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Support the SWIMS Act!
IMPORTANT NEWS - June 2023 Update:
The Swims Act (HR 8514 / S.4740) was originally introduced to the U.S. Congress in July 2022. This piece of important legislation currently holds an in-active status with plans to be re-submitted later this year (around November 2023). Please note that co-sponsors (U.S. Representatives) can not be added to the bill until it has been resubmitted (Nov). We have maintained the information on this page for reference and encourage you to write to your U.S. Reps later this year. Your letter will make the biggest impact once the bill has been reintroduced to Congress. Please mark your calendar and sign up for our newsletter (sign-up at bottom of page). You can also follow us across social media for the latest updates! Thank you for diving in with us!
What is the SWIMS Act?
Congressman Adam Schiff, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Representatives Jared Huffman, and Suzan DelBene introduced the Strengthening Welfare in Marine Settings Act (aka the "SWIMS Act"); legislation that would end the future capture and breeding of Orcas, Beluga whales, Pilot whales, and False killer whales for public display.
This bill would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to prohibit the taking, importation, or exportation of Orcas, Beluga whales, Pilot whales, and False killer whales for the purpose of public display.
This bill would also amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit any breeding of Orcas, Beluga whales, Pilot whales, and False killer whales for future public display.
This bill would allow exemptions for animals being transported to a sanctuary setting or being released into the wild.
Studies have shown that certain cetaceans (orcas, beluga whales, pilot whales, and false killer whales) are cognitively, emotionally, and socially complex animals who cannot thrive in captivity. Whales who are held for display often exhibit signs of suffering and distress – and die significantly younger than whales who live in the wild. Currently, there are roughly 50 whales being held in captivity in the United States.
Press release from Representatives Schiff, Feinstein, Huffman, and DelBene - including the co-sponsors and supporters of the SWIMS Act: https://schiff.house.gov/news/press-releases/schiff-feinstein-huffman-and-delbene-introduce-legislation-to-end-future-capture-and-breeding-of-whales-for-public-display
NOTE: We've seen more and more U.S. Representatives sign on to cosponsor the SWIMS Act since it was first introduced. We are thrilled to see it! Please keep sending those letters. Keep speaking up! CLICK HERE to view the current list of 30+ Reps that have signed on to support this bill.
Photo of Tokitae by our cofounder Madison O'Connell
Congresswomen Maria Elvira Salazar and Suzan DelBene released an official letter on July 20, 2022 calling for an update from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding Tokitae (“Lolita”) - requesting clarity from the USDA as to what protections Tokitae and other animals have if they are not covered under the Animal Welfare Act exhibitor’s license.
From the press release: Earlier this year, Miami Seaquarium changed ownership and the USDA issued a license to the new owner under the Animal Welfare Act. The license excluded coverage of Seaquarium’s Whale Stadium, where Lolita and another animal, a dolphin named Lii, both reside. USDA has never issued a license that does not cover all the licensee’s facilities and animals. Because these two animals are also covered under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act, this USDA decision raises concerns about the animals’ legal status and welfare.
Read the full press release here: https://salazar.house.gov/media/press-releases/salazar-and-delbene-request-update-welfare-miami-orca-lolita
Summarized backgrounds for Tokitae and Corky (captive Orcas):
Tokitae - Tokitae ("Lolita") is a Southern Resident Orca - violently captured and taken from her family in the Salish Sea on August 8, 1970. She has been kept in the smallest tank in North America [at Miami Seaquarium] for 52+ years. The first ten years of Tokitae's captivity were spent with a tank mate named Hugo. He died of a brain aneurysm after repeatedly ramming his head into the wall of the tank. Tokitae has lived in isolation for 42+ years. Her presumed mother "Ocean Sun" is still alive in the Salish Sea and the oldest member of L-Pod (a pod of Southern Resident Orcas).
Corky - Corky is a Northern Resident Orca - captured 9 months prior to Tokitae. Today, Corky swims in circles inside one of SeaWorld’s tiny tanks. Members of her pod (her family) still swim freely in the ocean. Since her capture in 1969, Corky has only had a life of deprivation, suffering, and loss. We have seen the evidence with our own eyes - orcas mourn the loss of their young. Corky gave birth 7 times - none of her babies survived past two months. Corky has been attacked in her tank and thankfully survived, though the attacking orca did not. Her life has been full of heartache and pain. Like Tokitae, Corky has lived in a tiny tank for 52+ years and deserves the chance to live out the rest of her days in a seaside sanctuary. Hopefully our support will help get her there.
Letters make an impact!
Peggy Oki (Founder/Director of Origami Whales Project and co-founder of cetaceans.org) delivered her SWIMS Act letter to U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal. This momentous occasion was captured on video so we could share the power of letter-writing with you. After this meeting, Congressman Carbajal signed on to cosponsor the SWIMS Act! This is a wonderful example of how impactful letters can be!
Meeting your U.S. Rep in-person isn't always possible, but writing to them can make a BIG impact. Click the buttons below to watch the full video of Peggy meeting her U.S. Rep - and please join our letter writing campaign on behalf of cetaceans!
Pictured: Peggy Oki discussing her letter with U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal
You can locate your Congresswoman/Congressman and Senators by clicking the buttons below.
Multiple addresses might be listed for contacting your representative. Please choose the Washington D.C. address.
Click the button below (.doc or PDF) to download a sample letter that you can use to speak up for cetaceans!
This sample letter can be sent to a Senator or Congress-person - it’s written in a way that will work for both.
“No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal."
- Jacques Yves Cousteau