By guest writer, Gwen Stanbrook
Many people don’t understand or simply don’t care about the problems with the creatures in our oceans. People tend to focus on the problems with farmed animals and trying to save them, and few think about the destruction that is happening every day in the sea.
Overfishing, coral reefs being destroyed, beached dolphins and sharks lives being threatened… the list goes on. As well as the animals who are killed on the ground, we have to also think about the animals in our oceans who are being taken out of their homes and killed for meat. However, meat isn’t the only problem, as each year dolphins and orcas are taken away from their homes and families to be put in tanks for the rest of their life, an act of extreme cruelty that exploits these gentle creatures for profit. Do people not understand how cruel it is to take a natural wild animal who is used to swimming freely for hundreds of miles a day and confine them in a miniscule - especially in comparison to their size - tank? This leads me to SeaWorld.
I would recommend watching a fantastic film that will forever change your opinion about SeaWorld and other marine parks: Blackfish. Blackfish explains how there are so many more problems with SeaWorld than everyone thinks. For instance, orcas in confined spaces do not get on with each other as well as they would in the wild, and have been known to attack each other. Think about it; if you were placed in a tiny room with someone else for the rest of your life, you would not be a happy person.
Occasionally orcas have even attacked their human trainers and in some cases, killed them. These animals have been trained their entire lives to follow orders and do tricks just to entertain a screaming crowd, but what happens when these wild creatures have had enough? It’s understandable and logical that they would become violent. How can trainers of orcas be animal lovers? They can talk about how beautiful and amazing they are, and that they love working with them in the movie Blackfish, but why can’t they understand that they are at the same time torturing them?
After these great animals have entertained an audience, they are locked back up in their tiny metal tanks and some will never see another orca in their entire lives once taken away from their homes. Lolita is an orca who was taken when she was younger and has not seen another orca in 45 years. There are so many petitions online to free Lolita, but no action has yet taken place to free her. She lives at Seaquarium in Miami.
Orcas are pack animals who, in the wild, stay in a group of approximately 10. They are extremely intelligent creatures. Blackfish captures exactly this and shows the real and devastating problems with these money-making, animal-abusing marine parks.
Another detrimental act that we humans cause is overfishing and destroying the amazing underwater world. People assume that fish don’t feel pain, but studies show they have a wide range of feelings. At the rate that fishing is going, by 2050 our oceans will be empty. Commercial fishing is utterly destructive. Huge nets catch not only the fish that is to be sold, but everything else in its path. Three quarters of things that are caught wild, by huge fishing corporations, are not sellable. The rest of the animals caught are killed, from sharks to jellyfish, not to mention the coral reef and underwater homes that are destroyed by fishing nets.
Fish farming isn’t better. Factory farms squeeze fish together, with most hardly having enough space to swim around. Nothing should be born into this world with the purpose of being killed for someone else’s pleasure. These creatures do not have a choice in their lives. They are seen as an ingredient, not a form of life which has feelings like us.
This is why I am a part of an organisation called WhaleFest. WhaleFest is a large event put on regularly in Brighton, England, to raise awareness of the destruction of sea life. They put on a fun, entertaining and eye-opening event to be a voice for these sea creatures who cannot be a voice for themselves. I am lucky enough to be a part of this amazing event and voice my opinion on the subject.
This year, WhaleFest had some amazing guest speakers to talk on these issues; Steve Buckshall, a natural history TV presenter, adventurer and author shared stories of his adventures from filming and freediving with whales around the world.
Other speakers who attended this year were Michaela Strachan, TV presenter of Springwatch, Winterwatch and Autumnwatch and author, and Monty Halls adventurer and broadcaster. There was also interactive games and videos for children to enjoy. Whalefest has grown from a small event for 2,000 people in a small hall in 2011 to an event in the Brighton Centre for over 15,000 people this year.
If you care about any of the issues I discussed, you should come to WhaleFest to learn more about the topics and what you can do to help. When I joined, I was welcomed by such friendly staff who are doing this all for the rights of these animals. I am very proud to call myself a member, and I hope one day, you will too.
To find out more about WhaleFest, check out their website and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.
Support the Barefoot Vegan Animal Sanctuary by purchasing the 2017 Art of Compassion Project calendar