Ever attended an Empty the Tanks demo? Ever stood alongside fellow activists, educating on the ills of keeping dolphins and other whales in concrete and glass tanks? Then no doubt, you’ve heard of Rachel Carbary — the brave warrior behind the Empty the Tanks Worldwide event. We are delighted to share that Rachel has joined the Dolphin Project family. We are excited to bring her and the Empty the Tanks event onboard, along with other exciting campaigns. Together, we look forward to reaching an even broader audience. Let’s make 2019 truly the Year of the Dolphin!
We spoke with Rachel about what motivated her to create Empty the Tanks and her vision for a captivity-free future.
Q: Why dolphins? What is your earliest memory of when you realized dolphins don’t belong in captivity?
A: Sometimes I jokingly tell students in my education programs that my love for the ocean and dolphins started with Ariel at the age of seven and there is probably some truth to that. However, I first learned about the issues of captivity when I stumbled upon The Cove movie online. I watched it for the first time when I was around 29 years old and I was shocked to learn the truth. Ric’s words from that film have stayed with me since then.
Q: What is your background?
A: I have a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Washington. I have also worked at a variety of animal related non-profits and I have been involved in animal activism for 10 years.
Q: How has Empty the Tanks evolved over the years?
A: Empty the Tanks began in 2013, when I held the 1st Annual Empty the Tanks Worldwide Event. My original plan was to simply protest all three of the SeaWorld locations on a single day because that had never been done before. I timed the first event to take place on the same weekend that Blackfish premiered. My idea of three locations grew and the first year I had 21 locations in 12 countries participate. Empty the Tanks became a household phrase amongst activists almost immediately. The following year for the 2nd annual event the numbers jumped to 53 locations in 21 countries participating. Those numbers have continued to grow with 2019 being our biggest year, with 71 locations throughout 25 countries around the world joining us for a day of action against cetacean captivity.
Q: We’re so excited to have you onboard with Dolphin Project! What made you decide to join forces with Dolphin Project?
A: Dolphin Project has been supportive of Empty the Tanks since day one. That includes when it was just a campaign for an annual event and after it became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The team at Dolphin Project has also always been incredibly supportive of me personally. Dolphin Project and Empty the Tanks have similar missions so why not join forces and bring our messages to even more people. For me there is no competition between the organizations because our end goal is the same. I think together we can bring about change that much quicker.
Q: In addition to Empty the Tanks what will your focus be on?
A: I will continue to run the Empty the Tanks campaign just as I always have, but in addition to that I can now help coordinate other events with Dolphin Project. Those events will include Japan Dolphins Day and a new Annual Beach Cleanup Day. I will also be expanding the educational and outreach programs for Dolphin Project. Empty the Tanks has been working on some fun ideas to bring our message into more classrooms around the world and that will also be a primary focus for me. Broadening the conversation about ocean health and how critical that is for wild dolphins will also be a large part of what I am doing.
Q: Where do you see places like SeaWorld in 20 years?
A: In 20 years I hope places like SeaWorld will have fully evolved into ethical businesses. I have never been of the mindset that SeaWorld needs to be shut down because they provide jobs and create an important economy for the surrounding areas. However, they can do all of that without exploiting animals. SeaWorld can put its millions of dollars of profit to provide state-of-the-art technology and other means of education without using live animals, along with creating proper sanctuaries, where their existing dolphins can retire in peace and dignity. I think in 20 years those places will be forced to reevaluate their business models and realize the new world no longer wants to see animals in tanks and cages. They need to change in order to keep up with society and I think in 20 years they will have realized that.
Q: How can people continue educating year-round?
A: Empty the Tanks is not about just one day a year of taking action. Empty the Tanks is a year-round mission that can be carried out through beach cleanups, movie screenings, handing out literature on a busy street, creating a club at your school, or just attending other events that take place near you throughout the year. It is important to show up for these animals as often as you can and not just on one single day.
Q: What is the takeaway message you hope to communicate to people?
A: That cetaceans and other marine animals are not here to entertain humans. They do not exist to give you a “fun” selfie on vacation. They are sentient beings and they suffer in captivity. We must do everything we can to save them and their home in the ocean.