Can I blog about something remotely NOT running? Heck, why I am apologizing this is my blog … and … I kind of make the rules, right? So, I want to talk about whales. Specifically, killer whales. Why? Well, I love killer whales and I feel like the world should know how I feel about them.
One of my earliest memories as a kid was a southern California trip our family took when I was 4-5 years old. I remember Disneyland. I remember the beach. But, the most memorable thing that I remember in detail was my trip to Marineland. No, not SeaWorld, but Marineland. I remember being mesmerized by everything – the sharks, sea lions, dolphins and tide pool. But, none more than the killer whales.
Even when Marineland closed a few years later trips to southern California were not complete without a trip to SeaWorld, because I wanted to see the killer whales. I loved Shamu. I ate up any and all kind of information I could get about killer whales, Shamu, Sea World and sea life. I collected a huge “pod” of stuffed killer whales collected from my trips to the park and even Deseret Industries.
Heck, I would even draw whales endlessly on whatever kind of paper I could get. I was obsessed. I loved killer whales.
Even now, nearly thirty years later, I still love killer whales. I am just as captivated by their beauty, but even more now the science and knowledge we have about their lives in and out of the wild is just fascinating. I still geek out over this information as if I was that five year old boy all over again.
That’s why I was excited to watch the documentary of Blackfish. Going into it I knew exactly what to expect. I had followed and read about the issues SeaWorld and other parks had with Tilikum’s aggression and temperament. I knew the producers were going to slam SeaWorld. Most conservationists do.
I didn’t expect to be THAT persuaded by the documentary. But, in reality, it’s changed my perception and support for SeaWorld and aquariums in general that keep killer whales, whales and dolphins.
Here are a few thoughts I’ve gathered and stewed over the past couple weeks after watching the movie —
Please feel free to chip in your two cents (or dollar if you feel ever so inclined)
- SeaWorld has positively influenced the perception of marine sea life, especially orcas. Without Shamu in the late-60s, 70s and 80s why would we have cared about orcas? Why would we have cared to study them in the wild or save them? Many fishermen found them as an annoyance and would kill them without cause. This was even encouraged by governments. How would that have changed without having a place like SeaWorld and a star like Shamu? Shamu humanized orcas.
- SeaWorld is a corporation first and foremost. They will do anything to get people to the parks. I have no problem with that, that’s capitalism. But, don’t pretend to be something you are not. If you are worried about health and wellbeing of the animals, be that way. Don’t ignore fact. Don’t ignore the fact that whales are stressed from performing and living in cramped pool (these are small when you consider orcas swim up to 100 miles a day!) with other whales in a unfamiliar social structure.
- SeaWorld screwed up with what they knew and what they did and should pay up accordingly with the pending lawsuit and OHSA fines.
- Killer whales, whales, dolphins and other marine life shouldn’t be on show to do tricks for audiences, especially knowing what we know now about them. They’re not mindless animals that will do anything for a fish, they’re complex creatures that are much deeper than that.
- I am not against having whales or sea life on display, but put the money behind proper research and study and make habitats that are conducive that knowledge. If you are going to have orcas, have a HUGE pool that will provide them with what they need and minimize interaction with caretakers (read: don’t swim with them).
- There should be regulations (or tighter) or the breeding of marine life, especially killer whales. Mother and calves shouldn’t be separated either.
- The killer whales captured in the wild should be released back into the wild. Keiko did it and he’s shown that it can be done.
- SeaWorld, and other parks for that matter, should have a limit on the allowed amount of killer whales they can have at their parks. Most parks have 1-2, but SeaWorld has 10 in San Diego, seven in Orlando and six in San Antonio. That’s 23 killer whales to date. Why so many?
I still love killer whales and I always will. People will still come and see them even if they’re not jumping out of the water or splashing them on command. There is an allure about them that is a magnet to many people. But, SeaWorld is in a situation right now, where they set a new precedent on orca care and exhibition. They need to listen to the scientists and even their own conservationists about how to BEST care for not just the orcas, but the whales, dolphins, sea lions and other marine life.
Until they start doing that, I just can’t support them. My only reason to go to San Diego would be for the Padres, the zoo and cheap Tijuana souvenirs.