New Information on Killer Whale Longevity

Last month, SeaWorld announced it was suing California authorities over a ban on breeding killer whales after a lawsuit claiming the marine park attraction deceived patrons was dismissed by a federal judge. This news came on the heels of more criticism following the untimely death of an 18-year-old killer whale at SeaWorld’s San Antonio park. The cause of death–a fungal infection.

Candida, a yeast, afflicts both captive and free-ranging orca depsite the assertion by animal rights groups that the fungal infection is strictly associated with animals in an oceanarium. Nonetheless, the tragic loss of the captive orca likely generated evocative imagery for those who found the 2013 docudrama Blackfish to be factual. Others found the film to be a gripping motion picture, yet highly sensationalized and innacurate.

Blackfish revisited a human tragedy resulting from an intimate encounter with an apex marine predator in captivity. The film immediately cast a dark shadow over the world’s most famous marine park conglomerate and its fallout has been quite damaging for the company and for the marine mammal training industry. The film has been touted as an impactful cinematic treatment of captive cetaceans by marine biologists working in situ and has elicited much conjecture on the part of non-experts regarding the confinement of the world’s largest dolphin. What many argue is that Blackfish wasn’t particularly concerned with the science, conservation and rehabilitation programs of SeaWorld parks, which have been instrumental in saving species from endangerment, not to mention the awareness raised through exposing millions of people to animals they won’t likely ever see in the wild.

SeaWorld shaped our perception of the killer whale, making a villain of the seas what we know of today as our friend Shamu. Through its history of showcasing riveting in-water —> Read More