Ocean Ambassadors is changing their game! We have proudly partnered with loveanimals.org, a campaign to save the sharks!
Loveanimals.org is a crowdfunding campaign, #LoveSharks, launches to encourage shark enthusiasts and others following Shark Week to donate to online fundraising campaigns for nonprofit organizations working with sharks. Crowdfunding websiteLoveAnimals.org is hosting the campaign: http://www.loveanimals.org/lovesharks/
The organizations participating have joined together to raise money for shark conservation. Individual donors can support important projects to: organize a grassroots movement towards stronger shark bycatch rule enforcement, ignite an inland ocean protection movement, protect threatened thresher sharks, and to protest shark finning.
“Thousands of people participate in Shark Week every year,” said Dr Rob Moir of Ocean River Institute. “The #LoveSharks campaign aims to inspire caring people to donate to groups like ours – impacting shark conservation like never before.”
Launched in 2013, LoveAnimals.org helps non-profits raise money for animal projects by hosting free crowdfunding campaigns. Unlike many other crowdfunding websites, LoveAnimals.org is a non-profit organization and takes no administrative fees.
“Most animal nonprofits struggle to raise enough money to cover their operating budgets, let alone fund critically needed projects,” said Sarah Timms, founder of LoveAnimals.org. “LoveAnimals.org is a nonprofit, too, and our mission is to increase giving to animal nonprofits by empowering individuals to help animals.”
Social media is a key component of the campaign, and organizations are asking supporters to share with the hashtag #LoveSharks.
Many people understand that killer whales should not be help captive in locations such as SeaWorld, based on the size of the animal relative to the size of the tank. Although, there are many other health issues that arise due to keeping these amazingly beautiful and intricate creatures in bath-tub sized tanks. In this blog, I wanted to discuss two of those issues: collapsed dorsal fin, and tooth decay.
The risk of infections and bacterium in pool-sized tanks due to tooth decay is a high concern for killer whales in captivity as they bite down on steel gates separating the training pools from the performance pools (Jett & Ventre, 2011). I will explain the consequences of tooth fragments and the exposure of the pulp of the teeth. Because the space in amusement parks is not comparable to the size of the ocean, there are elevated risks of diseases (Jett & Ventre, 2011). I have provided background information on health factors, diseases, visible signs of distress, and specific cases on the reasons scientists and societies began to focus on the captivity of orcas. Female orcas have a mean life expectancy of 50.2 years and a maximum of 80-90 years; wild males have a mean life expectancy of 29.2 years, and a maximum of 50-60 years (Olesiuk et al, 1990). Most industry sources insist around 35 years as the maximum captive lifespan (Mooney, 1998). Of the 107 orcas in captivity that have died since 1961, average length of survival was under six years. The health affects presented to orcas in captivity are of concern to medical, veterinary, and orca researchers. The elevated opportunities for infectious agents cause many problems for orcas in close proximities (Jett & Ventre, 2011). Treatments of these illnesses are constantly evolving as veterinary staff is discovering new diseases.
The factors that play into the deaths of orcas in captivity at young ages include: collapsed dorsal fin syndrome, tooth decay, and brain damage, to name the most studied (Ridgway 1979). Collapsed dorsal fin syndrome is a major theme in health concerns for captive orcas because it is not seen in the wild. This is due to the lack of space and movement that orcas are able to carry out in the pools they are held in. Contrary to captivity, the lateral, torsional, and compressive forces generated by consistent moving in the ocean water sculpt vertical dorsal fins (Jett & Ventre, 2011). With the removal of these forces, and the constant surfacing of orcas in captivity, the connective tissue is impaired and results in a collapsed dorsal fin. This phenomenon is not seen in females due to the incomparable size of dorsal fins in females versus males. Male orcas acquire taller dorsal fins than females (Durdab et al, 2006). This also plays from the fact that orcas in captivity do not have to chase live fish due to a change in diet. Now, they eat dead, frozen fish, rather than having to strategize for their meals. This lack of movement causes fins to collapse, as well as provides less nutrition and other health affects.
Killer whales are some of the most aggressive animals on the planet. Ways that they display dominance in cases of captivity include biting down on the steel bars of the pools. This is known as a process called “jaw-popping,” and is used to show another orca that they are of lower hierarchal status than the one showing aggression (Graham & Dow, 1990). In addition to showing aggression, it is very common for orcas to experience boredom and social strife, which is shown by chewing on the steel gates that separate them from their training pools and entertainment pools (Jett & Ventre, 2011). Tooth fragments are commonly found on the bottom of their pools and can leave some of the pulp of the tooth exposed if not picked up. Improper care of teeth can lead to a number of diseases including: valvular heart disease, gingivitis, pneumonia, stroke, and heart attack (Jett & Ventre, 2011). Pathogens have a direct route to the blood stream through open bore holes due to teeth falling out. These can then be deposited into the tissue of various organs throughout the body, such as the heart or kidney. Some orcas have their teeth drilled and are treated with prophylactic antibiotics to control the risk of bacteria. It is known that long-term antibiotic use can lead to health effects aside from tooth decay, such as antibiotic-resistant bacteria, increased susceptibility to certain cancers, and disruption of intestinal flora leading to phytochemical malnourishment (Jett & Ventre 2008). There is also an increase in risk for skin cancer since various antibiotics can cause photosensitiation and phototoxicity to those exposed to UVR. With the constant exposure to the sun, due to minimal availability of shade in the orca pools, the risk of skin cancer is higher in captivity than in the wild.
Last week, an Inland Delegation of businesspeople, divers, one-time coastal residents and others who believe that every state is connected to the sea went to Washington, DC to attend aBlue Vision Summit and the largest ever ocean conservation lobby day. Along with fellow citizens from 23 other states 20 Coloradans met with our congressional delegation to oppose new off-shore oil surveys and drilling. A week later we’re seeing the beaches of Santa Barbara California fouled with spilled oil just as the Gulf of Mexico was 5 years ago by BP’s deadly Deepwater Horizon blowout.
The federal government is currently considering opening up the East Coast to new offshore drilling for the first time ever, as well as planning to authorize new drilling in the rough frontier waters of the U.S. Arctic Ocean.
The spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, with its images of dying oil covered sea birds reminds us of a much bigger spill that took place there in 1969 and that helped launch the modern environmental movement. Even though Colorado is a thousand miles from any coast, we have a vested interest in the health of our ocean that provides us with half the oxygen we breath, the weather and rain that feeds our crops and the occasional ocean escapes that can feed our soul. Coal and oil were important energy sources of past centuries. In the 21st century we ought to be able to generate clean energy without putting our coastlines, ocean, climate and economy at risk.