Sweet Release

When I first heard about the Orca Morgan’s story I was angry. Angry at those who had stolen her chance of finding her family and stolen her life. It’s not the fact that she was taken from the wild, she was alone and starving when found, it’s natural to want to help. That I understand. What I am angry about is that once in human care she was put on display against the conditions of her permit, fed dead instead of live fish and ultimately, despite all the evidence and a viable release programme, sent to live the rest of her days in a concrete tank in Tenerife where she is bullied and abused by the other whales and it seems her keepers.

The fight to free Morgan continues, the verdict from the latest court hearing is due sometime in April (they keep delaying for some reason…) and all the while people keep protesting, raising awareness not only of Morgan’s story but also of the plight of all other captive cetaceans. The battle against SeaWorld and all other dolphinariums is well and truly underway.

The issue of whales and dolphins being kept in captivity and particularly Morgan is just one of the campaigns the World Cetacean Alliance is running. The Long Swim to Freedom campaign features the issue to free Morgan AND to save the last 50 Maui’s dolphins – New Zealand’s critically endangered endemic dolphin. And what better way to raise awareness and support for this campaign then at WhaleFest 2014 the world’s biggest celebration of wild whales and dolphins. But how to make an impact beyond those who tread the halls of WhaleFest? How to send a message to the world beyond?

Well, why do what we are all dreaming of and release an Orca?

Sounds impossible right? Well for Morgan, and the many other Orca in captivity there are very real options for this! But aside from that, for a group of willing volunteers no matter how much they may want to, releasing a real Orca into the sea off Brighton may be pushing it. But who says it has to be real to make an impact?

Our Morgan, lifted onto Brighton beach

So that is what the amazing people at WhaleFest did. They got a life sized Orca, named Morgan, and they drove her to the promenade in a real rescue stretcher. There she was hoisted up and over the railings onto the pebble beach using a real crane. From there, amongst the crowds of people, she was carried down the beach and into the water. Rescue boats from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (the charity which actually does rescue stranded whales and dolphins from around the British coast) came and escorted her offshore. Through the mist of a foggy evening our Morgan was set free, to the tumultuous shouts and applause of the watching crowd.

Followed by crowds Morgan is carried down the beach to the sea
Once on the water she is taken over to waiting rescue boats
by non other than World Renowned Orca Researcher Ingrid Visser
BDMLR boats lead Morgan away into the fog and to her freedom

Of course our Morgan was brought back ashore – we are certainly not ones to pollute our ocean with rubber and plastic no matter what shape it takes – but the message was there, clear and simple. Free Morgan.

Find out more about the fight to Free Morgan at the Free Morgan Foundation website and find out more about the World Cetacean Alliance and the work they are doing here.

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