Friday, December 5, 2014

2014 Year in Review

In 2014 Marineland continued to tread water. Gone were the high priced gun for hire public relations people that were temporarily the spokespeople for the park in 2013. The facility abandoned their attempts to rehabilitate their public image and continued to launch lawsuits against anyone who offered a negative opinion about Marineland or the care of its animals. For many observers, attendance seemed to be at an all time low and promises made the previous year of new multi-million dollar attractions and investment went once again unfulfilled. Despite launching two new lawsuits towards the end of the year virtually no progress was made in existing litigation.


A provincial byelection was held in Niagara Falls and pro Marineland Liberal candidate Joyce Morocco was defeated. Months later financial disclosures from all candidates revealed that Morocco received campaign contributions from Marineland as well as the winner of the byelection NDP candidate Wayne Gates.


Marineland was investigated by the Ontario Ministry of Environment regarding discoloured water originating from their property that was being expelled into the Welland River via Pell's Creek. It was determined the discoloration was due to sediments disturbed by construction on the property. Fourteen years prior, Marineland had been investigated and ordered to stop expelling wastewater into the very same creek.

Mountain View Elementary School in Hamilton Ontario cancelled a planned Spring field trip to Marineland after receiving complaints from mom Jennifer Jamieson. After hearing about her 9 year old son's class trip to the captive animal facility she immediate petitioned the school to make a more compassionate and educational choice for their field trip.


It was revealed the town of Pelham Ontario was sending children to Marineland via their summer camp program. In local media, activist Mike Garrett called on town mayor Dave Augustine to speak out against the practice but the mayor refused.  Augustine was re-elected in the October Municipal elections.


Marineland's 53rd season was met with the traditional opening day demonstration. This year's demonstration theme was #SaveSmooshi in reference to the continued captivity of female Pacific walrus Smooshi. The demo also featured a march by some through the city of Niagara Falls to the facility where the demo converged with approximately 500 people.


Activist Mike Garrett and others began a new season of leafleting in the busy tourist districts of Niagara Falls. They engaged the public in conversation about Marineland and distributed thousands of leaflets containing information about the facility until the end of Marineland's season in October.

A peaceful and family friendly #FreeKiska demonstration was held outside Marineland. Activists called on the park to free the female orca who swims alone at the facility with no other animal of her own kind to socialize with.  Kiska is Canada's last remaining captive killer whale.

Facing Marineland in court attempting to have a temporary injunction thrown out against him, activist Mike Garrett was ordered to pay Marineland $10,000 in costs after he was unsuccessful in getting the injunction tossed. Garrett was successful in defending Marineland's attempt to further restrict the activist's tactics and he also prevented the injunction from being applied to other demonstrators and expanded in scope.


Noticeably scarce crowds, broken facilities and scathing online reviews prompted local media to visit Marineland and explore why the park seemed to be virtually empty. Entitled "A Morning at Marineland" and written by John Law the piece gave an honest opinion about the condition of the facility from a paying customer's point of view and it wasn't pretty.

Photos surfaced showing female orca Kiska in what some allege appeared to be declining health. Several media outlets showed the photos and featured the opinions of experts commenting on what appeared to be weight loss and teeth damage. Marineland would later launch a lawsuit against one of the media outlets who covered the story, online news site Digital Journal and writer Elizabeth Batt.


Ceta-Base, an online captive marine mammal database reported that as of September 2014 five Beluga calves had been born at the facility this year while three had died.


Internationally known and highly influential Electronic Dance Music artist Deadmau5 posted a lengthy profanity laced message on his own website calling for Marineland to finally put an end to it's captive animal program and build more amusement park rides.

A municipal election was held in Niagara Falls with a majority of pro Marineland candidates being returned to city council.


It was revealed Marineland had launched two new defamation lawsuits against online news sites Digital Journal and The Georgia Straight. Each lawsuit sought $600,000 in damages and named the authors of the articles in the suits as well. Shortly after news of the SLAPP suits broke, Digital Journal published a retraction of its story about Kiska.

It was announced there would be a musical comedy about Marineland playing at the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival.

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