SeaWorld’s Act for Dolphins

SeaWorld wants to put as much distance as possible between itself and the infamous dolphin massacre at Taiji.

In a position statement, the company says it’s “opposed to these drive hunts in Japan and elsewhere,” and, in another statement, that it’s committed to “see it stop.”

I believe them. The Taiji drive hunts, with 41 dolphins dead this last time, along with 52 being shipped to marine circuses from Dubai to China, and another 140 injured, orphaned and traumatized as they’re driven back out to sea, are a public relations nightmare for the whole captivity industry.

To support the notion that they’re against these massacres, SeaWorld is identifying itself with an out-of-date campaign called Act for Dolphins, which was put together eight years ago by marine mammal scientist Diana Reiss, Dr. Paul Boyle (then CEO of The Ocean Project) and myself. And while SeaWorld played no role in Act for Dolphins, by linking to its website they are implying that they were involved.

That, in itself, is fine by me. But SeaWorld has now caught itself in a snag. On the one hand, it tries to co-opt the Scientists Statement Against the Japanese Dolphin Drive Hunts that Diana Reiss and I co-wrote. Yet at the same time it’s claiming that “there is not a shred of scientific support” for my statements in the film Blackfish, and attacking me and my scientific colleagues who are featured in the movie with ad hominem comments depicting us as “advocates masquerading as scientists.”

You can’t have it both ways, SeaWorld. If you want to “Act for Dolphins”, you need to get your own act together first.

13 Replies to “SeaWorld’s Act for Dolphins”

  1. Thank you for that clarification. There is no mistaking SeaWorld’s agenda and hypocrisy.
    I hope everyone sees this!

  2. Hypocrites that’s all @Seaworld are! Rehabilitate & release is the only acceptable thing they could do. #savethedolphins #ShutDownTaiji #helpcovedolphins

  3. Thank you! SeaWorld can “backpaddle” all they want…the truth is that money is their only concern.

  4. Part of the problem is the long-held assumption within scientific disciplines that scientists should remain impartial to their subjects, objective and “scholarly.” Sea World is using the stigma of scientists as animal advocates to their advantage. Speaking as a graduate student with interests in conservation biology and animal advocacy, I believe that gap is due to close as people move closer toward appreciating the deep complexities of nonhuman animal life and the innate right of all animals to live free from human harm and suffering. Science has a responsibility of reflecting that shift. As scientists, we need to stand behind our questions and withstand the criticism of our colleagues. That is the only way science has ever been advanced.

    Thank you for your commentary and willingness to stand up for animals.

  5. Question (please answer): So animals are non-human persons? And this means that human rights apply to them? Wouldn’t this also mean that human laws apply to them? In this case, Tilikum, since he been involved in the deaths of three people, is a murderer and apparently should receive some kind of penalty—maybe be put in some kind of “jail” or something…am I right? I am not against Tilikum, and I think that for the most part he’s a great whale, but I am confused by animal rights thinking. Please answer my question—if you have an answer.

    1. Hi Pro Cap – Thank you for your question. The concept of personhood is not equivalent to being human. The Nonhuman Rights Project is not attempting to apply human rights to other animals. Tilikum should not have human rights. He should have orca rights – and these are based upon what orcas need to flourish. So, he would not be held responsible under human law. That would be a misunderstanding of the rights issue.

      1. Well, according to, a person is “a human being, whether man, woman, or child”. And personhood is “the state or fact of being a person”. So, in fact, the concept of personhood is equivalent to being human. Unless you get to change the definition of “person”. But do we get to change the meaning of a word just because we don’t like it? I don’t think so. That would be like changing the meaning of the word definition from “the formal statement of the meaning or significance of a word, phrase, idiom, etc., as found in dictionaries” to “a statement of the meaning or significance of a word, phrase, idiom, etc., as found in dictionaries that can be changed whenever one wants to fit their needs”. Can you imagine how confusing that would get?

      2. So, according to my comment below, Tili would be a non-human person (a non-human human being) and would be subject to human law.

        1. Procap, I think your missing this. It’s a legal concept that animals should be given legal personhood. As an example, corporations are given legal personhood and therefore have 1st amendment rights to donate at will and any amount to any campaign they desire. If a corporation kills someone, the corporation doesn’t goto jail. It’s a legal concept. The rights a corporation is given as a legal person, is similar to the rights sentient beings should be given.

    2. I think it comes down to the role which any given animal plays in cutulre. Which, of course, makes it very cutulre-specific. I would guess that in America, very few would have big problems with using cows for science since we eat them; in India, it would be sacreligious. In the West, we shudder at the thought of using dogs for experimentation because we invite them into our homes to live with us as part of the family; in South Korea, where they are part of the diet, I think it wouldn’t be problematic.Hmm. I think now you’ve inspired me to write my own blog post about this. Coming soon!

  6. January 29, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    Dear Pro-cap — I understand the confusion. Ordinary usage of the term “person” is typically restricted to “human being” and so that will be thoie common definition in most dictionaries. But a deeper study of the word “person” – which comes from ancient Greece – shows that it is not restricted to humans. With that said – the point here is not whether Tilikum is a person or not. The point is that the captivity industry ruined Tilikum’s life and the life of the three people he killed. We could argue forever over strict definitions but there is no arguing the evidence that dolphins and whales cannot thrive in captivity and do not belong there. Tilikum is a tragic example.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to reply to my comments. Even though we have different opinions on animals, I respect your dedication to something you believe in. I could go on and on about this subject; however, I won’t because I don’t want to become annoying. I want to make it clear that I absolutely do not support Japanese drive hunt fisheries for cetaceans and I support the well-being of captive cetaceans. However, I still believe that SeaWorld is NOT an evil place.

    2. So these guys take little Sea lions throw them anruod then let him comeback. None are scared and still swim. And these camera men just let them do whatever shit they want for 17 years!

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