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A sweet reprise in Windjammer Landing, St. Lucia

Imagine lying on a beach, completely isolated from your busy life back home. Armed with a book and a strawberry daiquiri, you walk down the hillside from your private villa towards the oceans, the sweet smell of salt water rushing over you.

Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort is located in St. Lucia, along the coast of Labrelotte Bay. The resort is made of stunning villas with ocean and hillside views, complete with kitchens for when your family doesn’t feel like restaurant dining, Wi-Fi for reaching your loved ones back home, and upgraded bath amenities for absolute relaxation.

What makes Windjammer Landing unique? According to Scott Seger, managing director of Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort, “it starts and ends with the staff. Having lived in several Caribbean islands, the people of St Lucia are, in my opinion, the friendliest and genuine.”

Seger describes the resort as a boutique-resort feel, meaning it’s large enough that guests never run out of things to do, but small enough that individual needs are met. Groups and families are welcome to stay in personalized villas with staff available to help book adventure tours, spa visits, and reserve space in one the numerous restaurants available on the resort.

“All travellers are different so finding what works best for one is tough,” Seger said. “The great thing about Windjammer Landing is we can be a great fit for couples and families. We can help create your perfect holiday. Beach dinners for two and five restaurants designed for families with dietary concerns. Our villas can provide the setting for romance with special touches with you in mind. We can customize your time here to get the most your holiday.”

This customization is what guests remember the most. Tripadvisor reviews show staff were incredibly accommodating and customer service was top notch. Travellers marvelled at how the resort was perfectly populated so the beaches weren’t overcrowded, even with the number of families visiting. Cleanliness was another common theme, as well as the quality of food on the premises.

The resort is all-inclusive, which means travellers can participate in complimentary windsurfing, snorkeling, kayaking, and paddle boarding. Guests will enjoy Mediterranean-style architecture, over 64,000 square feet of pristine beaches, nightly entertainment, and of course, fine dining.

“Our most popular event is our Friday night “Fish Fry,” said Seger. “Don’t let the words fool you, the fish is freshly prepared several different ways. I.e. grilled, Cajun, jerk. The setting is right on the beach next to Embers restaurant with a DJ or band playing local music and creating a street party right on the beach. So much fun!!!”

Seger said Windjammer Landing was lucky enough to not be hit by hurricane Maria, but the storms have presented new challenges for the business. “This hurricane season was one for the record books,” he said. “Many of our neighbouring islands were affected greatly and will take several months or years to fully recover. St Lucia and Windjammer Landing missed all effects of the winds and rain associated with the hurricanes. Getting the word out to the world stating we’re open for business is our big challenge.”

Seger was thrown into the position of managing director a year ago under unfortunate circumstances, after the former managing director passed away. He said the last year was bitter-sweet, but he has tried to honour his predecessor’s direction while still infusing his own personal style into the job.

“I thinks it’s important to not forget the people that make Windjammer, Windjammer.”

Windjammer Landing is having a winter special at the moment, with 40 per cent off all room types. There is also a special on the all-inclusive “Romance Package“, with sparkling wine, flowers, and a couples massage.

Seaworld ends captive breeding, but is it enough?

A moment of rare celebration has occurred in the marine animal world. Seaworld announced on March 17 they are officially retiring the captive orca breeding program and theatrical shows involving killer whales.

Seaworld currently has 29 orcas in captivity, with six killer whales on loan. The remaining orcas will stay under the care of Seaworld and are to be the last of their kind in the entertainment facility.  Seaworld holds the most marine animals in confinement in the world, and this is welcome news for cetacean activists who have been fighting against orca captivity for years.

The decision to stop theatrical shows involving orcas and end the captive breeding program is arguably the result of social pressures from the 2013 film, Blackfish. This documentary investigated the inhumane conditions of the orcas at Seaworld and the death of orca trainer by killer whale, Tilikum in 2010.

Though the end of the captive whale program is positive, key concerns remain.  Seaworld’s website says, “These majestic orcas will not be released in the ocean or confined to sea cages….our existing show pools and viewing areas will be redesigned into a more naturalistic setting and we will continue to present the whales at scheduled times before a guest audience”.

I wonder what they were trying to insinuate with the carefully chosen language of “sea cages”. Sea pen sanctuaries are closed off spaces in bays or coves that could serve as conservation areas for previously captive whales. In comparison to cages on land, living in the ocean in a conservation area would be a welcome option. Seaworld’s immediate dismissal on the part of sea pens and research into them for their remaining orcas is a sore point.

“[The whales] could not survive in oceans to compete for food, be exposed to unfamiliar diseases or have to deal with environmental concerns,” Seaworld says. “Instead they will live long and healthy lives under love and care of our dedicated veterinary and other trained specialists.”

Captive whales have a much lower life expectancy than whales in the ocean. According to a 2011 study by scientist, Naomi Rose, the natural life span of female whales is 80-90 years and male whales is 60-70 years. In captivity, only two female whales have passed 40 and no male whales have lived past 35.

The study also notes the most common causes of death for captive whales are pneumonia, septicemia and other infections. In recent news, Tilikum of Blackfish, is reported to be ailing with an incurable bacterial infection. The study also says, “contributing factors to infection-caused mortality in captive orcas may be immunosuppression. Pathogens or injuries that the immune systems of wild orcas would successfully combat or manage may be fatal to captive orcas, due to chronic stress, psychological depression, and even boredom.”

On March 28 2015, Ontario banned the captivity and sale of orcas, the first and only province in Canada to do so. Unfortunately, Kiska, the lone captive whale in Canada was exempt from this law similarly to Seaworld’s captive orcas because she had been purchased by Marineland beforehand.

I can personally attest to Kiska’s boredom and agitation upon seeing her at the park. I visited to try and take pictures of the state of marine life in this abomination of an entertainment attraction when I was covering a protest for Marineland Animal Defense (M.A.D) for an animal rights publication.

I watched Kiska swim on the outer reaches of her tank, continually charging around and around her cage without pause. The orca displayed signs of telltale boredom often seen in confined animals, and upon asking the caretakers of the facility why she was alone, they replied, “because she wants to be”. The lack of evidence they were able to provide me according to that assertion was astounding to say the least.

The physical and psychological health concerns that pertain to confined orcas forces me to question whether ending the captive breeding program at Seaworld is enough. The exploration of sea pens needs to be considered as a solution for captive killer whales around the world, not to mention other marine life in captivity.

Seaworld’s announcement is only a partial victory for the confined killer whales. They will still remain in concrete tanks and will still participate in shows for the public. It forces me to ask: is this really a victory for the whales still currently in captivity worldwide?

It appears that future whales have been saved from the same life in imprisonment as Kiska and Tillikum. But, will the currently captive whales ever be able to swim in the ocean themselves, or will they instead suffer their fate in a concrete tank alone and forgotten?

Kiska by Kaeleigh Phillips
Kiska By Kaeleigh Phillips