The orca show may be a hit with tourists, but SeaWorld San Diego may soon need to free Shamu from life in a watery cell. California Assemblyman Richard Bloom wants to ban keeping killer whales in captivity for entertainment — and if he succeeds, the Shamu spectacle is one show that will not go on. I sure love my state sometimes.
Bloom got a wake-up call after watching the movie “Blackfish,” which probes into the psychology of orcas like Tilikum, who killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando in 2010. Despite the sinister name, killer whales don’t usually hurt people in the wild; they only become aggressive toward humans when confined to unnatural spaces.
“I found [“Blackfish”] very, very alarming,” Bloom told the LA Times. “Seeing the images and hearing the various testimonies of folks who’ve been formerly employed by SeaWorld, the marine mammal scientists and the orcas themselves was really striking and it did affect me.”
After watching the documentary, Bloom did his own investigating to confirm that, yes, killer whales are quite miserable in aquariums.
“Shamu,” by the way, is a stage name for many orcas in SeaWorld shows. The original Shamu died in 1971, after just six years in captivity.
Why SeaWorld Should Stop Holding Orcas Captive
PETA has a website called SeaWorldofHurt.com that spells out the issue pretty well. In captivity, orcas live about half as long as they would in the wild. In their natural habitats, they swim up to 100 miles a day; at SeaWorld San Diego and other aquariums, they’re in a tank that would feel a lot like a bathtub to you or me. The cramped conditions often cause their dorsal fins to collapse, which only happens to sick or injured orcas in the wild.
Held in aquariums with other orcas, frustrated killer whales sometimes get into bloody fights with their tank-mates, and are unable to simply swim away to keep the peace. These fights probably wouldn’t happen in the wild, and cause serious injuries and death.
Help Stop SeaWorld San Diego from Confining Orcas
By telling California lawmakers you support the ban, you help free orcas in SeaWorld San Diego and send a message to aquariums across the nation. SumOfUs.org has a petition to help pass the Orca Welfare and Safety Act, and you can sign online. I did, and I hope to see California lead to the way toward a future that doesn’t exploit and imprison wild creatures for our own amusement.
photo credit: limowreck666 via photopin cc