Upon watching the disturbing film “Blackfish,” an unprecedented eight musical artists have canceled their upcoming shows at SeaWorld. Willie Nelson, Heart, Cheap Trick, Barenaked Ladies, REO Speedwagon, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, and .38 Special have all canceled their shows at SeaWorld’s “Bands, Brews & BBQ” February and March concert events in response to online petitions signed by thousands of people concerned with the treatment of SeaWorld’s captive animals as depicted in the film. Joan Jett has also recently sent SeaWorld a cease and desist letter, demanding that SeaWorld’s parks stop playing her music during their orca shows. Besides personally opposing the captivity of marine wildlife, Jett was also disturbed that loud music could potentially harm these highly sound-sensitive mammals. Similarly, Edgar Winter and Tommy Lee have asked the park to remove their music from SeaWorld’s shows.
Sea Shepherd USA applauds the compassionate and informed decisions by these artists to cancel their SeaWorld concert dates. In response to these cancellations, SeaWorld has invited these artists to visit one of their parks and speak to their “animal experts” about the way their captive marine animals are treated, even calling those opposed to their captivity “animal extremists.” This is a rather harsh term to describe the multitudes of sympathetic people who saw the film either in theatres or on CNN. Likening the mainstream concerns of numerous people, including these musicians, to extremism is a desperate attempt by Sea World to rationalize their practices and the captive industry.
In response to SeaWorld’s invitation, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA has extended an invitation to all of these artists to join the Cove Guardian volunteers currently on the ground in Taiji, Japan to witness firsthand the undeniable link between the captive marine mammal industry, of which SeaWorld is a large part, and the ongoing slaughter of dolphins and whales.
“Thousands of dolphins, porpoises and small whales are captured or killed each year in coastal towns of Japan, none more infamous than Taiji — ground zero for the worldwide captive dolphin trade. The dolphin killers and trainers work together in the killing cove to select those animals deemed ‘pretty enough’ for captivity. Those chosen are then transported to captive facilities and marine parks around the world,” said Sea Shepherd USA Administrative Director, Susan Hartland. “Despite claims from Taiji, the captive selection occurs simultaneously to the vicious killing of the rest of the pod, murdered before the eyes of their family members who see the water around them turn red with blood. Captivity undeniably funds the killing, and we want to invite these compassionate artists to see this link for themselves as they visit the Cove with our dedicated Cove Guardians.”
The Taiji Fishermen’s Union drives entire family units, or pods, of cetaceans using banger boats and poles to create a “wall of sound” which disorients the sound-sensitive animals. Once in the deadly confines of the infamous killing cove, these families are brutally slaughtered, and their flesh is sold for meat. Juvenile and infant pod members are sometimes dumped back out at sea, where they often do not survive on their own. Each day of the hunt season, the Cove Guardians stand watch at the cove, documenting and exposing the activities of the Taiji Fishermen’s Union. When a pod is driven into the cove, the Cove Guardians livestream the drive, and captive selection or slaughter for the world to see at livestream.seashepherd.org. These volunteers are a window to Taiji, and continue to expose the link between captivity and slaughter.
Read an example letter sent to the bands here.