Killer whales, by nature, are very loving, vocal, intelligent, and family oriented creatures that have never been known to harm, or kill people in the wild, but have done so in captivity. Once a whale enters captivity their behavior often changes dramatically, becoming more aggressive and violent, these are all behaviors that are not observed in their natural habitat. The above reasons are all examples as to why educating an audience on this issue is so important, and in need of urgent attention. After watching the documentary Blackfish I find it is a pressing issue that has been overlooked for too many years. It is also one that should not be occurring in 2014 especially after all of the evidence we have that these animals are being treated poorly, and clearly unhappy in captivity, which is clearly seen by the way they express their anger while in captivity. If we do not do everything in our power to make more people aware of the harm being done to these animals, it will continue to happen. The films shows terrible footage of how they separate the mothers out and take the calf in order to have the whale grow up in captivity. Not only are they separated from their families, the living conditions for these wild animals is another example as to how poorly these animals are treated in captivity. In the small tanks they are kept in they have no space to swim freely as they do in the wild.
Notice the difference in this while whale’s fin in comparison to the picture below of a whale that in captivity, it is very common that whales being held captive have a collapsed dorsel fin.
Whales life expectancy in captivity versus in the wild is a shocking difference. The median survival time in capacity is 25 years, whereas the median in the wild is 46, and maximum is 90 years old (WDC). The life expectancies show drastic differences for captivated whales versus those who live in the wild. Killer whales are simply not able to live in a captive environment. In the article (“Killer Whales in Captivity”) it says that the original ‘Shamu’ only lived for in captivity for six years before dying, and that over the years around 140 orca whales have died in captivity. According to this source the main reasons for their short life span is due to the extreme lack of space they have in their tanks, their separation from their families in the wild, completely altering an orcas typical behavior to be more aggressive towards humans, and the change from a varied diet in the wild, to frozen fish in captivity. It is obvious that if whales continue be born and raised in this harmful environment, their numbers will quickly diminish due to their short life span in captivity, as well as the depletion of whales from “whaling,” and at some point if they continue to be raised in captivity most likely the species will become endangered or even worse, extinct.
There are a variety of consequences that come with this whales in captivity. One is that animals are being subjected to unethical treatment in captivity, which has led to death at a younger age, than if they were in the wild. An article from Animals Welfare Institute showed says that, “female orcas can live up to 90 years in the wild of the wild-caught orcas who have died in captivity, half died after only four years.” Another statistic said that 91% of orcas who have been taken into captivity since 1961 have died.” The consequences of capturing these animals are becoming more and more critical as time passes. Even whales that are born and raised in captivity live a rather short life, the oldest living captive born whale was 23 years old. (Rose)
“The respected SeaWorld trainer was killed by SeaWorld’s Orca Tilikum at its Orlando park. Captured as an infant, Tilikum has been blamed for killing three people while in captivity, two while at SeaWorld.”
One of the main causes of the issue would be the people who make a profit off of the capturing of animals and keeping them in captivity for entertainment purposes. Although there is some truth in zoos, and aquariums being havens for sick or injured animals, the use of animals for entertainment purposes outweighs those instances. If companies like Sea World did not exist, not nearly as many animals would be forced out from their natural habitat, meaning there would be fewer accidents or deaths of people interacting with these frustrated animals in captivity.
Bottom line is… whales should not be held in captivity.