Pender Ocean Defenders listened to these podcasts but had serious concerns with some of the content. Our concerns are detailed below.
We find the title misleading. Yes, Orcas kill their prey for food because they are predators. All carnivores kill. We would not call a person who
eats meat a killer. Orcas do not kill senselessly. Although they are called killer whales, it seems to us that it is akin to clickbait to entitle the podcasts "Killers", and does not encourage people to sympathize with their plight.
Neither Mark Mollison nor John Ford can bring themselves to assign “human” emotions to orcas. Jane Goodall, who spent years studying animals in the wild, offers informed insights into what she accepts as emotions revealed in the interactions of her subjects. She is clear in her view that the reduction of animal feelings to merely “drives” or “Instincts” is wrong.
Mark Mollison speaks of orcas having "strong drives" to carry things around, noting that they have been seen to carry around turtles. He goes on to make the egregious error of conflating this spontaneous play behaviour with the grief behaviour shown when mother J35 carried her dead calf for 17 days and 1000 miles. In this way he trivializes the mother orca’s grief.
Ads for the podcasts say that the cause of their decline is a mystery. It was mentioned that there are various possible causes for the decline of
the orcas, among them ocean warming, noise, lack of food, toxins. The
implication seemed to be that we need to find THE reason they are in
decline. The conclusion should have been that these factors are acting cumulatively , and thus all should be remedied. Even if there is some uncertainty about the most important cause for the decline, the precautionary principle should prevail: mitigate all possible causes.
The series is called Killers: J Pod on the brink. This would lead listeners to suppose that the series would focus on the J pod resident population. Frequently in this episode there is reference to how well the transients are doing. Yes, they are doing well, but the resident population which the series is purportedly concerned with is facing extinction. This concern with the healthy transient population dilutes the message. Is this intentional?
There was a lot of time given to the protest by about a hundred sports
fishermen. Thousands of protestors have filled the streets of Burnaby and
Vancouver protesting to save the orcas and they are not mentioned.
The problems caused by the damage to the Columbia River (in theU.S)
does not mean that there is nothing we can or should do in Canada. We need to focus on what we can do rather than point down south at what they are not doing. 80% of the salmon habitat in the Fraser River has been lost, together with many areas of wetlands which are critical habitat for young salmon. We need to begin remedying this and encouraging our southern neighbours to do likewise.
There was no opportunity for rebuttal of the arguments offered by the whale watchers, who claim legitimacy by stating that they collect data and protect the whales by keeping other boats away. The problems they cause to whale communications is glossed over. Again, there is no opportunity for rebuttal by whale conservationists.
We found this painful to listen to. The story of Moby Doll is horrible.
The truth is they tortured her to death.
It is stated that whether we like aquariums or not we must admit that we
have learned the most about orcas from these aquariums. This is not true.
Learning about orcas in captivity is like thinking you can learn about humans by watching an isolated human in a prison cell. This is why
Dr. Leakey had researchers go into the wild to watch the chimps and mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. He knew that watching them in cages would not produce useful data.
It is stated that we would not love killer whales if not for aquariums.
Not true. We love them because they are our neighbours, free and beautiful
in the ocean. There are many creatures we humans develop affection for when we have seen them only on a screen.
The logic that out of evil comes good does not work. Now that we know
Orcas are social animals, we need to stop using them for entertainment.
They are used this way simply because they make money, which is not an ethical justification for isolating social creatures in alien environments away from their family groups.
Whether whale watching helps or hurts the orcas is discussed:
The problem is lack of fish, not the multi-million dollar whale watching
industry. Why throw in that “multi-million dollar industry” phrase? Is this the “If it makes money it must be good” ploy? . The whale watching industry is clearly a part of the problem. If there are fewer salmon available, the whales need to locate them more efficiently with their sonar, which is severely hampered by boat noise.
The whale watchers portray themselves as "sentinels" for the whales. They
say they are the data collectors and nobody would know anything if it
was not for the whale watchers. None of this is questioned, and it is patently false.
There is also no mention of land-based whale-watching, which we and others are trying to encourage.
Johnathan Wilkinson, minister of fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard says the situation of the orcas is not that dire, the government havs put in significant measures and Canadians can be now be confident that the orcas will survive. In fact, the report by the NEB states that increased tanker traffic resulting from the Transmountain Pipeline will have a significant impact on the orcas.
In conclusion, we found these podcasts are not balanced, and misleading.