PETA Urges SeaWorld to Allow Last Orca Mother to Give Birth in Seaside Sanctuary
Meet Takara, a 25-year-old pregnant orca living in SeaWorld San Antonio in Texas. Takara's newborn, expected to arrive in Spring 2017, will be the last remaining orca to live its life in SeaWorld's tanks after the ocean park announced in March it would end its captive orca breeding program after years of campaigning from animal welfare groups and concerned citizens.
But in a new push from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the animal rights group is calling on SeaWorld to allow Takara to give birth in a seaside sanctuary so that her calf will never have to see the inside of a concrete tank.
On its SeaWorld of Hurt website, PETA details the "tragic" story of Takara's life. In the wild, orcas often live with their mothers for life but Takara herself was born in captivity in SeaWorld San Diego in 1991. Her parents—Kasatka and Kotar—were caught in Iceland in 1978. Kasatka, Takara's mother, is currently at SeaWorld San Diego. Takara's father, Kotar, died in 1995 in San Antonio after a pool gate he was playing with accidentally closed onto his head and caused a fractured skull.
Takara has already given birth to four other calves, two of which were taken to other parks. Her daughter Kohana was born in 2002 when Takara was 11. At the age of 3, Kohana was transferred to the notorious Loro Parque in Spain in 2006. Her son, Trua, was born in 2005 and now lives in Florida. Takara's youngest children, Sakari and Kamea, born in 2010 and 2013 respectively, live with their mother in San Antonio.
In an Instagram video from Liberate Cetaceans, footage shot in December shows young Kamea possibly signaling to her mother, Takara, that she wants to nurse. Judging by the date the video was taken, is it likely that Takara was already pregnant. Liberate Cetaceans alleges that SeaWorld allowed Takara to get pregnant even though she was still nursing Kamea.
"Why did SeaWorld choose to breed (or allow to breed) a female with an already dependent calf?" the post reads. "What an incredibly immoral decision."
The post follows:
Takara is well known for being hormonal, unpredictable, and generally unpleasant during the early stages of pregnancy. This means Kamea will be at risk of being ignored and neglected or even attacked. When the new calf comes, Takara's focus will be on the calf and not Kamea. A still very dependent Kamea may find herself without her mother's affections/ attention and will have no other mature females to turn to for comfort. If Kamea is still nursing when the new calf comes along, not only will this put incredible stress on Takara, but this will also mean the calves are competing for milk.
On SeaWorld's own website, it states that "most killer whale calves born at SeaWorld generally nurse for about a year, but may continue to nurse occasionally for as long as two years. This corresponds with observations in the wild."
Crunching the math, Liberate Cetaceans brought attention to the frequency in which Takara has given birth while at SeaWorld's parks, a rate that appears to be unnatural in the wild.
In the wild females typically give birth to a calf every 6-10 years and have 4-6 calves in their lifetime. This will be Takara's fifth calf and (if born this year) her third calf in just 6 years! So many pregnancies close together will put a lot of pressure on her body. As wild females tend to have their first calf at 14/15 and Takara is 24 (first impregnated at 11) she should have only had 2 calves (maximum) at this point in her life, not 4 with another on the way! Takara had one Kohana taken from her when she was only 3, and was moved whilst pregnant away from her only male calf, Trua, who was also 3 at the time.
SeaWorld states on its website, "based on limited data collected from populations at sea and in zoological facilities, a female may bear a calf every 3 to 5 years. In some cases, a female may not have another calf for 10 years."
EcoWatch reached out to SeaWorld for comment on both PETA's campaign and the Liberate Cetaceans post. The company had not responded as of press time, but did respond via email Wednesday with this statement:
SeaWorld made historic decisions to make this the last generation of orca whales, end theatrical performances with the whales and partner with the Humane Society of the United States [HSUS]. Society has changed and we've changed with it. Unfortunately, it appears PETA hasn't.
Placing any of the orcas we care for into their proposed sea cages would expose them to disease, pollution and other man-made and natural disasters. PETA's ideas are simplistic and don't take into account that the majority of the whales at SeaWorld were born in human care or have spent almost their entire lives at our facilities. We're focusing our resources on real issues that help far more animals, like working with HSUS to fight commercial whaling, shark finning, and continuing our efforts to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured and sick animals to the wild. Read more here.
SeaWorld has faced intense scrutiny ever since the 2013 documentary Blackfish exposed the plight of orcas in captivity. The film has sparked a massive public outcry against keeping these large creatures in small tanks since in the wild they swim up to 100 miles per day.
SeaWorld has previously said that their killer whales would not survive in the wild if they were to be released. "SeaWorld has not collected an orca from the wild in almost 40 years, and the vast majority of our orcas were born under human care. These orcas have never lived in the wild and could not survive in oceans that include environmental concerns such as pollution and other man-made threats."
Alongside its announcement to cease captive orca breeding, SeaWorld is also phasing out its theatrical "Shamu" show. Instead, SeaWorld visitors will get to see the orcas in redesigned pools that have a more naturalistic setting. Guests will get to observe the creatures through "educational encounters" starting in the San Diego park in 2017, followed by the parks in San Antonio and Orlando.
In a sad twist, around the same time SeaWorld made the two announcements, Tilikum, the killer whale at the center of the Blackfish, was found to be in deteriorating health. SeaWorld's teams are treating him for what they believe is a bacterial infection in his lungs, the company said on its Facebook page.
SeaWorld’s Famous Whale and ‘Blackfish’ Star Is Dying https://t.co/UDPduvbYQj @seashepherd @pamfoundation @WWF @peta https://t.co/eM8beMgDll— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1457541556.0
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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