Friday, February 26, 2010

Of Orcas and such

When I first heard the news about the trainer in Florida recently killed by an agitated orca (killer-whale) at some sea-life park down there, my thoughts were:

Why the hell don't they let the poor beast go?

What height of cruelty to take an animal meant by nature to wander the high seas, and force it to spend its life in a cramped tank!

Later, listening to more discussions, I have changed my views a little.

We are told that the orca would have no idea how to live life on its own, having spent its life in captivity. Orcas are social animals, with strong family structures. Without a "pod" of its own, it would be virtually helpless.

So this particular animal endures the lesser of two evils -- captivity but steady food and some degree of social contact with its kind.

Then I thought, well, at least ours will probably be the last generation that even sees these marine mammals in captivity, since it is now illegal to grab them out of the wild.

Then I thought, well, is that a good thing? You cannot love what you do not know. The child who visits a sea life park and sees, up close, in the flesh, one of these powerful and enigmatic animals and feels the salt spray upon his or Her face and hears the mighty creature utter its unique song -- in short, experiences the beast for his or Her self, will never forget it. And chances are, that child will grow up with at least some degree of awe and appreciation and sympathy for the creatures of the deep. Given the chance, they will support marine conservation measures. Perhaps they will think twice about dumping paint down a storm drain.

If a few animals must spend life in captivity for that greater good, perhaps such captivity is not an unmitigated evil.


Misfit in Paradise said...

But they will breed in captivity. Which is why they are keeping him alive. So the sea parks will be able to replenish their stock.

Eastcoastdweller said...

What is Your opinion on captive marine mammals, Misfit?

As I noted, I am torn.

Chase March said...


That's a great take on this rather tricky debate. I mean, it's really easy to say let's close all zoos and marine parks but then we really wouldn't have any exposure to wild animals. They would cease to be real for us and we might not think about issues that involve them.

I had never thought about that before. Of course, the animals are not mistreated anymore like they may been in the past. But animals are animals and you can never really know how they will act.

I think I'm a bit torn with this issue as well. But it is something worth thinking about.

Thanks for bringing it to our attention and for examining the different sides of this debate.

Eastcoastdweller said...

Real-life issues do tend to defy black and white classification, don't they, Chase!

But one thing I can say for sure: Canada has been a spectacular showcase for the Olympic games, and a springboard for some incredible athletes.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Working with a conservation organisation, I can tell you that the majority of my members want to see the end of zoos and sea world type parks. However, I share your more pragmatic view. I also note that many of the same members first had contact and developed their love of animals while visiting a zoo or sea park and as the world population increases, the percentage of people who will be fortunate to experience animals in the wild for themselves will grow less and less.

Lorac said...

With all the research that is done at sea now on these creatures it is not necessary to keep them in captivity. Sea World and the like will lose revenue and that is what this is all about. I cannot condone their captivity for the entertainment of us, the people. That is what Sea World and similar places are all about.I think the whale would be happier to die in the open sea than to live it's life out in that small enclosure. We have been studying them in captivity for years. Do you really think there is more to learn about them while captives? I say no more! Thank you for the chance to debate this ongoing issue!

Ela said...

Did they release orcas and actually found out that they can
not survive? they do think in their own way, right?
we can survive in very difficult situations, not all of us but some of us.
Humans are have ugly unreasonable urges to experiment and they are not correct!
I'm sorry for all the animals.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Please forgive me, but it is not a black and white issue. Sorry!

There are good and bad points to both sides. It is horrible to see something wild be caged, but it is wonderful to experience them up close.

I've sat in that very water park, at that very same tank and watched those magnificent creatures. I took a myriad of photos and simultaneously loved them and ached for them.

What a paradox.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Ela said...

it is definately not black and white issue or right and wrong rather.
I also thought about the gorillas, parrots etc who pick their feathers, rock back and forth like abused children.
I imagine people being captured for the purpose of preserving the species and I imagined what we would have endure just because someone feels it it the righteous thing to do..
no freedom.. someone is doing things to you. awful. I would rather be dead.

this isn't an easy issue, but which issue is?

Ela said...

and how is ECD doing?

Eastcoastdweller said...

ECD is doing well but busy, Ela,planning a trip across the country, wrapping up some huge work projects and celebrating the impending arrival of spring.

Ela said...

that sounds great!