Christmas gifts don't have to be expensive to be appreciated. Some gifts are not only thoughtful but the giving of them benefits many. The gifts I want this Christmas, will benefit grassroots organizations.
The Orca NetworkOrca Network is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization registered in Washington State. Not only do they raise awareness about the whales of the Pacific Northwest, they have their finger on the pulse when it comes to the resident and transient orcas that inhabit the Salish Sea.
They are also fighting to have the orca Lolita retired to a sea pen. Lolita was brutally captured on August 8, 1970. For the past 42 years, she has performed for the public on a daily basis. In all this time, she has been held in an illegally-sized tank at the Miami Seaquarium.
The Network offers varying gift options including the option to purchase DVDs and books, but for as little as $25, I can become a member of a valuable organization.
Dr. Terry Newby
The Penn Cove captures (1970).
The Center for Whale Research
For over three decades, the Center for Whale Research (CWR) has been conducting annual photo-identification studies of the Southern Resident Killer whale.
CWR scientists are on the water, conducting hands-on research with techniques that have been used to study humpback whales, blue whales, bottlenose dolphins, sperm whales, beaked whales and several ecotypes of killer whales.
A donation to CWR will actively help with long-term studies of the Southern Resident Orcas of Washington State and British Columbia and help to conserve them.
The Orca Research Trust/Free Morgan Foundation
With fewer than 200 Orca in New Zealand waters, they urgently need support. The Orca Research Trust was founded by principal scientist Dr. Ingrid Visser, a passionate orca advocate. Dr Visser’s research does not receive any government or university funding and relies totally on public donations.
This year, Dr. Visser has been fighting for Morgan's release in collaboration with the Free Morgan Foundation. Morgan is an orca who was captured from the ocean for rehabilitation and a return to her family. Instead Morgan was consigned to an a marine mammal entertainment park in Tenerife.
Donations in my name to Orca Research Trust and the Free Morgan Foundation would make me a happy camper.
The Whale MuseumThe Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington offers symbolic adoptions of orcas in the Southern Resident Community and promotes stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through education and research.
They first opened their doors to the public in 1979, and you can adopt me a whale (symbolically of course), right through their web store.
Marcos the dolphin
Marcos wanted to go home.
Yes, I am asking for donations for a very cute striped baby dolphin named Marcos, who is far more eloquent than I. Marcos says:
I'm a baby Striped Dolphin named Marcos. I was discovered close to shore near Roquetas de Mar, Spain and was clearly not in good health. People from a local organization, called PROMAR, rescued me. While PROMAR speculates that perhaps my pod was killed, or I simply lost my way due to illness, we may never know the cause of my isolation. Please help me find my mom.
To help Marcos, visit his Facebook page. Christmas wish number five: To help Marcos get home.
As many organizations attempt to save dolphins and whales, fishermen with Isana Fisheries Union work to take their lives away. As seen in the movie The Cove, hundreds of dolphins are killed on an annual basis in Taiji, Japan and many others are taken and sold into a life of captivity.
There are two organizations with members on the ground throughout the season who document and inform the world about the atrocities there. These people are often in Taiji on their own time and dime simply because they care.
The first organization is Save Japan Dolphins, the group featured in The Cove movie starring Ric O'Barry. Cove Monitors are stationed in Taiji throughout the dolphin hunting season, which runs from September through March of every year. A donation that allows them to continue their work is one of my primary gift wishes.
The other organization are the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians. There is never a time when a Cove Guardian is not on duty at the cove during the season, and they often stay beyond the actual drive season to document the harpoon hunting.
Courtesy SSCS Cove Guardians
Standing tall. Cove Guardians support one another as they watch the brutal slaughter of striped dolphins.
Again, these dedicated souls primarily fund themselves, so a donation to the Taiji Dolphin Defense Campaign in my name, is gift number seven.
Finally, censorship be damned
My eighth gift is a little off the wall but perhaps one of the most crucial. Niagara Fall's Marineland has just issued a $1.25 million lawsuit against former orca trainer Christine Santos for speaking out on the conditions of Marineland's animals.
Santos and her boyfriend Phil Demers have retained a lawyer and are committed to defending against what they say are "intimidating tactics." The duo hope to fight this case in court with the evidence that they have in hand, but they can only do this with help.
If you don't believe in censorship, and are fed up of wealthy corporations/entities using their money to impose censorship, then you'll understand why a donation to their cause is my final gift on this year's list.
And that my friends, is a wrap.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com