From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1994:
S. 1636, the present Marine
Mammal Protection Act reauthorization
bill, has cleared the Senate Commerce
Committee and at deadline was expected to be
passed any day by the full Senate, with House
ratification likely in April. The Humane
Society of the U.S. has asked members to
write Congress opposing S. 1636 because it
“has no provisions for effective enforcement,”
and “would allow the accidental killing of
endangered species (currently prohibited) and
the intentional shooting of seals and sea lions
solely to protect fish commercially caught or
raised.” HSUS seeks amendments that will
“ensure that marine mammal mortality in com-
mercial fishing operations reaches insignifi-
cant levels approaching zero, mandate specif-
ic punitive consequences if kill reduction goals
are not met on schedule, prohibit the capture
of wild whales or dolphins for public display,
prohibit swim-with-the-dolphin programs and
petting pools, prohibit public feeding of both
captive and wild marine mammals, prohibit
the issuance of permits to kill endangered
species in commercial fisheries,” and “prohib-
it the intentional killing of seals and sea lions
solely to protect fishing gear, catch, or net
pens.” The Animal Welfare Institute has
issued a similar appeal for action.
Ulysses, the captive orca many
activists hoped might become the first to be
rehabilitated for return to the sea, was instead
flown from the Barcelona Zoo to Sea World in
San Diego circa mid-February, where he will
join a captive breeding program. The
Barcelona Zoo plans to build a larger tank, to
replace the 72-foot tank the 20-foot orca has
shared for the past decade with a female dol-
phin, in hopes of eventually importing some
of Ulysses’ progeny for display.
Responding indirectly to a week-
long hunger strike by Ric O’Barry of the
Dolphin Project, Israel announced February 5
that it will ban the import of dolphins for
exhibit. O’Barry had asked that three dolphins
at a bankrupt Israeli amusement park be reha-
bilitated for release. Present plans call for
moving them to another dolphinarium.
President Bill Clinton has named
Under Secretary of Oceans and Atmosphere
D. James Baker and National Marine Fisheries
Service staffer Michael Tillman as U.S.
Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner to
the International Whaling Commission.
Tillman, an Alaskan native and member of
the Tlingit tribe, will markedly increase the
indigenous presence on the 38-nation IWC.
The California Department of
Fish and Game hopes to complete a $5 mil-
lion rescue and rehabilitation center for
wildlife harmed in oil spills by October 1995.
The center, to focus on care of California’s
2,000 endangered sea otters, will occupy the
site of the Long Marine Laboratory of the
University of California at Santa Cruz.
Brigitte Bardot in December per-
sonally asked French environment minister
Michel Barnier to prevent the Beachcomber
Hotel in Moorea, New Caledonia, from cap-
turing up to a dozen dolphins for
display––only to be told that French animal
protection laws don’t apply to foreign territo-
ries. However, Barnier pledged, he will ask
all French territories to adopt similar laws.
The Omacha Foundation, set up in
the Colombian Amazon by river dolphin
researchers Fernando Trujillo, Sarita Kendall,
and Sandra Bernal, protects the highly endan-
gered dolphins through a mix of scientific edu-
cation and promotion of the Ticuna myth that
dolphins are reincarnated human spirits. The
dolphins are hunted in Brazilian Amazonia for
their teeth and genitals, which are believed to
have aphrodisiacal properties, and also often
drown in fishnets.
Northeastern Ohio Universities
paleontologist J.G.M. Thewissen on January
13 announced the 1992 discovery of the fos-
silized remains of a previously unknown
apparent ancestor of modern whales, who
walked on land and hunted at sea circa 50 mil-
lion years ago. The fossils were found in the
Kala Chitta hills of northern Pakistan.
A year after Montreal mayor Jean
Dore vowed to veto any effort by Biodome
aquarium to acquire beluga whales, the
Biodome executive board has recommended
that belugas should be obtained to boost atten-
dence. The Biodome is expected to seek a
capture permit in 1995.
After a month of intense local pub-
licity about the plight of captive marine mam-
mals, orchestrated by the Coalition for No
Whales in Capitivy, Period, the Vancouver
Aquarium announced January 28 that it will
host a scientific workshop on marine mammal
returns to the wild.