Whale Captivity: Entertainment at What Cost?

The Issue

Whales are being held in captivity at parks such as Sea World, when they belong in the wild. This is a problem because Orca whales are vulnerable to becoming endangered, so they need to be preserved as much as possible. It may seem that they are perfectly happy and healthy in these parks, but that is far from the truth. It is evident that captive whales have many health issues and struggle with depression. SeaWorld does not acknowledge these issues, but instead they make them seem normal. This project explores the issues of whale being held captive, debunks all of SeaWorld’s claims and provides solutions.

It is important to keep whales in the wild, where they belong for a multitude of reasons. If they continue to be held captive, they could become extinct. Specifically orca whales are at risk to become endangered. It is necessary to conserve our marine wildlife because of all the pollution and other issues harming sea life. Whales are very fascinating animals and we need to protect them.

Here is my pitch summarizing my presentation:


Information & Facts

This is an infographic that I created. I hand drew the icons included on the infographic as well as the whale foundation logo. This is a brief overview of real facts vs. what SeaWorld tells their clientele. The lies that SeaWorld is telling are absurd. It is so clear that the whales being held there are not happy and not healthy at all.


Life Span

There is a big difference between the life span of a wild orca and the life span of a captive orca. In the wild, male orca whales can live up to 70 years and female orcas can live up to 100 years! This is much longer than the average age that whales at SeaWorld live up to. The average lifespan of captive whales is only 13 years. On SeaWorld’s website, they state “the average life expectancy of southern and northern resident killer whales is about 29 years for females and 17 years for males.” It is ludicrous that SeaWorld even tries to convince the world this. The following is an infographic created by the whale activism website showing the ages at which each SeaWorld whale has died at and as well as their causes of death. 

Collapsed Dorsal Fins

Ever wondered why the whales’ dorsal fins are flopped to one side? This is called a collapsed dorsal fin. It is very rare in the wild – less than 1% of wild orcas have collapsed dorsal fins. This is an obvious clue that things are not right at SeaWorld. This is seen in majority of the whales at SeaWorld, in fact all males orcas held captive have a collapsed dorsal fin. SeaWorld claims that this condition is completely normal. This is what normal dorsal fins look like in the wild:


A major factor that plays into captive whales’ health is the environment that they are in. Each sea park confines their whales to small pools that obviously do not come anywhere close to the size of the ocean. Wild orcas can swim up to 100 miles each day. Whales in captivity would need to swim 1,208 laps around the pool or 3,105 lengths back and forth to reach the equivalent of what they would swim in the wild. To the whales, these pools are like bathtubs and they are incredibly cramped and uncomfortable for them to swim and live in. Furthermore, orcas are very social animals who travel and live together in groups of 2-15. In many cases, families stay together, but in captivity, they are separated and isolated from their families. This contributes to the well being and happiness of the whales.


Whales held in captivity are proven to be much more aggressive because of their frustration caused by confinement, health deterioration and lack of freedom. Though they are referred to as killer whales, they are not inherently harmful or aggressive. In the infographic there is a table comparing aggressive acts of captive whales and wild whales. There are clearly many more aggressive acts and even deaths involving captive whales. The confinement is causing depression and anger which they take out on the SeaWorld trainers.

One of the most famous cases of a death caused by whale aggression is the death of Dawn Brancheau. From this you can tell that Tilikum the whale grew incredibly aggressive due to his frustration of being in captivity. Here is the news report:


More Info

There are over 60 whales being held in captivity all around the world. This map shows the marine parks around the world that contain orca whales and use them in shows for entertainment purposes. Majority of these parks are SeaWorld parks.


Blackfish is a great documentary that encompasses the issue of whale captivity. It unveils the truth of what goes on behind the scenes at SeaWorld. Check out the trailer here:


If people want to see whales, they can go whale watching, scuba diving, snorkeling, etc. This would be better to see the whales in their natural element, healthy and thriving. It would also be less expensive to do these things than to spend money at SeaWorld.



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