British Divers Marine Life Rescue 30th Birthday Conference

Recently I had the absolute pleasure of photographing the 30th anniversary conference for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue a charity that I first became involved with back in 2011 when Paul and I found an entire pod of stranded Pilot Whales out on the Kyle of Durness in the very north of Scotland. After the stranding I was so moved by the work of this incredible group of people that I decided to join their ranks and become a Marine Mammal Medic, I also decided to fundraise for them and in 2012 ran my first ever marathon (and actually my first ever run!) in Amsterdam and raised more than £1.5k  to help them continue their brilliant work.

I learnt so much from the talks, from practical tips for animal rescue to valuable research into population decline and threats currently facing our marine mammals, but the one thing that affected me the most were the talks about animals used for captive display. Thanks to organisations like the BDMLR we no longer have this industry in the UK but I know so many people who travel abroad for it, desperate to see dolphins and whales performing, but why? If you are one of the people who longs to swim with dolphins or get up close to a killer whale somewhere like Seaworld, ask yourself why?

Are you looking for a personal interaction with the animal? Because what you’re getting at a show like that, or at an orgaised ‘swim’ is not a genuine interaction, it’s repetitive learned (brainwashed) behaviour, for food. There’s nothing genuine about it. 

If you really care about these animals, see them in the wild, support their habitats and respect them, they are not here to entertain us, they are sentient, highly intelligent creatures. Looking into the eyes of the whales we worked so hard to save back in 2011 they seemed so human, they have more in common with us than we realise.

Don’t believe the conservation arguments, each animal taken from the wild has a direct impact on the population.  Individual populations of Killer Whales around the world are declining so fast, due to all sorts of human interactions that they’ll be gone within our lifetimes in this part of the world. Captive Display is about nothing but money, a lot of money, and if people vote with their feet there won’t be any money to be made and the industry will finally cease.

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