2013 Year in Review

I had just finished reading David Kirby’s Death at SeaWorld at the beginning of 2013, and I was highly anticipating the release of Blackfish.  Reading reviews after it’s premiere at Sundance, I couldn’t wait to see it for myself.

When I heard Blackfish was premiering in Florida at Miami Film Festival, I had to go.

March 3, 2013


Most of the stories in Blackfish were also told in detail in Death at SeaWorld, but seeing them on screen and hearing the former trainers talk about them was very powerful.  I was also in shock at hearing John Crowe recall the captures of wild baby orcas to supply SeaWorld’s collection.

After seeing the film, I wanted everyone to see it.  Blackfish was the opening film a month later on April 5 at Sarasota Film Festival, so I took my dad.  My dad had taken me to SeaWorld several times as a child, thinking it was educational (as many of us believed).  He was shocked by what he saw in the film!

April 25 I attended another round of OSHA vs. SeaWorld to decide if the Petition for Modification of Abatement Date should be extended.

Soon after, as I got more involved in the anti-captivity community, I became a board member for Fins and Fluke.  It is such an honor for me to work with such a great group of people who are passionate about our oceans.

My first event was attending the annual Hands Across the Sand event in Vero Beach on May 18 with fellow board member, Amanda Fagan.

Death at SeaWorld was released on paperback July 2.  It sold out at Amazon UK in just 16 days and was listed #1 in Animals at Amazon Canada on July 9 and at Amazon US on July 20.  Death at SeaWorld has now undergone several reprints.  Have you read it yet?

DASW PB

July 27 was the first annual Empty the Tanks, and my first protest.

Fins and Fluke put out a petition to SeaWorld asking them to stop their captive breeding program at the end of July.  This is imperative to phasing out the horrible practice of keeping orcas captive.  If you haven’t signed yet, please sign and share.

Blackfish premiered at the Enzian near Orlando on August 9 with all major news channels reporting, including Mike DeForest of Click Orlando.

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During a brief hiatus from Fins and Fluke, I launched a fundraising campaign to help fund the release of Roxanne the Risso’s dolphin from Riverhead Foundation.  Roxanne was released August 28.  You can track her progress here.  Riverhead continues to need support in rehabilitating other dolphins, seals and sea turtles that regularly need their help.

On September 1, I also hosted an event for Japan Dolphins Day, the beginning of the dolphin drives in Taiji, in Daytona.  It was great to meet so many other fellow advocates, including Andrea Bosiger who later became a board member with Fins and Fluke.

Andrew Schwartz's photo.

On October 10, I had the great privilege of representing Fins and Fluke at a protest at Miami Seaquarium filmed for SBS Dateline and meeting Ric O’Barry.  I was so overwhelmed by everyone who attended the event giving their support to Lolita.

Blackfish awareness exploded after several screenings on CNN, premiering on October 24.

Andrea and I became Sea Shepherd on-shore volunteers this year as well.  I had the opportunity to volunteer at Veg Fest and DEMA later this year.

 Veg Fest Oct. 26, 2013

 DEMA Nov. 7, 2013

November 9 was the next SeaWorld protest bringing awareness to the 30-year anniversary of Tilikum’s capture.

On December 5, Fins and Fluke partnered with Oceana and Surfrider at the Seismic Airgun Testing forum.  We are looking forward to continuing this partnership in the future to bring awareness against seismic airgun testing.

December 22, Andrea and I joined the protest at SeaWorld Orlando to celebrate Cash’s birthday and the eight bands who have dropped out of SeaWorld’s Bands, Brew and BBQ event.  The momentum has been unstoppable and we are hoping it continues well into the new year and beyond.  With 100 protesters, the word is spreading!

So what’s next in 2014?  Keep spreading the word!  Get involved!

Do you need some ideas?

You can follow Ocean Advocate on Facebook or Twitter and follow Fins and Fluke on Facebook and Twitter, or visit our website.

Read Death at SeaWorld and follow David’s blog series at the Death at SeaWorld page at TakePart.

Read David’s article “Six Ways You Can Help Captive Killer Whales Right Now” for more ideas.

Follow the trainers featured in Death at SeaWorld and Blackfish at their blog and on Twitter.

Let’s make 2014 even bigger!!!