Archives-over the last few years

Archives: Empty the Tanks 2015: Earthrace UK organised last year’s global anti-captivity Empty The Tanks event on 6 June 2015. In 2014, over 50 protests and awareness events took place in locations around the world, including two organised by Earthrace in London and Argentina. An estimated 10,000 people attended and through these events, we were able to influence thousands more to reconsider paying for tickets to marine parks holding captive cetaceans.
Another one from the Archives is about Guinness World Record removed from Delphinus Xcaret: The same year Earthrace became a world record holder in 2008, Guinness World Records also recognised Delphinus Xcaret in Mexico as having achieved the most dolphins born in a year in a single facility. The marine park claimed 11 survived that year, proudly proclaiming “the survival rate in captivity is around 60% and even less in freedom”.
Over a year ago, Earthrace contacted Guinness disputing Xcaret’s claim on the world record on animal welfare and accuracy grounds. Finally, after almost 12 months of pressing them for action, Guinness World Records confirmed that it had officially rescinded Xcaret’s record holder status. However, the facility continues to advertise itself as a world record holder on its website and in press materials. Despite Earthrace actually being a legitimate world record holder, to date we’ve been unable to confirm that Guinness are prepared to act any further in forcing Xcaret to stop using false information to promote ticket sales.
You can help us keep the pressure up by sending an email to Guinness., subject ‘Please tell Delphinus Xcaret to remove all references to Guinness World Record’.
Earthrace UK: (, has been running regular Summer holiday campaigns designed to encourage holiday-makers NOT to visit any whale or dolphin shows, or to pay for ‘swim with..’ experiences. As well as working with environment, travel and young people’s media, we’ve sent information and posters to 10,000 UK schools. You can download our posters for your own use from the Archives links at the bottom of the page*.
Captivity Kills: Earthrace Conservation have also designed an ‘art installation’ that is a powerful illustration of the number of deaths in captivity of whales and dolphins around the world. and….
This caused a huge reaction when it was first exhibited in October 2012 at Whale Fest in Brighton, UK and it has continued to attract enormous attention at every WhaleFest since. Captivity Kills was the inspiration for the Whale Graveyard created for WhaleFest 2015 by the World Cetacean Alliance and the Born Free Foundation.
One of the world’s most highly respected authorities on captive cetaceans and passionate advocate for orca, Morgan, Dr Ingrid Visser, was so moved by the installation that she’s used it in her own presentations. Here is the Archive link for that. HYPERLINK “”& HYPERLINK “” We’ve also taken it to Camber Sands in Sussex and to the beach by Marineland Mallorca.
The Dolphin Song Ft Leela B: Even a four year old knows that dolphins drives and keeping cetaceans in captivity is wrong. As it’s said (or rather sung) in this amazing video by ECO UK director, Lucy Byrne’s daughter, Leela B, ‘dolphins belong in the sea, not in captivity’. Shame more grown ups haven’t worked it out yet! Big kudos to Leela’s uncle, Tim Hawkins, who wrote the music and made the video! Keepin’ it in the family…
Black Days for the White Whales: The Georgia Aquarium is still trying to gain permits to import 18 new beluga whales into the US for display and to sell on to other facilities. In August 2013, NOAA refused to issue a permit. The GA continue to appeal. We cannot allow this to go ahead – it will open the floodgates to more and more imports of wild caught cetaceans for the entertainment industry! Sign the latest petition here, and read more about the beleaguered belugas here
Our anti-captivity campaign continues to pressure for:
– a ban on all wild capture of marine mammals for public display;
– transparency in the sourcing of all currently held and new captive marine mammals;
– a ban on captive breeding programmes with a view to phasing out all captive marine mammals around the world
– the addressing of inadequacies in the Code of Ethics under which all organisations around the world keep marine animals in captivity.
There are only two responsible reasons for keeping marine mammals in captivity and in every case, the ultimate goal should be to release them back into the wild.
Another Archive. Rescue. Rehabilitation.: If stranded or injured cetaceans are found and taken into captivity for treatment, but it is found that they are not suitable for release, legislation should be in place to ensure that they are kept in large sea pens and not in small tanks. They should never be exploited for profit or used as entertainment.
The most common species kept in captivity for entertainment are beluga whales and dolphins including orcas or ‘killer whales’, along with seals, and sea lions. Sharks and an increasing quantity of Manta Rays are also being used for profit although these are rarely if ever used in specific ‘entertainment’ programmes, rather just kept on public display.
According to, one of the most extensive databases of cetaceans in captivity, there are currently 56 orcas, 2,500 dolphins, 192 beluga whales and approximately 150 other types of whales, dolphin and porpoises being held around the world.
Why is it so wrong?: Whales, dolphins and other large marine animals are designed to swim long distances in the wild, freely foraging for their own food and contributing to the balance of the marine eco-system as predators of lesser species. There are high mortality rates among captive whales and dolphins including deaths from the stress of capture and from disease once confined. Evidence has been seen that some deaths are ‘covered up’ by the facilities in which they were held to avoid condemnation and further investigation.
The Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) ( (which produced the Oscar winning film ‘The Cove’, reports that “dolphin and orca life expectancies are cut drastically in captivity. Most dolphins will live for upwards of 40 and 50 years in the wild, but in parks their survival rates are staggeringly low. At SeaWorld San Antonio, the average lifespan of a captive-bred dolphin is four years and at SeaWorld San Diego, 24 dolphins perished from pneumonia in 25 years.
Less than twenty orcas are known to have survived more than 20 years in captivity, while maximum life expectancy in the wild is 60 to 90 years. Nonetheless the captive industry continues to downplay higher mortality rates and claim that marine mammals are safer and healthier in their care.”
The OPS have also produced a timeline (The Dangers of Marine Mammals in Captivity) that looks in-depth at both deaths of marine mammals in captivity and deaths and injuries to the humans that are allowed to interact with them. You can download the report at the bottom of this page.
Whilst seals and sea lions may breed successfully in captivity, there are few places where these are held in sufficient numbers to sustain a ‘natural’ breeding population. Captive breeding programmes for these species serve no useful purpose other than providing more of them for people to pay to see, or to sell on to other facilities.
Cetaceans do not breed well in captivity – this has been proven time and again. There is no logic for maintaining them in captivity as a way of maintaining a species that may be vulnerable or in danger of extinction under the IUCN Red List or CITES.
Captive breeding programmes are simply an excuse – as with seals and sea lions – to provide more for people to look at or to sell on, both of which increase profits. Unfortunately, the lack of success with breeding programmes from captive cetaceans only serves to increase the demand for them to be captured from the wild.
One of the most prolific suppliers of dolphins from the wild is Japan, which through their annual dolphin drives in places like Taiji, provide many new inmates for aquariums around the world. A wild dolphin can be sold for as much as $150,000, a lot more than the dolphin meat from the slaughtered dolphins will fetch.
Whilst many are sold to facilities abroad, the dolphin drives contribute enormously to the reason that Japan has more facilities holding captive dolphins than any other country in the world. Dolphins from Japan are also exported to many other facilities around the world, including the US. It’s estimated that fewer than 50% of dolphin captured from the wild survive for more than 90 days. Many whale and dolphin species are naturally gregarious, curious and inquiring and they will often move closer to boats and human activities of their own accord, but this should always be on their own terms.
Under the correct conditions and with adherence to strict rules ensuring no harm comes to the them (for example, accidental boat strikes or encouragement through feeding), dolphin and whale watching programmes from boats are the best way for people to get close to these amazing creatures.
Swim with: Swim with dolphin and whale programmes are no more and no less than ‘entertainment’, just in another form. The dolphins and whales become reliant on humans for food, health and company, and such programmes present dangers from disease and injury to both the animals and to those coming into close contact with them.
Even if pens are larger than those found in aquaria and marine parks and they are not forced to do tricks to entertain the crowds, these programmes are equally detrimental to their welfare. Pens that are adjacent to open seas or oceans create further frustrations for the captive animals because, however hard they may want to, they cannot escape back to their natural habitat.
There is no way to guarantee that swimming with dolphins or whales, even in the wild, will be stress free for the animals, or won’t interrupt or intrude on their usual feeding practices and other aspects of their lives like nursing or resting. Some swim tour operators have been known to feed dolphins to encourage them to remain close to swimmers to the extent that they become as reliant on this as much as any dolphin in a marine park or aquarium, and subsequently forget how to forage for food for themselves.
In some places where these programmes exist, evidence has been shown that dolphins will leave their original natural habitat for areas that are quieter and less targeted by human activities, proving that they do not naturally enjoy this type of interaction.
Dolphin assisted therapy (DAT). There has been much made of dolphin assisted therapy where adults, and more especially children, with behavioural problems such as autism, are believed to gain benefit from interacting with dolphins on a one-to-one basis. Two of the most cited pieces of ‘scientific research’ used by DAT advocates and both by the same key scientist – Nathanson (1997/1998) have been analysed by the team of Lori Marino, Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology Program, and Scott O. Lilienfeld, Department of Psychology, from Emory University.
Their analysis reveals Nathanson’s previous research to be seriously flawed. You can download the research paper at the bottom of this page. In addition, more recent research from Nathanson himself in 2007 has shown that Therapeutic Animatronic Dolphins (TADs) were equally as effective as live dolphins when used in DAT. In fact, his research showed that “For children with profound disabilities, TAD was significantly more effective in eliciting an orienting response of looking.”
As the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society of the UK notes in their 2007 report by Philippa Brakes and Cathy Williamson, “There is no official, global ‘industry standard’ to regulate or set criteria for what constitutes DAT. One of the consequences of this loose definition of DAT, and the lack of any official regulation of the practice, is that it has opened up the market for DAT programmes and facilities to proliferate across the globe with relative ease.”
Research Autism’s opinion is that “There is currently limited scientifically valid or reliable evidence to support the use of dolphin therapy for people with autism spectrum disorders. Dolphin therapy presents a number of ethical issues, and some physical threats, to both people and dolphins, which may be difficult to overcome. Of particular concern are the potential for aggressive behaviour by dolphins towards swimmers and the potential for disease transmission”.
Alternatives to dolphin therapy are available, at a much lower financial cost and without the potential harm to the people and the dolphins involved.…. We believe it amounts to no more than fraud and should be banned world-wide.
Read more in these Archives from expert, Lori Marino, neuroscientist at Emory University. She is executive director of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy in Decatur, Georgia. She has been studying dolphins and whales for 25 years. (2013)…
Save Lolita: One of the most famous orcas in captivity is Lolita, a 42 year old female that has been forced to live at the Miami Seaquarium (MS) since she was taken from Puget Sound in 1970. Pressure group, has for years, held monthly protests outside the MS, and two other groups are working extensively on plans that would enable her to be rehabilitated and released.
There is also a Save Lolita public service announcement (PSA) that was a finalist in the recent Blue Ocean Film Festival in the US which is well worth a viewing. Save Lolita PSA:
More about Lolita can be found here and
In the Archives we found this article. Free Morgan: Morgan is a female orca that was captured off the coast of the Netherlands in 2010 under a rehabilitation and release permit. Despite being an excellent candidate for release, following a court case earlier this year, she was transferred from the Dolfinarium Hardwewijk to Loro Parque in the Canary Islands, where she is now on show to the public and being abused by another orca at the park. The Free Morgan Foundation was set up to mount the legal challenge that would have started the process of enabling the orca to be returned to the wild. A second court hearing was held on 1st November in Amsterdam. Round up of those procedings….
Unfortunately, in December 2012, a judge refused to take on board the recommendations from over 30 expert marine scientists and instead ruled in favour of those who seek to profit from her continued incarceration. A new and powerful Public Service Announcement video has been made on behalf of the Free Morgan Foundation by Underdog Entertainment. Watch it here (
Follow Morgan’s story and keep up with the court fight here:
Keiko – the untold story: Keiko was the whale that ‘starred’ in Free Willy. Read more about the incredible story of how Keiko was eventually rehabilitated and released back into the wild. There is also an amazing documentary film about the release programme.
Research and planning towards the release of orcas currently held in captivity is being undertaken by a group of advocates and experts that make up the Orca Rescues Foundation. Read more about their work here!/about.
What you can do: Please, never pay to go to an aquarium, marine park or any other facility that holds captive cetaceans or other marine mammals. DON’T BUY A TICKET. Stop the profits, stop the shows.
If you know of people who do plan to visit one and cannot be dissuaded, ask them to take a camera and get good head and fin shots of each animal. Note the species, the quantity of each (including those they haven’t got photographs of), the date and location. This is best way to provide an actual identification of the animals, especially since names are often changed or animals are moved. They should then send the information to Ceta-base (
If you have a facility near you that keeps captive cetaceans or other marine animals, you can request our protest posters and flyers by emailing Feel free to use them and create your own local protest group. Let us know what you’re up to!
Contact Government departments as well as regulatory and professional organisations that represent the captive cetacean industry (WAZA, IMATA for instance). You can find links to all of these here as well as links to facilities that hold captives around the world.
Put pressure on them to introduction legislation that addresses the three goals of RESCUE, REHABILITATION AND RELEASE.
With your help, we can make sure that in future, all cetaceans and other marine mammals at risk of captivity remain wild and free – the way they were meant to be.
Dame Dr. Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace, recorded a video clip in June 2011 for Singapore-based, ACRES (Animals Concerns and Research & Education Society, to share her concerns about the plight of captive dolphins.
Below you will find links to useful pdfs including our current anti-captivity posters and flyers – feel free to use them!
Dolphin-Assisted Therapy: Flawed Data, Flawed Conclusions Marino and HYPERLINK “”Lilienfield HYPERLINK “”, Emory University

Can you put your faith in DAT, 2007 from WDCS
The case against marine mammal captivity 2009 from the Humane Society of the United States and WSPA
Whale in bowl – HYPERLINK “”Summer HYPERLINK “” anti-captivity poster
Whale in bowl – year round anti-captivity poster
Imagine if you could only swim in the bath this HYPERLINK “”Summer HYPERLINK “”? Anti-captivity poster
Imagine if you could only swim in the bath – year round anti-captivity poster
Empty the Tanks A5 2 HYPERLINK “”sides HYPERLINK “” blue and white flyer
Empty the Tanks A5 2 sides black and white flyer

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