By Maggie Sperry
Killer whales, better known as orcas, have been forced into small tanks and harsh environments since 1961. The first orca to be captured was by Marineland off the Pacific coast in California. After two days in the tank, the female, Wanda, banged her snout into the tank wall, killing herself.
Orca shows are held in marine parks, like the notorious Seaworld, all around the world. Since 1961, approximately 150 orcas have been captured and abused for the enjoyment of the public. At least 164 orcas have died in captivity, which includes 30 miscarriages.
The process for capturing orcas in the wild is long and torturous to the orcas. They are captured in the wild with the use of boats, helicopters, and nets. They are first enclosed in a large net and most of the time, the orcas scatter around, trying to find a way out by lifting themselves out of the water and screaming out for help. Then, the capturers pick the youngest of the herd to grab with slings and pull them out of the ocean, enclosing them tightly in a net. They are soon taken away from their homes and families, never to return, and put into marine parks.
When the orcas make it to the park, they are kept in tanks 350 feet long and 50 feet deep. This is little swimming and diving distance for an orca. Especially since it is reported that in the wild, they are able to dive up to 1,000 feet deep and swim up to 100 miles each day.
Seaworld is now starting to fade out their orca shows, after the release of the documentary, “Blackfish,” which caused a fallout in their income, and persistent pressure by animal advocates. San Diego, California Seaworld held its last theatrical orca show on Jan. 8, 2017 and the company has said that they will now focus on natural behavior of the orcas. Shows in Florida and Texas are set to end in 2019.
There is also the “Blackfish Bill,” which requires marine parks to end orca breeding. However, the bill has only been passed in California thus far.
While Seaworld makes it look like their orca shows are ending, the orcas are still being kept in the same, small pools. Being trapped in a small pool, hardly big enough to fit them and staring at the same walls everyday, takes a toll on the orcas mind and body. Orca captivity must be put to rest, for the better health of all the orcas.
Photo courtesy of www.defenders.org