Picture a mother being held captive in a confined space, she gives birth to her precious baby and then has it taken away from her. She cries for weeks, she’s broken… wrong isn’t it? But apparently doing this to sea creatures for money is deemed acceptable.
Until recently, I didn’t realise how immoral aquariums and marine parks actually were – I think growing up, adults created this fluffy cloud of denial around aquariums, brainwashing me into thinking that all of these fish were happy but in reality, they were the exact opposite.
Stories have been cropping up over the last few years surrounding captive killer whales (also known as sea orcas) attacking and in some cases killing their trainers, but what more would you expect? They’ve been dragged from their spacious homes into tiny tanks, separated from their pods (the group a whale will travel with, much like a family) and domesticated for public entertainment. It’s like not taking a dog for a walk, the tricks aren’t something they are born to do and they start getting aggravated and they misbehave. These creatures are mad, they’re fed up, and they just want to be free.
In an article by the BBC website, it was stated that, “several decades of observation show that orcas are not naturally violent towards humans. There are no recorded cases of a wild orca killing a human.” Which got my brain ticking – aquariums and marine parks are clearly money hungry. If capturing, breeding and training wild marine creatures to do tricks is more important than preserving a marine or their life, then organisations like SeaWorld clearly prioritises the money side of the business rather than marine life and the prevention of animal cruelty.
An orcas’ quality of life is shattered in captivity with their average life expectation to be only 12 years whereas in the wild some can live between 60-100 years. That’s not just a small margin… that’s drastic. The 2013 documentary ‘Blackfish’ shone a light on the situation, outlining how stressed these creatures become during training and how SeaWorld employees like to lie to the public making up facts to make it seem like these creatures are living the longest and most rewarding life possible to benefit themselves.
In the Blackfish documentary, we are told the story of a captive sea orca named Tilikum. The largest orca in captivity, who was captured in Iceland in 1983, Tilikum or “Tilly” as he was commonly known, made a number of violent attacks on SeaWorld trainers eventually killing one of them during a show. In 2017, Tilly finally found freedom in death after 30 years swimming around in circles in captivity.
The stress of captivity drives these orcas to exhibit abnormal behaviour such as bashing their heads against the concrete or chewing on the metal gates of the tank. And it can’t go unnoticed that almost every captive sea orca has a collapsed dorsal fin. The collapsed fin is a huge indicator of a stressful and unhealthy life, implying a bad diet or lack of space and is something that is very rarely found in wild orcas. In fact if seen in the wild would be sign to marine biologists of an injured or unhealthy orca.
But we can’t just pin the blame on SeaWorld – the public purchasing tickets and keeping the parks popular play a massive role in this malicious exploitation of marine creatures. Why do they do it? Why would you pay to see a whale in a bathtub? So, to the marine parks across the world that enjoy stealing animals and abusing nature, empty your tanks and stop messing with creatures that aren’t yours to mess with.