Lori Marino, founder and president of The Whale Sanctuary Project

by | Jun 17, 2020

Owing to the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing Stay at Home order, I produced and recorded this show remotely from home, the 10th program prepared this way at the Talking Animals corporate headquarters in Jupiter Farms, Florida, and likely the final one of its kind for now. We’re due back in the studio on June 24, to present the show in its customary, live format.

Lori Marino —a neuroscientist who’s the founder and president of The Whale Sanctuary Project, an organization whose chief objective is creating a seaside refuge for orcas, belugas and others that had previously lived in captivity at marine parks—discusses how her training as a neuroscientist informs her work and thinking about animals, particularly ones with more sophisticated brains, and their behavior and cognition. Marino addresses why holding an orca in captivity seems like a particularly egregious fate for those animals. Noting that “Blackfish” and a number of books–not to mention articles, essays, and blogs, etc.—have made it clear among a growing contingent of folks that captivity wreaks havoc on the health and psyche of orcas, that SeaWorld and other marine parks are no place for killer whales, but there didn’t seem to be a practical solution: Where could orcas otherwise go? The Whale Sanctuary aims to answer that very question, Marino explains, drawing a parallel to sanctuaries for such animals as elephants, tigers, and chimpanzees. She outlines the primary challenges in creating a whale sanctuary, and what traits she and her colleagues felt such a sanctuary would require. Marino describes the search for a location they conducted, concentrating in the San Juan Islands, British Columbia, and Nova Scottia—and how, thanks chiefly to residents in and around the area, they landed on Port Hilford, Nova Scottia…which hit the key criteria: large (it’s expected that the Sanctuary will have 300 times the water space of the biggest captive tank), deep, excellent water quality, including temperature and salinity. She goes on to address the costs, both in building and annually maintaining the Sanctuary, and the importance of fundraising, which has been temporarily thwarted by the restrictions of COVID-19. Marino says the projected opening date of the Sanctuary, with the first two whale residents, by the end of 2021. It may be belugas initially, and the Sanctuary may also house orcas; those specifics are situational and a bit unclear at the moment, according to Marino. They do hope it becomes “a model sanctuary,” reproduced by others elsewhere in the world.  (https://whalesanctuaryproject.org, https://www.facebook.com/whalesanctuaryproject/, https://www.instagram.com/whalesanctuaryproject/)


ALSO: As part of recognizing Juneteenth, I aired excerpts of an interview I conducted last year with Jasmine Leyva, an actress and filmmaker who directed “The Invisible Vegan,” a documentary that explores various cultural challenges and implications within black communities when some decide to go vegan, or contemplate doing so. Leyva touches on the not uncommon attitude that going vegan is “a white people thing”—an attitude she admits in the film she wasn’t immune to herself, before she did go vegan. Other topics covered in these excerpts include myths and misconceptions, and the financial—and sometime logistical/mass transportation—challenges that can be posed by embracing veganism. (https://www.theinvisiblevegan.com, https://www.facebook.com/theinvisiblevegan/, https://www.instagram.com/theinvisiblevegan/)

COMEDY CORNER:  Wanda Sykes’ “Cooking Dinner”  (https://www.wandasykes.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,”  instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  Miles Davis’s version of  “Bye Bye Blackbird”


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