Cetacean Society International

Working for whales, dolphins and porpoises worldwide

Welcome to Cetacean Society International

CSI is an all-volunteer, non-profit conservation, education and research organization working on behalf of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and their marine environment. Please look through the pages on this site as shown on the menu bar above and get to know us better. You can help us by becoming a member of CSI. Please send questions or comments to comments@csiwhalesalive.org.

24 August 2015 Screening of the Film BREACH

Thanks to everyone who participated in the premier Connecticut showing of the film BREACH presented by CSI in cooperation with the New Children’s Museum in West Hartford on 24 August 2015. The film was followed by a live discussion via Skype with Jonny Zwick, the film's Director. For more information see www.breachthefilm.com.

CSI to Attend Hearing Before Federal Judge to Defend U.S. Government's Denial of a Request to Import 18 Russian Belugas for Public Display

Posted on 7 August 2015

The US National Marine Fisheries Service's (NMFS) denial of Georgia Aquarium's permit application to import 18 belugas captured in Russian waters was issued in August 2013. The permit was denied on the grounds that Georgia Aquarium did not meet statutory and regulatory permitting requirements when it failed to show that the import would not likely contribute to more removals of beluga whales from the wild and would not adversely affect the species or stock, among other deficiencies.

The Georgia Aquarium petitioned a federal district court in Atlanta for judicial review of this permit denial at the end of September 2013, just over a month after the decision was issued, launching a legal challenge against NMFS, NOAA, and the US Department of Commerce. In January 2014, CSI, along with the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), Earth Island Institute (EII), and Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) filed a motion to intervene in defense of NMFS' permit decision and was granted intervenor status in April 2014.

Since then, Plaintiff (Georgia Aquarium), Defendants (NMFS and Commerce), intervenors, and amicus curiae parties ("friends of the court") have filed legal briefs with the court on the merits of the case. Oral argument will take place at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg on August 14th in Atlanta. The court's decision regarding whether to uphold NMFS's permit denial will be forthcoming after this hearing. CSI and Co-Intervenors will be present at this hearing to represent the interests of all stakeholders that care about the fate of this beleaguered population of Russian belugas.

In April 2014, CSI also joined fellow Intervenors AWI, EII, and WDC in filing a petition for the listing of this targeted Sakhalin-Amur population of belugas in the Okhotsk Sea as "depleted" under the US Marine Mammal Protection Act. A decision by NMFS on the petition is still pending. If this stock is listed as depleted under the MMPA, it would be illegal to import any belugas originating from this population now or in the future for public display and other purposes.

Live capture for public display is one of the most serious threats facing this likely depleted stock of beluga whales in the Sea of Okhotsk. This particular population of beluga whales has yet to recover from heavy hunting in the past. Issuance of a permit would not only undermine the statutory requirements of the MMPA, it would signal US endorsement of an unsustainable and expanding international trade in live-captured beluga whales. The two decades that have passed since US facilities last sourced cetaceans directly from the wild for public display reflects in part growing scientific recognition that cetaceans suffer significant trauma when captured and removed from their social group. In addition to these reasons, CSI's concern with the proposed import includes its concern that Connecticut's own Mystic Aquarium may receive one or more of these 18 belugas captured from this beleaguered population.

International Save the Vaquita Day

Posted on 12 July 2015

The International Save the Vaquita Day on July 11, 2015 was a big success. See http://www.vivavaquita.org/ for more information.

TEDx Talk Highlights Why SeaWorld Should Retire Shamu

Posted on 27 May 2015

AWI Scientist Dr. Naomi Rose Highlights How Captivity Destroys Orca Family Structure

Japanese Aquariums Vote To Stop Buying Taiji Dolphins

Posted on 26 May 2015

May 26th Update on the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) decision regarding the purchase of dolphins captured from the infamous Taiji dolphin drives.

By Bill Rossiter

On May 20th WAZA was notified, one day before the deadline in their suspension of JAZA, that “JAZA will prohibit its members to acquire wild dolphins caught by drive fishing in Taiji and to take part in their export and sale." A few days earlier JAZA’ 89 zoos and 63 aquarium members had voted not to leave WAZA, many citing uncertainties obtaining animals from other WAZA members worldwide.

The JAZA decision captured worldwide media attention but few outside of Japan followed the developing defections of dolphinariums from JAZA. The Japanese media have emphasized that the drive fishery at Taiji is legal, permitted, important to the town, and not cruel as declared by WAZA in its initial suspension of JAZA. One JAZA official was quoted as saying: “We have yet to receive any convincing explanation from WAZA about why it is cruel“. While there have been recent changes to some of the drives, limiting species and attempting to release some dolphins not chosen for display, there appears to be no concern about the ultimate survival of the released but traumatized animals.

Defections from JAZA were predictable and understandable, supported by Japan’s official and media consensus that WAZA suspension of JAZA was unjustified. By May 25th Kyodo News reported that, from their survey of the 34 JAZA member facilities that display dolphins, 16 will remain in JAZA, five may leave JAZA soon, two others said they will quit JAZA in the future, seven are undecided and four declined to answer. Twenty other dolphinariums are not JAZA members; most buy from Taiji. A May 20th survey by The Yomiuri Shimbun found that, of 33 aquariums displaying a total of 352 dolphins, 18 admitted buying 158 from the drive fishery, 68 were caught by nets, and 42 were captive bred, but no media have included the history of the drives relationship to captive display. Captive breeding hasn’t been a priority in Japan because it’s been easier and cheaper to buy from Taiji. Eight aquariums refused to answer the survey, citing negative publicity.

About 80 fishermen conduct Taiji’s drives and killing. Over several years some have said that the income from sales for display justified the drives. According to Japan’s Fishery Agency 1,239 dolphins were caught in the 2013 Taiji drives. 172 were sold for display at prices starting at US$8,200. The 1067 others were worth about $500 each when slaughtered for meat, tests of which showed the meat exceeded limits for human consumption. Some trained, display-ready Taiji dolphins are reported to have been sold for over $100,000.

CSI’s next Whales Alive! newsletter will include a more in-depth review of the history and implications of WAZA’s actions, JAZA’s response, the Japanese public’s perception of captive display, and the fundamental issue of expanding sales of display dolphins to China and other foreign markets that will make Taiji’s bay blood red again beginning in September.

Adopt a Whale!

For details see the "Whale Adoption" page above.

CSI Founding Partner in World Cetacean Alliance (WCA)

Posted on 13 Aug 2013

CSI is proud to announce that it is a founding partner in the newly formed World Cetacean Alliance (WCA)!  The Alliance, launched on World Oceans Day, consists of 28 partners all pledging to work together to expand our individual organizations influences and reach to help save and protect cetaceans globally.

The WCA has three core deliverables that CSI has been working on for years and will continue too within the alliance:

  1. Map and report on the captivity industry
  2. Map and report on critically endangered cetaceans
  3. Map and report on critical habitats worldwide

Please help CSI in mapping your areas of concerns or global hotspots: In English, in Spanish or in German.  Mapping your concerns will help CSI and the WCA focus on areas with the most critical needs.  A short survey video tutorial can be found on youtube at: YoutTube Survey Video.

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