“SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. has been fighting public-relations crisis since 2010, when the orca Tilikum killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in Orlando,” according to orlandosentenial.com. Tilikum was involved in two other fatalities. The conclusion of whether or not captivity affects their behavior is still unknown.
“148 orcas have been taken into captivity, from the wild since 1961,” according to us.whales.org. The main reasons for transporting these 22,000 pound mammals are for human entertainment and research.
For one, humans are not able to live with orcas in the wild so there are amusement parks where people can observe the whales interact with their own species and humans. “ In terms of rare species and scientists being able to collect the DNA and breeding to prevent extinction, is one way that captivity is beneficial,” Robert Funk, science teacher at Cresthill Middle School.
The entertainment aspect offers job opportunities. Sea World claims $1.5 billion in revenue every year, according to cnn.com. “I do not like them in captivity for the sake of entertainment, but I do realize that if people see them in captivity; see their intelligence etc. that may cause them to want to “save” them and support the cause, even donate money- just wish it could be done without putting them in a confinement,” Kent Osborne, Biology teacher at Highlands Ranch High School.
“But when profit becomes more of an issue than the animal welfare, then I think that’s a problem with the institution,” Funk.
On the opposing side, orcas are the top predators in the ocean and removing them from their natural habitat will affect the food chain.
The tanks that some whales are inhabited to are way too small. Whales swim up to 100 miles a day and at Sea World, the whale would have to swim the circumference 1,900 times to equal the same distance (according to seaworldofhurt.com).
Killer whales have sensitive hearing and when the vibrations of the sounds bounce off of the tank walls, it really affects the orcas hearing. Their teeth are also responsive to the concrete and iron bars that surround the tanks. Whales show stress when they grind their teeth on the barricades of the tanks.
Whales are fed a variety of dead fish in captivity, which lack the vitamins that they get from fish they catch in the wild. They are also fed gelatin. The trainers give the whales this as a supplement for water that they would normally obtain from fish they catch in their natural habitat. Many whales suffer from dehydration because of the gelatin.
Due to environmental conditions, captive orcas live 30-50 years apposed to 60-70 years in the wild (according to orcahome.de).
People should have a better understanding about whale captivity versus the wild so they can educate on how the community is unfolding and evolving.
Dylen Swan, Guest Reporter