Blogging from A to Z Challenge

SeaWorld: Save the whales

The obvious choice for S is also one of San Diego’s most hotly debated attractions: SeaWorld.

As you probably already know if you’ve seen Blackfish (or, let’s face it, Free Willy), SeaWorld has recently been taking a lot of heat about their treatment of orcas, and their true intentions behind keeping them in captivity – particularly in such close proximity to killer whales swimming free in the Pacific Ocean.

Even Portlandia has gotten in on the act, with the return of the ineffective Ecoterrorists from season 4:

Dakota and Brit vote for saving the whales somewhere warm - SeaWorld!
Brit and Dakota vote for saving the whales somewhere warm – SeaWorld!

Skewering San Diegans’ predilections for fish tacos, beach parties and waterfront housing secretly funding more of SeaWorld’s evil empire (wait, is that one really a thing?), as well as the Ecoterrorists’ own ineptitude, the episode is hilariously spot on. Go stream it on Netflix right now if you haven’t seen it yet.

In the meantime, if you do still want to bring the family to SeaWorld, I guess it’s worth asking the question, “Are zoos and other edutainment facilities like SeaWorld helping animals or hurting them?”

Aquariums, for instance, typically have a more educational/research component to their collections. Does SeaWorld fit that mold, or is their interest in animals more exploitative – particularly with dolphins and orcas performing in shows on a daily basis? Are the animals at SeaWorld being nurtured or exploited?

I don’t think it’s quite as black and white as the orcas’ own skin, but it’s definitely a topic worth exploring. And if you feel that SeaWorld ought to end its program of orca captivity, please do sign this petition at Change.org.

SeaWorld is located at 500 Sea World Drive in Mission Bay.

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4 thoughts on “SeaWorld: Save the whales”

  1. I say it’s definitely black and white. Whales and dolphins are incredibly intelligent animals. They are, in the main, totally unaggressive. The whale brain is larger than ours – but not only that, it is MUCH larger in the areas that scientists attribute to intelligence. And there is no denying that they are incredibly intelligent, certainly more so than chimps, they have a fourth cortical lobe, and judged by the scale WE are judged upon, our cortical lobe, our intelligence quotient is on average 100. Theirs is 2,000! Putting them in a small tank when they are used to UNLIMITED waters is incredibly cruel and wrong – for what? to make us laugh, and sigh in wonder? We are incredibly selfish. Whales and dolphins have their own language and talk to each other all the time. Dolphins each have a different name and call each other by name – and announce themselves to each other with their name. When scientists played the calls of a pod of dolphins from which some captive dolphins had been taken, the captive dolphins became very excited and lined up in front of the speaker in the pool and called their own name, one by one, into the speaker. A dolphin that had been rescued in the wild and nursed to health in with some captive dolphins, observed the tricks they performed, including tail walking, not a natural dolphin behaviour, and when she was released she taught it to her pod. Whales and dolphins are wild creatures that belong in the sea, they deserve their freedom as we do, they deserve to be treated with dignity, and they certainly do not deserve to be kept in tiny pools full of chlorinated water and made to do tricks for gawping tourists. (As you can see, I don’t feel very gentle about this particular subject! Do come and read my dolphin entry. And google Captain Paul Weston on the subject of whale/dolphin intelligence if you are interested.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Liz. I didn’t want to go too in-depth on this post, because I didn’t want to get into arguments with hardcore animals rights activists, but what I meant by it not being quite a black and white issue was the idea of what might happen to animals that were returned to the wild. I’m certainly not an expert on this subject, but I did find an article from WDC that says it’s not always possible to return captive animals to the wild, though some are certainly better candidates for this than others: http://us.whales.org/blog/2014/02/can-captive-whales-or-dolphins-be-returned-to-wild

    To be clear, I definitely don’t support SeaWorld, and wouldn’t want to visit any facility that showcases animals as entertainment. And anyone who feels similarly should sign the petition I just added to this post.

  3. I was just out on a dolphin and whale exploration (in the wild). We learned that the average life of a wild dolphin was about 24 years, whilst in captivity it dropped to 2 years. They must be so miserable. I don’t go to Seaworld, or anywhere that holds dolphins in captivity.

What say you, gentle reader?