For 50 years SeaWorld has entertained park guests with numerous stunts involving the majestic sea creature, the orca, also referred to as the killer whale, and their human trainers. What the on-lookers don’t see at these shows is what goes on behind the scenes: how the whales got there in the first place, and the conditions in which they are housed.
SeaWorld San Diego opened in March 21, 1964. This was the first SeaWorld park to be established. There three parks all together the other two being SeaWorld San Antonio, and SeaWorld Orlando (Ask Shamu). The profitable park was founded by George Millay, Milt Shedd, Ken Norris, and David DeMott, four UCLA fraternity brothers. The park was originally planned to be an underwater restaurant but the concept grew into the idea of a marine park sitting on 21 acres along the shore of Missions Bay in San Diego (History). The park started out with 45 employees, several dolphins, sea lions, and a couple aquariums. Now that Anheuser-Busch owns the park new attractions were added including several thrill rides and its Shamu stadium (History of SeaWorld).
The first whale was bought for $8,000 by someone who captured it accidentally near Namu, British Columbia. After this he captured a female in the Puget Sound and named her Shamu. Whales continued to be captured and brought to perform as SeaWorld and other aquarium (SeaWorld Tragedy). Howard Garrett an OSHA researcher describes the strategy, “They [hired trappers] had air craft, they had spotters, they had speed boats, they had bombs they were throwing in the water… to herd the whales into coves.” Once the orcas were surrounded by nets the trappers would pick out the young calves. Once they were in the corrals they would drop the nets so that the others could leave, but instead of leaving they stayed and cried out to the young ones being placed in the stretchers. John Crowe, a diver that was hired for such a job said that once he realized just what they were doing that he started to cry. He said that its “just like kidnapping a little kid away from their mother… It’s the worst thing I can think of”. After the job was done there were dead whales trapped in the nets. Crowe states that they were told to cut open the whales stuff them with rocks and then anchor their tails and sink them to the bottom. He says that “this is the worst thing that I’ve ever done…” (Blackfish). In 1776 Washington government filed a lawsuit stating that SeaWorld was banned from capturing whales, they were the first state to ban SeaWorld from capturing wild whales. The capturing preceding this lawsuit was the last to happen in the United States (SeaWorld Tragedy).
In the wild orcas live in pods of about 40 whales. Each pod is led by the dominant female. They can be found anywhere from the equator to the polar regions. They feed on marine mammals such as seals and sea lions. They are also known to feed on fish, squid, and seabirds. Their average life span while in the wild is about that of...