Killer whales have been held captive at Sea World for entertainment purposes for many years. The park uses Shamu, the original name of the Orca that had been held captive at the park and that died in 1971, as a trademark for the killer whales held there (Robertson par1). Since its establishment, sea world has been home to hundreds of Orcas. Statistics reveal that 140 Orcas have died while in captivity. Presently, only 45 Orcas live in captivity, 19 of which were born in the wild and 26 in captivity (Kirby par4). Research studies have revealed that holding Orcas in captivity shortens their lifespan. For example, in the wild, female Orcas live for about 50 years while males live for approximately 30 years. However, in captivity, they both live for less than 20 years. Frequent fighting among the killer whales and the unnatural conditions in which the whales live in render their captivity cruel and inhuman.
Research has revealed that the lifespan of killer whales is substantially reduced when they are removed from their natural habitat and transferred to confinement tanks. In the wild, females live for about 50 years and male live for about 30 years old. However, when held in captivity, they both rarely live to be 20 years old. This prevents them from reaching their natural life expectancy (Kirby par5).
Many incidences have been reported in the past that have revealed the unnatural nature of the conditions under which killer whales live in captivity. Cases of failed pregnancies, diseases, lethal accidents and premature deaths of offsprings have been reported several times (Tucker par3). These cases have caused disagreements between people who hold the killer whales captive and animal rights activists. In 2009, a killer whale attacked Ken Peters, a trainer at Sea World. He only suffered minor injuries and broke his metatarsal ligament. In 2010, Dawn Brancheau was attacked and killed by whales at Sea World in Orlando, Florida. Other trainers such as Shana Groves and Steve Aibel were attacked by whales but managed to escape with minor injuries. The killer whales have also attacked civilians in several instances.
In past years, cases of attacks on trainers and fights among the killer whales have been reported (Tucker par5). Scientists have suggested that these attacks are due to the alteration of the physical and mental well-being of the killer whales because of being removed from their natural habitat. Killer whales held in captivity exhibit different behaviors from whales living in their natural habitat. In addition, whales in captivity have poorer health than whales living freely in their natural habitat. The size and structure of confinement tanks reduce the speed of whales (Juzwiak par3). This has led to loss of diversity in their activities and hence the strange behaviors. The poor health of the killer whales is due to the low quality of water. The water pumped into the confinement tanks is usually filtered to remove elements of marine life. Chlorine is added to the water and microorganisms killed using an ozonator. These treatments make the water different from marine water, which forms natural habitat of the whales (Juzwiak par4).
Another problem that killer whales in captivity face is the unnatural sounds produced by pumps and people. These sounds interfere with communication between whales because of the alteration of natural echolocation. Another problem that killer whales encounter is improper feeding. At Sea World, whales feed on vitamin supplements and dead fish. In contrast, they feed on turtles, squids, sharks, whales, sea gulls and penguins in their natural habitat (Kirby par8).
The capture of killer whales and transfer into captivity is both cruel and inhuman. In captivity, whales are exposed to unfavorable conditions that alter their communication, feeding and behavior. They fight among themselves because whales belonging to different species are held in the same tank. This increases their stress levels and leads to attacks on trainers. It is inhuman to capture killer whales from their natural habitats and hold them captive in confinements that have unnatural conditions.
Juzwiak, Rich. Sea World Attack Video Proves that Whale Captivity Hurts Everybody. 2012. Web.
Kirby, David. 7 Reasons Killer Whales Should Never be Held in Captivity. 2012. Web.
Robertson, Nicole. Death at Sea World: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity. 2012. Web.
Tucker, Erika. Killer Whales in Captivity Linked t Human Injury, Death is Nothing New. 2012. Web.