Here at One Green Planet, we are blue in the face (no pun intended) trying to argue the case that orcas belong in the ocean, not in concrete cages. We have reported on the aggressive tendencies that these animals can develop when they are cooped up, championed the very serious message behind the film “Blackfish,” and pointed out that SeaWorld’s recent decision to install fancy new “whale treadmills” can never compensate for the phenomenal exercise levels their orcas would receive if they were in the wild.
And although we have heard plenty of stories about humans’ idiotic and exploitative behavior toward these majestic creatures (Russia’s latest decision to display two wild orcas during the 2014 Winter Olympics was a prime example of this), we have strived to remain optimistic about the long-term future of orcas.
However, there comes a time when the talking has gone on for long enough. Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), an environmental protection group devoted to the welfare of these wonderful cetaceans, certainly think so.
Their latest report, “Fate of Captive Orcas in 2013,” makes it clear that they are on a mission to educate the public about the uncomfortable truths behind the whale captivity industry. Some of the facts covered are:
- Since the whale captivity industry began, at least 145 orcas have been taken into captivity from the wild.
- Of these, 125 (or 90 percent) have died.
- Of the 33 orcas who were born in captivity and have since died, they each survived an average of 4.5 years.
- There are currently 52 orcas held in captivity around the world.
When you consider the fact that wild orcas can live for up to 90 years (female) and 60 years (male), with the median survival time ranging from 30 to 46 years, these are some pretty staggering statistics.
WDC’s thirty-second commercial (in which the viewer is forced to make eye contact with a whale trapped in a sardine tin) drives the anti-captivity message home in a highly emotional and poignant way, and forces us to ask ourselves one simple question: why?
Some have argued that the earliest period of commercial orca captivity in the 1960s was instrumental in dispelling public myths that orcas were mindless, unfeeling killers. But what possible justification could there be for counting to hold them prisoner now, in 2013, when even a five-year-old boy recognizes the inherent injustice of it?
If you want to help captive orcas, share this article (or some of our other posts on orca welfare) with friends and family, educate yourself about the whale captivity industry, and show your support to organizations such as the Oceanic Preservation Society, WDC, Sea Shepherd, and Keep Whales Wild. WDC’s short yet powerful video can be seen below: