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Growing up I loved dolphins and whales. Even killer whales who were portrayed as savages in the movie Orca. I thought that I would grow up to be a marine zoologist and work with these animals in some capacity. Well, my challenges with science sort of put an end to that dream but I did work summers at Marineland in a hut called the Hungry Squirrel. As a 13 year old it wasn’t a bad job – pouring pop and scooping popcorn for tourists AND I got to be close to the animals I loved.  In the winters I would play catch with the dolphins at the indoor aquarium – It was great!

Of course I didn’t think about the animals lives before they arrived at King Waldorf’s castle (if you have seen the show at Marineland you know what I am referring to!).   Now you won’t catch me anywhere near an establishment like Marineland let alone working at one.  I have learned over the years about the horrible hunts and slaughters and just how dolphins and orcas think and behave in the wild. (Don’t criticize me for my late coming to this party, Ric O’Barry the trainer of Flipper used to help capture dolphins down in Miami before becoming a voice against captivity)

Blackfish the movieLast week I saw the movie Blackfish at Hot Docs and years ago I cried sobbed through the Canadian debut of The Cove.  Both of these movies focus on captivity and the horrible acts that are done to support the billion dollar industry of marine mammal parks like Marineland and Seaworld. Both movies have left me thinking and trying to figure out what I can do to help.

Dolphins are still being slaughtered in Taiji, Japan for the sake of feeding the pipeline of dolphins needed for aquariums and swim with dolphin programs in tourist destinations.  Tilikum is still in his prison at Seaworld and he has 3 trainer deaths on his record. Another orca named Lolita also has a film focused on her and the plight for her retirement after 40+ years working at the Miami Seaquarium – you can watch it on Youtube. This movie was released 10 years ago and this poor killer whale still resides in a small pool that is actually illegal for her size.

Tilikum's dorsal fin doesn't stand erect like his free counterparts

Tilikum’s dorsal fin doesn’t stand erect like his free counterparts

Now whether or not you believe the whistleblowers at Marineland or feel that this is a free-market and these attractions create jobs and feed the economy, you have to have some empathy for these majestic animals when you see them in these small pools forced to jump and spin and splash in order to be fed.  It is belittling and unnecessary!

Some things to think about

  • Orca’s can live way past 50 years old in the wild – they believe that there are females in Lolita’s pod that are 90+ years old
  • Orca’s stay with their mothers for their entire lives and each pod has a unique sound that they make much like a dialect
  • Dolphins and orcas have to consciously take their breathes – the dolphin that played Flipper, after retirement, drowned herself by not taking her next breath.  She essentially committed suicide while in captivity
Lolita doing her thing

Lolita doing her thing

I challenge you to watch the three films (I do have to warn you that some of it is emotionally devastating to watch including the capture of orcas in 1970 in the Pacific Ocean where the mother whales waited on the other side of the nets crying as their calves tried to get to them and away from their captures – it still haunts me a week later).

I beg you to not patronize Marineland or Seaworld or even resorts that have swim with dolphin programs.  Money is a huge motivator and hopefully some day there is no market for places that keep their animals as prisoners and slaves.

Check out the campaign to save Lolita