U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act
|1972||passed by the U.S. Congress.
|1994||as amended, jurisdiction of the care and management of
captive marine mammals passes from the U.S. National Marine
Fisheries Service to the Animal Plant and Health Inspection
Early Killer Whale Capture Attempts on Record
|1961, November||Marineland of the Pacific, south of Los Angeles,
discovers a single orca feeding alone in nearby Newport Harbor.
They corral the female whale, finally hoisting it onto a flatbed. When the whale is
introduced into the tank, she smashes head-on into the wall.
Frank Brocato, Marineland's head animal collector at the time,
recalls: "We'd suspected the animal was in trouble because of
its erratic behavior in the harbor...But the next day, she went
crazy. She started swimming at high speed around the tank,
striking her body repeatedly. Finally, she convulsed and died."
The autopsy reveals she suffered from acute gastroenteritis and
|1962, September||Frank Brocato, Marineland's head animal collector,
and his assistant, Boots Calandrino, bring their 40-foot
collecting boat, the Geronimo, to Puget Sound, Washington,
to search for another killer whale for the aquarium. After a
month of searching, they found a mature male and female
orca in Haro Strait, off San Juan Island. "The female, who
seemed to be chasing something, headed straight for the boat.
At that moment, Brocato saw a harbor porpoise cross the
bow and skirt the ship...The porpoise was followed by the
female orca, in hot pursuit." The two animals circled the boat,
the little porpoise apparently using the boat as a shield.
"'I reeled there was a good chance to use the lasso,' said
Brocato, remembering he incident. 'So I put my partner out
on the bowsprit and told him to watch for that porpoise...
because the orca might be right behind it. And it was. He slipped
on the lasso. We had her. But then everything started to go
wrong.' The cow cut sharply and dived under the boat,...its
last few turns caught the heavy nylon line and wound it around
the propeller shaft, immobilizing the boat. ...The female ran
the end of her 250-foot-long tether and surfaced at the edge
of the mist. Then Brocato heard screaminghigh-pitched
piercing criescoming from the female. ...the big male appeared
out of the mist a few minutes later, and together, the two
animals started swimming at great speed toward the boat.
They charged several times, turning away only at the last
instant but thumping the boat with a sound thwack of the
flukes as they passed. ...Brocato grabbed his 375-magnum
rifle and started shooting. He put one bullet into the male,
who then disappeared. But it took 10 shots to kill the female.
... That night, Brocato towed the carcass to nearby Bellingham
to have the animal weighed and measured. ...Brocato took
the teeth as souvenirs, and the animal was rendered for dog
Pacific Northwest Orca Captures
|1964||Moby Doll, the first live orca exhibited in captivity.
Harpooned as a sculptor's model, he survived for
three months in a makeshift pen in Vancouver harbor.
Vancouver Aquarium collectors had harpooned him off
the coast of British Columbia.
|1965||Namu is accidentally snared in a fisherman's gill net
near Namu, British Columbia, Canada. Ted Griffin,
the young owner of the Seattle Public Aquarium buys
Namu for $8,000 cash. The bull killer whale is the first
captive orca to perform for the public. Namu dies in
July 1996 - 11 months later- due to an infection from polluted water in his
pen. (Read the interview and profile of Ted Griffin for more details
about Namu, and the bond that formed between this killer whale and the man
who capture him.)|
|1966-early 1970s||Don Goldsberry and Ted Griffin develop
a netting technique for capturing orcas in Puget Sound,
selling the animals mostly to Sea World. By the
early 1970s, Goldsberry has captured more than
200 orcas. About 30 were sent to various aquaria.
The rest went to Sea World.|
|1970||Penn Cove, Washington, whale capture. 80 whales are
corralled by the Seattle Public Aquarium's collectors.
Several whales die during the capture. Their bellies
are slit and they are weighed down with steel chains.
A few of these whales wash ashore and cause
public outcry against whale captures in Washington's
|1976||Washington state waters are closed to killer whale captures,
in the aftermath of the notorious Budd Inlet killer whale
capture of the same year. The whale roundup and capture
was witnessed by Ralph Munro, an assistant to Washington
State Governor Dan Evans. Munro happened
to be sailing in Puget Sound at the time. He reports
that Sea World's captors were using aircraft and explosives
to herd and net the whalesa clear violation of the
terms of their collection permit.
When Washington State Governor Dan Evans learned of this,
he sued Sea World. All of the whales were eventually released,
and a Seattle district court ordered Sea World to give up its
permit-granted right to collect killer whales off Washington.
Washington state waters became an unofficial sanctuary
for killer whales, and so far, no organization has ever again
applied to capture killer whales from these waters.|
Iceland whale captures
|1976||With Washington state waters off limits, Sea
World turned to Iceland for its killer whale
captures. After Puget Sound, SeaWorld did not
want to be officially involved, but Don Goldsberry agreed to
unofficially assist W.H. Dudok van Heel, zoological director
of Holland's Dolfinarium Harderwijk, and
Jon Kr. Gunnarsson, director of
Saedyrasafnid, an aquarium near Reykjavik. During the
fall herring season, they netted two young whales, and
airlifted them to Holland. One of these whales
was forwarded to Sea World in San Diego after six months.
The following October, the same consortium captured six
orcas. In October 1978, Goldsberry and Gunnarson caught
another five. In just two short years, Sea World had
nine new whales, and at this point, reportedly dropped
out of the picture.|
|1976-1979||According to Gunnarson, 21 Icelandic killer whales,
mostly young ones, were sent to aquariums from 1976-79.
Besides Sea World's nine, two each went to Dolfinarium
Harderwijk, Marineland of France, Canada's Marineland,
and Kamogawa Sea World in Japan. Single animals were
sent to new aquariums in Hong Kong and Switzerland."|
|1989||The last capture of killer whales in Iceland's waters (four
Japanese drive fishery
|1980||Hardy Jones captures on film Japan's dolphin
drive fishery. It is broadcast worldwide and international outrage brings
an end to these drives for a few years.|
|Mid-1980s||The drive fisheries start up again, but with a new
twist. The fishermen drive in false killer whales and
dolphins as before, but now they set aside the most
beautiful ones for sale to aquariumsand to the U.S. Navy
and then slaughter the rest.|
|1993||Marine World Africa USA of California is challenged
by animal protection groups over the park's import permit for
false killer whales from Japan. They cite the Marine Mammal
Protection Act of 1972, which requires documentation
that the marine mammal captures were humanely conducted.
The National Marine Fisheries Service denies Marine World's
import permit for Japanese-caught false killer whales because,
in essence, the park violates the terms of its own import
application, and had no observers present to document
that the capture was humane. (Letter from NMFS
Acting Administrator of Fisheries, Nancy Foster, to
Michael D. Demetrios, President of Marine World Africa USA,
dated May 7, 1993):|
"your application described a seine-net capture method to
collect animals swimming past the coastal bays and inlets
of the Taiji area. ...The actual location of the capture
(Iki Island) and the actual capture method (drive fishery)
are not those described in your application. ...You ...also
stated that no one associated with Marine World Africa
USA was present during the capture of these animals" and
thus don't "have the firsthand knowledge necessary to
conclude that the capture operation was `humane' and
conducted in a manner consistent with that described
in your application."
Many public aquaria and marine theme parksas well as the
U.S. Navyhad already acquired dolphins and false killer
whales from Japan's drive fishery.
|1996, October 17||Futo, Japan"During October 1996 fishermen
and others chased into Futo Fishing Port, on Shizuoka Prefecture's
Izu Peninsula, over 200 bottlenose dolphins, a number
over three times the allotted quota, and about 50 false killer
whales, for which there was no quota at all, and began selling
them to aquariums, in addition to slaughtering and butchering
[them] for sale as meat. ...Ten aquariums in Shizuoka Prefecture
and nearby prefectures were involved in this capture, but only
six of those facilities actually received dolphins; ... The order
in which aquariums chose dolphins on this occasion was
apparently decided by drawing lots, ...the surrounded dolphins
were of course in a state of panic, and gradually sustain more
injuries in their quest for an escape route because they crash
themselves into boat hulls and the wall, become entangled in
nets, and scrape their underbellies on the rocky bottom in
shallows. Dolphins also collide forcefully with one another
as they flee about. ...Because many aquariums were involved,
and because they all wanted uninjured females from 1.5 to
2 meters in length, those appearing to be the best were chased
around the harbor many times. Owing to this repeated chasing
and surrounding with nets, as well as the panic it caused, many
dolphins were exhausted and sank to the harbor bottom."
Because they had caught more than their permitted quota, the
fishermen were required to release 100 of the bottlenose
dolphins they had captured. On October 22 and 23, the Futo
Branch of the Ito City Fishing Cooperative sold 26 bottlenose
dolphins and six false killer whales to aquariums.
The aquariums were forced to release these six false killer
whales, as there had been no permit to capture them."
(The above is from "A Report on the 1996 Dolphin-Catch-
Quote Violation at Futo Fishing Harbor," by Sakae Hemmi,Elsa
Nature Conservancy, Institute for Environmental Science and
|February 7, 1997|| Taiji, JapanJapanese fishermen capture a pod of
killer whales. In all, ten killer whales are rounded up and driven into
the shallow water bays of Taiji. Five whales are taken to
Japanese marine parks. To date, two of these whales have died
a female and her calf. Japanese and international animal groups continue to
press for the release of the remaining three whales.|
1997 Outstanding Dolphin/Whale Import applications/permits include:
|July 16, 1997||Sea World Inc. is issued public display import
permit for one adult beluga whale from Vancouver
|August 14, 1997||Dallas World Aquarium, Inc.,
has applied to import four Amazon
River Dolphins from Venezuela, according to the Federal
Register. However, it states: "The International Union for
Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has
included the species in the 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened
Animals under the category `vulnerable,' i.e., taxa believed
likely to move into the endangered category in the near future
if causal factors continue operating. population data concerning
Inia geoffrensis in Venezuela is limited and the application
states that no census has been taken of the subject wild
population/stock. Therefore, NMFS has concerns about the
status and conservation of the dolphins in the Orinoco river
system and the potential impacts of the permanent removal
of four sub-adults from this population/stock. Additionally,
NMFS is concerned that holding this species in captivity may
involved a significant risk to the health and welfare of the
animals held. Historically, study results conclude that due to
a number of factors this species has fared poorly in captivity
in the United States, with an average longevity of 32.6 months
for the 35 animals for which data was available."
(Source: U.S. Federal Register, August 14, 1997)