Animal rights groups, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have called for SeaWorld to release its 29 orcas to sea pens. ", John Hargrove worked as a killer whale trainer for 14 years, the majority of these at the SeaWorld parks in San Diego and San Antonio. There are no sea pens that can hold all 11 orcas. There are considerable downsides to sea pens. But Sampal found a hole torn in the sea pen and freed herself. Trainers have orcas perform for the crowd during a show at the animal theme park SeaWorld in San Diego on March 19, 2014. (including Morgan and Lolita) von: Antonia A; empfänger: Joel Manby, CEO of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment; Orcas are highly social animals who live in stable social groups ranging from two to 15 individuals. If you think about it, the orcas from SeaWorld have spent their lives within the protective, sterile walls of their enclosures. By Lindsay Edgar. "I want them to do this voluntarily and as partners. "Their entire lives are these blue-walled tanks," and they "float emotionless for hours staring at a concrete wall because there's nothing for them to do." Lori Marino, founder and executive director of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, has already assembled an expert panel to discuss in detail what such sanctuaries might look like and require, what criteria should be used to choose possible locations (such as water flow, depth and shielding from storms) and more. Though arguably “unnatural”, that is the environment their immune systems have adjusted to. A team of scientists have started building an orca sanctuary, where SeaWorld’s killer whales could retire. Workers fashioned a sea pen out of foam-filled plastic pipe. Meanwhile, breeding in captivity would cease. We're always changing," Manby said. Millions of people experience our whales annually and are inspired by them every year when they visit our SeaWorld parks. Encircled by a deep net, it was about two-thirds the size of a football field, anchored to the ocean bottom with more than 100 tons of chain. SeaWorld's first park opened in San Diego, California, in March 1964 with only a handful of employees, a few dolphins, sea lions, and two aquariums. To continue reading login or create an account. Sea pens are colonial marine cnidarians belonging to the order Pennatulacea.There are 14 families within the order; 35 extant genera, and it is estimated that of 450 described species, around 200 are valid. The sea pen sanctuaries are a concept similar to the land sanctuaries that are home to elephants and chimps, Rose says. Rose and Marino will also host a public workshop at a conference of the Society for Marine Mammalogy in December that "will explore the potential for the development of sea pen, retirement sanctuaries or refuges for captive cetaceans in North America.". However, every plan has its flaws. They've called for SeaWorld to stop breeding its orcas and retire those it currently holds in captivity. © 2020 Awesome Ocean. Demand sea pens for orcas owned by SeaWorld! If rapidly transferred to coastal waters, they are exposed to poor water quality and significant pollutants. By Candace Calloway Whiting on November 20, 2011 at 4:23 PM. Outside of the sea pens where the orcas and belugas are captive at Srednyaya Bay, Jean-Michel Cousteau talks about our mission and the opportunity we now have to rehabilitate and release them. Unfortunately, the conversation too often leaves out the smallest details that are the largest problems. Print; Morgan's life hangs in … Orca Whale Morgan’s Proposed Sea Pen is Embraced by Community and is Close to Wild Orcas. Her caretakers were concerned that she wasn’t ready, but she was spotted five days later about 60 miles away, swimming with a group of dolphins that were identified as her original pod. Uncontrollable exposure to pollution, ocean debris and life-threatening pathogens in ocean waters are just a few of the factors that make sea pens an unhealthy living environment for any of our animals. SeaWorld Says It Has to Keep Orcas in Captivity to Save Them The company insists its killer whales help us better understand wild orcas. Animal Rights Groups 'Skeptical' of SeaWorld's Plan to End Killer Whale Shows, Report: SeaWorld to End Killer Whale Shows in San Diego. The group is calling for the company to release all of SeaWorld's orcas to sea pens or coastal sanctuaries. The whales are "suffering in captivity. And it'll have a strong conservation message.". The group, including Rose, met for the first time this summer and will gather again in December. The sea sanctuaries are a way for them to return to "some semblance of natural life" while still receiving the human care they need as they live out the rest of their life. Sea pens would work. "These animals are so incredibly bored," Hargrove tells Newsweek. You might have heard about oceanic sea pens as the superior alternative to housing marine mammals within marine parks. "What you see in a concrete tank is not a normal killer whale," says Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist for the Animal Welfare Institute who earned her doctorate with a dissertation on the social dynamics of killer whales. The cost of building such pens could reach $5 million each. Featured Image Credit: Minette Layne via Wikipedia. Video by Harry Rabin. Would they be released into the wild? I don't want them to go out of business. "We are listening to our guests. Since the announcement, animal welfare groups have drawn up several proposals that the captive whales be released with the help of sea pens. In the wild, orcas are very intelligent, social animals, she says, but putting them in a concrete tank that's tiny relative to the size of their bodies is like keeping a dog in a kennel for its entire life without ever taking it for a walk or run. In some populations, children stay with their mothers for life. Whales born and raised in captivity, or even those born in the wild but who have lived for many years in captivity, can't simply be released, Rose and Goodman both emphasize, in part because they've never had to procure their own food or develop other learned behaviors that help them survive. These enclosures are built on the fringes of marine habitats and are designed to give the animal inside a gradual adjustment to a natural setting. T hese excuses have been refuted by experts, including marine biologist and orca expert Dr Naomi Rose. According to Ingrid Visser, an orca expert who has been a leading voice in the Free Morgan movement, the ideal set-up would involve a sea pen in a harbor or bay protected from harsh weather, as well as a floating sea pen that could be used in the open ocean to create a different environment. Yahoo Finance shows SeaWorld stock plunging another 68 cents per share (4.48%) and is issuing a Strong Sell recommendation for SeaWorld. While they might seem like a reasonable choice for introducing animals to the world outside their enclosures, sea pens are not all they’re cracked up to be. Scientists say that claim may not hold water. Eleven killer whales (also known as orcas) and 87 belugas languish in several rectangular sea pens in Srednyaya Bay in Russia’s Far East. It was just so extreme and so off-the-charts irrational." The salmon would be grown to provide more forage for the starving southern residents in a key feeding area for them. Her proposal involved building a sea sanctuary with medical care and other stations around an existing island and allowing public access for visitors to view and learn about the orcas in a much more natural setting. Many claim them to be the magic solution to end captivity for cetaceans currently living in human care. See why nearly a quarter of a million subscribers begin their day with the Starting 5. I want them to change their business model. The film stirred controversy for its unflattering portrayal of SeaWorld, which called it "shamefully dishonest, deliberately misleading and scientifically inaccurate.". About a year and a half later, the foundation opened up Keiko's sea cage and gave him access to the entire cove, which had been cordoned off with a 300-meter-long net. There are considerable downsides to sea pens. When SeaWorld made the jaw-dropping announcement that they would phase out their orca shows, many people wondered what would happen to the large whales that called the park their home. In the wild, killer whales live in very tight-knit social groups, but those in captivity can't necessarily join such a group upon release. (BLM) “The orcas eat hatchery fish. He was kept in an ocean enclosure and eventually died from exposure to pathogens. Image Credit: Doug Perrine/NPL. The captive orcas are at the center of an animal welfare debate. Ultimately, though, Rose and her colleagues would much rather work with SeaWorld than against it. A female orca breaches in the Pacific Northwest. He resigned in August 2012 and just days later shot an interview for Blackfish, the 2013 documentary that focuses on Tilikum, a killer whale involved in the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau and two others. Keiko, the whale famous for being the inspiration for the film “Free Willy”, was an example of how sea pens can mean certain death. Each pen could cost up to $500,000 a year to care for, Rose said. (Candice K. Emmons under U.S. permit #781-1824 and 16163) In the race to save Puge Our oceans today are not entirely clean, and the netting won’t keep out any trash that happens to float by. The notorious sea pens that housed 10 orcas and 87 beluga whales who had been captured for sale to marine parks in China are now closed. "Experts agree that [the orcas] would thrive in these conditions," he adds. This will be the first permanent sanctuary for dolphins and killer whales. There are considerable downsides to sea pens. "In 2017, we will launch an all-new orca experience. The most often cited example of a captive orca released to a sea pen is Keiko, the whale featured in the 1993 Warner Bros. movie "Free Willy." Decades down the line, when the captive orcas are gone, the sea pens could transition into serving as rehabilitation facilities, Rose says, for injured whales that are rescued out in the wild. SeaWorld's Monday announcement about a change to its orca performances has not impressed the animal welfare community and animal rights groups. AN ORCA BREACHES IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS. All Rights Reserved. She hung around for a little while but then decided to make a break for the open ocean. Nollens referred to the sanctuaries as "sea cages," and otherwise echoed Manby's remarks. During a night performance in 2014, trainers direct killer whales at Shamu Stadium in SeaWorld San Diego in California. Rose noted that the U.S. Navy's Marine Mammal Program keeps its trained dolphins in sea pens just down the coast from SeaWorld San Diego. Some of those who advocate loudest for sea pens have only one example on their resume: Keiko. Some might be able to be released into open oceans, with a care and feeding station available should they wish to return to it. The spokesman also said SeaWorld has not considered retiring its orcas or working to place them in sea pen sanctuaries, as animal welfare groups and orca experts have suggested, and pointed Newsweek to a quote from CEO Manby from the June 2015 stockholders' meeting: First, and most importantly, our killer whales are healthy, well cared for and thriving in our care. He’s no longer a good candidate for release back into the wild, but he should be retired to an ocean sea pen near his family pod, to live out his life and stop having to perform tricks. "Animal rights activists, welfare organizations—anyone interested in this issue from the animal's perspective—have been asking [SeaWorld] to consider sea pen sanctuaries," Rose adds. Are sea pens or SeaWorld tanks better for captive killer whales? ", You have 4 free articles remaining this month, Sign-up to our daily newsletter for more articles like this + access to 5 extra articles. If you think about it, the orcas from SeaWorld have spent their lives within the protective, sterile walls of their enclosures. In what’s billed as “a simple idea to save orcas,” the Lummi Nation wants to rear and release Chinook from one or more sea pens in the San Juan Islands. We're evolving as a company. The only reason to breed more orcas is to make sure more captive orcas are available to do meaningless tricks for the tourists to line the pockets of SeaWorld. Endangered southern resident killer whales sport "DTags," sensors that help scientists understand how orcas hunt. Though arguably “unnatural”, that is the environment their immune systems have adjusted to. If killer whales held by SeaWorld and other marine parks were released, where would they go? In building sea pens and introducing ALL of your orcas into them you would increase renevue by allowing people to observe the whales in the ocean AND by winning back the patrons you lost from the "Blackfish effect". There is nothing short of retiring them that would end their physical and psychological suffering. Since his resignation, Hargrove has also written Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish. “We have at least five different sites in mind, and we’ve looked at three of those in detail,” she tells me. The sea pens would be a “less boring” environment than the animals’ current tanks, Rose said. Featured Image Credit: Minette Layne via Wikipedia Such a structure could be significantly larger than any tank and would allow the whales to "experience the currents and swim and dive and interact with other ocean animals," says Jared Goodman, director of animal law for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. She says SeaWorld has "adamantly refused" to discuss the matter with her or her colleagues at other organizations. We eat hatchery fish. The notorious sea pens that housed 10 orcas and 87 beluga whales who had been captured for sale to marine parks in China are now closed.Read more. Although animal welfare groups have tried to get the orcas moved to sea pens, SeaWorld's killer whales may never make the change. Sea pens have a cosmopolitan distribution, being found in tropical and temperate waters worldwide, as well as from the intertidal to depths of more than 6100m. Our facilities are among the largest and most sophisticated in the world.... More than 80 percent of our whales were born in our care, and sea pens would be a poor choice for them. Another SeaWorld spokesman quoted from the testimony of Hendrik Nollens, a senior veterinarian at SeaWorld San Diego, before the California Coastal Commission in October. Rose, Goodman and Hargrove all point to a mockup presented recently by Ingrid Visser, a researcher specializing in orcas in New Zealand waters and the founder and principal scientist for the Orca Research Trust. But experts and activists say the orcas, or killer whales, held in captivity at SeaWorld's three parks—in San Diego, San Antonio and Orlando, Florida—are living in circumstances vastly different from their natural environment and have developed abnormal rather than natural behaviors. In this case, his history of care in captivity was too significant to overcome the stressful conditions in the wild. Many of the critics urge SeaWorld to release its beluga whales, orcas and other dolphins into “sea pens,” or large netted enclosures close to the shore where the animals could swim in natural waters while receiving food and veterinary care from humans. Rose says this frustration and boredom might be why these normally active, fast-swimming, wide-ranging predators have hurt and killed people when in captivity. The title of my book on this subject, “Killing Keiko,” is blunt and it is true.