Decades down the line, when the captive orcas are gone, the sea pens could transition into serving as rehabilitation facilities, Rose says, for injured whales that are rescued out in the wild. SeaWorld's first park opened in San Diego, California, in March 1964 with only a handful of employees, a few dolphins, sea lions, and two aquariums. In this case, his history of care in captivity was too significant to overcome the stressful conditions in the wild. After it was announced that the park was ending its orca breeding program, people asked whether the existing killer whales could be rehomed in a sea sanctuary. Her proposal involved building a sea sanctuary with medical care and other stations around an existing island and allowing public access for visitors to view and learn about the orcas in a much more natural setting. In another bit of pro-captivity spin, SeaWorld mentions the case of Keiko, an orca who was captured as a calf in 1979 and returned to the ocean in the late 1990s after being freed from a Mexican amusement park. "We are listening to our guests. Our facilities are among the largest and most sophisticated in the world.... More than 80 percent of our whales were born in our care, and sea pens would be a poor choice for them. Many claim them to be the magic solution to end captivity for cetaceans currently living in human care. Print; Morgan's life hangs in … The once-captive orcas remain very much dependent on human care. Encircled by a deep net, it was about two-thirds the size of a football field, anchored to the ocean bottom with more than 100 tons of chain. The group is calling for the company to release all of SeaWorld's orcas to sea pens or coastal sanctuaries. Orca Whale Morgan’s Proposed Sea Pen is Embraced by Community and is Close to Wild Orcas. Some of those who advocate loudest for sea pens have only one example on their resume: Keiko. Sea pens would work. Featured Image Credit: Minette Layne via Wikipedia. The salmon would be grown to provide more forage for the starving southern residents in a key feeding area for them. There are considerable downsides to sea pens. If you think about it, the orcas from SeaWorld have spent their lives within the protective, sterile walls of their enclosures. (BLM) “The orcas eat hatchery fish. And it'll have a strong conservation message.". Eleven killer whales (also known as orcas) and 87 belugas languish in several rectangular sea pens in Srednyaya Bay in Russia’s Far East. Animal rights groups, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have called for SeaWorld to release its 29 orcas to sea pens. If rapidly transferred to coastal waters, they are exposed to poor water quality and significant pollutants. Endangered southern resident killer whales sport "DTags," sensors that help scientists understand how orcas hunt. It's gonna be focused more on the natural setting, the natural environment and also the natural behaviors of the whale. Demand sea pens for orcas owned by SeaWorld! We're evolving as a company. (including Morgan and Lolita) von: Antonia A; empfänger: Joel Manby, CEO of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment; Orcas are highly social animals who live in stable social groups ranging from two to 15 individuals. The most often cited example of a captive orca released to a sea pen is Keiko, the whale featured in the 1993 Warner Bros. movie "Free Willy." In the wild, killer whales live in very tight-knit social groups, but those in captivity can't necessarily join such a group upon release. Sea pens are colonial marine cnidarians belonging to the order Pennatulacea.There are 14 families within the order; 35 extant genera, and it is estimated that of 450 described species, around 200 are valid. "Animal rights activists, welfare organizations—anyone interested in this issue from the animal's perspective—have been asking [SeaWorld] to consider sea pen sanctuaries," Rose adds. While many orcas would not survive if they were suddenly released into the wild, the authors recommend the use of sea pens, which present a viable compromise by allowing the orcas greater freedom, providing them with the opportunity to learn how to catch fish, having trainers on hand to assess their health, and offering visitors a view of whales living in more natural surroundings. Such a structure could be significantly larger than any tank and would allow the whales to "experience the currents and swim and dive and interact with other ocean animals," says Jared Goodman, director of animal law for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Another SeaWorld spokesman quoted from the testimony of Hendrik Nollens, a senior veterinarian at SeaWorld San Diego, before the California Coastal Commission in October. The title of my book on this subject, “Killing Keiko,” is blunt and it is true. Would they be released into the wild? "These animals are so incredibly bored," Hargrove tells Newsweek. ", John Hargrove worked as a killer whale trainer for 14 years, the majority of these at the SeaWorld parks in San Diego and San Antonio. I don't want them to go out of business. Many of the critics urge SeaWorld to release its beluga whales, orcas and other dolphins into “sea pens,” or large netted enclosures close to the shore where the animals could swim in natural waters while receiving food and veterinary care from humans. Rose noted that the U.S. Navy's Marine Mammal Program keeps its trained dolphins in sea pens just down the coast from SeaWorld San Diego. Her caretakers were concerned that she wasn’t ready, but she was spotted five days later about 60 miles away, swimming with a group of dolphins that were identified as her original pod. Meanwhile, breeding in captivity would cease. The captive orcas are at the center of an animal welfare debate. T hese excuses have been refuted by experts, including marine biologist and orca expert Dr Naomi Rose. Unfortunately, the conversation too often leaves out the smallest details that are the largest problems. When SeaWorld made the jaw-dropping announcement that they would phase out their orca shows, many people wondered what would happen to the large whales that called the park their home. Workers fashioned a sea pen out of foam-filled plastic pipe. "Their entire lives are these blue-walled tanks," and they "float emotionless for hours staring at a concrete wall because there's nothing for them to do." During a night performance in 2014, trainers direct killer whales at Shamu Stadium in SeaWorld San Diego in California. "He basically said it would be a death sentence. © 2020 Awesome Ocean. While they might seem like a reasonable choice for introducing animals to the world outside their enclosures, sea pens are not all they’re cracked up to be. Though arguably “unnatural”, that is the environment their immune systems have adjusted to. Each pen could cost up to $500,000 a year to care for, Rose said. Whales born and raised in captivity, or even those born in the wild but who have lived for many years in captivity, can't simply be released, Rose and Goodman both emphasize, in part because they've never had to procure their own food or develop other learned behaviors that help them survive. SeaWorld Says It Has to Keep Orcas in Captivity to Save Them The company insists its killer whales help us better understand wild orcas. She hung around for a little while but then decided to make a break for the open ocean. This will be the first permanent sanctuary for dolphins and killer whales. Sea pens have been used for years to hold cetaceans in captivity. Image Credit: Doug Perrine/NPL. Rose and Marino will also host a public workshop at a conference of the Society for Marine Mammalogy in December that "will explore the potential for the development of sea pen, retirement sanctuaries or refuges for captive cetaceans in North America.".
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