Orcas In Captivity Essay Outline

Prompt: research paper on topic of our choice. Will integrate sources from a diverse array of resources using MLA style, will have a clear thesis/research question as the backbone of the paper, will avoid fallacious rhetoric, and will construct logical arguments to advance the ideas in the paper.

Captivating Our Hearts Instead of Being Held Captive

Keeping Orca whales captive is detrimental to the animal's mental health, physical health and can be dangerous to anyone that encounters them. However, this is the reality for most, if not, all of the whales currently living in captivity. They are subjected to less than mediocre living conditions, and forced to perform "tricks" for our entertainment, that go completely against nature and what they do in the wild. Most elusive however, are the lasting effects that this type of lifestyle can have on these animals and their well-being.

The effect that captivity has on the whales mental health far exceeds any of the benefits of having them in captivity. For example, in the wild whales will select the pod that they would like to be a part of or they are born into the pod. They will then travel with this pod for the continuation of their lives. In captivity the whales are forced to join man made pods and live with other whales that they normally wouldn't choose to be with. In the wild, if they do not get along with their pod or they are unhappy, they have the option to leave. However, in captivity they do not. This could potentially cause physical stress and emotional stress amongst the whales; "The resulting anxiety and tension cause fights between orcas. In the wild, orcas have strong social bonds that may last for life, their social rules prohibit serious violence against each other, and when fights do occur, they can find space to flee." (8 Reasons Orcas Don't Belong at SeaWorld, 1). It would be the equivalent of locking two humans that dislike each other, in a room together for the rest of their natural born lives.

Likewise, whales are highly social animals, who form bonds and relationships with other whales that are equivalent to the relationships that humans form. The part of the brain that controls emotion is 4 times bigger than a humans, it is said that whales are able to feel and bond with other whales on a deeper and more emotional level than humans can with other humans, "In captivity, orcas are forced to live with orcas from other family units who speak a completely different language than they do and are constantly moved between facilities for breeding and to perform." (8 Reasons Orcas Don't Belong at SeaWorld, 1). Not being able to communicate with the other whales in its pod, causes frustration and stress amongst the whale and the others in the pod. When whales are put into stressful situations, they begin to lash out socially and can often times inflict harm on themselves, and other whales. Similarly, since whales are forced into captivity, they are placed in situations that cause them stress. Since they have no outlet for this stress like they do in the wild, they will harm themselves for entertainment and a way to release frustration, "Orcas in captivity gnaw at iron bars and concrete from stress, anxiety, and boredom, sometimes breaking their teeth" (8 Reasons Orcas Don't Belong at SeaWorld, 1). I find this to be sad and disheartening, considering you don't see these types of characteristics with wild orcas, one can only be lead to believe that it is the result of captivity.

In addition, the whales will also start to inflict harm onto other whales, "Orcas who are not compatible are forced to live in tight quarters together. The resulting anxiety and tension cause fights between orcas." My analysis of this would be that facilities at SeaWorld should consider looking into open water confinement. This is where the whale has much more space in the open ocean but is still able to be viewed by spectators. Additionally, in some instances orcas are left to live solitary lives in tanks, if it is deemed that they cannot get along with other animals. Keeping in mind the general makeup of the whale brain and the emphasis that they place on interaction and stimulation with other whales, this is disheartening. When forced into confined spaces with other whales, they will begin "raking" each other. This is when one whale drags its teeth against another whale, this results in serious injuries and scaring. "In captivity, there's nowhere for them to go, which leads to injuries and death" (8 Reasons Orcas Don't Belong at SeaWorld, 1). All of which, can be seen on the majority of the whales that are photographed in captivity.

Keeping such large animals confined to such small living quarters, has lasting physical effects on the whales as well. Being in such close quarters to other whales and not having the space to roam, causes the whales to physically deteriorate at a quicker speed than when in the wild. In the wild, whales can swim anywhere between one hundred and one hundred and fifty miles a day, keeping them in a small tank and leaving them without the ability to swim has tremendous effects on their lives. For instance, the whale's life expectancy is much shorter in captivity than it is in the wild, "orcas in the wild have an average life expectancy of 30 to 50 years-their estimated maximum lifespan is 60 to 70 years for males and 80 to over 100 for females. The median age of orcas in captivity is only 9" (8 Reasons Orcas Don't Belong at SeaWorld, 1). However, SeaWorld states that these facts are untrue, and insist that they live just as long in captivity as they do in the wild. They are so insistent about this that just this year they have come out with a commercial disputing these claims. I find it misleading when there are facts to support these claims, so to say that they are untrue is ridiculous in my opinion.

Equally important to consider when analyzing their quality of life in captivity, is the quality of food that they are fed. For example, "In nature, orcas eat a wide selection of prey, depending on the area they inhabit. Their food can include a variety of: 30 different species of fish, sharks, squid, seals, sea lions, walruses, sea otters, birds, and even other types of whales. Orcas in most aquariums are fed a monotonous diet, primarily of dead herring." I think that this would be like living on a diet of processed frozen foods every day. This in human medical science, has been proven to raise cholesterol, cause obesity, and could affect the heart. Therefore, it is easy to see the kind of effect that this type of food can have not only on the quality of its life, but how many years it lives as well.

When studying pictures that SeaWorld has advertised themselves, it is easy to see there are obvious physical effects, "All captive adult male orcas have collapsed dorsal fins, likely because they have no space in which to swim freely and are fed an unnatural diet of thawed dead fish" (8 Reasons Orcas Don't Belong at SeaWorld, 1). When SeaWorld was asked about the collapsed dorsal fin, they claim that it is a very common occurrence amongst male orcs, when in fact, in the wild less than one percent of whales have a collapsed dorsal fin. Subsequently, this doesn't even include the extreme dangers and physical harm that they go through before even getting to the park, the act of capturing the whales itself, is one of the most dangerous aspects of the whole process for the whale. It is rumored that during the 1960's when capturing whales was legal, that many whales died and their bodies were filled with rocks and sunk to the bottom of the ocean to avoid persecution. In the same way, many whales survived the capture, only to die after they got to the park, "only 20 of the 145 wild orcas taken into captivity worldwide remain alive today". (WDC, 1). Due to the extreme living conditions, it is common for them to die prematurely or never make it past the birthing process, "At least 160 orcas have died in captivity, not including 30 miscarried or still-born calves" (WDC, 1).

Equally important, because the whales are under so much physical, emotional and mental stress, it can make them very dangerous to be around. Similarly, captive whale can be very unpredictable and dangerous for the humans that are working with it in on a daily basis, "It seems that the "killer whale" tendency only emerges when they are kept in captivity, as there have been many recorded incidents involving aquarium whales lashing out at their trainers, several of which have been fatal." (Death at SeaWorld, 1). Likewise, there have been little to no reported deaths of humans caused by whales in the wild, "In the wild, despite centuries of sharing the ocean, there has been only a single reliable report of an orca harming a human being."

As a result of the stress involved in being deprived of everything that is natural and important to orcas in captivity, orcas have attacked and killed three humans just since 1991 and many others have been injured." ((8 Reasons Orcas Don't Belong at SeaWorld, 1). Consequently, that is not the case for orcas that are currently confined to captivity, this was evident "On February 24, 2010, when the orca Tilikum dragged Brancheau under water and brutally killed her" (death at SeaWorld, 1). It is currently on record, that this particular trainer was not the first to be injured or killed by this whale. He was captured as a calf and has since lived in captivity at various locations in various countries. Tillikum has harmed numerous trainers and has been known to be unpredictable and lash out; he currently lives in a small enclosure and is used at the end of every Shamu show in Orlando Florida to this day. This sparks an important question, if an animal has been deemed dangerous and actually been the cause of someone's death, why are they still performing? In this day and age it seems as if people are so quick to deem a pit bull vicious if it snaps at someone, why is it not the same way regarding orca whales.

The most important aspect of the effect that captivity has on these amazing creatures is that it creates a stressful and dangerous environment for both the people and the animals. Keeping them in these types of facilities, in no way, benefits them; it only benefits the humans and their constant need for entertainment. To prevent the further mistreatment of these animals it will take effort from people and the government working together to preserve these animals in a more natural way, returning these creatures back to their natural environment where they have the ability to grow and prosper.

Works Cited

"The Fate of Captive Orcas." WDC. Whales and Dolphins Conservation, n.d. n.p.
"8 Reasons Orcas Don't Belong at SeaWorld." SeaWorld of Hurt. n.d. n.p. Mon.
Tierney, Lauren "Laws Concerning Captive Orcas." Michigan State University. n.p. n.d. Web. Mon.
"Killer Whales Don't Belong in Captivity." One Green Planet. n.d n.p. Mon.
Kirby, David "Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity." Death at SeaWorld.
Howard, Brian "Captive Killer Whale is Ruled to Be Endangered Species" National Geographic.


I would say that my main area of weakness would be my focus. I think that sometimes I can get a little ahead of myself, and I tend to wander off topic. The other area that I consider a weakness at times would be my punctuation. I feel that this is a weakness just for the simple fact that sometimes I overanalyze the sentence and the work, and I add too much punctuation.

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Killer Whales Kept in Captivity Essay

1469 Words6 Pages

For several years, Americans have been visiting amusement parks, like SeaWorld and Six Flags, to observe large animals like orcas, also known as killer whales. These whales are quite difficult to view in the wild, but can now be seen for a simple fee. Orcas are known to be one of the smartest mammals. They are friendly, and this has caused people to take advantage of them. For the past sixty years, people have brought these massive creatures into their aquariums to make a profit from their exhibitions. Often, without considering the orcas' quality of life. While kept in captivity, killer whales are forced to do many tricks they normally wouldn’t do in the wild. Over the years, there have been numerous controversies regarding killer whales…show more content…

In 2010, Tillikum killed Dawn Brancheau, as described in a recent news article: “The SeaWorld trainer, he crushed, dismembered, and partially swallowed" (Brower). Tillikum grabbed the trainer and dragged her into the water. After seeing these incidents occur, people have urged SeaWorld to ban these activities. Permitting such activities will create more problems that can cause the injury and death of more people like Dawn, who love and cared for the animals. Some people argue that keeping orcas in captivity is not a problem, yet they do not realize some of the limitations and dangers orcas suffer when kept in captivity. One reason is that these unpredictable, thirty-foot long creatures are usually kept in a tank that is too small for them, compared to the ocean where they can swim freely. In captivity, space is limited. According to one expert, “orcas can swim up to 100 miles per day- a phenomenal amount, in comparison to the exercise they receive in captivity” (Cronin). While in captivity, an orca has to keep swimming in circles or float, unable to exercise adequately in a confined space. The small tanks also prevent orcas from living in their natural group sizes, or pods. “In the wild, killer whales typically travel in pods of between five and 30” (Melissa). In captivity, fewer than five whales are kept together, an imbalance that makes the whales more aggressive towards one another. This can lead to dangerous, territorial situations in which captive

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