A new year is now upon us, and while the haunting footage of “Blackfish” is still very fresh in the minds of many, the widespread resentment against SeaWorld may eventually quiet down.

This, of course, is not to say that people will return to the park like before and ignore the facts that are now readily available about SeaWorld’s shady history and its treatment of captive orcas. Rather, the issue may reach the natural ebb and flow of other issues, whereby it walks in and out of our consciousness, hidden from view for a while then dragged up again for a big splash here and there.

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But, not to worry, there are plenty of individuals and organizations that are pushing to make sure marine mammal captivity is not placed on the sidelines.

Sea Shepherd USA, for instance, is taking its critique of SeaWorld one step further by trying to get the public to see the connection between what’s happening in Japan’s Taiji cove – an issue that gained international spotlight back in 2009 and 2010 — and the highly lucrative captive marine mammal industry.

As we reported earlier this week, the organization launched a video contest, asking both amateur filmmakers and students to craft a short film analyzing Taiji’s annual dolphin slaughter and capture and its relation to marine mammal captivity in marine parks.

Now, Sea Shepherd is calling on the eight musical acts that cancelled their “Bands, Brews & BBQ” SeaWorld performances to join Cove Guardian volunteers in Taiji, Japan.

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The organization has sent letters reaching out to Willie Nelson, Heart, Cheap Trick, Barenaked Ladies, REO Speedwagon, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, and .38 Special in response to SeaWorld’s invitation asking the same eight musicians and bands to visit one of their parks and speak to their “animal experts” about their orcas.

Many of us know from SeaWorld’s official statement against “Blackfish” and all the criticism it has taken that much of what the park has to say on the issue of marine animal captivity is based on half-truths, biased arguments, and flat-out lies as ultimately it is profit that drives the marine park industry, much like it drives the annual Taiji dolphin slaughter.

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As Sea Shepherd states in an example letter to .38 special, “The eyes of the public are being opened to the truth behind the shiny public image created by SeaWorld and other marine parks…and the truth is that captivity kills.”

“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, in a press release.

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As with many issues, marine animal captivity goes beyond the walls of SeaWorld and into other marine parks worldwide and the waters of Taiji. SeaWorld is the institution under fire today, but if real, long-lasting change is what’s desired, we must look at the bigger picture, connect the dots, and be a part of the solution together.

Time will tell if any musical acts take Sea Shepherd up on their invitation, but right now those of us sitting at home can do what we can to help orcas, dolphins, and other marine animals in captivity.

For resources on how to help, check out Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardian page and the Oceanic Preservation Society’s “What You Can Do” tab.

Image source: Auksinis Kardas / Flickr

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