SeaWorld selling stock: don't mind the debt, trainer deaths, dolphin trade

killer whale performing

SeaWorld IPO documents show a company deep in debt and reveal some interesting stats about how they do business.

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Wildlife near Fukushima: thriving but radioactive

major migration routes

Wild boars are thriving near Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant, but test with really high levels of radiation. What will happen to the birds and fish that migrate through?

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Japanese dolphin killers at it again, this time more discreetly & daily tour of animal news

Blue Atlantic discovers Japan still slaughtering dolphins in way that doesn’t turn bay red. South Africa kills four poachers. Six WWF workers kidnapped in India, likely by poachers.

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Blue Whale Bonanza

Risso's Dolphin, Grampus griseus

Capt. Dave Beezer says that, despite stories the media hype, this year isn’t so special. They’re starting to see this many blue whales every year. “Santa Barabara is becoming the best place in the world to see blue whales,” he says.

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Birding Bob: The History of Ravens, Whales and Dolpins in NYC

Manhattan’s Samantha the Raven

Birding Bob (also known Dr. Robert DeCandido) is a biologist who leads popular and easy to understand tours in Central Park. He lets us publish his newsletter that goes out to his many fans.

With all the talk of Ravens possibly nesting in NYC (Queens), we went back into the historical record to see what we could find out about these corvids in NYC. In a dusty, yellowing journal we found a brief note published in the mid-19th century. It seems as though Ravens must have been occasional visitors to Brooklyn and Long Island back then – see below.

This week we add another bird walk to the mix: Tuesday mornings at 9am, meeting at the Boathouse (details below). Meanwhile, our NYC kestrel research is getting some attention – from outside of New York City!  And later this year, Deborah and I will have an article in a national publication about NYC Kestrels.You can find information (in 14 languages!) about NYC kestrels here.We have some very good news to report. Our colleague Chad Seewagen (soon to be PhD) had another scientific paper published on his research here in NYC on how migrant birds fare during stopover times in New York City Parks. The research was published in the prestigious Wilson Journal of Ornithology. Congratulations Chad – may you publish many more.

Another of our bird-walkers, Bill Benish, has created an on-line guide to the largest woodpeckers in the world – here’s the

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Will Asking People To Text for Dolphins Work Post-Haiti?

Last night dolphins near Taijii, Japan, were oblivious to the break The Cove won an Oscar. The film’s hero, former Flipper trainer Ric O’Barry, has been trying to show Taijii’s dolphin slaughter to the world for years, even if it meant walking around with a TV on his chest. So, it’s no surprise he’d use the stage for the dolphins. O’Barry unfurled a banner saying “TEXT DOLPHIN TO 44144”.

What was the reaction? Twitter immediately ricocheted the message around thousands of time–and it’s still bouncing. This USAToday blogger says the sign–and its inherent naughtiness–got him to look up the film. But over at the Huffington Post, they ran a story explaining “What Happens if You Follow Ric Barry’s Sign?” The answer: you’re signed up for text message updates, up to 30 a month. Call me old-fashioned, but I subscribe to his blog, so that’s about 30 more than I need.

The Haiti earthquake taught the public that the easiest way you can donate money to a cause is by texting a charity. I doubt that causes can ask you to just text them anymore without people worrying how much it will cost. The various charities send you back a confirmation before your cellphone carrier sends off your money, Charity Navigator explains. If you haven’t done it, you won’t know that.

O’Barry wants you to write a letter to Obama. Taiji was, predictably, annoyed at the win. Controversy is swirling, the LA Times says. But what else does controversy

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Which Animal is Having More Fun? The Horny Parrot or Spiteful Dolphin?

Is it the horny, endangered parrot, pointed out by Zoologix? (This flightless Kakapo name Sirocco was hand-raised and imprinted on people. So it’s only natural he wants to hook-up with people. Watch out, he’s looking for more friends on facebook)[youtube=]Or the spiteful dolphins, who flick jellyfish out of the sea at every opportunity?[youtube=]

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Avoid the Smiling Dolphin

Smiling SeaWorld Dolphin,Courtesy of Blaine Hansel.

Think that smiling dolphin is happy to see you? Think again. If you’re looking at brochures for Florida’s hundreds of dolphin tours, you and the dolphin may be better off if don’t fall for the smiley dolphin tour ads. That familiar pose is really a dolphin begging for food–something wild dolphins shouldn’t do, says Jessica R. Powell, biologist from the National Marine Fisheries Service.

“It’s a very unnatural behavior,” says Powell. “You never see a wild dolphin doing this unless it’s fed or conditioned to people. It’s actually an indication of a number of problems” with how people are treating that dolphin.That’s why the Fisheries Service voluntary guidelines for tours, Dolphin Smart, bans the begging dolphin grin pictures in ads–along with anything else that gives you the idea you’re going to be hanging out with some wild dolphins that will be thrilled to make your acquaintance. The program’s main thrust is about not disturbing the dolphins. Operators go through training, learning keep respectful 50 yards from dolphins, learn signs that they’re getting annoyed with you (they may “chuff”–a kind of angry dolphin huff–for example) and put their engines in neutral when a dolphin approaches. Plus, they have to teach the public about dolphins.

But teaching tourists dolphin etiquitte is a hard in market where hundreds of tours compete for tourists. Powell recently counted 107 outfits doing tours just on the west coast of Florida from Tampa south. For 66, dolphins are their primary

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The Cove: By Seeing the Movie, You’re Participating in the Effort

The Cove is a movie about dolphin slaughter in Japan, but the filmmakers have the sense to know that an hour of dolphins being harpooned, flailing and bleeding to death would be unwatchable. Instead they tell the fascinating, adventure story of trying to get footage of a slaughter of dolphins that Taiji, Japan tries desperately to keep secret.

Spoiler alert: they get the footage. And here’s where the audience feels like they’re participating. The point of the effort is to get the word (and video) out on how horrific and unnecessary the process of killing 23,000 dolphins a year is. It’s an act of faith by the filmmakers that once the world knows this will have to stop. And just by witnessing The Cove, you fee like you’re part of their journey.

They also list things you can do to help. You can write President Obama and the Japanese. You can donate. You can carefully choose your seafood–for your own health and for the fish’s sake.

One of the actions they suggest is that you pledge not to go see dolphins in captivity. (The sale of show dolphins supports dolphin slaughter.)

Here are some places you can go see dolphins in the wild instead.

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