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Why SeaWorld ‘Helps’ Stranded Whales

(Photo courtesy of Bob Care)

It seems admirable, at first blush, that SeaWorld should be helping save the pilot whales who recently stranded themselves on the beach in Florida. They have experience and knowledge in treating captive whales and dolphins. The true picture, however, is a little darker.

Candace Calloway Whiting, who has studied and trained dolphins, seals, and orca whales, and is a volunteer at the Center for Whale Research at Friday Harbor explains in her blog at the Seattle PI:

Having SeaWorld and The Marine Mammal Conservancy involved is a double-edged sword, since both groups are committed to maintaining whales and dolphins in captivity.

Both organizations have the needed expertise to help the stranded whales though, and since they get the public to support them with donations they have the financial resources to help as well.

But it is like leaving the proverbial foxes to guard the hen house, because dolphins and whales are worth hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars to theme parks.

Whiting explains that SeaWorld gets to decide which animals are fit to be released back to the ocean, and who among them should be kept for further treatment. In what Whiting calls a Frankenstein-like move, SeaWorld also gets to keep body parts from those who die.

This is a critical part of the mix, because SeaWorld urgently needs to diversify its gene pool for its captive breeding program. So being able to salvage elements from the reproductive systems of the dead whales, and being able to “milk” the “unreleasable” males on an ongoing basis for reproductive fluids is a small price to pay for a bit of veterinary care that also garners them good publicity. It’s a bonus all the way.

Whiting also gives chapter and verse on how SeaWorld presents false information on the animals in its “care”:

The problem with SeaWorld is that it just lacks credibility, and has a tendency to distort facts and re-write history.

She notes, as a prime example, some completely false figures, published by SeaWorld, about the age and history of one of the pilot whales in captivity”

SeaWorld is either mixed up and less than competent in its record keeping, or is tweaking reality to suit it’s needs. The dates/age/identity of this whale just don’t add up.

Check out the whole story.