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Photographer Richard Shucksmith had a moment of a lifetime recently when a pod of orcas (also known as killer whales) came right up to him in the Shetland Islands, located in north Scotland. According to Shucksmith, the orcas came inshore to a small gully, less than a meter away from him, and caught seals for the next half an hour. The beautiful pod happily swam and delighted Shucksmith when they would come up for air.

When they aren’t forced to perform silly tricks for human entertainment, orcas naturally live in closely bonded matrilineal pods and stay with their immediate family members all their lives. They swim up to 100 miles a day, making them one of the most wide-ranging mammals in the world. In captivity, orcas are confined to a small pool, with an adult orca having to circle the perimeter of their tanks 1,900 times to swim the same distance they would in the wild.

No doubt about it, orcas tend to do a whole lot better when they are permitted to live as nature intended, in the open ocean. Sometimes, it is only when we are presented with awe-inspiring images or videos of these animals in their natural habitat that we can fully appreciate just how true this is.

Now more than ever, we need to wake up and realize that it is time to empty the tanks! You can help by refusing to buy a ticket to SeaWorld and most of all, spread the word about these beautiful and wild creatures.

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