadership. The statement, below, by CEO Joel Manby is ironic considering SeaWorld has traditionally argued that it's animals have no rights. Are Manby's days numbered? 

Treating the whales as property allows for SW to imprison them without considering how the whales feel about that. It also allows the corporation to ship them overseas to places like Loro Parque. There's more... 

Ironic that the "warden" is claiming that captive orcas  have rights 

Blue World is Also a Political Maneuver to Sink AB-2140

On the surface, San Diego makes the least sense for BWP. SeaWorld doesn't own the land; the city does. Construction costs are higher in California v Texas or Orlando. Wouldn't a company with huge debt, like SeaWorld, seek the best deal on such an expensive project? 

The corporate HQ's & highest attended park is Orlando, not San Diego. SW in FL and SW in TX don't need to ask commissioners for approval. The politics, on the surface, favor Orlando & San Antonio as cheaper & easier sites for a 50 ft deep concrete orca tank. So why spend millions to lobby approval for and to construct BWP at Mission Bay, the most expensive site?

Because BWP is about political clout, crushing upcoming legislation, and thus cementing SeaWorld's grasp on captivity inside the USA. California is the world's 8th largest economy, behind #7, Brazil.

Had BWP moved forward, un-amended, San Diego was expected to become the "West Coast puppy mill for killer whales." This would be complimented nicely by SeaWorld's proposed "Worlds largest fish farm" just a few miles from the San Diego park. Granted, the farm is touted to "grow" yellow-fin tuna, but SeaWorld famously does not recognize dietary or cultural differences between ecotypes, and killer whales are known to eat tuna. Look here. Or here

Site of SeaWorld's proposed fish farm, the world's largest;  Just a few miles off the San Diego Coast. 

Additionally, SeaWorld has [already] announced expansion plans to shareholders & wants to increase its killer whale assets for shipments abroad, including to China and Dubai. Thanks to Commissioner Bocho, the "puppy mill" idea has been thwarted, for now. But that's not the end of the story.  

Connecting Blue World (BWP) with AB-2140 

SeaWorld understood that if the Commission green-lighted BWP, politicians would be inclined to vote down Richard Bloom's upcoming Blackfish Bill AB-2140, aka The Orca Welfare & Safety Act. That bill is sponsored by three former SeaWorld killer whale trainers, Carol Ray, John Hargrove and Samantha Berg, and was tabled last year using political maneuvering. SeaWorld was fond of portraying AB-2140 as "dead." Listen to Carol discuss Bloom's proposed legislation, here.

Because BWP is a multi-year, one-hun
dred million dollar project, it would impact dozens or hundreds of potential jobs & businesses around California, and the politicians that represent them. BWP would require construction crews, crane operators, engineers, water quality experts, environmental scientists, architects, employment contracts, and more. It is strongly supported by the San Diego business community & politicians on both sides of the aisle. 

This is because politicians put jobs & economic growth ahead of orca welfare. And SeaWorld knows this. But... 


Not So Fast 

Now, with a unanimous vote by a state agency which is on the record and opposed to captive orca breeding, Richard Bloom's AB-2140 has new life and legs.  Like the recent lunar eclipse, AB-2140 has moved into alignment with the BWP, both would make it illegal for SeaWorld to breed captive killer whales in California. 

And this was immediately apparent to Assemblymember Richard Bloom who went onto social media to express that he's moving forward, now. 

Regarding the BWP in California, its future is uncertain. Some predict that SeaWorld will file a lawsuit vs the CCC. Others predict it will abandon the idea. 

Behind closed doors, here is the conversation, from SeaWorld's perspective:

1) The CCC did not have legal authority to make the decision that it did! We need to sue them -- confirmed. SW will sue. 

2) Do we want 2-3 more years of mostly negative press associated with litigation?

3) Is our tank expansion worth taking to a friendlier site, such as Orlando?

4) Is now the time to accelerate our plans for expansion into China or Dubai where laws make it easier for us to do our business?

SeaWorld's attorney, David Watson, angrily told the panel “the state of California does not have jurisdiction to regulate the management & care of marine mammal collections”

Thanks to Haze Sommer -- Watch Recorded Streams of The Hearings  HERE: 

The Last World by Commissioner Bocho

When you've lost Willie, you've lost America 

In regard to SeaWorld's next move, only time will tell. But one thing's for sure: The captivity industry is struggling in part due to the work of good souls, facts & the Blackfish Effect.

-------------------  From Dodo, Below   ----------------------

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Latest Lawsuit Names SeaWorld & Four Other Defendants



Defendants, and for cause of action would show unto the Court as follows:

On information and belief... Plaintiff and JH were engaged in conversation that included Plaintiff confiding in JH...  multiple times during the conversation Hargrove addressed Plaintiff by name. At no time, either prior to, or during the conversation, did Plaintiff or Hargrove consent to the videotaping or recording of their telephone conversation. Nevertheless, Defendants Jimmy Vera and/or Bridget Davis (who were present with Hargrove at the time of the conversation) video recorded the conversation between Plaintiff and Hargrove.

On further information and belief, in March 2015 (and subsequent to Hargrove having been featured in the 2013 film entitled "Blackfish" -- a documentary aimed at creating public awareness regarding Defendant SeaWorld's alleged propensity to put profits over the safety of the animals kept in captivity), Defendant SeaWorld, by and through Defendant AwesomeOcean, paid a large sum of money to Defendant Davis and/or Defendant Vera for the video recorded telephone conversation between Plaintiff and Hargrove. On information and belief, both Defendant Davis and Defendant Vera are, and at all times relevant to this lawsuit have been, employees of Defendant Sea World.

Shortly after procuring the video recorded telephone conversation from Defendant Davis and/or Defendant Vera, on information and belief, Defendant SeaWorld forwarded said video to Defendant Orlando Sentinel and requested that Defendant Orlando Sentinel publicly disseminate the video.

Thereafter, Defendant Orlando Sentinel publicly disseminated the video recorded telephone conversation at issue through publication in its newspaper, via its website, and (on information and belief) through various other media outlets, including Defendant AwesomeOcean's website.

The above delineated acts and/or omissions of the 5 Defendants constitute violations of several laws in both the State of Texas, and the State of Florida, as follows:


The elements of a cause of action under the Texas Civil Wiretap Act are the following:

a) The Plaintiff was a party to the communication.
b) The Defendants engaged in one or more of the following acts:

Intercepted the contents of the communication with an electronic, mechanical, or other device without the consent of one of the parties to the communication ("nonconsensual interception"), attempted to make a nonconsensual interception of the contents of the communication, employed or obtained another to make a nonconsensual interception of the contents of the communication, used information it knew or reasonably should have known was obtained by a nonconsensual interception of the communication, or  divulged information it knew or reasonably should have known was obtained by a nonconsensual interception of the communication.

Accordingly, as delineated herein above, because all five Defendants violated one or more of the foregoing provisions of the Texas Civil Wiretap Act, all five Defendants are liable to Plaintiff for damages as prayed for herein below.

Exemplary damages

Plaintiff's injuries resulted from Defendants' gross negligence, malice, or actual fraud, which entitles Plaintiff to exemplary damages under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code §41.003

Attorney fees

Plaintiff is entitled to recover reasonable and necessary attorney fees under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code §123.004(5).

Statutory damages

Plaintiff is entitled to recover statutory damages in the amount of $10,000.00 from each Defendant, for each occurrence, pursuant to Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code §123.004(3).

Count 2 - Intrusion on Seclusion.  

As delineated herein above, Defendants intentionally intruded on Plaintiff's solitude/seclusion/private affairs.The intrusion was a kind that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. Defendants' wrongful acts caused injury to Plaintiff, which resulted in damages as prayed for herein below.

Exemplary damages. Plaintiff's injuries resulted from Defendants' malice, which entitles Plaintiff to exemplary damages under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code §41.003(a).

Count 3 - Public Disclosure of Private Facts. 

In the alternative/addition to other counts, Defendants are liable to Plaintiff for invasion of privacy by public disclosure of private facts, to wit:

Defendants publicized information about the Plaintiff's private life.The publicity of Plaintiff's private information would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. The information publicized was not of legitimate public concern. Defendants' wrongful acts caused injury to Plaintiff, which resulted in damages as prayed for herein below.

Exemplary damages. 

Plaintiff's injuries resulted from Defendants' malice, which entitles Plaintiff to exemplary damages under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code §41.003(a).

Count 4 - Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress In the alternative to all other counts, Defendants are liable to Plaintiff for intentional infliction of emotional distress, to wit:

a) The Plaintiff is a person.
b) Defendants acted intentionally or recklessly.
c) The emotional distress suffered by the Plaintiff was severe.
d) Defendants' conduct was extreme and outrageous.
e) Defendants' conduct proximately caused the Plaintiff's emotional distress.
f) No alternative cause of action would provide a remedy for the severe emotional distress caused by Defendants' conduct.

Accordingly, Plaintiff is entitled to monetary damages as prayed for herein below.


Plaintiff demands a jury trial and tenders the appropriate fee with this petition.


Under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 194, Plaintiff requests that Defendants disclose, within 50 days of the service of this request, the information or material described in Rule 194.2.


For these reasons, Plaintiff asks that the Court issue citation for Defendants to appear and answer, and that Plaintiff be awarded a judgment against Defendants for the following:

a) Actual damages.
b) Statutory damages.
c) Exemplary damages.
d) Prejudgment and postjudgment interest.
e) Court costs.
f) All other relief to which Plaintiff may be justly entitled.

Respectfully submitted,

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Why is SeaWorld Announcing Unna's Bladder Infection to the World?

Thank you to @Mendette for pointing us to the Merck Veterinary Manual. The entry in it regarding mycotic infections in marine mammals provides insights for all of us that explain why SeaWorld's captive orca Unna is sick; very seriously & hopefully not terminally.  

Image from Center for Whale Research shows genital slit in a wild female. Unna is now on powerful medications

"This common mycotic disease in captive cetaceans occurs secondary to stress, unbalanced water disinfection with chlorines, or indiscriminate antibiotic therapy. Candidiasis is also reported in pinnipeds. "
Merck Manual Excerpt

The reason Unna's  immune system is compromised is from captivity itself. And The Manual explicitly connects captivity with fungal infections due to stress

[The Merck Manual is a medical textbook of diagnosis and therapy]

The serious nature of her illness is the reason SeaWorld has announced it (proactive damage control) in case the company faces a public relations nightmare prior to the upcoming California Coastal Commission Hearing in Long Beach, on October 8th. 


At SeaWorld, Unna's stress is caused by many factors including social strife from miniaturized & crowded movement boundaries, social & genetic incompatibility, abnormal diet, deconditioning, & chronic dehydration (the reason for gelatin supplementation). She suffers teeth damage, from sunburn & and also chronic noise pollution. 

Mendette told us: 
I'm so worried about Unna.

And also took action: 
I searched all day and all I could find on Mycotic Diseases is here (The Merck Manual on Veterinary Medicine).

Below is SeaWorld's Press Release, first; followed by a description of mycotic infections in cetaceans from The Merck Manual.  We hope you'll read both. The pathogen isolated in Unna's bladder is Candida. Bold accents have been added to certain key words. 


Killer whale veterinarians and trainers at SeaWorld San Antonio are giving around-the-clock attention and medical care to Unna, a female killer whale with suspected cystitis caused by a fungal infection.

Preliminary tests show that the fungus is Candida, an organism that is pervasive in the environment and found in many different animals including whales and dolphins. Experts are still determining the species of Candida and its susceptibility to specific medications, as this particular fungus does not appear to be acting like normal Candida. It appears to be resistant to commonly used medications, and we are working aggressively to overcome this challenge.

---  END SeaWorld Press Annoucement 

--------------------------- Below is the Entry from the Merck Manual of Veterinary Medicine on Fungal Infections in Captives ------------------

Mycotic Diseases of Marine Mammals

Captive marine mammals seem particularly prone to fungal infections (see Fungal Infections). Most appear to be secondary to stress, environmental compromise, or other infectious disease. Some systemic mycoses have distinct geographic distributions. Diagnosis is based on clinical signs and confirmed by identification of the organism in biopsy or, preferably, culture. Wet mounts in lactophenol or cotton blue may render an immediate diagnosis with some of the morphologically distinct fungi. Tissue smears cleared in warm 10% potassium hydroxide can be examined to identify characteristic fruiting bodies or hyphae.

This common mycotic disease in captive cetaceans occurs secondary to stress, unbalanced water disinfection with chlorines, or indiscriminate antibiotic therapy. Candidiasis is also reported in pinnipeds. 

In cetaceans, the lesions usually are found around body orifices. At necropsy, esophageal ulcers are often found, particularly in the area of the gastroesophageal junction... 

Diagnosis is based on identification of the yeast in cultures or biopsy. 

[NOTE: These are Unna's medical options]

Candidiasis generally responds well to ketoconazole (6 mg/kg, PO, sid) along with correction of any environmental deficits. Supplementation with prednisolone (0.01 mg/kg) may be appropriate to compensate for ketoconazole inhibition of glucocorticoid production. Fluconazole (2 mg/kg, bid) has also been used successfully. 

One anecdotal report suggests a possible toxic reaction to ketoconazole in a northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris). Early detection and treatment is usually successful. Another opportunistic yeast, Cryptococcus neoformans, has been diagnosed in fatal advanced pulmonary disease in a bottlenose dolphin. Prolonged treatment with itraconazole (120 days) at routine mammalian doses was ineffective despite serum drug levels above the suggested therapeutic range.


For those studying cetacean confinement & exploitation, this condition with Unna is a hallmark manifestation of the physiological stresses associated with captivity at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.