Why Orcas and Dolphins Do NoT Belong in Captivity

I’m sure most of you have visited a sea animal park such as SeaWorld or Marineland, and sat through an orca or dolphin show, am I right?  It’s not unusual for parents to take their children to these parks when their children are young, innocently believing the sea animals displayed in shows and performances are being well treated and cared for in only the most humane and ethical manner possible.

On the contrary, there are many valid reasons why these sea animal parks are being called upon more and more these days by animal rights groups, to release these sea animals to oceanside sanctuaries, an alternative to releasing them directly into the open ocean, where they are no longer accustomed to inhabiting. Just where are they used to inhabiting?

Orcas, or killer whales, live in pools no bigger to them than a bathtub, a living space so small and cramped that these beautiful, amazing, and highly intelligent creatures suffer a variety of major problems, such as dorsal fin collapse, a condition which has been found to be directly linked to killer whales being deprived of swimming in the open ocean; orcas in the ocean swim distances of up to 50 miles every day. How much distance is really swam by orcas in a pool, at a sea park, comparable for these extremely large mammals to being in a bathtub? A very minimal amount. Being in such a small living space is very unhealthy for orcas and can lead to depression, high levels of anxiety, and even repressed anger–which has led to the deaths of orca trainers at sea parks many times the last few decades, as in the unfortunate death of Dawn Brancheau, a SeaWorld, Orlando, orca trainer who was killed in 2010 by the same orca she had trained for fifteen years, an orca which was implicated in the deaths of two other trainers over the past two decades at two different sea parks. Clearly this orca was expressing great displeasure with its living conditions and surroundings. Orcas do not attack humans out in the ocean, and why would they? Humans are not a threat to them anywhere but in sea parks.

Another problem for sea mammals at sea parks is the training methods used. One of these methods used in training sea animals, which often times leads to repressed anger, depression, and other major mental health ailments, is the withholding of food by trainers in order to force both the orcas and

the dolphins to perform as expected. Although there are federal standards in place governing the minimum amount of food that sea parks are required to give sea mammals on a daily basis. The problem is this: the amount they are fed on a daily basis pales in comparison to what would be consumed in the open ocean, sometimes by as much as half. Furthermore, the fish they are fed are dead as opposed to live food available in the open ocean.

Let’s talk about dolphins at sea parks. It’s common knowledge that dolphins have an amazing and not yet fully understood ability to communicate with each other using sound waves, and that they are extraordinarily sensitive and receptive to the sound waves they sense while in the ocean. Think about the many loud and varying sounds heard at sea parks: people walking around and talking, laughing, eating; employees communicating during performances via loudspeakers, firework shows on a daily basis, screaming and crying children all day, every day. Where do all of these sounds go? Well, for one thing, they enter the water tanks and bounce off the edges of the pools, causing the dolphins to be in constant irritation and frustration, to the point that these beautiful mammals become so agitated and out of sorts that they often ram their heads into the pool edges over and over, just in an effort to deal with the dizzying sound waves experienced every single day.

I am very disturbed by the inhumane and unethical conditions experienced by sea mammals, particularly orcas and dolphins, at sea parks; but I am also appalled by the fact that the law allows humans to take innocent sea mammals from their natural environments-often times away from their mothers well before they are ready-and placed, solely for the profit of the shareholders of these parks, in a pool barely bigger than a bathtub. What benefit does this bring to sea mammals? What payment do they receive in exchange for their daily, forced performances? Dead fish? You’ll be saddened to hear that in many cases, sea mammals such as orcas, dolphins, sharks and sea lions regurgitate the dead fish fed to them, and the regurgitation causes many problems amongst these sea mammals.

I am an advocate of all sea animals currently being used as entertainment in worldwide sea parks, being immediately transported to oceanside sanctuaries, where humans can view them in their own environment, as opposed to our environment, which is unfit, unsafe, and unhealthy for all sea mammals. Parks such as SeaWorld need to discover other means of profiting as well as educating the public about sea mammals, without taking these sea mammals out of their natural environment.

If they are unable to do so, then they should be forced to close their gates permanently. More and more people throughout the world are becoming educated and are educating their children about the dangers and many problems caused by having sea mammals in sea parks; the more people realize how terrible the conditions are for these creatures, the less visitors there will be to these sea parks. These mammals are much too intelligent and emotionally sophisticated to be forced to inhabit bathtubs and eat dead fish.

I urge you to complete your own research on this serious animal rights issue and to educate your children, family and friends as well. Most importantly, refrain from visiting sea parks of any kind to show your support of the releasing of sea mammals from all sea parks.

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