So that meant Iceland was, was once again on the front and only
burner as a source for killer whales. So in, in the meantime they had a fair
number of whales but they were trying to build up their, their stocks, of false
killer whales, pseudorca from Japan, and they, concurrently with Iceland, they
had a program that they were involved in at Iki Island with the drive fisheries
where they would contract with a local fisherman to drive dolphins and small
whales into the bay; they'd pick out the ones they wanted for captivity and
then the rest would be slaughtered.
Q: What year?
They began setting it up in the late 70s. I mean it, it was almost as if
there was a genesis after Puget Sound that, that they really got crunched in
Puget Sound and, and by golly, we needed to you know, get a steady supply of
whatever we need set up. Killer whales and other big demonstrative dynamic
animals like false
killer whales, you know, with the same teeth as a killer whale-- those
were really in demand.
So it was my impression, and I talked to Goldsberry about this directly,
that he set it up, an original trip to the Iki Peninsula with Dr. Tobiyama from
Kamogawa Sea World. They had been cohorts and colleagues for a long time. I
don't know how long, but for a number of years. And then in cooperation with
the fishermen's cooperative at Iki Island they reinitiated the drive fisheries;
instead of just driving the animals onto the beach to slaughter them as had
been the case in the past, now the emphasis was to drive them into a bay,
allow...... to get the ones they wanted, pay for them, and then the fisherman
would slaughter the rest.
So simultaneously with Iceland developing, there was this concurrent
effort in Iki Island. Simultaneously there was an effort to develop a
collecting capability in Patagonia in Southern Chile for the wonderful little
black and white dolphins that are like miniature killer whales with the
negative image, where
killer whales are white, these are black and the reverse. They're
extremely striking charismatic little animals.
Q: This was all funded by Sea World?
Absolutely. In Iceland, the activity that I was involved with
peripherally occurred in 1987. We were in the final stages of developing the
pond inlet in our wall program, and in the middle of a meeting with Lanny
Cornell and myself and Don Goldsberry and Jim Antrim I don't recall if anyone
else was there, there may have been one or two other people there. And we were
discussing a program and we were waiting for a phone call, a confirmation phone
call to come in, when Goldsberry pulled out these blueprints during this break
in the middle of the meeting. And he said while we've got a few minutes,
Lanny, would you go over these drawings with me.
And it turned out that they were blueprints of the oceanarium just
outside of Reykjavik in Iceland and the open air pool, if you will, in
Sadenspherder [?]. And they went through, you know, Lanny marked up the
blueprints--'no, I want this door here, and
I want this opening in the roof here, and I want it this, this long and
this wide, and that sort of thing, and I don't want to spend more than I think
it was a 150 thousand dollars on this construction program. And this is okay,
get some pumps to bring some water in for this outside pool where we'll hold
the animals short term.' And, then turned to me and said you didn't see any
of this, you didn't hear any of this, you weren't here.
Q: Who said that to you?
Lanny. And so I said okay, I wasn't here, I didn't see any of it. So it
was clear that they were investing a substantial amount of money in facilities
and logistics in Iceland in 87, to be able to upgrade the facilities to
continue to take killer whales out of Icelandic waters.
Q: There's a fisherman in Iceland who said something changed in
I don't know what he's referring to. But what we know has changed was
the political climate in Alaska. Maybe they were getting ready to phase out
of Iceland and go to Alaska because it was in U.S. waters. I don't know, but
certainly by May or June of 84, Alaska is a done deal. It was history. It was
a cinder as far as Sea World ever getting killer whales out of there. All the
bridges were charred.
Q: So you're saying that they may have turned to Iceland at that
Turned back to Iceland because they had been getting whales out of Iceland
since the late 70s. There may have been some, political climate that changed
in Iceland in 84, or even earlier, and that's why they were looking so strongly
at Alaska. I don't know, I'm not privy to the information.
Q: But in any case they did then focus on Iceland.
After 84, absolutely. Absolutely.
Q: And how did that work getting whales out of Iceland?
Typically they would send an advance to Iceland to deal with the
Icelandic government to get capture permits. And from I think '82 on, all the
whales came out of Sadesfure which is a large fjord on the eastern side of
Iceland. And they always used the herring persainer Gudrun, as the capture
vessel and her crew. And they would go to Iceland typically in September and
the whale season would last pretty much through October...which coincided with
the inshore movement of the herring. And so with Icelandic permits in hand
they would go out and catch whales.
Now there were times according to Antrim and, and Goldsberry, when they
had Icelandic permits, but couldn't find whales in close, inside Icelandic
territorial waters, so they had to go quite a ways off shore in order to find
the whales and capture them. So under those conditions they were capturing
whales on the high seas where it's my understanding they should have had U.S.
permits to do so. And, it's also my understanding they did not have U.S
permits in hand. They may have begun the application process,
but it was my understanding they didn't have permits in hand and they
would then catch those whales and bring them back into Iceland and suggest that
they had caught them inside Icelandic waters so their Icelandic permits were
Q: Who were the personnel that went out typically on these
Well, it was always Goldsberry and Antrim. They were always
involved..... the Icelandic contact that I never met but I knew his name a lot,
was Helgi Helgensen. And then once they caught the animals they would hold
them in Iceland for a little bit of time. Days, weeks, maybe a month or so,
and then they'd ship them to another country. Holland was a favorite. The
Dolfinarium at Harderwijk. And I know that the former corporate head of
training told me that he spent a number of months in Harderwijk taking care of
newly-caught Sea World whales. Glen Young told me he was there in Hardivick,
so they kept animals there, they kept animals at Niagara Falls at Marine Land
in Canada. It's my understanding that in the late '70s or early '80s, they may
well have kept animals at Kamogawa Sea World in Japan. I don't have any
documentation on that. Nobody has come to me and said yes, I was there and we
moved the animals to Kamogawa, but it's my understanding that that was the
Q; How and why did Sea World take animals out of the water and put them in
aquaria around the world?
Because they didn't have permits, U.S. permits that would allow them to
import them into the U.S. So they needed to go through the permit importation
process or application for importation process before it would be legal to
bring those animals into the country. Otherwise the fishery service would
confiscate the animals.
Q: Are you saying that there's a finite window each year in which you
could do this fishing in Iceland? And that you needed to get as many as
possible during that time?
I wouldn't say as many as possible. There was a finite window, generally
September and October when the herring moved inshore and the whales followed
the herring, and logistically it was relatively easy to catch the whales. And
the number you caught would depend upon Icelandic permits, however many they
would allow you to take and your needs at the time. How many holes did you
have in pools to fill with whales.
Q: But then, if you didn't have American permits...
Then you had to stash them somewhere while you went through the process
of applying for permits to import all ready captive whales.
Q: So, can you sum all of this up?
. I mean the whole reason to move them to a third country, from Iceland
to Canada or Holland, before they came to the U.S. was to give Sea World time
to apply for U.S. permits to import the animals as already captive whales.
They would suggest that these whales had been captured by someone and were
being held in these aquaria and they were either going to buy them and transfer
them to their much better facilities, or they were going to do some kind of a
breeding loan and bring them in on a breeding loan into their much better
facilities, much larger, much more modern facilities. But the reality was
that Sea World caught them in the first place. So they knew exactly who had
caught them, when and where.
Q: Now how do you know that happened?
It was common knowledge but I had the opportunity on separate occasions
to have both Jim Antrim and Don Goldsberry on the boat that I was running in
Alaska -- using to continue the killer whale photo identification research
with. And they were out with me for 10 days to two weeks. And Dave Butcher
was with me on one trip. Glen Young was with me on another trip. So in two
weeks, I mean it was a very simple thing to just kind of gently ask the
question of gee, did you spend, did you have to spend any time in Harderwijk
and out would come the story. Or have you been to Iki? Or were you involved
in moving animals to Marine Land, is that a tough thing to do at night? I
mean out would come the stories. And those were four principals that were
involved for a number of years.
Q: What about Lanny?
Well, Lanny ran the show. I mean everybody there knew that Lanny
absolutely ran the show. He's, in my opinion, an extremely good clinical
veterinarian. But he's a real, --I shouldn't say "but"--and he is a very much
top down guy. I mean from a management style, you know, it's a consensus of
one, Lanny say, we do. So anything that happened, and I mean almost down to a
gnat's eyelash, anything that happened was authorized and approved and in many
cases thought up by Lanny. If you wanted to stay with the park, with the Sea
World system, you either got in that mode of operation or you did something
else with your life.
Q: So, reference to this system of taking Icelandic whales and putting
them in parks around the world, what was Lanny's role within that?
Well, Lanny directed where it was all going to happen, the dates, the
timing, who was involved. He was very careful never to be involved in the
Q: Briefly can you tell me about the Iki Island and the involvement of Sea
World...and the source of animals being the drive fishery?
Well, it's my impression, having talked again to Goldsberry and Antrim
and a number of people who have been to Iki for or on behalf of Sea World
including Brad Andrews, the current zoological director, 'cause Brad went the
spring of '87, that Sea World thought it might as well draw upon the
capabilities of the Iki Island fishermen, this drive fishery as a source of
animals, especially as a source of false killer whales. So Goldsberry set up
the relationship with the Japanese fishermen's cooperative, and the fishermen
would, under the normal operations of fishing, would watch for the migration in
the late winter of these false killer whales coming north in the Sea of Japan.
And, when they would see them, they would then get this group of 20 or
30 boats, they'd get a semi-circle formed behind the animal, they put a pipe in
the water over the side on a rope, and they beat on the pipe, and it's like an
underwater gong, and it sets up kind of a curtain of sound, and they would very
slowly drive the animals into a bay where they would net the animals off. And
they might have 50 animals or they might have 500 animals.
And typically it wasn't a single species school of false
killer whales. It would be a mixed school of... Risso's dolphins, of
bottlenose dolphins, of false killer whales, and maybe some others thrown in.
And then Sea World typically, first--it was my impression they initiated this
whole thing--would come in, and pick out the best-looking animals, the
right-sized animals for their own parks, and they would hold them in another
netted pin. And it was my understanding they were buying the whales for about
$2,500 apiece. And then other oceanaria, Hong Kong Aquarium, and other
oceanaria would come in and they would buy other animals that they needed. And
then after all the animals had been purchased that were going to captivity, the
fishermen would drive the rest of the animals on the beach and slaughter them.
And so it culminated a few years ago with Marine World Africa USA
applying for a permit to import these false killer whales claiming it was a
rescue operation--that had been the device that people had used for several
years--was that 'we really don't have anything to do with this but these
animals are going to be killed anyway, it's better for us to rescue a
for our concrete tanks than to have them all die.' When in reality,
based upon what I was told, the oceanaria were stimulating the drives as a
collecting mechanism in the first place.
I recall, oh my goodness, it had to be back in the early '60s, there was a
Life Magazine spread of
a drive fishery, and the bay at Iki was completely red. And there was
worldwide outrage over that. And it kind of died down. But it was well known
that drive fisheries did occur, that the Japanese fishermen really knew what
they were doing, how to move animals onshore, and it seemed like an opportunity
to be able to collect animals that you wanted and allow the fishermen to kill
Q: So to your knowledge, did Sea World cause an increase in the number of
drive fishing expeditions?
I don't think so. Because of the bad pr that Japan received
internationally from the earlier drive fisheries and like the spread in Life
Magazine, there was a strong pressure by the Japanese government to just chill
for a while. And that may well have gone on for a long period of time if
aquaria like Sea World hadn't come in and said well, we understand that, but
you know, we need a few animals and you know, we're not looking to slaughter a
thousand or three thousand, just a few of these specific animals is what we're
Q: And going back to Keiko? What do you think might happen?
I think it's going well. I'm not involved. We assisted in the early
design work with with the pool to try and provide some design elements.
Hopefully to quiet the pool down. It's my impression having made recordings
and done the sound analysis on the noise production in pools, concrete tanks,
that they tend to be extremely noisy. Perhaps anywhere from eight to several
thousand times louder than the ocean in the same frequency bands.
And so we made some suggestions with regard to how the Oregon Coast
Aquarium facility for Keiko might be designed to be quieter. And then they
asked us to come up as independent consultants and make recordings and do the
analysis. And it turns out....verall it's much, much quieter. By far the
dominant noise in the pool is sixty cycle or sixty hertz, which is from lights
and pumps. And is way, way below anything that Keiko could hear.
Having been involved in two dolphin reintroduction projects in the last two
years--one in Florida and one in Colombia-- I'm convinced that obviously the
animal has to be healthy, be a viable candidate, it's gotta be healthy. And
I'm no vet, so I can't tell you what standards have to be met to be healthy
enough. But obviously the animal has to be healthy, there has to be
essentially no potential for transfer of disease from the animal that's going
to be reintroduced to the wild population.
The other way around is kind of, tough luck. You know, if the
reintroduced animal gets sick from something out in the wild, well, that's the
way anybody else will. The argument has been made, well, they're--animals are
better off in captivity because they don't get any worms, they don't get
parasites. That's true, but that's pretty much true of people in prison, too.
You know? So I mean, that is a specious argument to me.
To me the overwhelming requirement is that the animal demonstrate an
ability to feed itself. Absolutely nutritionally independent. That you put
enough live fish, the right size, the right kinds, and the animal is able to
feed itself routinely, over and over. That it can ferret them out of corral
foundation or coral reefs or--or out of the sand, or whatever happens to be
natural feeding behavior
Q: What do you think is the future of projects like this?
They're very expensive. Even in Columbia where we had--much lower
expenses because personnel were much less expensive than in the United States.
The project still ran 10,000 dollars a month. You know, you can buy two or
three bolts off of a new fighter for 10,000 dollars. they're very expensive.
I think they can work,--but
the reintroduction project is really only halfway through, when the
animals are released. It's not the end point. It's at most, halfway, and that's
a very difficult thing from an emotional standpoint to get across to people
because people think, you know, when the gate is opened or when the walls come
down that--that's it. But it's not. Not if you're going to document that these
animals either lived or died. That's really only the halfway point. And
that's a tough thing to get across.