Captive vs. Wild Orcas
P.1. Imagine living your whole life without your family in a tiny area where you are forced to perform tricks for an audience. That is the life of the orcas at SeaWorld. Orcas, also known as killer whales, are large black and white whales and are the largest members of the dolphin family. There are many differences between captive and wild orcas. For example, captive orcas at SeaWorld live shorter lives than orcas living free in the wild. Another example would be that orcas at SeaWorld are fed dead fish, while wild orcas can hunt their own food and have a variety. Captive orcas also suffer from physical injuries, depression, and psychosis due to their lives in confinement. In order to really see how poorly captive whales are treated they have to be compared to the wild orcas who are out living freely and healthy.
P.2. SeaWorld has been providing false information about their whales for decades. One of the biggest lies they talk about is the lifespan of the captive whales compared to the lifespan of the free whales. They claim on their website that no one knows the exact life span of wild orcas but then they go on to say that SeaWorld’s whales live just as long as the wild orcas. On the lifespan of killer whales page on their website they say that “female killer whales live around 30 to 50 years and males live around 19 to 30 years.” The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says, “males typically live for about 30 years, but can live as long as 50-60 years; females typically live about 50 years, but can live as long as 100 years.” SeaWorld is providing younger ages on their page because those are the typical lifespans of their whales held in captivity. Also less than two years ago a 103 year old female orca was spotted off the coast of Washington, which made SeaWorld’s lie look a lot worse. These whales being kept in captivity don’t live nearly as long as the whales living out free in the wild and the research is there to prove it.
P.3 Orcas are known as killer whales for a reason. This reason is because they hunt and kill other large sea animals for food. A wild orcas diet usually consists of a variety of fish and sea mammals such as seals, small whales and sometimes sharks. Their diet can range from fish to seabirds to sea turtles and they normally eat whatever animal they can find. The orcas sometimes work together to successfully hunt these animals and they come up with strategies to trap the prey that they are hunting. On the other hand, the captive whales held at SeaWorld are only fed thawed fish and they can’t eat whenever they please. In the article, “Food Deprivation Is Alive and Well at SeaWorld” by Elizabeth Batt, she talks about former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove’s book called Beneath the Surface. When explaining how the orcas ate at SeaWorld, ” Hargrove’s point wasn’t that SeaWorld starved the whales, it was that food withholding was used as a motivator to keep them hungry enough to want to perform in shows for fish rewards.” They are only motivated to cooperate to the commands because they are so hungry and they know if they cooperate they will get food. If they are not cooperating during the shows their amount of fish given per day is also decreased in order to get them to perform well. In addition, in the article, “SeaWorld Says ‘The Facts Are On Our Side.’ Let’s Look At The ‘Facts.'” a former trainer claims that orcas were starved before visits from celebrities or VIP guests so that they would perform well. SeaWorld has denied using food deprivation to make its orcas perform but it is clearly true that they do. Captive orcas will never be able to hunt and they won’t be eating anything other than a small amount of fish for the rest of their lives.
P.4 Orcas that live out in the wild travel around 100 miles per day and they always travel with other whales, usually their pods, or family members. They have strong bonds with each other out in the wild. They are able to swim freely and go as deep or as far as they feel like. Orcas in captivity are kept in shallow tiny pools resulting in them having to swim in the same circle all day long. They are also alone in these tanks or sometimes when they are with other orcas that they are not compatible with they fight each other which results in injuries and sometimes even death. If fights do occur there isn’t much that can be done considering the fact that the whales can’t just swim away or hide since they are in the tiny pool. Orcas in the wild live in distinct units called ecotypes and each one is very different from another. They would never interact out in the wild being that they are all from different parts of the world. But at SeaWorld their ecotype isn’t taken into consideration, causing two whales of different ecotypes to be forced to interact with each other which causes problems such as fighting. In 1989 there was an indecent during a live show where one orca rammed the other causing it to bleed to death due to a torn artery. These orcas were from two distinct ecotypes and were placed into the same pool which resulted in a tragic loss. In the article “Why Killer Whales Should Not Be Kept in Captivity” by Melissa Hogenboom, she says that “different ecotypes do not associate with each other in the wild, so it can be problematic if they are suddenly forced together.” It is not right to put two animals together in a small tank and expect them to get along when they are very different from each other and not familiar with interacting with one another.
P.5 One of the major physical differences between wild and captive whales is the dorsal fin. The dorsal fin of a captive orca is almost always collapsed, usually more often in males. On the physical characteristics of orcas page on SeaWorld’s website they state “However, as killer whales at SeaWorld tend to spend more time at the surface working with their trainers, and many of the males have slumped or bent dorsal fins, it seems probable that time spent at the surface may be a contributing factor.” This shows that SeaWorld is admitting to the fact that being kept in these shallow pools causes their dorsal fins to collapse. But, by blaming the dorsal fin collapse on the shallow-pool lifestyle of captive whales, SeaWorld is ignoring the other explanations: that depression, lack of exercise, and isolation from their ecotype familiars are causing a profound physical manifestation of the animals’ suffering. They are using this explanation as an excuse to hide all these other reasons that their dorsal fins collapse. Whales in the wild can travel fast and far and are able to swim at very deep measures unlike the captive whales so their dorsal fins are straight and tall. They do not have the stress or depression that captive orcas have and they can swim freely in their ecotypes to get the exercise they need.
P.6. Lastly, these captive whales suffer psychological trauma such as madness and severe stress. Many of the orcas at SeaWorld have broken teeth from biting on the steel gates from stress causing severe dental problems and painful holes having to be drilled. There is only one known death of a wild orca killing a human, but there are four deaths and over a dozen severe injuries from whales in captivity. In one of the cases with the wild orca it initially identified the human as prey and then ceased when they realized it was a mistake. But for the whales at SeaWorld it was not a mistake. It is said that these attacks were due to stress, frustration, and lots of aggression built up over time. All of these attacks from the captive whales were at SeaWorld and they never would have occurred if these whales were living free like the rest of the orca population, considering the fact that they do not hunt humans.
P.7. Overall, the differences between free whales and captive whales is astonishing and these differences show how different their lives really are. These differences also show SeaWorld’s lies to the public on topics such as treatment of their orcas, their life expectancy, and their health. Orcas belong out in the wild and they should not have to suffer for the entertainment purposes of a company.
Batt, Elizabeth. “‘Food Deprivation Is Alive and Well at SeaWorld,’ Says Former Trainer.” Ric OBarrys Dolphin Project RSS. N.p., 26 June 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.
Entertainment, SeaWorld Parks &. Lifespan. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.
Entertainment, SeaWorld Parks &. “Physical Characteristics.” Animals: Explore. Discover. Connect. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2017.
Fisheries, NOAA. “Killer Whale (Orcinus Orca).” NOAA Fisheries. N.p., 08 Jan. 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.
Hogenboom, Melissa. “BBC – Earth – Why Killer Whales Should Not Be Kept in Captivity.”BBC News. BBC, 10 Mar. 2016. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.
Schelling, Ameena. “SeaWorld Says ‘The Facts Are On Our Side.’ Let’s Look At The ‘Facts.'”The Dodo. N.p., 07 May 2015. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.
You haven’t asked for feedback on this essay, Chippy, but I will react to the first paragraph. It contains mostly structure, not much information. There are few particular claims. That weakness is easy to fix.
in which you merely name some categories of ways that two types of animals differ, you can EASILY identify the differences.
I hope this helps you strengthen your next draft.
I would appreciate your response to this note.
Thank you for the suggestion I will definitely be fixing that in my next draft to make it better.
You did incorporate that advice, Chippy. The next most obvious area for improvement now would be to include actual SeaWorld claims into your argument. You ask readers to take EVERYTHING at your word about what SeaWorld says.
Some of the things you attribute to SeaWorld without evidence:
1. They claim that no one knows the real life span of wild orcas.
2. They go on to say that SeaWorld’s whales live just as long as the wild orcas.
3. They claim that the average life span for females is 30 years and for males it is 19 years, with a maximum of 50 and thirty years.
4. Captive whales held at SeaWorld are only fed thawed dead fish.
5. They are often food deprived since they only get the majority of their food for performing tricks during the shows.
6. SeaWorld has denied using food deprivation to make its orcas perform.
7. At SeaWorld their ecotype isn’t taken into consideration, causing two whales of different ecotypes to be forced to interact with each other which causes problems such as fighting.
8. SeaWorld claims that the collapsed dorsal fin is natural and it has nothing to do with the health of the whales, which is a complete lie.
You did note some sources in your Works Cited, Chippy, but not one of them is SeaWorld. That can only mean that the source of your claims about the SeaWorld position are at best second-hand. You’re asking your readers to accept your version of someone else’s version of SeaWorld’s version of the truth.
I took your advice and went through and added many sources and used SeaWorld as most of my citations and I also added some quotes from other sources to prove my facts
That’s the kind of regrade request I appreciate, chippy. Thank you for guiding me to the improvements.
It’s good that you’ve put SeaWorld’s claims in quotes and called them on the lies, chippy. That their claims are contradicted by objective authorities makes them easy to see through. As for the dorsal fin claim in P5, I think you’re being too easy on them. The “working at the surface” explanation seems more like an excuse (and a wild conjecture they can’t support since it doesn’t happen in nature).
—You routinely make the same punctuation error, chippy. At the end of quotations, you place the periods after the quotation marks. This is ALWAYS an error.
The rule: Periods and Commas ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS go inside the quotes.
—One more you commit repeatedly. Titles of articles, when you name them in your paragraphs, belong in quotation marks. Titles of books and publications are italicized.
You got the book title right in P3, but several times later you name articles without quotes. This one should look like this:
There are undoubtedly similar corrections to be made in your other arguments.
I fixed the errors throughout my paragraphs regarding the period inside the quotation marks and adding quotation marks around the title of my article. I also added some insight in paragraph 5 about SeaWorld’s reasoning being more of an excuse.
Chippy, I’m your biggest fan. I love your passion and advocacy for the orcas. I love that you take glee in calling a lie a lie.
But you didn’t help yourself much in P5 when you said, and I quote: “The dorsal fin of a captive orca is almost always collapsed . . . because they are living in shallow pools and spend most of their time at the surface of the water.” Your claim offers SeaWorld a very reasonable explanation. They can say that the function of the dorsal fin is to achieve distant directional goals, like nudging a steering wheel to make a 5-degree turn 1000 feet ahead. The fin doesn’t have to be upright in water to navigate a pool.
You can go two ways with this bit of information.
1.) You can say: “It’s unconscionable to wrest these noble animals from their deep-water lives and force them into a shallow-pool existence where they don’t even get to use their natural abilities and preferences!”
OR 2.) You can say: “By blaming the dorsal fin collapse on the shallow-pool lifestyle of captive whales, SeaWorld is ignoring the other explanations: that depression, lack of exercise, and isolation from their ecotype familiars are causing a profound physical manifestation of the animals’ suffering.”
I suggest you spend some time with this video of a SeaWorld employee’s explanation for the collapsed dorsal fin. It’s as close as you’ll get to the company going on record.
Is this helpful?
Thank you for the advice it was very helpful and I added some of your suggestions into my paragraph 5 by taking out what you quoted above because that did not help my argument at all and I also went on to say that ignore the other explanations of the dorsal fin collapsing
Very persuasive and a fine contribution to your argument.