The truth of Captive Orcas & Dolphins

We know the feeling, when you see Dolphins interacting with each other there is an immediate empathy with these highly sentient incredible animals. So what’s wrong with Sea World and the many other Dolphinariums around the world? 

If you haven’t already, take a look at the film Blackish. Link here This film exposed the plight of orcas at SeaWorld, it is a distressing and gritty look behind the scenes at the reality of keeping animals captive purely for human entertainment. 

What happens when the show is over and the audience is gone? Answer - NOTHING. Most dolphins are left to languish in their caged tanks forced to wait for food until the next showtime. 

Dolphins are highly intelligent, highly sensitive and should be seen as “non-human persons” with their own specific rights. Simply put, it is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purposes” Ric O’Barry Director of the Dolphin Project If you don’t go they won’t do it.  

Save Me wants to see the implementation of animal rights to protect these and other sentient beings from the hell of captivity. We support Steve Wise of the Non-human animal rights project who works for the recognition and protection of fundamental rights for nonhuman animals. Steve’s film ‘Uncaged’ shows the legal path he has been following here

Orcas are actually dolphins, Spanish seaman called named them whale killers after seeing the pods tracking and killing whales, but over time or translation to English, they became known as killer whales; dolphins alongside whales belong to the classification, cetacean. They have the second-largest brain of all marine mammals, and they are at the top of the food chain interconnecting the whole marine system. They are vital to the biodiversity of the world’s oceans.

These animals are incredibly intelligent “Dolphins are sentient (self-aware) and can recognise themselves in a mirror. Dolphins use a complex system of echolocation to navigate their surroundings and hunt their prey, bouncing high-pitched sounds off objects, and listening for the returning echoes. Their diet consists of fish, squid, and crustaceans.

Dolphins give birth to live young and nurse their calves from 11 months to 2 years. Family members will often remain together for life. Orcas are the most social mammal on Earth. They live in groups (pods) their entire lives made up of multiple generations, male orcas will never leave their mother, other than for mating but he will always return. Each group will have their own call, as well as their own habitat and prey species differing to the other orca groups.

Another adaptation in dolphins that highlights their incredible abilities is “unlike humans, dolphins are conscious breathers, choosing when and how to take a breath. To prevent drowning while asleep, only half of the dolphin’s brain shuts down while the other half remains awake.” They also “communicate via the use of several sounds, including clicks, whistles, and squeaks. Studies have also shown that individual dolphins have a unique “signature whistle” which they often use when communicating with others. It is also believed that dolphins respond to their sound of its own signature whistle”  

This communication is used by institutes such as the military. National Geographic uncovered the use dolphins, or ‘combat dolphins’, as a valuable part of naval teams. The Dolphins are “trained to search for unwanted divers and underwater mines in restricted waterways” according to Russia’s Navy (National Geographic). Dolphins can reach depths and travel in murky water which cannot be replicated by technology. Their sonar allows them to pick up sounds that we or technology cannot. The sounds bounce off from objects allowing an acoustic picture of their surrounds, known as echolocation. Dolphins are used amongst other Naval groups including the U.S. who find they can “find unarmed test ordnance like practice mines” (National Geographic).

Captivity of these intelligent creatures started in the 1960s, with the purpose of only human entertainment. This industry has grown massively into dolphin-assisted therapy, petting pools, swimming experiences and mainly SeaWorld.  

The captive environment has devastating effects upon their welfare all at the expense of human amusement. There is evidence to show captivity to shorten life expectancy dramatically. According to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration on average, male orcas can live up to 30-50 years, whilst females can live up to 100 years old, this is when in the wild. 

However, in captivity, the chances of orcas reaching 30 years of age are significantly lower, SeaWorld reports their average life expectancy to only be between 17 and 28 years. Captivity cannot meet many of the aspects the wild has. 

The size of a captive tank cannot match that of the ocean. In the wild orcas travel around 62 miles every day, one study even found a group of orcas to travel over 5075 miles in 42 days. The family unit and vital social interactions are taken away from orcas and dolphins when placed into captivity. 

Wild dolphins do not live in artificial environments, where their movement, diet, social structure, behaviour and entire way of life is manipulated, controlled and restricted.  

With thanks to Ric O’Barry at the Dolphin Project.