What caused Kelly Slater to so radically change his views about sharks?
Or perhaps he did not change his views after all.
In 2014, Kelly was quoted in the Australian media saying in response to Premier Colin Barnett's plan to kill sharks in Western Australia:
"I think it's kind of silly. Humans want to control everything. We try to control (beach) erosion, we try to control sharks … we just try to control everything on this earth and it's just crazy. We kill 100 million sharks a year or something crazy to make (shark fin) soup. We throw them back finless and dying. It's like we've lost all feeling for other creatures on some level and I think that's kind of sad. If I got eaten by a shark, I'd be honoured."
So when I heard that Kelly had sent an Instagram message to the notorious shark-killing advocate Jeremy Flores on Reunion Island, my first reaction was disbelief. It had to be fake news. The message was in contradiction of everything that Kelly had ever said about sharks.
In his message to Flores on social media, Kelly said:
And of course Flores took that message as ammunition to go on the offensive against conservationists including Sea Shepherd and myself personally.
I don't think that Kelly anticipated the tsunami of a response from both sides of this issue. The shark kill advocates were elated and quickly took to social media to thump their chest for bringing Kelly over to the what marine conservationist see as the "dark side." Many shark advocates reacted with anger and accusations. The nature of the internet is immediately unforgiving by millions of people who tend to react with instantaneous condemnation without verification of the facts.
I don't think that Kelly anticipated that his words would ignite violence on Reunion or that the next day would see a fire bomb attack on the offices of the marine reserve because one of the goals of some of the shark haters on the island is to shut down the marine reserve and to reopen fishing including shark hunting.
I don't think that Kelly anticipated the death threats against Jean Bernard Galves, the representative of Sea Shepherd on Reunion Island, and the collective NGO's advocating the end of the cull and the protection of the marine reserve.
Nor could he have anticipated the extreme hate directed at any person who defends sharks as this posting by surfer Christophe Fontaine to the Association de Sauvegarde des requins, illustrates:
"All my friends died in a shark attack. You won. Now we are going to burn everything to the ground to avoid more young to die because of your bullshit. The Marine Reserve already got hit and if they have not understood it's their children who we will burn. The prefect's children too. They want to kill us. Then we will kill.
"Dude, I don't know if you understood the message. People like you allowed my friends to die eaten. Whether you get it or not, we don't give fuck. You come here, we'll kill you. We'll kill your children, your family and we'll piss on your grave and the one of your dear ones. Cause that is what you have been doing to us since the beginning.
"Also send the message to the 2 little Zoreil (people from France) walking around with Sea Shepherd t-shirts in Boucan, provoking us that we will feed them to sharks. Let them all sue us. We went to Court, it did not protect us from death. It won't protect you either. It's your turn."
I don't think that Kelly anticipated the wave of anger and feelings of betrayal his words would spawn and the ire of so many of his admirers and fans directed towards him on social media.
Inadvertently, Kelly handed them the confidence to unleash their hateful accusations and to fuel their violent rhetoric.
At first, I was disappointed, but not angry with Kelly. He is a dedicated ocean conservationist and he has spoken out against shark culling for years so it was a shock for me to hear that he actually said what he reportedly said.
Kelly is a compassionate man and he was reacting to the death of a young surfer and I believe that was his initial gut reaction to the tragedy. I don't believe that this statement negates the incredible efforts Kelly made over the years to raise awareness of what we as a species are doing to destroy biodiversity in the sea.
I did reach out to him and he responded that he was indeed sympathetic to the surfers who have died there, that the incidents of shark attacks are greater there than any other place on the planet and that although he opposes culling of sharks in general he believes that Reunion is a unique situation because of the number of shark attacks.
His response to me gave me some insight as to where he is was coming from. The pain of losing friends and family, the suffering from shark inflicted wounds are things that provoke anger and a desire for revenge or as in Kelly's case, a desire to find some solution.
There is no doubt that this is a highly emotional issue—the death of so many surfers in a relatively short time in one particular place. I think Kelly reacted intuitively to these tragedies and because he felt that the situation at Reunion was unique and unusual.
It is indeed clear to me that Kelly did not anticipate the backlash. He sent me this message yesterday:
"I would like to address my comment about the recent bull shark attack in Reunion Island. I did not think my words through. It is easy to get emotional given the recent history with sharks that the local community has suffered, especially when young lives are lost. However, killing anything in hopes of a solution is not in line with my philosophies about life and I don't believe are a long term fix to an ongoing problem. This is a good time to put energy and intelligence into finding a solution that works for everyone ... utilizing technology, science and human emotion. I know a solution can be found that works for all parties. I'll continue to learn about and put energy towards efforts to defend and protect our oceans.
Sincerely, Kelly Slater"
Sea Shepherd wants to work with Kelly and with anyone on Reunion who wants to find a real solution to these attacks. Kelly wants to work with us, with the surfers and with the scientists to find a solution.
I believe that the surfers on the island, if they truly wish to find a solution must understand that culling does not work, it has never worked and the remedy must be a restoration of the marine ecology, the encouragement of the return of reef sharks, the increase in marine biodiversity and until these solutions can be found these beaches must be closed until restoration is completed. The defense against bull sharks is a healthy population of reef sharks and a rich diversity of fish populations in a well enforced marine reserve.
So I do not see the point of condemning Kelly for expressing his sincere feelings with regard to the human fatalities. He is human, he is extremely close to the surfing community and what he said, he said from the point of view of a man and a surfer who cares about the lives of people who share his passion for the waves.
And we should make no mistake in believing for one moment that this man does not care about the ocean, about biodiversity and about the atrocities committed. I know Kelly, he cares, he cares deeply.
I am looking at the positive side of this controversy. Perhaps what Kelly said was not okay on the surface but it brought to light the reality that this is a very misunderstood situation and the only solution must be an objective scientific review with real ecologically based solutions. A cull is not one of these solutions.
The situation at Reunion has been caused by humans. Pollution, overfishing, negligence and a refusal to use plain old common sense backed up by some serious understanding of ocean ecology. And as Kelly has often said in the past, culling simply does not work.
U.S. surfer Mike Coots, who lost a leg in a shark attack agrees that culling is not the answer. "I think culling a species is fundamentally wrong: Science has shown that it doesn't work," he said. "It actually can make the situation worse. I think we need to focus more on coexistence between humans and sharks."
During the latter half of the twentieth century, shark culling was carried out in an attempt to make the waters of Hawaii safer. From 1959 to 1976, the state of Hawaii culled 4,668 sharks. The Hawaii Institute for Marine Biology and the state's Department of Land and Natural Resources concluded that culling was "ineffective" because the incidence of shark attack numbers remained the same.
The Reunion islanders have overfished the area and the reef sharks that once held that territory were wiped out, not by bull sharks as Jeremy Flores falsely claims but by fishermen. With the reef sharks removed, the bull sharks moved in.
And herein lies the problem. Not only does shark culling not work, it actually contributes to the environment where bull sharks are more aggressive and thus more dangerous.
More than 200 sharks have been killed already around the island and this onslaught of vengeance not only took out bull sharks but many tiger sharks as well and tiger sharks have not killed any surfers. How many more do they wish to kill? Are they talking 100 percent eradication? Because complete eradication is the only way to guarantee safety for surfers.
Is extinction of the bull shark the price the surfers demand in return for enjoying their sport?
This is what happens. A shark kills a human. In revenge numerous sharks are slaughtered and instead of solving their problem their actions have intensified it.
Why is it that the highest incidence of shark attacks in the world happen where shark culling is practiced? Specifically Reunion, Queensland and Western Australia.
And the reason for this is that the removal of sharks from their established territory creates a vacuum and thus an invite for replacement sharks and these replacement sharks are seeking to establish the vacant territory as their own and this makes them far more aggressive than the sharks they replaced. Culling creates a black hole and it will draw in replacement bull sharks from Madagascar resulting in more aggressive shark attacks and more mass killings of sharks. It's a vicious circle of shark culling and attacks on humans.
Kill them and the door opens for new replacements and the only logical outcome of such a radical scheme is complete and utter eradication and that is something that Kelly Slater absolutely does not endorse.
Stirred up by Jeremy Flores and his cohorts, the Journal de l'Ile de La Reunion has called Sea Shepherd and all the scientists and NGO's opposing a cull as "NAZI's animal rights fanatics" and claim that we are responsible for the deaths of the surfers because we oppose a shark massacre. From our point of view the cause of these frequent attacks is the culling itself and thus Flores and the government of France are very much complicit in the circumstances that have seen 20 attacks since 2011 of which eight attacks were fatal.
What Sea Shepherd has been advocating is a strong marine reserve that will allow the reef sharks to return so that the ecological balance can be restored. Towards this end, the beaches where shark attacks occur should be closed to the public.
Kelly has assured me that he supports this approach.
Let's take a closer look at the victims.
The last attack took place at the exit of a river on the east coast after heavy rains. The river carried a great deal of waste into the muddy water. The rains had modified the bottoms of the mouth of the river, creating a "perfect" wave. Tempting indeed, but the fishermen of the area had repeatedly warned the surfers of the enormous shark risk, well known to be aggravated by the rains. Swimming was forbidden and signs were posted, although many of the signs had been vandalized. The man who died was a former shark lookout and fully aware of the risks. Nonetheless, he chose to take the risk.
A statement from his family said:
"Our family does not want the death of Alex to be used to justify this or that act. Nor do we wish that one accuses wild animals for the death of Alex. Alex was a great enthusiast and was fully aware of the risks he was taking."
The incident in April 2015 involved a 13-year old boy. The day before a shark look-out system had been set up, but on that day the look-outs were not deployed due to poor visibility and poor sea conditions. The training session was canceled. Despite the ban on surfing, the boy and some of his comrades decided to surf. They were perhaps confident because of the installation a few hundred meters away of a drum line 12 days before. This shark line had been installed against the advice of scientists. They warned of the risk of baiting near beaches.
Currently 15 scientists from the Marine Reserve Science Council—despite enormous state pressure and the constant threats and insults—unanimously said that it was dangerous to bait near surfers and drum lines should not be installed in the reserve and near the beaches.
This entire situation has been created by human activity due to overfishing, elimination of reef sharks, pollution, and the dumping of sewage, fish guts and animal offal. Regular heavy rains have compounded the problem and it has already been proven that culling does not work, but instead contributes to more occurrences.
Flores and his group of shark killing advocates are trying to cast the scientists and conservationist like myself and Sea Shepherd as people-haters, willing to sacrifice young people to save the sharks.
In reality, we are trying to stop the shark attacks by working to restore the ecological integrity of the area with the Reunion Island Natural Marine Reserve. Yes, we want to save the sharks but in doing so we see this effort as saving human lives as well. It is not a question of either sharks or humans, for us it is a question of protecting both the lives of humans and sharks.
What Flores is advocating is simply not okay.
I was a surfer in California and Hawaii in my younger days in the '60s and '70s and I have always viewed surfing as a near religious experience which is one of the reasons that I hold Kelly Slater in such high regard. All surfers should be ambassadors for life in the sea and in fact Kelly has and continues to be an incredible advocate, educator and role model for young people around the globe.
As a surfer I was always aware of the risks, from being dashed onto a coral reef to almost breaking my neck at Makapuu Beach, but I always viewed the risk of a shark attack as the least of my worries. This is not to say there is no risk, but that it was an acceptable risk because on average about five people die annually from a shark attack and considering the tens of millions of people who enter the ocean every day, that is an extremely small percentage.
In fact, it is more dangerous to play golf because more golfers die every year than surfers from everything from bee stings to being struck by lightening.
As Kelly Slater once said himself, "If you're afraid of sharks, stay out of the ocean."
That is a sentiment he still holds today. Nothing has changed.
The contents of our mattresses are often an afterthought. That's a mistake, as research shows that the quality of your sleeping surface can significantly impact your health.
As consumers gain awareness about the health effects of sleeping on potentially toxic compounds, mattress companies are responding with new beds made from better materials. Today, you can choose from a broad range of mattresses made from all-natural components, including organic wool, cotton, and latex. Here's a summary of the best non-toxic, eco-friendly mattresses available today and how to decide between them.
Why You Should Choose an Organic Mattress
Traditionally, mattresses contain trace amounts of chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that act as flame retardants and coatings on plastic components. While the popular view is that these VOCs are found in too low of concentrations to be concerning, a 2019 study published in Environmental Science and Technology indicates that body heat may transform them into toxic vapors that you breathe in through the night.
That's a reason for concern, as according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the potential health effects of VOC exposure include headaches and eye, nose, and throat irritation. In extreme cases, they may trigger cancer cell development or organ damage.
8 Top-Rated Organic and Natural Mattress BrandsEach product featured below has been selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the included links, we may earn a commission.
- Best Overall – Avocado Green Mattress
- Best Cooling – GhostBed Natural Mattress
- Best Hypoallergenic – Plushbeds Botanical Bliss
- Best for Lower Back Support – Saatva Zenhaven Latex Mattress
- Best for Couples – My Green Mattress Natural Escape
- Best 100% Certified Organic - Happsy Mattress
- Best Fair Trade Certified – Birch Natural Mattresses
- Most Affordable – Eco Terra Latex Hybrid
- Best Give Back Program – Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress
How We Chose These Products
When comparing the best natural mattress options, we looked at several specific factors to determine which ones stand out. Here are some of the distinguishing features.
The best non-toxic mattress brands today exclusively use certified organic textiles like cotton and wool.
Is it certified GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard) or GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)? As the leading natural certifications for textiles and latex materials, GOLS and GOTS-certified products meet stringent requirements for responsible social and environmental practices.
The best nontoxic mattresses are compressed into boxes for shipping and then expand to full size once you unpack them. Environmentally speaking, smaller packages mean less fuel wasted on transportation. Others are sent in pieces or in full form and require a delivery team for installation.
Give Back Programs
The best eco-friendly mattress brands also support nonprofit programs that benefit the environment. We like brands where a percentage of your purchase may go towards a worthwhile cause.
Many of the best organic mattresses are handcrafted in the United States, which shrinks their environmental footprint by keeping production and transportation within a smaller area.
Standard practice in the mattress industry is to offer sleep trial testing periods. These range from three months to a year or longer.
Direct to Consumer
Direct-to-consumer mattress companies are increasing in popularity. They tend to be less wasteful than traditional retailers because the brand isn't putting resources towards maintaining showrooms.
9 Best Natural and Organic Mattresses of 2021
Best Overall - Avocado Green Mattress
- Materials – 100% GOTS certified cotton and wool, 100% natural latex, steel support coils
- Manufacturing – Handmade in USA
- Delivery – Mattress arrives compressed in a box
- Certifications – GREENGUARD Gold, Rainforest Alliance, eco-INSTITUT®, and Formaldehyde-Free certified, OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified wool, GOTS and GOLS certified materials
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 100-night sleep trial, 25-year warranty
This mattress-in-a-box brand doesn't compromise its eco-friendly principles for low cost or convenience. The Avocado Green mattress boasts a gentle latex support system for balanced firmness that's ideal for larger people and those who sleep on their back or side.
Why buy: Avocado is a leading brand for affordable mattresses made from natural materials. The Green mattress makes this list for its affordable price point and five-zone support system with up to 1,400 pocketed steel support coils. Equally impressive, Avocado maintains control over its whole supply chain and employs strict social and environmental standards for every product.
Best Cooling - GhostBed Natural Mattress
- Materials – Natural wool, GOLS certified Dunlop & Talalay latex, USDA organic and GOTS certified cotton
- Manufacturing – Manufactured in the USA
- Delivery – Mattress arrives vacuum sealed in a box
- Certifications – USDA organic, Control Union certified, OEKO-TEX® certified, GOLS and GOTS certified materials
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 101 night sleep trial, 25-year warranty
The GhostBed Natural mattress offers five layers of natural comfort materials. Each mattress is made from natural wool, genuine Dunlop and Talalay latex, and organic cotton for solid support and air-flow cooling. This is an eco-friendly mattress made for comfort, cooling, and support.
Why buy: The GhostBed Natural mattress is a great option if you tend to get hot when you sleep, as it includes both a naturally cooling latex core and cooling airflow coil technology to help you sleep better. We also love that it is made in the United States with organic and natural materials like sustainably-sourced latex and USDA organic cotton.
Best Hypoallergenic - Plushbeds Botanical Bliss
- Materials – GOLS certified latex, GOTS certified cotton and wool
- Manufacturing – Handcrafted in California
- Delivery – Delivered in two boxes, the customer must assemble
- Certifications – GOLS certified latex, GOTS certified cotton and wool, GreenGuard Gold Certified, OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 Certified, eco-INSTITUT® certified, Control Union Certified, Forest Stewardship Council Certified
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 100-night sleep trial, 25-year warranty
Plushbeds mattresses are handcrafted in the US from certified organic materials. Orthopedic specialists recommend them for their buoyant support and pressure point relief, along with an organic latex core you can customize.
Why buy: With Plushbeds' Botanical Bliss mattress, you get a non-toxic, hypoallergenic sleeping surface that keeps you cool through the night. This bed is dust mite resistant to eliminate most home's primary allergy problems and includes an organic cotton cover for comfort.
Best Luxury - Saatva Zenhaven Latex Mattress
- Materials – Certified organic cotton, all-natural Talalay latex, 100% organic New Zealand wool
- Manufacturing – Made in USA within 19 independent factories
- Delivery – Purchase comes with free white glove delivery and setup, including old mattress removal
- Certifications – OEKO-TEX® Standard 100, eco-INSTITUT®, Rainforest Alliance, and Cradle to Cradle certified
- Sleep Trial/ Warranty – 180-day sleep trial, 20-year warranty
The Saatva Zenhaven mattress is naturally hypoallergenic and made using environmentally responsible practices. The manufacturing process is entirely water-based and produces minimal byproducts. Even the certified organic cotton cover is protected by a proprietary nontoxic botanical antimicrobial treatment. Rather than using traditional flame retardants, the mattress contains a protective layer of organic New Zealand wool.
Why buy: As Saatva's premium mattress, the Zenhaven is made for low back support and a cooling, comfortable night's sleep. This 100% Talalay latex mattress contains durable materials for supported rest and boasts a flippable design for two firmness levels. This is the best option for a luxurious yet eco-friendly mattress.
Best for Couples - My Green Mattress Natural Escape
- Materials – GOTS certified cotton, GOLS certified Dunlop latex
- Manufacturing – Handcrafted in a certified organic factory in Illinois
- Delivery – White glove delivery service available for $199 for setup and old mattress removal.
- Certifications – GreenGuard Gold Certified, GOTS Certified cotton, GOLS certified Dunlop latex
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 120-night sleep trial, 20-year warranty
The Natural Escape mattress boasts a responsive zoned pocketed coil spring system covered with GOLS certified Dunlop latex for breathability. With an adaptive support system that conforms to the contours of your spine, the company recommends it for couples with opposite body types or who prefer different sleeping positions from each other. The mattress itself is button tufted to pull the layers together without the use of any potentially toxic adhesives or VOCs.
Why buy: The Natural Escape mattress from My Green Mattress delivers stellar lumbar support and proper spinal alignment—all underneath a comfortable organic cotton cover. It also provides limited motion transfer thanks to an upgraded innerspring system, making it a great option for couples as you won't disturb your partner when you move.
Best 100% Certified Organic - Happsy Mattress
- Materials – Organic cotton filling, organic wool, certified latex
- Manufacturing – Handmade in USA
- Delivery – Ships compressed in a single box
- Certifications – GOTS-certified cotton, Certified Made Safe, GOLS-certified latex, Forest Stewardship Council Certified, Rainforest Alliance Certified, GreenGuard Gold Certified, Underwriters Laboratories verified formaldehyde-free, Green America Certified Business
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 120-night sleep trial, 20-year warranty
Happsy's mattresses combine comfort, the latest technology in certified organic mattress design, and premium earth-friendly materials for a bed you can feel good about from every angle. In fact, the included zipper lets you peek inside to see what you're really sleeping on. The mattress utilizes a breathable coil system designed to wick moisture away to keep you cooler at night than sleeping on heat-trapping synthetic foams.
Why buy: Happsy is a small mattress brand focused on making mattresses with a conscience — meaning that all materials are chosen for being easy on the environment. The company forgoes all glues and adhesives in favor of its own pocketed spring design that keeps the mattress supportive, but never "bouncy."
Best Fair Trade Certified - Birch Natural Mattresses
- Materials – Organic cotton, wool, birch wool, natural latex, steel coils
- Manufacturing – Handmade in USA
- Delivery – Ships compressed in a box
- Certifications – GreenGuard Gold Certified, GOTS Certified, OEKO-TEX®Standard 100, Eco INSTITUT® Tested Product, Wool Integrity NZ, Fair Trade Certified Factory
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 100-night sleep trial, 25-year warranty
Birch by Helix makes a range of natural bedding options constructed in ways that support the environment. Each mattress is made from premium materials that together work to relieve your body's pressure points, no matter how you prefer to sleep. The company claims this premium product has natural flexibility that allows it to retain its shape to provide enough softness for coziness while still offering full-body support.
Why buy: We love that all Birch mattress wool comes from New Zealand sheep farms that meet Wool Integrity NZ standards, which ensures the animals are treated ethically at every stage of production. Plus, the cotton within each mattress is Fair Trade certified, making this a responsible sleep option.
Most Affordable - Eco Terra Latex Hybrid
- Materials – 100% natural latex foam rubber, organic wool, organic cotton
- Manufacturing – Designed and handcrafted in Los Angeles, CA
- Delivery – Free standard delivery across the US, White Glove delivery available for an extra cost
- Certifications – OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified, GOTS Organic wool, GOTS organic certified cotton
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 90-day sleep trial, 15-year warranty
Eco Terra offers a budget-friendly latex hybrid mattress that includes natural materials, unobtrusive pocket support coils, and a 90-day sleep trial. Eco Terra's latex mattress is available in both a medium and medium-firm firmness level to support a wide range of sleepers. The bed is free of synthetic foams and VOCs, favoring a three-inch-thick layer of Talalay latex instead.
Why buy: Eco Terra offers a more budget-friendly option than other latex hybrid brands, making this mattress an excellent choice for comfortable sleep without compromising on natural materials. One thing to note is that this latex isn't GOLS-certified, though the other materials are GOTS certified.
Best Give Back Program - Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress
- Materials – Dunlap latex, organic New Zealand wool, organic cotton, steel coils
- Manufacturing – Made in China
- Delivery – Arrives compressed in a box
- Certifications – Rainforest Alliance certified latex, certified organic wool, certified organic cotton
- Sleep Trial/Warranty – 365-night sleep trial, Forever Warranty (lifetime guarantee against sagging and manufacturing defects)
Awara features premium Sri Lanka latex and wrapped coil springs to provide contour and a touch of bounce for supportive sleep throughout the night. At the core of this mattress are nine-inch pocketed coils that are thicker than standard. This gives the bed a firmer, more responsive feel that minimizes the sense of sinking when you reach the outer edge, so it's suitable for back, side, and stomach sleepers alike.
Why buy: Awara's natural latex mattress stands out for being slightly firmer than some other options. The mattress itself is made from quality materials with GOLS, GOTS, and Rainforest Alliance certification. Awara also partners with Trees for the Future to support forest systems throughout Africa. Every purchase funds the planting of ten trees throughout Kenya, Senegal, Uganda, or Tanzania.
The best night's sleep takes place on a mattress that won't make you or the environment sick. Today, there are more options than ever for finding the best organic and nontoxic mattress for your family. Seek out brands that use certified organic materials and that guarantee each bed is free from VOCs to rest easy every night.
Lydia Noyes is a freelance writer specializing in health and wellness, food and farming, and environmental topics. When not working against a writing deadline, you can find Lydia outdoors where she attempts to bring order to her 33-acre hobby farm filled with fruit trees, heritage breed pigs, too many chickens to count, and an organic garden that somehow gets bigger every year.
Most people throughout the world love and respect dolphins. There are only a few places in the world where these beloved creatures are captured and slaughtered, places like Japan, the Danish Faroe Island, Greenland, the Solomon Islands and a few islands in the Caribbean like St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Only in Taiji, Japan however is the slaughter of dolphins linked directly to the worldwide marine aquarium industry.
In 2009, The Cove, a film about the dolphin slaughter received the Academy Award for best documentary. Despite this, the massacre of these beautiful, intelligent, socially complex cetaceans has continued.
The Japanese government has taken a hard stand in defense of the thirty or so fishermen who capture and kill these dolphins. Foreigners who go to Taiji to oppose the drive are being denied entry into Japan and others are harassed by police. Japanese nationals who dare to oppose the killing are treated very harshly with threats and intimidation.
Sea Shepherd has had volunteer Cove Guardians in Taiji every day from September 1st until the end of February to make sure that the killing is never out of sight and out of mind. It is a frustrating and depressing experience for people to participate as Cove Guardians, to witness the brutality and the murder of dolphins and unable to lift a finger to stop it due to a strong policing policy that watches the movements of every person who arrives to defend the dolphins with a camera.
Now, yet another killing season is coming to an end and Sea Shepherd is calling for volunteers, supporters and dolphin lovers around the world to join us on Saturday, Feb. 13 for a the World Love for Dolphins Day.
World Love For Dolphins Day is fast approaching. Get involved on February 13th. https://t.co/RCb0cIzZeH https://t.co/jD6CRZ8rFs— Sea Shepherd DAC (@Sea Shepherd DAC)1454455832.0
The message that we must deliver is that to end the killing and the capture of dolphins in Taiji we need stop supporting the facilities that profit from the capture and killing.
The dolphins that are driven into the cove are inspected and the prettiest and most profitable are selected for the captivity industry and the rest are ruthlessly slaughtered for meat. It is the captivity industry that motivates the killers because one dolphin can sell for around $200,000 whereas one dolphin killed for meat brings in only a few hundred dollars.
Without the sale of captive dolphins the hunters would not be able to afford to continue this barbaric mass murder. The demand for the meat has declined dramatically because of the revelation of just how toxic dolphin meat really is. Because of this, without the captivity industry the killing will not be an affordable industry. Captivity subsidizes slaughter.
And what this means is that every man, woman and child that purchases a ticket to see dolphins perform tricks in a marine aquarium are complicit in the capture, the cruelty and the killing.
Ironically people who attend dolphin shows say they love dolphins. They love to see them in the pools and doing tricks. However they do not know or choose to deliberately not know that for every dolphin they see in the pool, hundreds of dolphins have been viciously slaughtered.
What they see in the pools are the orphans and survivors from pods where all their friends and family have been massacred for the sole purpose of enslaving them for the amusement of people.
Hundreds of dolphins are enslaved every year, their live expectancy lowered to just a few short years in captivity making money for the owners of the amusement parks pretending to be educational programs, When they die, the Taiji fishermen are only too ready to capture and kill more to satisfy the demand.
Perhaps we cannot change the entrenched position of the Japanese government, perhaps we may never touch the hearts of the Japanese dolphin killers, but we may have a chance to reach the people responsible for this tragedy—the people around the world who purchase tickets to these cruel and lethal places.
The killing of the dolphins continues because of SeaWorld, Marineland and hundreds of other dolphinariums and swim with dolphin hotel programs around the world.
We must send a message that if you purchase a ticket to watch dolphins perform or to swim with dolphins than you are the reason for the massacre of dolphins and that if people wish to end this bloody and perverse massacre they must not patronize the slave owning establishments that are selling amusement as a mask for misery, cruelty and death.
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If the ocean dies, we all die. Why?
A few people have asked me to explain just why it is that humanity will die if the ocean dies.
Billions of people depend upon the ocean for food and I'm not talking about restaurants, sushi bars and fish markets in New York, Paris, London, Tokyo or Sydney. I'm talking about extremely poor people whose lives actually depend upon catching fish.
We need to return whale and fish populations to pre-exploitation levels. The focus must be on revitalizing biodiversity in the sea. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd / Barbara Veiga
But food being taken from the ocean is the least of the factors that will kill us.
The ocean is the life support system for the planet, providing 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe and regulating climate. The ocean is also the pump that allows us to have fresh water. It is the driving force, along with the sun, of the global circulation system that transports water from the land to the sea to the atmosphere and back to the land again.
Plankton—the most important group of plants and animal species on the planet (excluding bacteria). Plankton populations have been diminished by 40 percent since 1950, yet there is now commercial exploitation by Norwegian and Japanese fishing corporations to extract millions of tons of plankton for conversion to a protein-rich animal feed.
Every year 65 billion animals are slaughtered to feed humans and some 40 percent of all the fish caught are converted to fishmeal to feed pigs, chickens, domestic salmon, fur-bearing animals and cat food. With fish populations diminishing, the corporations are looking to replace fishmeal with a plankton paste.
Is cheap fishmeal for domestic animals worth robbing the planet of our oxygen supplies?
Where does oxygen come from? Some 50 percent comes from the forest that we are rapidly cutting down. The rest comes from the sea.
Some of this oxygen is produced by seaweeds and sea grasses, but the vast majority of the oxygen is produced by phytoplankton, microscopic single-celled organisms that have the ability to photosynthesize. These tiny creatures live at the surface layer of the ocean (and in lakes and rivers) and form the very base of the aquatic food chain.
During photosynthesis, phytoplankton remove carbon dioxide from sea water and release oxygen. The carbon becomes part of their bodies.
Providing oxygen and sequestering carbon dioxide is the major contribution of plankton, along with forming the foundation for the entire oceanic food chain.
The fish- and animal-killing industries are robbing the seas of oxygen production for short-term profits.
This is one of the things that most likely will not be discussed at the climate change conference in Paris in two months.
Other factors diminishing plankton are acidification from excessive carbon dioxide, pollution, habitat destruction and the radical diminishment of whale populations.
The whales are the primary species that fertilize the phytoplankton. For example, one blue whale defecates three tons of nitrogen and iron-rich feces a day, providing nutrients to the phytoplankton. In return the phytoplankton feed the zooplankton, the fishes and ultimately everything that lives in the sea.
In order to restore phytoplankton populations we need to restore whale populations and we need to abolish the industrialized exploitation of biodiversity in the ocean. We also need to have governments end all subsidization of commercial fishing operations.
The reality is that there are simply not enough fish in the sea to continue to feed an ever-expanding human population. It is a simple concept to understand—more humans eating fish, directly or indirectly (i.e. fishmeal), contributes to further diminishment of fish.
This diminishment means diminished supplies, resulting in increased subsidization to provide more efficient technology to extract even more of the diminishing supplies. Unless the subsidies are cut, this diminishment will result in collapse. I call this the “economics of extinction."
There must be a global moratorium on all industrialized fishing. And there must be a global cessation on the killing of whales. We need to return whale and fish populations to pre-exploitation levels. The focus must be on revitalizing biodiversity in the sea in order to address climate change and diminishment of phytoplankton oxygen production.
Will it cost profits? Absolutely. Will it costs jobs? Absolutely. But are jobs and profits really worth destroying the planet's life support system?
Strangely, to many of the world's politicians, the answer to that question is yes.
The solutions to climate change are simple but, unfortunately, the solutions are not what anyone will be discussing in Paris in two months, at least not at the gathering of world leaders.
The solutions are:
- An end to the ecologically destructive greenhouse-gas-producing animal slaughter industry that emits more greenhouse gases annually than the entire transportation industry.
- A global moratorium on all industrialized fishing operations.
- An end to the killing of whales by anyone, anywhere for any reason.
The collapse of ocean biodiversity and the catastrophic collapse of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations in the sea will cause the collapse of civilization and most likely the extinction of the human species.
And that is why when the ocean dies, we all die!
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It appears that the director of the Copenhagen Zoo, Bengt Holst, is a fan of both.
Remember Bengt Holst, the man who murdered Marius the giraffe and then had him dissected in front of a crowd of school children?
#EndTrophyHunting – there is no excuse for such barbarism in the 21st century! Please sign: https://t.co/0ZD0us3DHd pic.twitter.com/tz8ngq9zSNHe supports the killing of pilot whales in the Faroes and today he said that he supports the killing of Cecil the lion.
— Irina Tikhomirova (@IrinaGreenVoice) August 3, 2015
Not surprising from a man who killed a baby giraffe and four lions himself last year.
But what is strange is that a director of a zoo, any zoo, would support what is a blatantly illegal activity.
Cecil was a radio-collared, iconic lion who was lured out of a national park, wounded with a crossbow and tracked for 40 hours before being found, suffering in agony. He was then dispatched with a rifle by Palmer's guide. Forty hours of agony and Holst thought that was cool.
Just what is it about this crime that Bengt Holst supports? Does he support poaching a lion from a national park or using an illegal method of baiting a lion? Does he support killing an animal wearing a radio collar in the wild? Does he support killing lions with a crossbow? Does he support sloppy hunting that results in 40 hours of agony to the victim?
What we have here is a director of a major European zoo condoning poaching and unethical hunting. So it's not surprising that he condones the killing of pilot whales and dolphins, a practice that is illegal in Denmark.
In defending Palmer and the Grindadráp, Holst makes the lame excuse that the critics of the Grind and the critics of Dr. Walter Palmer are alienated from nature.
Right, this coming from a man who keeps animals in concrete, glass and steel enclosures. He actually has the audacity to suggest that Palmer, a dentist who lives in an American city is not removed from nature. Holst seems to believe that unless you're killing animals, you are alienated from nature. Read page 1
The Sea Shepherd crew he accuses of being removed from nature have far more experience in wilderness conditions than he will ever have. We have been in ice conditions off Antarctica and Labrador that would probably scare the crap out of him.
I was raised in rural Canada and I've tracked wolf hunters in the Yukon and elephant poachers in Kenya. I've kayaked up the Amazon and hiked through the wilderness of Alaska. I've tackled whalers off Siberia, seal hunters on the ice floes of Eastern Canada and shark finners off Costa Rica and this animal-killing, zoological city-dwelling bureaucrat says that it is us who are removed from nature.
We all knew that Bengt Holst is a sadistic, animal-abusing, insensitive creature, completely devoid of empathy and compassion, but now we know he is also an advocate of poaching wildlife from national parks.
It's amazing really. The only other person to publicly support Dr. Walter Palmer is another animal-killing maniac and that's Ted Nugent.
Dr. Walter Palmer may be the most hated man in America and Zimbabwe, but now he has these two fans, one in Michigan and the other in Denmark. Having fans like these guys is simply tossing more crap onto his already completely destroyed reputation.
Denmark is rapidly getting a very bad international reputation because of the vicious Faroese massacres of pilot whales and dolphins and now Bengt Holst could not resist opening his mouth and contributing his own insensitive opinions to further tarnish the view of Denmark.
Captain Paul Watson: The Danish Giraffe Killer Applauds the American Lion Killer http://t.co/BbIrfWNYJs #CecilTheLion pic.twitter.com/1eGlKYqBsJ
— Quad Finn (@QuadSeaShepherd) July 31, 2015
Holst also said that people should not be giving animals names, like Marius—the giraffe he killed—or Cecil the lion. Who is Bengt Holst to dictate to the world that animals cannot have names? That in itself is an extremely arrogant statement. Holst wants us all to view animals the way he views them, as commodities to be displayed, abused, killed, eaten or stuffed and stuck on the walls of some nimrod's man cave.
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For everyone who cares about the lives of pilot whales and dolphins, I am happy to say that Sea Shepherd's Operation Sleppid Grindini campaign is being well received by the international media and has gone viral on social media. On Monday, I did a national news interview in France and later spoke to Russian television. Over the last few days, the story of the slaughter of the pilot whales has been carried throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and North and South America. There is increasing global awareness and we have no intention of allowing the world to forget the horror of the Grind.
We need to keep the pressure on. More Sea Shepherd volunteers may be arrested, more boats may be seized, but what is at stake here are the lives of intelligent, self-aware, beautiful, socially complex, living, feeling and sentient beings.
With this obscene abomination they call the Grindadráp (the murder of whales), the Faroese whalers disgrace not only Denmark, but all of humanity. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd/Mayk Wendt
They deserve the risks we must take and the sacrifices we must endure to stop this carnage.
Our enemies, the whale killers, have absolutely no comprehension of the empathy we hold in our hearts for these pilot whales and dolphins. They have no understanding of the risks we have taken and why we have taken such risks to defend life in the sea. They dismiss us, they laugh at us and they seek to hobble us with discriminatory laws and to hamstring us with arrest and seizures.
They simply have no idea of the passion that motivates our actions and our commitment to the aggressive non-violent defense of life and diversity.
Their lack of understanding is seen in their constant accusations that Sea Shepherd opposes the Grind for profit—a ludicrous charge, but understandable because people who do not comprehend compassion tend to place value only on money. Sea Shepherd volunteers do not do what they do for money, but this is a concept alien to people whose hearts are gilded with the lust for gold. They see value only in the things they understand.
Does Sea Shepherd raise money from the public? Of course, how else could ships and campaigns be financed? However the money received is given voluntarily by compassionate people, unlike the subsidies given to the Faroese by European taxpayers who have no say in where their tax dollars go and most of whom are angry that they are unwillingly helping to support a cruel slaughter of whales that is illegal under the regulations of the European Union.
The Faroese try to cast themselves as the victims, constantly saying they kill the whales for meat and thus implying that they depend upon this slaughter for survival when nothing could be further from the truth. The Faroese enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world. They have one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. They have an industrialized fishing fleet, salmon farms and sheep and they trade these commodities for all the benefits of a materialistic society. They want for absolutely nothing, except for their insatiable lust for blood.
They kill whales because they like to kill whales and they want the support of Danish subsidies and the Danish Navy to back up something that is illegal under the laws of Denmark—and the Danes are doing exactly that.
And that is the reason that Sea Shepherd has decided to focus on Denmark.
For the Danes to say this has nothing to do with Denmark is untrue.
Danish warships are defending the hunt with two warships including a frigate, helicopters, small boats and hundreds of sailors, at an enormous cost to Danish and European taxpayers. The Danish Prime Minister has a Faroese wife. The Royal Family says nothing. And not one word of criticism from a single Danish Member of Parliament. These facts speak for themselves.
The Grind is just as much a Danish issue as it is a Faroese issue.
Danish complicity is something new. There was no Danish intervention in the years prior to 2014. They did not send their warships in the past. They are doing so now.
Whaling industry claim a whale dies within mins. Truth is it can last for over an hour… https://t.co/BczzjDoLqr Pls RT! #UltimateDeathScene
— Captain Paul Watson (@CaptPaulWatson) July 29, 2015
This translation from a Faroese newspaper yesterday demonstrates that the Faroese and the Danes are concerned about Sea Shepherd's focus on Denmark:
“Sea Shepherd moves the grindadráp to Denmark. According to parliament member Sjúrdur Skaale (he is one of the two Faroese seats in the Danish parliament), Sea Shepherd has put great pressure on parliament members to stand up against the Faroese. Sea Shepherd has been very visible during all the pilot whale kills, which have recently occurred in the Faroe Islands, whilst Sea Shepherd has been there this year. But it's not just on land, that Sea Shepherd are visible. Their plan to stop the grindadráp is so big, that they go up against Danish politicians, because these days all the Danish members of parliament, are receiving hundreds of emails from Sea Shepherd supporters, asking the parliament members to stop the grindadráp. According to parliament member Sjúrdur Skaale of Javnadarflokkinum, Sea Shepherd is attempting to put the Faroese and the Danish up against each other. Before Sea Shepherd turned against the Faroese. But now they have changed their tactics, and are also leading their attention towards Denmark.
'It is Denmark who is evil. Denmark should be boycotted. The logic is: Denmark has responsibility over the Faroese. It is Danish police. It is Danish authorities. The police are financed by Danish tax money. Because of this it's the Danish, who should stop what's happening,' says Sjúrdur Skaale about the message from Sea Shepherd. Sjúrdur Skaale says, that the email accounts of parliament members, has a very strong spam filter, which makes sure, that the parliament members don't receive unwanted emails. So he is surprised about all the emails which are now sent. Sjúrdur Skaale says, that neither him, nor the parliament members he has spoken to, has ever experienced such aggressive storms of emails ever before."
We need to keep the pressure on Denmark and the message must be that the civilized world will not tolerate this horrifically cruel and ecologically destructive slaughter.
When the beaches of the Faroes run red with blood, the world must respond with the red-hot passionate anger of outrage and disgust.
With this obscene abomination they call the Grindadráp (the murder of whales), the Faroese whalers disgrace not only Denmark, but all of humanity.
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Yesterday morning approximately 20-30 wonderful creatures were swimming in the cold Northern waters enjoying life in the company of their small family group.
It was a beautiful Monday morning; the seas were calm and the skies were blue.
Though most civilized people in the world would view this as a beautiful thing, watching a pod of these unique creatures swimming gracefully through the sea, a small group of thugs on the shore nearby gazed over the water with murderous intentions in their heart.
The call was issued to kill. The police closed the tunnels. The Sea Shepherd ship Brigitte Bardot was patrolling approximately 25 nautical miles to the south but quickly raced to the site where the whales were spotted. However, the vessel was unable to proceed through the entrance of the fjord, which was being guarded by the Danish Navy vessel Triton. The thugs were unleashed with huge hooks and sharp knives.
in the name of tradition in the Faroe Islands. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd / Rosie Kunneke
The pilot whales were driven to shore and massacred as the police blocked the path of any interference.
The bodies were hoisted onto the dock by a crane as each animal was disemboweled, unborn fetuses ripped from their mothers' wombs. The bodies were decapitated one by one. One supporter of the slaughter sent me a message saying, "We could show ISIS a thing or two about decapitation, you whale-loving bastards."
Photo credit: Sea Shepherd / Nils Greskewitz
As the mutilations continued, Sea Shepherd volunteers were surrounded by Faroese police officers charged with the duty of preventing any interference with the slaughter.
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When it comes to causes of death, sharks are on the very bottom of the list as the leading causes.
Your chances of dying in a car, being shot in the street, being struck by lightning while playing golf, slipping in your bathtub or dying of food poisoning in a restaurant are far higher.
As for animals, dogs, elephants, ostriches, bees, mosquitoes (especially mosquitoes) horses, crocodiles, deer, moose and bears are far more likely to kill a person than a shark.
And when it really comes to causes of human mortality, no animal is more dangerous than the human animal.
So why the ridiculous hysteria about sharks?
The three main culprits are:
- The Media.
- Opportunistic politicians.
- Cowardly surfers and spear fishermen.
The media began their defamation of sharks with that abomination of a film by Stephen Spielberg called Jaws. This movie seeded dozens of B anti-shark movies and led to the inaccurate, demonizing portrayals of sharks on television.
Politicians, always quick to harness the fears of the public, seized on the hysteria as a cheap way to make themselves appear as defenders of their more gullible citizens from monsters. This form of behavior by politicians goes back to the days of dragon-slaying and even to the current crusades against wolves.
And now we have the craven bleatings of a very small minority of surfers who want the sharks wiped out so they need not worry about the fact that their boards and their behavior have a tendency to attract sharks because they tend to look like shark food, meaning seals. From the perspective of a shark under the surface, a surfer on a board most definitely looks like a seal.
Real surfers are not the problem. They understand the situation and they realize that when one ventures into the sea looking like a seal, it is wise to take precautions, like not surfing in areas at a certain time of the year or time of day when sharks are looking for a meal. Also not wearing reflecting watches, white bathing suits or boards.
As for spear fishermen. Their behavior of spearing a fish and spilling blood in the water is an automatic magnet for sharks.
The real miracle of all this is just how few shark attacks there actually are considering the tens of millions of people who surf, swim, fish and dive in the sea.
The reason for this is that sharks simply do not naturally attack human beings and most shark attacks are simply cases of mistaken identity.
And because of this, surfing and spear-fishing are actually safer than playing golf, where more golfers die each year from lightning strikes than surfers die from shark attacks.
I have swum, surfed and dove with sharks, including great whites, hammerheads, tigers, bulls and blues amongst others. I was never threatened. I have had tigers circle me, and great whites give me a curious stare, but not once did I ever feel my life was endangered.
But even if it was, I share the position that my friend Kelly Slater holds, and that is that the sea is the home of the sharks and it is not our place to invade and then to complain.
For the truth remains that sharks are essential for the health and well-being of oceanic eco-systems. We needs sharks to maintain that health and well-being, for the loss of the shark in our ocean will have very serious consequences and these consequences will negatively impact humanity.
Why has there been a slight increase in shark attacks in recent years? The reasons are many and almost all caused by humans. Western Australia ships hundreds of thousands of live sheep and cows to Asia every year and these livestock vessels pour blood, urine and feces into the waters, attracting sharks. Hundreds of bodies of dead animals are also thrown overboard. People routinely ignore warnings at beaches. And probably the most significant factor of all is that humans are depleting the ocean of fish and this is causing sharks to venture towards shore in search of food, yet even so, the number of shark attacks are remarkably low.
Most shark attacks result from human ignorance and because of the degradation of oceanic eco-systems.
It is not so much that sharks kill people. The problem is ignorant people who kill sharks that kill people.
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There is no justification for the enslavement of animals.
None. There never has been and there never can be. Slavery is slavery—unjustifiable, cruel, evil and soul-destroying, both for the victims and the oppressors.
Circuses and places like SeaWorld are despicable places, and the only zoos that should exist are those that rehabilitate wildlife, contribute to the conservation of habitat and provide medical facilities for animals in the wild.
Up until 1979, adult mountain gorillas were murdered so that baby mountain gorillas could be captured and displayed at the Cologne Zoo. This was once a routine practice by zoos, and today this method continues with the mass slaughter of dolphins in drive hunts designed to capture dolphins for trade and display in dolphinariums around the world.
Because of places like SeaWorld, we have the horror of the dolphin slaughter in Taiji.
This makes any person, man, woman or child who purchases a ticket to SeaWorld, Marineland or any facility profiting from the display of dolphins as culpable for the crime as the business interests that have thrived for so long on animal slavery.
The greatest circus in the world is Cirque du Soleil, and it does not exploit animals. There are alternatives.
We live in the greatest electronic media age in the history of the world. A facility that incorporated huge IMAX-like screens depicting real wild dolphins, orcas, seals, sharks and fish in their real-life habitats would be just as thrilling and far more educational than these concrete prison cells where cetacean slaves are forced to perform stupid tricks solely for the purpose of providing amusement to humans. They are not really much different from the venues of ancient gladiatorial sports, in which animals were slaughtered for the amusement of the masses—except today the killing is prolonged and miserable.
It has been very encouraging to see the impact of the documentary Blackfish on the plummeting profits of SeaWorld. This cruel and unnecessary facility must be shut down.
This brings up two questions that I constantly hear. First, “What about the jobs of the people who work at SeaWorld?"
Yes, what about their jobs? Employment does not justify cruelty. Human slavery provided tens of thousands of jobs to merchants, sailors, seers, and escaped slave hunters. Do we care about their despicable jobs today? Not at all. Their jobs were consigned to the dustbin of history where they belonged.
I also have no sympathy for the shareholders who have lost and continue to lose their investments.
Tens of millions of dollars in investments were lost with the joyous death of slavery. And for those who still hold shares, hoping in vain that SeaWorld will recover, I think it is time they wake up and smell the coffee before they lose even more of their thoughtless investments. Anyone who continues to hold shares in SeaWorld is not only not to be pitied for their lack of compassion, they deserve to lose their investments because of their reckless financial gamboling. SeaWorld will not recover unless they radically change their modus operandi. The writing is on the wall as the anti-cetacean slavery movement continues to grow in power and influence.
The second question is, “What will happen to the animals if SeaWorld collapses?" First, SeaWorld has a legal responsibility to find a solution. They cannot legally abandon the animals. They cannot put the animals down without long and costly court battles.
There is, however, a way that SeaWorld and other facilities can actually survive, that investors can recoup their investment, employees can retain their jobs, and the animals can be given a new lease on life.
And if I were the CEO of SeaWorld, this is the plan I would follow.
First, I would find large bays or fjords where the openings could be netted off. The animals could then be placed in these large enclosures. Food could be provided by a trust fund set up by SeaWorld and trainers hired to teach the orcas and dolphins how to return to freedom in the ocean. Thanks to scientists like Dr. John Ford, we can match captive orcas with their pods based on the dialects within their language. People could still come to see the animals in these enclosures, although without the silly tricks. This facility could also serve as a hospital and rehabilitation center for sick and wounded animals.
Secondly, I would empty the tanks and replace them with a multi-media, IMAX-type environment to take people on virtual tours of our ocean. I would provide real educational messages about the state of our ocean and planet, and what we need to do to protect and conserve species, lives and eco-systems. This facility would provide plenty of jobs.
All we need to do is replace slavery with rehabilitation and replace amusement parks with entertaining, educational facilities.
So SeaWorld could survive, jobs could be retained and the animals could be freed—but only if someone has the vision, the courage and the willingness to do the right thing for the interests of all concerned: the investors, the employees and most importantly, the animals.
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