Site selection news … International Conference on the Captive Dolphin Industry … “Unlocking the Cage” movie … Advisor spotlight … Captain Michael Parks and Captain Skip Lahti

This is a copy of the November, 2016 newsletter as sent to all subscribers. To subscribe, just fill in your email address in the box to the right.

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Hello Everyone,

Thank you so much for subscribing to The Whale Sanctuary Project newsletter. Here’s some of what’s been happening over the last month:

Site Selection

Whale Sanctuary Project President Dr. Lori Marino returned to Nova Scotia to check out two more potential seaside sanctuary locations with the help of WSP advisors Catherine Kinsman and Hal Whitehead. Nova Scotia has many benefits, as we wrote in last month’s newsletter. But water along the coasts there is generally quite shallow, so the challenge is to find a location with water deep enough for orcas. The two we saw this time have water depths of at least 15 meters, which makes them strong possibilities. (We are also exploring locations in British Columbia, Washington State and Maine.)

While in Nova Scotia, Dr. Marino gave talks to undergraduate and graduate students and faculty at the Brain Repair Centre and in the Department of Biology at Dalhousie University. Dalhousie is very strong in marine biology, and there was a lot of enthusiasm from students, several of whom want to work at the sanctuary when it is built.

Another highlight of the visit was a meeting with Chief Terry Paul of the Membertou First Nation. We are looking to the First Nations for their assistance and input in the process of site selection, and Chief Paul suggested a couple of potential sites on Cape Breton Island.

International Conference on the Captive Dolphin Industry

Dr. Marino attended the 2016 International Conference on the Captive Dolphin Industry in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, where she made two presentations.

The first was about The Whale Sanctuary Project, in which she discussed the important criteria that any coastal sanctuary would have to meet. The second was about Dolphin-Assisted Therapy, which is popular and profitable in Mexico thanks to the highly questionable claims the industry makes about the healing benefits of spending time in a pool with a captive dolphin.

Dr. Marino was joined at the conference by Board member Naomi Rose and Advisory Group member Heather Rally. They met with passionate dolphin and whale advocates and made important connections with people in Mexico who are working for legal rights for dolphins and whales.

Unlocking the Cage

Dr. Marino and Michael Mountain joined attorney Steven M. Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project, whose work is featured in the movie Unlocking the Cage by Oscar-winning director D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

The movie follows Steven as he prepares his first lawsuits to have chimpanzees recognized by the legal system as “legal persons” who have the right to bodily liberty rather than being treated as pieces of property.

The movie premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, and we returned to Park City, Utah, for this second showing, which was being promoted by Future in Review Films. (The movie will air on HBO in early 2017.) After the movie, Lori and Steve answered questions from the audience, and Michael joined them for a Q&A reception. Many thanks to Sharon Anderson-Morris and David Morris for hosting both events.

Steven is currently preparing a lawsuit on behalf of an elephant plaintiff, and is in the early stages of preparing a suit on behalf of a captive orca. Right now, there are sanctuaries to which chimpanzees and elephants can be sent when released from captivity. But the Nonhuman Rights Project can’t go to court on behalf of an orca until a sanctuary is ready to receive him or her.

Advisor spotlight

This month we focus on Michael Parks and Skip Lahti, who are working on collecting and compiling data for site selection.

Captain Parks served as chief of marine operations for the rehabilitation of the orca Keiko. This involved the installation and operation of Keiko’s sea pen and barrier net facility in Iceland, and then the removal of 280 meters of barrier net with tons of steel chain and concrete anchors from the sea floor when Keiko swam free and across the North Atlantic Ocean to Norway, where he spent the rest of his life.

Captain Lahti has spent his life on tugboats, sailboats and private yachts, as well as with ship building companies. He has more than 20 years’ experience leading small, medium and large corporations. He has led quality teams at Intel Corporation, including the company’s global Y2K Project, and is the founder and CEO of a business consulting firm in San Diego, California.

Thank You, Thank You!

There’s more news every week in the general media about how nonhuman animals are being retired from zoos and entertainment facilities to sanctuaries. There are already sanctuaries for elephants, big cats, great apes and other land-based animals, but with The Whale Sanctuary Project, we’re looking forward to creating the first North American seaside sanctuary for cetaceans.

Your donation, large or small, makes it all possible. Thank you so much for your help and support.

Michael Mountain
Member Communications

P.S. For daily updates, visit The Whale Sanctuary Project on Facebook and Twitter.