Sea Quest Kayak Tours guides call for all aquariums to release their captive orca whales back into the wild.
Having considered the scientific facts, studied the orca whales firsthand for several decades on our sea kayak tours in the San Juan Islands, and using our accumulated knowledge as scientists, educators, and naturalists, we find the evidence to be overwhelming that orca whales are unsuited for captivity and maintaining them in aquariums is unethical.
Consider the following:
- Orca whales swim up to 100 miles a day in the ocean compared to less than 1 mile in captivity. Their massive trademark dorsal fins limply droop over in captivity from the lack of activity.
- Orca whales are acoustic creatures and see their world largely in patterns of sound. In captivity they are forced to live in echo chambers, similar to techniques used by interrogators on prisoners.
- Orca whales live their entire lives with the family pod of their birth and have a rich and complicated social life. Captives are stolen from families while juveniles and forced to live with strange whales that do not even share the same vocalizations.
- Orca whales live to be as old as humans in the wild, but in captivity they rarely live more than 20 years. Orca calves born in captivity rarely survive to adulthood.
- Wild orca whales have never harmed a human or been observed injuring other orcas. Captive orca whales have killed humans on several occasions and severely attacked other orcas, too.
It should be obvious that captivity is not a physically or socially healthy environment for orca whales. The one argument for keeping them in aquariums that we have any sympathy for is the educational value they provide to the public. But with alternatives such as orca whale watching kayak tours in Washington and film documentaries available, this final argument no longer has merit.
Please read this proposal for releasing an orca whale born wild and later captured in the San Juan Islands of Washington. More intelligent discourse on how she can be returned to her home waters to rejoin her family and how you can help is found at www.orcanetwork.org.