Marine animals is captivity?

March 8, 2012
By , Washoe Valley, NV
In the last 30 years more than 4,000 marine animals have died in captivity. Orcas can live an average of 60-90 years in the wild and dolphins can live up to 50 years in the wild. Over 90% of the marine animals that have died in marine parks in the last 30 years have been under 10 years of age. It has long been a controversy in the animal community about keeping marine life captive in parks. It is inhumane to keep animals captive in parks for the enjoyment and entertainment of people.

In many countries it is still legal to capture marine animals for use in marine parks. The methods used to capture animals from the wild are cruel and stressful to the animals. First a pod of whales or dolphin is chased to exhaustion using boats, airplanes, harpoons, or explosives. Then once the animals are tired they are cornered with nets so they are unable to escape. Then capture teams search through the terrified pod for the animals that they want and think would be best suited for being in a park. The chosen animals are then captured and taken ashore. Their days of swimming freely with their pod and doing as they please are long over because they will never see their pod or the ocean again. Most whales and dolphins die from stress before they ever make it to the park where they are scheduled to be delivered. Not only is it harmful for the animals that are captured but many members of their pod will also end up dying. When the pod realizes one of their members are gone they will frantically start to search for the missing member and often die of stress or over exhaustion. Overall the process to capture animals is devastating and fatal for many animals.

In the wild animals have the ability to swim freely. They are constantly in motion and sometimes can swim up to 100 miles per day. There smooth skin allows them to swim fast and to catch live prey. They can also hold their breath for 30 minutes which allows them to dive to depths of over 1,000 feet. However none of those things are possible when they are in captivity. In some parks whales and dolphins are restricted to their tank which is sometimes only six feet deep. They can only swim mere feet before glass or another barrier is in their way. Being active is not possible in captivity like it is in the wild and more than 50% of their time is spent lying motionless in their tank. This inactivity and inability to move is what causes the collapsed dorsal fin that you find on most captive whales. Once their dorsal fin has collapsed it makes everything much harder for the whale and even swimming becomes a struggle. The collapsed fin can also cause many other health problems.

Another huge killer for animals in captivity is the water in which they live. All marine parks want to keep the water crystal clear for the public when they come observe their animals because nobody wants to see murky water while they are watching the animals swim around. Therefore many harsh chemical such as chlorine and copper are added to the water to keep it clean and dissolve the animal’s waste. These chemicals have devastating effects on the animal’s health and mental state. If excessive chlorine is added to a tank it can cause dolphins to go blind. Copper makes the skin peel off of whales and fluctuating chemical levels can cause an unstable environment for animals to live in can ultimately end in their death.

The common argument from people who are associated with these parks is usually that their animals would not perform is they weren’t having fun. However in many cases this is completely false. There are many tactics that are used to make the animals perform in crowds. One of them is to starve the animals the day before a performance. Food is then used as a bribe to make them perform because they will soon learn that if they perform well then they get to eat. Another strategy used by trainers is isolation. An animal will be put in an isolation tank about 4 hours before the scheduled performance. The tank they are placed in is barely big enough for them to move and they have to remain stationary for the amount of time they are in the tank. Therefore when they are put in the humongous performing pool they are excited to be able to move around and perform better for the crowds. Also, after a show the animal will be either rewarded or punished for their performance. They may get extra food or be put in a bigger tank if they perform well. The consequences for performing bad could also be starvation and isolation so that the next time they will hopefully perform better in hopes of not being punished.

Another argument that marine park officials make is that there are laws regulating the treatment of their animals so they are doing nothing wrong. This is true because there are in fact laws that protect marine animals, but the problem lies in the enforcement of those laws. There are very few officials who actually run routine checkups to make sure these rules are being obeyed. The checkups are also planned and never random, so trainers have time to move their animals around to pass inspection.

This is an issue that the average person may not think about. Most people just assume it is entertaining to go see these animals perform but don’t think about how they are treated behind the scenes. The capturing and treatment of these animals is cruel and should not be tolerated. Making it illegal in all countries to capture these animals from the wild would make a huge difference, as well as stricter laws and harsher punishments for the mistreatment of these animals. The occasional surprise inspection would also ensure the proper treatment of these animals. By being aware of these issues you can also help by not going to these marine parks. If everyone pulls together this issue can be resolved and many animals’ lives would be saved.





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