While checking the news this morning I stumbled upon an article about one of the Killer Whales that is being kept in captivity at SeaWorld. Here is the article Tilikum . I started doing some research on keeping these amazing creatures in tanks. The studies don’t seem to good for the whales, and a main example is Tilikum. In the wild killer whales are not known for exhibiting aggressive behaviour towards humans. Tilikum has been “responsible” for the death of three humans. It is hypothesized that being kept captive has caused him to develop aggressive behaviour. Life expectancy in the wild is over 50 years, however the whales kept in captivity have a life expectancy of only 13 years. One obvious negative factor of whales being in captivity is the space they are given. In the wild these creatures have hundreds of thousands of miles to swim, hunt, and socialize. In a tank they are kept in very small areas, decreasing their ability to swim the necessary distances to stay healthy. Also they are cut off from interaction with other whales, and similar to humans, this can cause behavioural problems, such aggression as I’ve already stated. Whales who are stuck together in captivity often fight due to anxiety and tension, which is extremely unusual in the wild. There are several other reasons listed on a website I found for whales not to be kept in captivity, I have included the link so you can read more if it’s a topic that interests you.
I don’t discount the amount of knowledge and research that can be done when we have whales in captivity. However, I believe this should be done over the short rehabilitation periods when whales are injured and rescued, or in other controlled short period situations. Keeping whales in captivity for a long period of time has proven to be fairly harmful to both whales and humans.
Here are some interesting facts about Killer Whales.
Size: They are the largest species of the dolphin family. They weigh up to 6 tons (5,443 kilograms) and grow to 23 to 32 feet (7 to 9.7 meters).
Habitat: These animals do not stay in one area and have been documented traveling long distances. They adapt very well to any climate. For example, they can live in the warm waters near the equator or the icy waters of the North and South Pole regions.
Diet: Killer whales feed on sea birds, squid, octopuses, sea turtles, sharks, rays and fish. They also eat most marine mammals, such as seals and dugongs.
Offspring: A female killer whale will give birth every three to 10 years, to one offspring at a time. The gestation period usually lasts for around 17 months. A baby orca is called a calf, and they are about 8.5 feet (2.6 m) long and 265 to 353 lbs. (120 to 160 kg) at birth.
For more orca facts or more detail check the link.