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Editor explains Seaworld scandals

THURS.| 2-2-23 | OPINION

     Ten years ago, a documentary called Blackfish was released which exposed the horrors of keeping orca whales in captivity. Somehow, Seaworld is still open today despite the multiple deaths that have occurred from whale accidents. I am thoroughly befuddled by how people continue to visit this bathtub of a park that disregards the well-being of the creatures that are trapped there.

     Long before 2010, when the largest controversy happened at Seaworld Orlando, there have been several other shocking incidents between trainers and whales in captivity among international parks. When handling creatures that reside in the wild there are always dangers, but with orca whales, there has never been a reason prompting danger. 

seaworld graphic - abby .png

Graphic by Abby Ershadi

Whales are known to be peaceful animals, and that is the reputation they uphold in the wild. However, once placed into captivity, several factors begin the descent into madness. 

     The easiest identifiable factor alluding to an unhappy orca is when their dorsal fin flops over. If you look up a photo of an orca at any Seaworld, almost all of their fins are floppy. Even after the first killing in February 1991, no policy changes were made. In 2010, when one of the most experienced trainers was killed, still nothing was done to accommodate the safety of trainers, visitors or whales until 2016. It is obvious that these whales are unhappy and not thriving in these conditions, yet Seaworld made no attempt to improve their lives, even after two deaths. The film Blackfish greatly pushed for change and helped bring awareness to this matter, but it is still astounding how nothing was done before this film. An experienced trainer was literally killed at a show with countless witnesses and it took six years for anything to change. 

     Positive news was brought in 2016 as Seaworld vowed to stop breeding orcas in captivity, stop theatrical orcas shows and to never capture Orcas from the wild. Seaworld also has been donating large sums of money to help rescue and rehabilitate ocean creatures. However, I do not think these pledges will allow Seaworld to simply slide by from their inhumane animal treatment. Orcas in current parks are still held captive and will not be released into the wild. Even without introducing new orcas, many are still suffering and will continue to live in misery until death. This begs the question: how can Seaworld still be a positive experience in the eyes of the public? 

     Personally, I think Seaworld should have been shut down back in 2010 after the initial controversy over the death of Dawn Brancheau. Keeping the ocean creatures that are featured at Seaworld such as dolphins, whales, sea lions, walruses, and manatees, is just cruel; these creatures need to live in their natural habitat of an expansive ocean, not confined to the concrete walls of a tank. I am genuinely puzzled by how well Seaworld is still doing. I know the attractions have shifted to a more amusement park feel, as they have added new rides and such, but the ethically wrong incidents that occurred in the past taint SeaWorld’s reputation like oil in water.

     Although there is no need to dwell on the past, severe mistakes have been made by Seaworld that need to be brought into light and enact a change to stop the abuse of keeping wild creatures captive.

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