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Orca Action Month save the date - June 2020

Orca Action Month goes online!

Whamily, it’s almost that time again – time to celebrate, honor, and dive in to...
Success! Icelandic minke whale hunts end after years of WDC campaigning

Success! Icelandic minke whale hunts end after years of WDC campaigning

Following on from the news that Iceland’s fin whaling vessels will not be leaving port...
CW working from home

Supporting Our Supporters as We Work to Protect Whales and Dolphins

WDC-NA staff's new "offices" Working remotely is definitely an adjustment but I also know me...
Positive whaling news emerges from Iceland

Positive whaling news emerges from Iceland

News is emerging from Iceland that the company behind Iceland’s fin whale hunts, Hvalur hf,...
Newer sonar technology still a threat to whales

Newer sonar technology still a threat to whales

A study into the effects of newer underwater sonar technology has revealed that it is...
Solitary captive dolphin Honey dies

Solitary captive dolphin Honey dies

Dolphin Project reports state that a bottlenose dolphin named Honey has died at the Inubosaki...
SeaWorld CEO parts company with captivity giant

SeaWorld CEO parts company with captivity giant

SeaWorld has parted with another CEO. Sergio Rivera was the theme park giant’s chief executive...
Dolphins sync when they work together

Dolphins sync when they work together

A new study has shown male bottlenose dolphins synchronise their physical and verbal actions when...

Increasing the size of orca tanks sounds like a good idea, but…



(The statement below was excerpted from WDC’s official letter to the California Coastal Commission)

WDC encourages the California Coastal Commission to deny the coastal development permit sought by SeaWorld for its Blue World orca tank expansion project. We believe that what are relatively marginal increases in orca habitat (in comparison to an ocean environment) will not rectify the fundamental problems associated with the confinement of whales and dolphins in artificial environments.

In captivity, social structures are vastly different than those in wild populations. Individuals who would never naturally come across one another in the wild are forced into close proximity, which can lead to stress, aggression between individuals,  and injury. Marginally deeper or larger pools will do little to mitigate these concerns, particularly if the intent is to increase the numbers of whales kept in these tanks by encouraging an active breeding program, which could ultimately leave a growing captive orca population with even less space than they have now.

In the wild, whales and dolphins form complex societies that are based on kinship. Some species retain family bonds for life. In some orca populations family ties are so persistent and well-defined that all family members are usually within a four-kilometer radius of one another at all times. Captive facilities, with their logistical constraints and space limitations, cannot provide conditions that allow natural social structures to form. In captivity, social groups are wholly artificial. Facilities mix individuals from Atlantic and Pacific populations, unrelated animals, and, in the case of orcas, races (transient and resident), which have disparate diets, habits, and social structures.

The Blue World Project does not propose to eliminate the display of whales and dolphins to visitors in circus-style shows, which bear no resemblance to the natural behavior of these animals. These orcas still have no means of escape from one another, their trainers or the viewing public. Also, the Blue World Project does not prevent the practice of separating calves from their mothers at a young age or prematurely impregnating young orcas as part of their breeding programs.

It is noteworthy that SeaWorld’s Blue World Project only addresses the habitats of the orcas it holds in captivity. All cetaceans, whether orcas, bottlenose dolphins or belugas at SeaWorld’s facilities possess the same physiological and behavioral requirements that can only be met through the great depths and expanses provided by an ocean realm.  We find it telling that SeaWorld has only chosen to focus its attention to remedy its inadequate tanks for the orcas it holds.  This response to recent public attention and scrutiny resulting from the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau and the movie Blackfish, among other developments, suggests Blue Worl Project may also serve as a public relations maneuver rather than a true effort to improve the lives of the individuals confined to their parks.

infographic on captivity