Tag Archives: seaworld

Why DO people like “Blackfish”?

James Franco has “analyzed” the appeal of Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s award-winning film Blackfish and has what I’ve seen characterized as some interesting observations.  His theory is that Blackfish delivers on a dark underbelly: it dishes out blood without the guilt.

While he may be onto something about those who go to the shows at SeaWorld who may have a secret, lurking, black desire to see some violent orca-on-human behavior, much as those who go to the circus might secretly hope for the tight-rope walker to need that net, I’m thinking that doesn’t explain the appeal of Blackfish.

Rather, what resonates is the universal truth that all living beings share, which is a desire to live a fully-expressed life. What comes through is our ability to have walked on a darker side of life, to have contributed to a machine of which we were but vaguely aware or perhaps quite aware, to have been even an integral part of that machine, but to be able to truly undo, to redo, and to redress.  What comes through is celebration and redemption: something that even SeaWorld could embrace if it chose.

The dark side of Blackfish? I’m not sure there is one.

If it’s dark you want, just preserve the captivity-making machine of SeaWorld, of Marineland, of Miami Seaquarium, of Loro Parque, of the Georgia Aquarium, of Shedd, of SeaWorld Kamogawa, of the Dubai Aquarium, of Atlantis: The Palm, of the Utrish dolphinaria, of the Beijing Aquarium, of the Nagoya Aquarium or the more than fifty aquariums in the nation of Japan (more than any nation on Earth).  If dark you want, don’t stop the new projects that are continually wanting to emulate SeaWorld’s model.

If, on the other hand, one wants to step into an ethic that preserves and respects life, be part of closing all dolphin and whale shows and ending the capturing and breeding-for-captivity.  Learn about the wild ones on their terms, without the noise, without the shows, without the artificial splashing of stuffed-toy-purchasing children and their parents.

So, at the risk of closing with a “pretty but uninspired long-lens shot[] of whales frolicking peacefully . . . ,” it is an image like this that is the inspiration of those who so love Blackfish and the Blackfish Effect.  This is our goal for all of them.

Why do people like Blackfish?  Because they resonate with truth. And because they very much like redemption. Both for us and for the dolphins.

Support this for all of them by signing the pledge to never go to a dolphin show.

Don’t invest in the captivity machine. Take the pledge to never go to a dolphin show.

What you can doRespect and celebrate life.  Take the pledge to never go to a dolphin show.  Join the #Blackfish Brigade on Facebook and Twitter and take part in coordinated action to get the attention of the entertainment (e.g., concerts at SeaWorld properties) and service industries (e.g., Southwest Airlines) that we want to end the dolphin shows.  And never stop until the shows stop.

Sometimes A Great Nocean: the Simpsons Does SeaWorld

The Twitterverse plants ideas that can’t be shaken, like the tune that someone innocently hums while passing you on the opposite escalator.  Today’s sticky thought began innocently enough.

Watch as the SeaWorld-Simpsons connection is established in your brain

Watch as the SeaWorld-Simpsons connection is established in your brain

A proposal for a perfectly lovely animated movie based on Blackfish that would teach children to respect wildlife enough to see them in the wild (before they had been derailed and come to expect to “have” wildlife on the other side of a glass wall, in the best of instant gratification schemes) turned quickly into an episode – no, an entire series of mental episodes – of The SimpsonsThe Simpsons is especially fitting since Sam Simon, co-developer of The Simpsons, is an exemplar for championing the true nature of this world and whose support for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society resulted in The Sam Simon being part of the SSCS-Australia organization’s whale-protecting fleet.

And because I have neither the skill nor the rights to write the erstwhile Simpsons scripts, I will leave it to the imagination of the overlapping Venn Diagram of Simpsons and wildlife fans.

But rolling around in my noodle are the images of the battling Bart (wants to own a dolphin) and Maggie Lisa (understands that wildlife belongs in the wild), with Bart’s selfish desires being manipulated by the evil Mr. Burns and his shifty

Even Mr. Burns revealed that he had a heart, if memory serves

Even Mr. Burns revealed that he had a heart, if memory serves

Blue-Haired Lawyer to project his desires onto stuffed toy ownership and dreams of becoming a trainer, while hapless Smithers allows his loyalty to Mr. Burns to take him, once again, down the garden path, offering special rates to schools for “field trips” to the Mega Aquarium Chain.  Or the trainers Ernst and Gunter, spewing out the latest script written by Sideshow Bob, while Patches and Poor Violet are exploited in a Public Service Announcement that reveals that orphans deserve to exploit captive dolphins, too.

Or the secrets revealed by Groundskeeper Willie about how a young man was pulled into the orca tank at night and killed, while Smithers (or was it Dr. Julius Hibbert?) was backed into regurgitating a story about hypothermia.

I think I was on a roll until that last bit. But the truth of captivity is not funny.  Dolphins consistently die around the world to feed the aquarium machine, to supply the demand of the market that the aquarium industry created.

Sometimes a Great Nocean would be a wonderful script indeed when Mr. Burns realizes that his greed has resulted in a massive manipulation of both nonhuman and human life, has degraded the lives of all and the ethical compass of humans, and sends Smithers out with an announcement that captivity, while begun in an innocent time, would be irresponsible if continued and that Mega Aquarium Chain would now be turned to an enterprise dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of stranded marine mammals and genuine studies of how to protect their marine habitats.

DOH!

What you can do: To become involved in resetting the ethical compass to the True North of respect for marine mammals, first WATCH BLACKFISH! Then follow your heart and your head and host or join an event in your city to Empty the Tanks, and follow the Blackfish Brigade, the Voice of the Orcas and the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians for daily actions to bring marine mammal freedom into reality.

A generous reader pointed out that I meant Lisa! Thank you! 😉

A sea of cars that say “Watch #Blackfish”

Cars windows have been pronouncing gleeful occasions, such as marriage, since there were car windows.  Whether with tempera paints, shoe polish, or (plant-based) soap, there is a sea of “announcement” space as close as your drive-way, carport or garage.

What is there to announce?  In a word, blackfish.  If you have missed the news stories on CNN, HLN, CBS, ABC, etc., surrounding Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s, Oscar-buzz film Blackfish, and the controversy of SeaWorld’s maintaining a “collection” of highly intelligent orcas in morbidly small tanks, you are likely to remain unable to miss it for long.  In a nutshell, activists have been saying for many years that orcas, dolphins and whales are not suited to captivity. But along came a documentary to explore why an orca would kill one of his trainers, would “bite the hand that feeds” him, and the rest is history.

Again, if you’ve missed the story, just google “Blackfish” or, if you are social media savvy, search hashtag #Blackfish on Twitter. Especially via Twitter, you will see the worldwide conversation about the impact that watching the film and reading David Kirby’s book Death at SeaWorld is having on a world that had no idea.  You’ll find that a six-year-old boy who snuck in while his parents were watching Blackfish inspired a birthday present of demonstrations at three SeaWorld locations.
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But what about those who have missed it, who aren’t into current events or social media?
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Imagine a sea of cars emblazoned with the simple phrase “Watch Blackfish” and maybe add “on Netflix, Amazon and iTunes.”  Imagine the parking lots and interstate highways and traffic stops across these United States peppered with cars that encourage folks to join the Blackfish movement, to learn about the “Blackfish Effect,” and to take part in encouraging the world’s most-emulated marine park, SeaWorld, to see the error of its ways and change its model from exploitation to real conservation.
Watch Blackfish on Netflix, Amazon, or iTunes

Watch Blackfish on Netflix, Amazon, or iTunes

As one who isn’t particularly fond of bumper stickers, I really like the idea of car paint: it’s simple, washable and easily changeable.

Watch Blackfish

I’m hoping to wash my car before someone else makes the suggestion

Speaking of washable, off I go to the car wash and the crafts store.  While my first attempt got honks and thumbs-ups as I drove the 550 miles on I-75 from Florida, I think I’ll spiff up old paint for her new job as part of an ocean of cars with a mission.

Watch #Blackfish.  Listen for the truth.  Don’t ever go to a marine park or aquarium that uses these beings for whatever purpose is their flavor-of-the-month.  Join the Blackfish movement.
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And if you are so-moved, paint that car!!! ♥

Former SeaWorld copywriter’s note in light of Open Letter

As we read SeaWorld’s Open Letter, which it wrote in response to the truth-telling documentary Blackfish and published in several U.S. newspapers, we could spot the spins and turns it wove for an unsuspecting potential shareholder and visitor base.

There have been several responses written to clarify the spins and turns, including:

Something floated across my radar screen today, and when I re-read it, it literally took my breath away.  It was a statement of an advertising agency copywriter for SeaWorld, who described SeaWorld as “one of my favorite accounts . . .”  She submitted her statement to the Orca Network, which published it a bit more than a month ago.  Her statements are truly chilling in light of SeaWorld’s advertisement, Open Letter, Op Ed, whatever it is (which isn’t clear and may be characterized differently in the different publications):

A devout animal-lover, I thought (as did most of the creative team) I was participating in the preservation of Orcas seemingly delighting in this magical environment of hands-on trainers soaring through the choreographed acts with them. Oh how very wrong I was. And oh how deeply ashamed I am today for being a part of this vile travesty. I never knew or saw SeaWorld in the truest sense. I bought the lie…

So, as I read SeaWorld’s Open Letter, I think of this copywriter, and her anguish at having been part of disseminating the SeaWorld view of these magnificent beings, the orcas and other dolphins, the beluga whales – all the wide-ranging marine mammals – and I find myself wondering whether, and even when, the copywriter who worked on the current piece will have a similar epiphany.

What you can do:

Write letters to the editor: In order to ensure that the newspapers who published the SeaWorld piece are presenting both sides of the issue, the Blackfish Brigade has initiated a CALL TO ACTION regarding writing a letter to the editor of those newspapers (but don’t forget your local paper), to request that they publish one of the above-linked responses to SeaWorld, and state your view that a business model that is built upon the captivity of these magnificent creatures is now outdated, and that SeaWorld must adapt to our new awareness and begin working to develop a new one that is not based on animals-as-entertainment or captivity.

Participate in Empty the Tanks: The plans for the second annual Empty the Tanks events to be held on May 24, 2014, have already begun.  Check to see if your city has an event or events scheduled and begin the rallying cry to Empty the Tanks!

Share the word that Blackfish, being watched by more and more people every day and getting Oscar buzz, is available on NetFlix, Amazon and iTunes.

I’m following Blackfish Brigade for coordinated actions to make sure that SeaWorld and all aquariums that hold marine mammals captive are @blackfished!

There is no eduation within the mind of man that can justify the enslavement of dolphins.  Certainly no miseducation can.

There is no education within the mind of man that can justify the enslavement of dolphins. Certainly no miseducation can.

The Origin of SeaWorld

In 1964 four fraternity brothers had an idea.

The idea was a restaurant with an underwater bar in the background, rather like a piano bar, but the “piano bar” was captive living beings.  Not too big a stretch for one of the founders, who is credited as the first to introduce “live bait” into the fishing for striped marlin.

The “piano bar” concept proved to be too expensive.

So they built an aquarium instead.

That aquarium is called SeaWorld.

Blackfish 110313

For more information about the plight of marine mammals during and after capture and for those who are born unnaturally in captivity, add A Fall From Freedom, Blackfish, Death At Seaworld and The Cove to your library; available on Amazon.com (Blackfish on November 12).

Could Blackfish interrupt the legacy of captivity?

As the world heads to Sarasota for a screening of Blackfish, a much-celebrated film by Gabriela Cowperthwaite that premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and will, on April 5, open the Sarasota Film Festival, Tampa Bay Online (TBO) takes a more “traditional” view of marine mammal captivity rooted in the 1960s and the television show, Flipper, as it considers whether the Tampa area can support two large aquariums.

TBO’s article, which demeans both its readership and dolphins by continuing, if only to correct itself, the aquarium industry’s old tradition of not giving dolphins unique names, reflects the all-too-evident sensibilities of the aquarium industry: the ability to profit and compete is a more salient factor in whether to keep marine mammals in captivity than the harsh reality that marine mammals do not fare well in concrete tanks.  Instead of films like A Fall from Freedom working to keep businesses like the Georgia Aquarium from opening (2007), from adding a dolphin “extravaganza” (2011), or from applying to import the first wild-caught marine mammals since 1993 (2012), the focus of TBO’s article suggests that competitive demographics is a more salient factor in aquarium siting and expansion than the truth about captivity.

Winter as she retreats from the noise

Winter as she retreats from the noise

Winter.  According to TBO, Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) officials believe they “have that . . . something particularly interesting and readily visible” to keep attracting visitors.  The CMA’s “something” is Winter.  Winter is a female dolphin who lost her tail fluke after being caught in the monofilament line of a crab trap.  She was brought to national focus by the movie, A Dolphin Tale, and now lives in a world with the additional noise that accompanied the increased ticket sales from her “stardom” – a not insignificant one, as reported by TBO, from “$8 million to $21 million between 2011 and 2012.”

Winter’s position as the CMA’s current “something” is complicated since she “would be difficult to replace because her prosthetic tail is integral to her story,” as the TBO quotes an economist.

Winter would be difficult to replace because her prosthetic tail is integral to her story.

Tilikum.  Difficult to replace, as would be Tilikum.  SeaWorld Orlando’s star sperm-donor with more living offspring than any other male orca in captivity, Tilikum was caught off the coast of Iceland at about the age of three in 1983, where he was removed from his family and placed into a lifetime of confinement with strangers.  Tilikum is one of the stars in David Kirby’s 2012 groundbreaking and much-acclaimed book, Death at SeaWorld, and although Mr. Kirby did not set out to make a case against marine mammal captivity, he now finds himself at the center of an international dialogue about the ethics of this confinement.

Tilikum during a performance at SeaWorld

Tilikum, his flacid dorsal fin, during a performance at SeaWorld

As does Ms. Cowperthwaite and her film.  Blackfish tells more of Tilikum’s story: a male orca who was caught in the wild in 1983 and brought first to Sealand of the Pacific and then to SeaWorld Orlando, where Ms. Dawn Brancheau, one of Tilikum’s trainers, met a fate – shared by two other individuals – that would not exist but for the aquarium industry.

While Tampa and Clearwater continue to vie for more of the public’s dollars as aquariums display marine mammals and continue their vested interest in maintaining dolphin captivity, come to Sarasota on April 5 for the screening of Blackfish.  Consider the life of Tilikum, the deaths of two trainers and an aquarium visitor at his hands, and become part of the educated dialogue.

This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.  – Abraham Lincoln

SeaWorld spearheads this meeting of the “I need a dolphin or whale” club

First go round, it was the Georgia Aquarium (on behalf of not only itself but also SeaWorld, the Shedd Aquarium and Mystic Aquarium) that said that it needed to import beluga whales from outside the United States.  Now SeaWorld is spearheading the effort, having set its sights on obtaining dolphins, more specifically, on an unnamed female Pacific Whitesided Dolphin, now being held captive at an aquarium in Japan.  The proposal is to tear her from her captive surroundings, from the dolphins that she has come to know, and to “ship” her as so much cargo halfway around the world to be put into another tank with strangers.

When is the welfare of the dolphin ever considered?  But I digress.

Pacific Whitesided dolphins where and with whom they belong: in the Pacific Ocean with their family

Pacific Whitesided dolphins where and with whom they belong: in the Pacific Ocean with their family. Photo Credit: Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

And we, the public, have an opportunity to give our input, to submit our comments, objections and questions on the permit application.  Comments must be submitted by March 6 to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the SeaWorld San Antonio application to import a female Japanese Pacific Whitesided dolphin.

At least based upon the readily-accessible information, there appear to be many unknowns. Without more information, it appears that this import permit application is either

  • not giving the public a meaningful opportunity to review and provide input; or
  • >is, itself, incomplete.

So, first, request all the additional information that NOAA is relying upon in its evaluation of the permit application.  Then raise meaningful questions in your comments, such as:

  • Who is the specific dolphin that SeaWorld intends to import? While there may be others who believe that they can piece it together to make a reasoned guess as to her identity, that burden in not on the public.  SeaWorld and NOAA share that one, with the ultimate burden falling on SeaWorld for the content of its application and the conclusions drawn from evaluating that application on NOAA.
  • Where is the birth record and the names of those to interview to verify that she (assuming they already have an individual in mind) is, in fact, captive-bred, as asserted in the application, and a record of the interviews conducted and by whom?
  • Failing the availability of a record that includes those interviews, on what basis will NOAA evaluate whether and agree that the unnamed female dolphin was captive-bred.  NOAA  must, via this record, eliminate the real potential (given the holding aquarium’s current ownership of wild-caught dolphins) for a wild-caught dolphin to be unlawfully imported into the United States without making all the necessary threshold determinations.
  • Failing a substantiation that the dolphin is not wild-caught, if it may then be presumed to be wild-caught (or they would surely have the records and interviews in the record), demonstrate that the dolphin was not caught in a hunt that has been recognized as inhumane, opposed by even by the International Marine Animal Trainers Association.

This should get you started.  In your comments, request a public hearing, or there won’t be one.

Shine as much sunlight on this as possible.

TO SUBMIT COMMENTS/QUESTIONS:
Via Email: NMFS.Pr1Comments@noaa.gov
Via Fax: (301) 713-0376

TO REQUEST ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: CONTACT: Jennifer Skidmore or Kristy Beard: (301)427-8401.

Captive Pacific Whitesided dolphin

Captive Pacific Whitesided dolphin

Join in finding freedom from captivity – A New Show

Ric O'Barry after release of The Cove

Ric O’Barry after release of The Cove, photo from The Examiner

For years, Ric O’Barry and Hardy Jones have spoken out against marine mammal captivity.  They have pointed out in movies, such as The Cove and A Fall from Freedom, that whales and dolphins do not belong in captivity.  Recently a group of former Sea World trainers have created an interactive website, where they speak out about the life of captivity for marine mammals.

Mr. O’Barry, as a former and probably the world’s most famous dolphin trainer, learned from being with them on an ongoing basis, that training them to perform and keeping them in captivity was not an ethical undertaking.  He learned that dolphins in those settings can become dispirited and depressed.  He learned what Jacques Cousteau admonished, that

No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal.  – Jacques Yves Cousteau

In response to that realization, Mr. O’Barry and others have devoted their lives toward securing the release of dolphins and orcas from a captive, for-human-entertainment life.

Rehabilitate the captives.  Mr. O’Barry has suggested an ethical alternative for the trainers and the captive facilities, like SeaWorld and the Georgia Aquarium.  That alternative is to provide real education about whales and dolphins by rehabilitating for a life in the wild the cetaceans whom the aquarium industry has captured or bred for captivity.  And making that the show. There are over 50 cetaceans at Sea World Orlando alone, and hundreds in the United States.  The international situation mirrors the United States one, with worse conditions than the meager protections afforded by U.S. laws.

Wouldn’t rehabilitation of former “performers” be a fine undertaking and a show that you’d be proud to attend?  And a wonderful memory for your children?  Of having been part of and been there on the front row of finding freedom for the world’s dolphins and whales.

You have, perhaps, seen the videos of dogs who had spent their entire lives chained to a post and then become free from that chain.  While dogs and dolphins are not an apt special comparison because dolphins are actually wild, undomesticated animals, watching even a dog experience freedom from a chain, unsuitable for its normal activity and range, may give us some sense of what an orca or dolphin, far more intelligent than a dog, would experience in the same situation.

We would need to be very responsible in that endeavor to release these highly intelligent mammals in a way that took into account their intelligence, their lifestyles, their instincts, their native habitat.  We could do that.  And if we humans are ethical and moral creatures, we will do that.

Rehabilitate the stranded.  After we succeeded in rehabilitating the captive-bred or captured dolphins and orcas, there would be ongoing work to rehabilitate whales and dolphins who strand, generally en masse, for reasons that still elude the human species.  Instead of finding reasons to retain the stranded, Sea World and the rest could re-focus the effort that they now expend in training for jumping, splashing, ball-throwing shows on caring for the stranded, locating the still-free remnant of the pods, and reuniting them.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to share with your children an experience of restoring a free life to these magnificent creatures?  As a comparison, if we desired to design a depressing life for dolphins and whales, we would wind up with a design like the current Sea World and The Georgia Aquarium.  Of course, that is not our desire.  That is, I feel certain, not the desire of the aquariums.  But the apparently willful blindness of the aquarium industry to the egregious, depressing life that they have designed for whales and dolphins is no excuse.  It is not an excuse for any of us, any more. We and they must step beyond the Mid-Twentieth Century mentality of dolphin and whale captivity.

The great news is that there is an alternative. An ethical alternative.  An alternative that will allow us all to participate in making a difference for life.  But we must together create that alternative.  How?

By being part of a demand for A New Show.

And, meanwhile, by taking a pledge not to go to the current one.  Be part of building an ethical outcome to the captivity dilemma.  Never again allow a dolphin to die as Jiyu, whose life will forever remind us that dolphins should be free.

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn't withstand captivity Taiji Cove

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn’t withstand captivity, photo by Heather Hill of Save Japan Dolphins

Namaste.

Are you pro-captivity or anti-captivity? There’s really nothing in between.

As the video makes pretty clear, there is really nothing in between, except indecision.  If you do not yet find yourself either standing for marine mammal freedom or against marine mammal freedom, I have one question for you.

What will it take for you to make up your mind?

Maybe learning the truth about the marine mammal captive industry would help?  The documentary, A Fall from Freedom, is a content-rich work that includes interviews with marine biologists who have performed research on marine mammals in the wild, executives with Sea World, brokers in the orca and dolphin-acquiring business, and advocates for the position that marine mammals cannot be provided a normal life in captivity.

No, wait.  One more question.

How many orcas and dolphins have to die in captivity, in the process of being taken captive, or in the drive hunts where often there is no attempt to capture them – but only slaughter them – before you stand on one side or the other?

Perhaps it would help you to know that there are already-existing ways to learn about and advocate for the freedom of marine mammals here in the United States and abroad, such as:

  • groups on Facebook that organize for marine mammal freedom (some great ones are Save Misty the Dolphin, Save Japan Dolphins and Free the Atlanta 11);
  • advocates on Twitter that you can follow for information (I am @mobrock,  and there is @MrHolise, @SaveMisty, @Misty_Dolphin, @janice_oceans, @blog4cetaceans, @livenbothworlds, @shortbus1, @AustinLynch1, @edatthebeach, @Luv_Dolphins, @SJDolphins, @RichardOBarry, @LincolnOBarry, @SeaShepherd, @earthisland, @earthrace, @PeteBethune, @orkacoalitie, @BlueVoiceOrg, and many others)
  • signing petitions (e.g., to stop a dolphin expo in MississippiPuerto Rico, the Maldives or St. Maarten);
  • signing pledges not to buy a ticket to a dolphin show;
  • watching the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove;
  • watching a film created by the dolphin “fishermen” for how they handle dolphins;
  • calling the consulates and embassies of Japan to voice your opposition to the dolphin hunt; or
  • leaving AT&T who has its name on the dolphin extravaganza at the Georgia Aquarium and write them letters to tell them about your decision.  AT&T can be reached at AT&T, 32 Avenue of  the Americas, New York, N.Y., 10013-2412.

The fight for all marine mammals, including Morgan who has lost the first round in regaining her freedom, continues, and will not stop until they are all given a chance to be rehabilitated and returned to the ocean. For right now, I hope you will follow Morgan’s story and the community in Norway who is eager to rehabilitate her in a sea pen near where her pod has been identified and then to release her to live with her pod, instead of being condemned to life of ownership by Sea World.

I hope you find yourself on this path with us, for a sustainable future that  recognizes that freedom and enlightenment for one species cannot be purchased by the enslavement of another.

Namaste.

Why Orcas Should not be in Captivity

The magnificent Orca

Naomi Rose, PhD, Senior Scientist for the Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States, has published a white paper which summarizes certain facts relevant to the condition of orcas in captivity versus those who live a natural life in the wild. Dr. Rose points to the following reasons why these marvelous creatures should not be captured or bred and held in captivity:

  • Longevity: Orcas in the wild have a significantly shorter lifespan in captivity than in the wild. Wild males orcas have a maximum life expectancy of 60-70 years; females 80-90 years – comparable to a human life span. No captive male orca has ever lived past 35. Ever. Only two captive female orcas have lived past 40.
  • Causes of death: The most common cause of death in orcas pneumonia, septicemia and other infections. It appears that the ability of veterinary care for captive orcas is too unsophisticated to detect health issues on a time-frame that can intercede and save the individual. A complicating factor in orca health appears to be immunosuppression, which in humans, is known to be greatly exacerbated by depression and stress, both of which are common in the captive orca population.
  • Dental health: Well-documented and common teeth issues in captive orcas which do not appear to the same degree in their wild counterparts. The poor dental health is in part due to the orcas gnawing on metal bars and concrete walls, which breaks the teeth. These broken teeth, most often drilled out as a palliative measure, serve as a direct conduit for infection.
  • Aberrant Behavior: Aggression toward other orcas in the wild is undocumented, while it is not uncommon in captivity. So, too, is mother orca rejection of offspring: uncommon in the wild; common in captivity.
  • Harm to humans: Pay attention to the current OSHA hearing regarding the SeaWorld’s orca program and specifically whether SeaWorld may have knowingly exposed its trainers and other employees to dangerous and life-threatening conditions including Dawn Brancheau. Four humans have been killed by orcas in captivity, while there is no documented case of a wild orca killing a single human.

They do not belong in captivity. They do not thrive in captivity.

Please don’t go to the orca, or dolphin, show. For more information, please watch A Fall From Freedom, a full-length documentary currently streaming over the internet.