I don't know how many of you out there are familiar with a documentary called Blackfish that will be coming out this summer. Remember the Sea World trainer that got killed by one of the orca whales? Basically it centers around that incident and how killer whales are psychologically damaged when kept in captivity. Give the trailer below a look.
It really sucks because I'm honestly so torn on this issue. I have so many amazing memories of Sea World as a kid because my grandparents would take me every summer. If it wasn't for Sea World, I wouldn't have even known certain marine animals existed or cared about what happens to them and the environment. On my birthday I was able to feed JJ the Gray Whale that had been rescued as a baby before being released into the wild again and I also got to swim with dolphins. I've touched a killer whale. Such personal connections with animals doesn't happen in the wild and zoos and aquariums really bring conservation into focus and a love and appreciation for animals, I know this because that's what it did for me when I went there for the first time. Because of Sea World, I pursued a psychology degree so I could work with animals, deep down I really want to work in a marine rescue center. I don't know if maybe it's just certain Sea World parks because I always went to the one in San Diego and I've been behind the scenes and honestly the question of these animals not being taken care of never came to mind. It would be a shame if it's just one shoddy park taking them down as a whole.
But at the same time, even with those positives, of course it's incredibly dangerous to keep such huge and powerful creatures in captivity when they are meant to be free. I can absolutely see how these orcas would develop a psychosis and start behaving the way they do. It's not the first time a killer whale has been dangerous and if we keep using them for profit, it won't be the last.
I don't know if there is a happy compromise here. Sea World makes bank on Shamu products and the shows. People come specifically to see the killer whales. With bigger tanks and not made to perform, could that solve the problem? There is always the discussion on how the animals are treated behind the scenes as well when the public isn't watching. Either way, it makes me really sad. Orcas are so beautiful and majestic, it's heartbreaking to know how much happier they would be if they were free. I think aquariums are just as great even if they don't have whales and dolphins to showcase, I always enjoy Scripps and they don't have any big animals in tanks.
As much as I love Sea World and everything it has done for me as a kid, for now I would rather appreciate nature in it's natural habitat. That's why instead of booking a trip to San Diego for my birthday, I booked my trip in San Juan Islands to kayak alongside wild killer whales (if they show up that is!) which is much more thrilling and satisfying I think. Next time you want to see animals or introduce your kids to wildlife, why not take them on a whale watching tour or an aquarium? Let's hope that Sea World changes for the sake of the whales and for us so we can enjoy going there without a guilty conscious.
Check out Blackfish the Movie, coming out soon!
Also, here are some great aquariums that I've been to that you should check out instead of Sea World.
one of my favs, located near La Jolla, CA
in Long Beach, CA. Kris and I really enjoyed this one. We touched sharks and stingrays and fed lorikeets!
in Monterey Bay, CA. Go here on a weekday in the off season, this place was super packed when we went which kind of ruined it for us.
Yep, right here in Vegas. It's actually pretty cool. You can pet stingrays here too!
And if you want to do a kayaking trip with wild orcas like me, then check out San Juan Outfitters for whale watching tours and kayaking trips! My friend just did her kayaking trip a few days ago and loved it!