With hard-hitting documentary films like The Cove and Blackfish leading the way, the world is reevaluating whether it is ethical, and even safe, to keep sentient marine mammals in captivity. With today's wide release of Blackfish, a true story about orcas in captivity, budding activist Rachel Greenhalgh, a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society volunteer who has stood watch for the dolphins in Taiji, Japan, is seizing the moment to educate and rally the world to Empty the Tanks on July 27, 2013 and stop patronizing aquatic parks.
The goal of the Empty the Tanks worldwide day of demonstration is to increase awareness of what happens to whales and dolphins in captivity in order to bring an end to this industry. Launched in April, the Empty the Tanks campaign has multiplied in size and includes supporters around the world in Japan, Argentina, Canada, Australia and the United States to name a few. The demonstrations will take place in 24 locations in 11 countries total.
Empty the Tanks is not a radical movement demanding the release of all captive whales and dolphins. While some of these animals might be great candidates for release, there are others who are surely unfit for the open seas and should be retired into sea pens where they can enjoy the rest of their days in natural seawater, while more importantly, not performing tricks for the amusement of people.
Susan Hartland, Sea Shepherd USA's Administrative Director expressed her support for Empty the Tanks and Rachel's determination in rallying compassionate citizens all over the world. “Empty the Tanks is an ambitious undertaking by a Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian that will hopefully shine a much-deserved international spotlight on the cruel and sometimes dangerous captive whale and dolphin industry. If aquatic parks such as Sea World were to take the initiative and profit loss and stop their whale and dolphin shows similar to what the National Aquarium in Baltimore has done, it would show tremendous corporate responsibility on their end. However, I think it'll take a great deal of time, public outcry and perseverance first before that day comes.”
While Sea Shepherd is best known for their direct action in the open seas, they also maintain several public awareness and education-based campaigns on land in order to lawfully affect change where interventions may not otherwise be possible. One good example of this is the upcoming fourth annual Cove Guardian campaign in Taiji, Japan - ground zero for the international captive dolphin and small whale trade. After being the first organization to successfully expose the bloody dolphin trade to the world in 2003, the Sea Shepherd's Cove Guardian campaign aims to continue to bring light and media attention to this unethical business long after the initial buzz has tapered off.
“Most people are so enthralled by whales and dolphins and would jump at the chance to see them up close that they don't stop to realize their admission ticket to an aquatic park has a direct affect on the bloodshed in Taiji, but it does,” said Greenhalgh.
Empty the Tanks international day of protest locations, Saturday, July 27, 2013:
Dolfinarium Harderwijk - The Netherlands
Durban - South Africa
Edinburgh - United Kingdom
Georgia Aquarium - Georgia, USA
Kamogawa Sea World - Japan
Las Vegas Mirage Hotel - Nevada, USA
London - England
Mar Del Plata - Argentina
Marineland Canada - Ontario, Canada
Miami Seaquarium - Florida, USA
National Aquarium - Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Ocean Park - Hong Kong
Osaka - Japan
Sea Life Park - Oahu, Hawaii, USA
SeaWorld Australia - Gold Coast, Australia
SeaWorld Orlando - Florida, USA
SeaWorld San Antonia - Texas, USA
SeaWorld San Diego - California, USA
Shedd Aquarium - Chicago, Illinois, USA
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - California, USA
Vancouver Aquarium - Vancouver, BC, Canada
Vinco Kudirkos Square, Vilnius - Lithuania
Zoo Aquarium de Madrid - Spain