Spring 2018

Vancouver Aquarium will no longer keep whales and dolphins in captivity

Mid-January, The Vancouver Aquarium announced the end of its captive cetacean programme, saying public debate was hindering its conservation work.

Photo by Ed Bierman

What a great news! I fulfilled my dream to see wild orcas on Vancouver Island. While there, we were advised to visit the aquarium. I even glimpsed at its tanks with animals swimming in circle while flying over the city in a harbour plane. I could not understand how people could tolerate having captive specimens right next to wild ones swimming freely in the area.

Knowing the aquarium is giving up its captivity programme is such a relief!

Source : http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-aquarium-will-no-longer-keep-whales-dolphins-in-captivity-1.4492316

Top French court reverses bans on breeding whales and dolphins

While the world is making progress, France is going backwards.

Towards the end of January, France’s highest administrative court overturned a ban on breeding killer whales and dolphins in captivity.

The ban was imposed in May as part of the previous administration’s attempts to improve the living conditions of captive marine mammals in marine parks.

The three French marine parks opposed the measure and will receive a 11 000 € compensation.

Several foundations ask to meet with the Secretary of Ecological Transition, Mr Nicolas Hulot, to decide how to act after this decision.

Photo by Dauphinlibre

Sources : http://www.bfmtv.com/police-justice/le-conseil-d-etatannule-un-arrete-interdisant-la-reproduction-des-dauphins-en-captivite-1360985.html

Taiji’s dolphin hunting season is over

The 2017-2018 Taiji season ended on March 4th!

What is Taiji? A small Japanese village where massive captures of dolphins occur to filll up marine parks worldwide. Ah, those deemed not “pretty enough” are eaten for their meat (despite its highly toxic rate of mercury).

Here are Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project’s statistics :
Out of the 46 days the fishermen left the harbour, they captured 106 dolphins and slaughtered 614…

This figure does not include the untold numbers that die during the drives themselves. Often, the very sick, the young or injured are unable to keep up as the pod is being brutalized, thus, their numbers are never recorded.

If you have a broken heart too by these fishery drives, you can act. Marine parks work with the law of offer and demand. As long as people keep queuing in lines, the “collection” of captive animals has to remain the same.

They live considerably less than those in the wild, which is why parks regularly have to invest in new ones.

Fishermen work hand in hand with trainers. It’s all linked.
You’ll be sending a message to these parks if you stop visiting them.

Sources : https://dolphinproject.com/blog/taijis-dolphin-hunting-season-ended/


My website is five years today. I want to take a moment to thank all of you who’ve stayed through my articles so far, and want to let you know there will be a proper English version soon!

5 years
75 articles (soon 76 in one week!)
26 130 clicks
Visits Record on October 12th 2015 23 reading countries

Summer 2017

HUGE STEP AGAINST CAPTIVITY: France has banned captive breeding of dolphins and killer whales.

The new legislation also states new rules for the 4 marine parks in France:

Expand the tanks

Prohibit the use of chlorine to treat the water

– Periodic control of the temperature and lighting as well as air and water parameters

Ending of all public contact

– Respect of resting and recovery time for the animals

– …

This is but the beginning of a new wave of freedom. Indeed, the tanks are not being emptied. And that’s what we’re aiming at.

Each evening I think about my day, and every single time I also think “another day for them doing ridiculous treats in these heart-breaking tanks”.

Yes, there is still a fight to be won. We are not saying that these cetaceans should be brought back to the sea. Without any training or adaptory period, they would surely die. But there are promising theories of marine sanctuaries that our well researched.

10 days after this new legislation was released, on the 13th of May was held the worldwide Empty The Tanks Day.
It was sort of greatly needed because the legislation met some resistance from the pro-caps. Marineland even decided to appeal the ban, so we’ll see where that leads us.

On the same subject, a new documentary has been released: Inside The Tanks

It objectively shows both sides of the debate, it’s short (only 33 minutes) and it’s highly educational : 3 good reasons to press “play” and share afterwards!




Spring 2017

We can safly say that these past three months have had their share of intense news.


First of all, on the 4th of January, we had to admit to ourselves that the orca Granny, had past away. The oldest matriarchal female, also known as J2, had not been seen since October 2016. Scientists had to admit the sad truth. She was about 105 years old. Something to argue with procaps: yes, orcas can live as long as we do. No, it is not OK that orcas die at a young age in captivity.

A couple of days after this sad news, on the 6th of January, our hearts cried again by the news of Tilikum’s death.

Who was Tilikum?
Huge male of almost 23ft weighed 12,500 pounds. His pectoral flukes were 6,5 feet long. Can you imagine seeing him in the ocean: swimming powerfully, free. No, he was captured at the age of 2 in Iceland in 1983.
In 1991, he is involved in the death of his trainer, Keltie Byrne. The park, Sealand, closes after that tragic accident.
Tilikum is then transferred to the notorious group SeaWorld.
In 1993, Warner Bros considers Tilly to play the role of Willy in the movie Free Willy. It turned out to be a role for Keiko, less aggressive. I’d like to point out that, to this day, Keiko remains the only killer whale to have been released to the wild.
In 1999, the body of a man is found on the orca’s back. The autopsy concluded he died from hypothermia and drowning.
In February 2010, Tilikum is involved in a third accident during which he kills his trainer, Dawn Brancheau. Several visitors witnessed the scene, but SeaWorld keeps claiming “staff mistake”.
In 2013, Gabriela Cowperthwaite directs a documentary trying to explain how such an accident had been possible. The documentary Blackfish tries to answer the following question: “how did the orca manage to kill a trainer who had over 16 years of experience?”

seaworld-stocksThe documentary came as a shock for the audience. SeaWorld lost half of his stocks value. The group got into several trials about the death of their employee, about its share of responsibility and about the very idea of orca captivity. Let’s remind ourselves that a law was issued in September 2016 prohibiting breeding of captive orcas.

Blackfish was like “the rice grain that could change everything”. People learnt about the hidden truth of captivity.

Big Splash

Unfortunately, Tilikum’s situation did not improve after the accident or the documentary. Quite the opposite in fact. Now considered as dangerous, he was not allowed any or few contact with the staff and the other orcas. His life was basically summed up to: swim around in a remote tank, make an appearance at the end of each show for the big splash, and be used as a sperm bank for artificial insemination.

These conditions clearly killed him, at only 36 years old. What a waste when we think what his life could have been in the wild…

I haven’t mentionned this subject for a while now, and since the 2016/2017 season has officially been over since February 27, I think it’s time to look at the data.

What? What season? What data? ➡  TAIJI
Horror, nightmare becoming reality, a Japanese village’s secret : the daily slaughter of dolphins. Why? Partly for their (toxic) meat (because of mercury), but especially for selling these dolphins to marine parks worldwide.

Yes, you heard right : this is where dolphins are being captured. The first step is to select the “pretty ones”, then all they need to do is train them before transferring them to a dolphinarium.
Know that each ticket you buy to a marine park pays for the slaughters happening in Taiji.

The 2016/2017 season (September-February, 6 months) is over.
In total : 1282 dolphins were taken into The Cove
 595 were slaughtered
➡ 232 were taken captive

Thinking we can rest now for the next six months before the 2017/2018 season starts is a lie. The nightmare does not stop for the 232 captive dolphins : over fifty percent die within the first few years living in captivity.

Spread the word, this has to end :


Taiji La saison de chasse est officiellement terminée. Durant 6 longs mois, nous avons assisté, impuissants, à l'…

Publié par C'est assez sur mardi 28 février 2017

The drive hunting season may be over, but now the real work can really begin, raising the anti-captivity message around…

Publié par Shep The Dolphin sur mercredi 1 mars 2017

Farewell Tilikum

Breaking news: The orca Tilikum died on the 6th of January 2017.
Causes of death have not been communicated yet (though we’ve been used to fact of never knowing them!)


Tilikum (“friend” in Chinook) was the main protagonist of the award-winning documentary in 2013, Blackfish. The documentary exposed the truth behind the death of the dresser Dawn Brancheau, killed by Tilikum.

“Tilly” was captured at only two years old in Iceland in 1983. We can go ahead and say he was a victim in his own life being the target of the other female orcas in his tank bullying him. His story led him to kill three times.
34 years in captivity and he’s gone. Our hearts are truly broken by this loss.

He represented how cruel captivity really is and how a breathtaking animal like him can be turned into a vulgar clown.

FYI, there are still 55 captive orcas worldwide. Tilikum was far from being the last one.
Captivity endures? So will we!


L’enfance de Tilikum, orque tueuse

Winter 2016

Born in August 2010 in Parc Astérix, Aicko was transferred to Planète Sauvage in 2015. In autumn 2016, his health worsened, his healers talked about eating disorders which led to an abnormal and quick loss of weight. Aicko died on the 6th of November. Causes of death are still unknown. He was only 6 years old!
He’s the 4th dolphin to die in Planète Sauvage since the opening of Marine City in 2009. Two adults, Théa (19 years old) and Minimos (8 years old), died in 2011 and 2012. Little, a young dolphin of only 12 days, was killed in August 2015 when he suffered a quarrel between two females.
Planète Sauvage is one of the three parks in France to hold captive dolphins, with Parc Astérix and Marineland.

Exciting news! Since October, Trip Advisor won’t be promoting activities such as swim-with programmes! Using its influence for the good cause, this huge travel site will stop selling tickets to attractions at which travellers interact with wild or endangered animals in captivity.
Tickets for excursions like elephant rides, petting tigers and swimming with dolphins ― activities for which animals are often abused, starved, restrained or stressed behind the scenes ― will disappear from the site by 2017.

This is clearly a consequence of the Blackfish effect.
Another consequence involves Jerry Brown, Governor of California. Last September, he issued a law which bans orca captivity and breeding. California thus becomes the first American state to ban the breeding of killer whales and using the animals in theatrical shows.

Trip advisor
Planete Sauvage

An orca dies at Marineland

I’m speechless… Valentin passed away today.

Freya‘s son (Freya passed away on June 20th) is reunited with his mother.

Dressers and the veterinary team did assure everyone that the orcas were doing fine, what can we believe now??

Born on February 13th 1996, baptised because of Valentine’s Day, has lived 19 years in captivity and died in muddy waters.

He wasn’t the youngest of the orcas : Wikie’s 14, Moana’4 and Keijo is barely 2. I’m so worried about their health…


More info  here and here 


Message d’une employée du Marineland d’Antibes


Oct 2015, Marineland floods

Debrief after the storm that hit the South of France on October 3rd, and of course Marineland at the same time.
One only has to google “Marineland storm” to see tons of articles on the subject.
Awful pictures were available on the web as Bernard Giampaolo, the director, wishes to reassure everybody and tells “the animals’ situation is stabilizing”.

6 days after the storm, the park finally reveals the extent of the damages : we learn that 4 turtles, some rays, fish and small animals (guinea pigs, rabbits, hens, sheep and goats) didn’t make it through.
It is said that 90% of Marineland suffered important damages.


The park also denies the rumor of an orca being dead, or an otter and some sharks. The director also states that they will think about what they want to do next: for instance, how to better protect the tanks and all the other areas that were hit. And above all, modify all the equipment. What would have happened if the storm had hit the park during the day with 12.000 people inside?

A petition is now available online to shut down Marineland. So click >> here << and share!

Marineland France 12/07/2015

First major event in Europe against dolphin captivity and half a thousand people showed up in front of Marineland France on July 12th 2015.

Three weeks after Freya’s death, the oldest orca in the park, and one day only after the launching of the new “swim-with” program, many famous people made the trip for this protest, including Ric O’Barry and John Hargrove.

Ric O'Barry and John Hargrove
Ric O’Barry and John Hargrove

After the worldwide impact about the Cove and Blackfish, there is a growing awareness among people towards this cause. People walking by the protest were interested and we can only hope they’ll understand how wrong it is to have these animals kept in tanks for our own advertisement.

“Our work in France is the same as our work everywhere else; it’s all about educating the consumers in the hope that they will stop buying tickets once they get the information. That strategy is working with SeaWorld, and it should work with Marineland, Antibes if we keep showing up at their gates with protest signs.” – Ric O’Barry

John Hargrove, former SeaWorld trainer who worked 14 years with orcas also repeats this same message and reports the true identity of marine parks.

Ric O’Barry “I’ve never seen a larger protest in France. About five or six hundred people showed up. Usually there is about a dozen or so attending these demonstrations in France. The movement is definitely growing. ”


RIP Freya

Sad news in the world of captivity, Freya, the oldest orca in Marineland France, passed away today. According to the park, the orca had been ill for some time (but let’s all be reassured, apparently, she did not suffer thanks to all the care from the veterinary team) and an autopsy will be carried out to figure out the causes of death. Let’s hope the results of that autopsy will be published.

A little background story:
Freya was born in Iceland. In October 1982, she was captured at approximately 1 year old. Since 1982, the female orca lived in a tank of 10 million gallons of water in a warm southern weather (so, very different from the one she was supposed to live in).

The tank in Marineland France (red circle) is the biggest tank in the world. It seems rather ridiculously and cruelly small compared to the Mediterranean Sea we can see next to it.

The poor orca had her first miscarriage in 1991 and a second one in 1993 (so at about 10 and 12 years old when we know that female orcas start procreating at 15 years old.) In 1996, on February 14th, on Valentine’s Day, she gave birth to a male baptized Valentin. In March 2001, she had another miscarriage and then again in April 2003.

The orca was easy to recognize thanks to a white stain or her left flank, scar of a tumor healed by X-Ray in 1995.

On September 2008, an amateur video shows the orca attacking her trainer during a show:

Yet, following the scandal over Blackfish, Marineland defended itself saying such behaviors were never seen inside the park.
Bernard Giampaolo, Head Director of Marineland said “you will never find a declared accident within the park where an orca is involved.” Are we supposed to conclude that the park staff and representatives are not reporting every accident? Are we supposed to conclude some accidents are in fact hidden?
Because we know for a fact that her son, Valentin, attacked his trainer in July 2008. Wikie, another female orca, pushed and tried to drown her trainer on the 17th of July 2009.
These are recent events. The park cannot hide behind the argument that they lacked experience at the begininng.

One year of freedom, almost 33 in captivity. Aged around 33-34 years old, Freya was far from the average lifespan of wild orcas. Indeed, wild female orcas can live up to 70 to 80 years old.
The very famous female orca named Granny is estimated to be 103 years old by whale researchers of BC and Vancouver. Not half of what Freya lived.

The park comforts itself thinking of recent births inside the park which are signs for good care. As if “being born in captivity” was suddenly OKAY!
Freya was the last orca to have been born in the wild. All the remaining orcas at Marineland France were born in captivity.

The question I now ask myself is what is going to happen in the orca tank in the next few weeks? Without their eldest, these orcas who live in matriarchal societies are going to need to find new bearings.
Are changes in behavior going to happen?

What will occur during the demonstration happening on July 12th at Marineland? The park will have a hard time defending itself against anticaps…

To be continued…


Et mon propre cahier de recherches / And my own research book