The fight against capturing and keeping marine life in captivity is an issue that's gaining quite a bit of momentum, in no small part due to viral videos like the one taken by Carlo de Leonibus during a recent family outing at SeaWorld Orlando. The video shows a young pilot whale apparently struggling to re-enter its tank after being beached on an adjoining ledge. Patrons can be heard in the background yelling for staff and trainers to assist the whale, though, according to de Leonibus, no one came to its aid for a period of at least 30 minutes. At one point, other whales in the enclosure appeared to make attempts to assist the beached animal. A staff member addresses the panic-stricken crowd over a PA system in an effort to reassure them that the behavior they are witnessing is normal, but the court of public opinion seems to have dealt SeaWorld's already damaged reputation another blow.
SeaWorld rep Nick Gollattscheck has gone on record as saying that "the animal was never in danger." Noting that pilot whales exhibit such behavior "daily and sometimes hourly," he added, "The younger and more inexperienced animals — like the one on the video — sometimes take a little longer to find their way back to the water because they haven't completely mastered the technique yet."
What do you think? Is this just another example of why whales and dolphins shouldn't be kept in captivity, or simply an uninformed public overreacting to an otherwise normal behavior? Let us know on our Facebook page or by following me on Twitter @Ali_Nejad.
- Nature & Environment
- SeaWorld Orlando