The Living Nightmare for Orcas


The rain of voices filled the Seaworld stands with the pitter patter of feet shuffling and stomping their way to their seats for a very exciting show. The audience sat praising and cheering for the welcoming of Seaworld’s largest Orca, Tilikum. As one of the best known trainers around,  Dawn Brancheau, was walking around the pool and then it happened. She slipped and fell in, little did she know Tilikum was not what she expected after all. Orcas held in captivity can possess aggressiveness. It can occur when Orcas are stressed, bored, or know they are not in their natural habitat. For Tilikum the stress of captivity caused him to exhibit aggression towards humans like his trainers. This is why more people should watch the documentary Blackfish, so then they can have a better understanding on why Orcas like Tilikum should not be held captive for any purposes whether it’s showing them off or keeping them as pets

Orcas held in captivity do become more aggressive. The documentary Blackfish stressed a lot about Orcas being held captive like Tilikum. He had a history of pulling people into the pool, but reacted because of frustration and boredom from being cooped up since he was two. Killer whales are known as carnivores eating salmon, shrimp, sea-turtles, etc., but never actually a person. It seems that killer whales lashing out on their trainers only emerged when they were held in captivity. In the wild they live in tight matrilineal pods composed of their grandmothers, mothers, siblings, aunts, and uncles. When Orcas start to understand their community, they start to form strong bonds with their family members. By putting a group of newly captured Orcas after being traumatized and going through post traumatic stress from being ripped away from their family into small enclosed areas forcing them to be social with their new friends is like putting a bunch of strangers who speak all different languages in a room and telling them that they have to spend the rest of their lives with each other whether they like it or not.

After Orcas have been captured from their natural habitat, their lifespan starts to decrease when being out of the wild.  Female Orcas live to an average of 46 years of age (80-90 years) and males live to an average of 30 years of age (50-60 years). More and more everyday the Orca lifespan has decreased due to being held in captivity. Many people believe that Orcas do tend to live longer in pools than being in the wild. However, Howard Garrett, one of the Orca researchers from the documentary Blackfish, stated that “because the whales in their pools die young, Seaworld likes to say that all Orcas die between the age 25 to 30 in the wild and live a lot longer in the environment they live in now because of all the veterinarian care provided to them”, which is false. By 1980 Seaworld knew that with all the research done that Orcas lives were equivalent to human lifespans, but chose to keep putting false information out there for everyone.

Because Orcas swim in a circular pool all day, their body images have changed tremendously. 100% of male and some female Orcas held captive have dorsal fin collapse and it happens in less than 1% of wild killer whales. According to Blackfish, Seaworld claims that 25% of whales have a fin that collapses as they get older. As Orcas are held in captivity they have no space to swim freely, swimming in what seems like a tiny box to them and are fed with an unnatural diet of thawed dead fish. Now Seaworld also claims that dorsal fin collapse is common – however, in the wild, it rarely ever happens and is a sign of an injured or an unhealthy Orca.

The public believes that animals are important to learn about and that zoos and aquariums are essential to children’s education. For educational purposes, some people want to keep Orcas in captivity. By doing this, the public believes that they can learn more about wild Orcas. Think about it this way how can people learn about Orcas when they are not in their natural habitat? How can people even understand the way Orcas truly live if they are not truly where they belong? Yes, people can study their body functions up close and study how they swim, but can not truly study an Orca by putting them in a habitat they do not even know how to adapt to very well. However, if more people would watch the documentary Blackfish, they will understand that captivity is cruel to Orcas.

The loud sounds of a heart beating, the twisting and turning of a stomach knotting, and the little voices asking for God’s help all are happening in Dawn Brancheau’s body as her life comes to a tragic end. Seaworld’s best known trainer around, Dawn Brancheau’s life was over before she knew it. Tilikum had drowned, scalped, dismembered, and broke many bones in her body. After this incident Tilikum was kept in a smaller enclosure secluded from other orcas and was back performing when Seaworld felt he was ready. Now Tilikum was not the only Orca that had aggression and showed it towards his trainers, there are countless of records of other Orcas injuring humans. Most children dream of going to Sea World and seeing all the animals do their amazing tricks. Sometimes, children and adults do not really think of Sea World as a terrible or mean place. They picture it as a fun and amazing place where all the animals enjoy being there. When in reality, Orcas would be better off living in the wild. Think of it this way, how would a person like it if they were taken from their house and put in a box with a bed, bathroom, and food controlled by other people. They would not like it right? Orcas are meant for the wild not for a tiny play pool.