The Effects of Captivity & The Links to Horror to Cetaceans & Pinnipeds

Trying to help bring awareness to the effects of Captivity to Whales, Dolphins, and Sea lions (Walruses & seals) and the link to the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan.

The Effects of Captivity & the Links to Horror
to Cetaceans & Pinnipeds

By: Sarah J. Sweedland

When you think of whales and dolphins, you think of aquariums. Those neat places where you
take your children to see these large, mysterious, aquatic-acrobats. I, myself, am guilty of paying to see
these shows and animals. I’ve been to Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario several times throughout
my thirty-two years and I’ve also been to Sea World in Orlando, Florida twice in my teenage years. I
love seeing these amazing animals. However, I would prefer to see them in their natural habitat, and
I’m not talking in those concrete pools in aquariums. No I’m talking about seeing them int he World’s
Oceans. Where they belong.
When I was in the third grade, we did a science unit on whales and ever since then I’ve been
hooked. I fell in love with Killer Whales. I think it was their shiny black and white look, the sleekness
of their bodies and the fact that something so big was so graceful, acrobatic, and beautiful. I needed to
know everything there was about the orca, and I did. I became obsessed. I read books, wrote out facts,
everything and anything I could get my hands on. Then that moved to learning about other whales, and
dolphins. I wanted so bad to work with orcas; to become a killer whale trainer or a marine biologist (a
career that would have turned out to be a horrible choice as I found out in 2001 that I get terrible sea
sickness).
Something happened as I got older; the pools where these orca’s and dolphins lived, were not as
large as they had been when I was seven. Things just didn’t seem proportionate. Still, I convinced
myself that it was alright. These aquatic parks could no longer capture animals from the wild and that
they are breeding them. For conservation and education. If they were born in captivity, then they were
with their families, and would never be able to survive if they were released in the wild. That was pure
ignorance on my part.
It’s really a catch 22, because in a small way, I’m right. A whale or dolphin who has been kept
in captivity for decades or have been born in captivity would never survive long in the wild. They rely
on their pods to survive and for socializing. How would they know how to hunt if they are always
being hand fed? Never having to hunt in captivity. So what do we do?
My answer is, I really don’t know.
Unfortunately there’s been a lot of information out there right now. So much so that this started
out as a blog and is likely to become an essay.
As sad as it is, my love for these animals had never died, but it took an article out of the Toronto
Star to reawaken my passion for these animals. To find a way to help them. I no longer want to turn a
blind eye to the horrors of captivity. It’s time to stop being an ostrich, and get my head out of the sand.

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