The Psychological Effects On Killer Whales In Captivity

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In the wild, whales travel and hunt in pods, which are considered to be their family units. Although there are different groups, the resident, transient, and offshore killer whales, these animals most commonly remain with their family unit for most of or all of their lives. Every pod has its own unique sounds, closely resembling a form of language (National Geographic). Being brought into captivity, whales are put into confined spaces with other whales from different places, different pods, and different cultures. Although these whales look the same, they all have different identities with emotions similar to humans. While housing whales individually leads to isolation issues, grouping whales together is an equally poor decision. Each SeaWorld facility in the United States houses a range of six to ten whales (The Orca Project). Often, whales are confined in small holding tanks with others that are foreigners to them. The matriarchal structure found in whale pods is diminished and as a result the whales often react in aggressive behaviors.
SeaWorld breeding program is a serious problem and it is growing worse. SeaWorld owns 29 orcas; 23
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Captive orcas show signs of depression, anxiety, and aggression. This is a direct result of living in small spaces with nowhere to escape, forced to interact with other whales and people, being isolated, and so much more. These massive creatures in captivity do not live a normal lifestyle and this is shown. Evidence of anxiety and aggression includes noticeable changes on the body; a collapsed dorsal fin, bite marks, and "raking". As said by Amber Noel in her article reviewing the documentary Blackfish, “Raking is exactly what it sounds like, one orca drags their teeth across another’s body. This does happen in the wild, but very superficially and the orca under attack can easily get away from the offender, whereas in captivity, these rakes can be very

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