Retire captive ceataceans to sea side sanctuaries.

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Marine animals belong in the ocean. 

Cetaceans are truly magnificent beings. In the wild, they live in close-knit matriarchal pods, remaining close to their family members all their lives. Orcas, for example, have an average life expectancy of 30 to 50 years, and some make it much longer. They swim up to 100 miles a day and eat fresh fish. There are three clans of wild orcas in world’s oceans; each clan has many pods with family members who maintain complex relationships with others, and each pod has its own language with different vowel ranges. The brain of a killer whale is four times larger than a human brain, while the brain lobes that deal with the processing of complex emotions are also more sizeable in these animals than they are in humans, since they’ve been evolving for more than 35 million years and achieved their brain sizes 15 millions years ago, in comparison, modern humans only arrived on the scene around 200,000 years ago. This puts into perspective how little humans have been able to claim to be the most encephalized species on the planet, and it isn’t clear that we will be able to survive 15 million years of the human brain.

The once feared orcas became lovable too. Our desire to take over things and put them in confine to watch them and train them changed that perspective of a “vicious murderer” as something positive. SeaWorld transformed that into an enterprise and started capturing healthy baby orcas from the wild in the mid 1960’s till the end of the century which has nothing to do with conservation and it doesn’t have any benefit for the species. A captive animal who was born captive is just a representation of its species because it has never seen the wild and it doesn't know how to behave as in the wild, so it won't help the species to recover (apart, because marine parks are for entertainment and never release them). Moreover, the killer whale is a social animal who lives in family, which means that the family has to teach the young one "how to be an orca" before growing as an adult individual. Cetaceans who are captured from the wild by the industry are captured at a young age, so they never learn everything they need to know. In part they never grow up. And so their captive-born calves.

Just because it’s legal it doesn’t mean it’s moral. It is not okay to keep these stunning beings in marine parks because we can’t own them. They are individuals who coexist with us in this planet and who should have the same rights as us, so it’s not acceptable for a company to deprive their fundamental liberty and make them perform and do tricks in exchange for food just for some spectators to see it and then buy orca teddies for their kids and then go home, while orcas spend their whole lives confined in pools.

Not to mention that the fact of not being meant to live in pools is a serious problem for killer whales. They are migratory animals who constantly travel whole oceans (which is ¾ of the entire Earth area) and being displayed in artificial pools knowing the whale’s bodies’ enormous size it is something as proportional as a children's pool for humans. This small space leads to fights between the animals because a captive pod is a mixture of different social groups of orcas who don’t use the same language and don’t understand each other. In captivity they can’t escape as in the wild, where they have a vast natural space, and often mark and seriously rip the other members with their teeth. The pools are walls which don’t replay a marine ecosystem, so orcas don’t get nearly enough mental stimulation, which leads to boredom, extreme stress and frustration in many times channeled by attacking humans; a thing never reported in wild orcas. All captive orca males and some females have collapsed or bent dorsal fins and flukes related to several factors, including time spent at the water surface, swimming and pacing in the same direction in small pools and dehydration. The tissue in the dorsal fin gets less workout and support than in the wild and starts to fall over. One more thing that happens due to the short depth of the pools is skin-burning by ultraviolet radiation. They suffer oral degradation by raking their jaws against the walls and because of the water quality and its high levels of chlorine they tend to end up with visual degradation too. The unnnatural confinement and the fact of getting diseases which are not normal in wild orcas has caused the premature death of the majority of captive cetaceans, making the median life span of orcas in captivity of 9 years. Many female orcas are used to constantly breed and are often inbred; and it is very probable for them to be separated forever with their calves after giving birth. And finally, supporting SeaWorld and other marine parks promotes the Taiji dolphin hunt. Every year, in Taiji, Japan, dolphins are chased into a small cove and butchered in the most horrific and cruel way imaginable. The hunts are subsidized by the dolphin captivity industry, which pays top dollar for a few “show quality” dolphins that are ripped from their families and who don’t need any type of recovering. The rest of the pod is killed for meat laden with mercury and PCBs.

With every leap out of the water, our friends could see an endless ocean. Free of barriers other than where the ocean meets shore. - Helene Hesselager O'Barry.

Credits: Beneath the Surface - John Hargrove



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