Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling
Humpback whale spyhop

My 100 Million Dollar Idea – Whales!

Through all of the different roles I fill at WDC and in the marine mammal...
Image: Peter Flood

Right Whales Need a Treatment Plan, Not Just a Diagnosis

*This blog was coauthored by Erica Fuller. Erica is a Senior Attorney for Conservation Law...

Save the whales, save the world – convincing governments that whales will help us fight the climate crisis

Help save the world by saving the whales with a donation Yes. I'll donate Whales...

‘Tis the Season to be Eco-Friendly

Yesterday, I was walking through the aisles of holiday supplies at a local store when...
20201108_105537

My Gratitude List: Whales, Dolphins, and YOU

That is until one day when I saw a different kind of article that piqued...
Dolphin in captivity

Ending whale and dolphin captivity in the US – how our fight continues

Canada banned whale and dolphin captivity last year, leaving two facilities holding captive individuals: Vancouver...
Sperm whale

From Whaling to Whale Watching

One topic I find myself always coming back to is how our view of whales...
whale-silhouette-vector

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President, I am writing to you on behalf of the marine mammals who...

Ikaika Healing From Injury at SeaWorld California

Recent photos circulating on the Internet reveal that Ikaika (Ike), the 9-year old male killer whale  transported back to SeaWorld in San Diego after a five-year stay at Marineland in Niagara Falls, Canada, has been  injured.  Reports from patrons also indicate that Ike has not been performing in shows as of late July, presumably due to his injury.   These photos reveal that Ike has suffered a very long gash under his chin, and by the looks of the injury, may be the result of impact with the metal separation bars that are being utilized at the park, presumably to address trainer safety concerns.

Similar bars have also been utilized at Loro Parque in Tenerife since July 2009 along the walls and slide-out areas separating the orca pools, and where trainer Alexis Martinez was killed by the orca Keto in December 2009. Tekoa, at Loro Parque, was seen with injuries similar to Ike’s in the Fall of 2009.   These injuries suggest that these metal barriers pose an additional hazard to the killer whales in these parks.

Ike was returned to SeaWorld from Marineland Canada where he had been since November 2006 and following SeaWorld’s suspension of their breeding loan agreement with Marineland because of concerns for Ike’s welfare at the Canadian park.  SeaWorld argued that Ike’s health and well-being at Marinland was at risk, citing teeth infections, aggression, and a host of other contributing factors, utilizing some of the very same arguments that WDCS has cited in making its ongoing case against keeping orcas in captivity. In what turned out to be an international custody battle, Marineland unsuccessfully sued SeaWorld for breach of contract to retain Ike, and he was transferred to SeaWorld California in San Diego in November 2011.

Ironically, Ike has suffered from a variety of injuries since returning to SeaWorld and attempting to reintegrate into the orca hierarchy in San Diego, including deep rake marks that were evidenced in December 2011 and just after his November transfer from Marineland. These past and current injuries reveal not only the difficulties of integrating into unstable or established orca hierarchies within an extremely stressful captive environment, but highlight the safety hazards to both orcas and humans at SeaWorld.  Even if the bars were to prove adequate in providing the physical distance between orca and trainer as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA’s) abatement recommendations, they may prove untenable because of the injuries they cause to the orcas in these facilities.

It is not uncommon for orcas to be transported between SeaWorld facilities, or even abroad to international facilities, such as the four SeaWorld orcas that were shipped to Loro Parque in 2006. The constant movement and relocation between facilities is extremely stressful for orcas, and the potential for harassment and injury has also been evidenced more recently by the transfer of Morgan from Harderwijk Dolphinarium in the Netherlands to Loro Parque, also occurring in November 2011. Like Ike in San Diego, Morgan has suffered from the aggressive behavior displayed towards her by the other orcas at Loro Parque as she tries to integrate into the social hierarchy there.

As the list of reasons against the keeping of orcas in captivity grows, and as support for the continuing confinement of orcas appears to be waning, WDCS continues its call for an end to this practice. The physical, social and mental needs of orcas cannot be met in captivity and the public display industry is a threat to populations in the wild that are targeted by live capture operations used to supply public display programs worldwide.