Carol Ray MA, CCC-SLP, John Jett PhD, Samantha Berg M.Ac, Dipl.Ac and Jeffrey Ventre MD, have one thing in common. Each was once a trainer for SeaWorld. A change of heart and the mutual desire to provide a voice for those without one, has united them in a new venture – Voice of the Orcas.
With a newly-launched website, the quartet has vowed to highlight and archive interviews and events that deal with issues of "conservation and activism" toward whales and dolphins kept in entertainment parks. As observers of captivity firsthand, their unique perspective and insight, could fast become SeaWorld's, worst nightmare.
And they're not pulling any punches.
One of the first posts published on the website, "Mosquitoes have killed 2 SeaWorld Orcas: Has Anyone Noticed?
", bears some damning testimony from former SeaWorld of Florida veterinarians Drs Mike Walsh and Terry Campbell.
In 1990, one of SeaWorld Florida's resident orcas, Kanduke, died suddenly. Three years later, Walsh and Campbell wrote a report about the orca's viral laden tissue in a peer-reviewed paper in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Virology
. This represented they said, "the first isolation of SLE virus from a marine mammal." The work was funded in part by Sea World, Inc.
The report, entitled, "Isolation of St. Louis Virus from a killer whale", and Kanduke's necropsy report (from SeaWorld papers), show Kanduke died because he was bitten by a mosquito infected with Saint Louis encephalitis virus or SLEV. Indeed in the year the orca perished, said Ventre, there was a summer outbreak in Florida, when the whale was bitten.
Ventre added, that when the two reports are combined, "a direct causal link between orca confinement and premature death" is seen. But Kanduke, he said, isn't the only one to die from a mosquito vector; it happened again in 2007, to a 14-year-old orca called Taku
. He died of West Nile Virus, another disease transmitted via a mosquito bite.
In the wild, Ventre said, "killer whales would not be exposed to such vectors of disease transmission," meaning that the deaths of Kanduke and Taku, could be "directly attributed their confinement in unnatural spaces."
Both the necropsy report and the Journal report are archived at The Orca Project
Colleen Gorman, co-founder of the organization The Orca Project
, told Digital Journal:
"We think this new website created by highly educated former SeaWorld killer whale trainers who had a change of heart is SeaWorld's worst nightmare coming true. And hopefully many more will follow suit and come forward.
These four trainers have done an admirable and selfless service trying to raise awareness for the whales they worked with in the past, and making a better future for the ones in the future by exposing the truth about captivity."
Slammed by their own evidence, recently revealed by former SeaWorld marine mammal trainers of Voice of the Orcas
, one wonders whether the massive international mammal entertainment corporation known as SeaWorld, can continue to claim that captivity doesn't kill?