Ban keeping Orcas in captivity now

Leah Koppenhaver, Reporter

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Soft skinned, majestic creatures are being held captive around the world.

Captive Killer Whales have recently covered headlines concerning major health declines and several attacks leading to injuries and death.

Orca whales need to be banned from marine parks around the world.

Many stories have specifically focused on famed ocean-like park Seaworlds orcas, and conservation groups have began attempting to make a major change.

Orcas were first introduced into captivity in 1961, originally caught to entertain the public through performance, according to The Whale and Dolphin Conservation. Since then, 150 orcas have been brought into captivity, and all orcas are bred in captivity instead of being captured from the wild.

Although captive orcas have been a topic of debate for years, a 2010 attack during a live performance at Seaworld Orlando leaving Dawn Brancheau dead sparked controversy.

After the attack, Brancheau was the third person the infamous whale Tilikum had drowned and killed.

Instead of the blame being placed on the whales, experts began to believe it was more the trainer’s responsibility when whales acted out.

In the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” the film argues actions of captive whales are rarely shown in the wild and are caused by the unnatural circumstances they live in.

Because of this, they are facing health risks that wild orcas rarely encounter.

In the past 50 years, the lifespans of wild orcas have been substantially longer than those in captivity. According to Seaworld of Hurt, an average orca in the wild lives between 30 and 50 with a maximum lifespan of 100.

At Seaworld, the average orca lives to only 13 years old.

As well as orcas facing premature deaths, all captive male orcas have collapsed dorsal fins. The collapsed fins are a result of inadequate space to freely swim each day and the unnatural diets they are fed.

Several claims have been made saying collapsed fins are a natural condition in the wild, however in the wild this is a sign of an unhealthy or injured mammal and is only seen in 1-5% of males said SOS Dolphins.

According to the BBC, orcas swim up to 62 miles each day. In confinement, they would need to swim around their tanks thousands of time to swim as far as they do each day in the wild.

Unseen by the public eye is how social orcas are and how differently they interact with one another.

Orca whales are the most social mammals on earth, even more than humans. In the wild, they live in multigenerational units which consist of 2-15 whales.

Each pod of orcas, known as ecotypes, are unique. Every unit of whales has different traits and habits based on how they speak, prey, and breed.

In captivity, unfamiliar orcas are being forced together and constantly moved. Because of this, they are unable to communicate.

Once orcas are introduced to life in captivity, they are never able to live a day in the wild again. The behaviors they have developed will be unnatural in the wild.

Keeping orcas in captivity can be banned with a simple fix if the public stops supporting companies such as Seaworld and Seaquarium all together.  A petition can also be signed at PETA in order to end all animal acts at Seaworld and to release the animals to seaside sanctuaries.