corporations (like SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment and the Georgia
Aquarium) often use the justification of "science" to continue the
unjust and inhumane practice of housing killer whales in small concrete
enclosures for human amusements.
a review of the published literature (based upon captive killer whale
studies) reveals that there's simply not much science occurring at these
Below is a sampling of peer-reviewed and other literature, most of which
have links to the actual article. This list should help you begin to
familiarize yourself with the depth and breadth of orca research to
date. When browsing these research papers, notice how few are based upon
Sea World's captive orcas.
These articles are organized into the following categories:
Please scroll down or click on the above links to view these categories and their corresponding articles.
L., Sherwood, C.C., Delman, B.N., Tang, C.Y., Naidich, T.P., and Hof,
P.R. (2004). Neuroanatomy of the killer whale (Orcinus orca) from
magnetic resonance images. The Anatomical Record Part A: Discoveries in Molecular, Cellular, and Evolutionary Biology, 281(2), 1256-1263.
- Visser, Ingrid (1998) Prolific body scars and collapsing dorsal fins on killer whales (orcinus orca) in New Zealand waters. Aquatic Mammals, 24.2, 71-81.
- Bigg, M. A., Olesiuk, P.F., Ellis,
G.M., Ford, J.K.B., & Balcomb, K.C. (1990). Social organization and
genealogy of resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the coastal waters of
British Columbia and Washington State. Report of the International Whaling
Commission, Special, (12), 383-405.
J. K., Balcomb III, K. C.,Osborne, R. W., & Dierauf, L. (2004).
Evaluating potential infectious disease threats for southern resident
killer whales, Orcinus orca: a model for endangered species. Biological Conservation, 117(3), 253-262.
Below you will find two articles authored by Drs. John Jett and Jeffrey Ventre.
John Jett & Jeffrey Ventre met at SeaWorld of Florida in 1992,
where they worked together as marine mammal trainers, collecting 13
years of combined experience. They've been friends ever since. Working
directly with confined killer whales in a marine park environment was a
catalyst for speaking publicly about the conditions and consequences of
captivity. At SeaWorld, John was "team leader" for Tilikum, an orca that
has killed three humans, thus far. Jeff primarily worked with Katina
Dr. Jett is now a visiting research professor
at Stetson University, where he was nominated for professor of the
(academic) year 2011-2012. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Environmental
Science and a PhD in Health and Human Performance with an emphasis on
waterway management and marine mammal conservation issues. Dr. Ventre is
a medical doctor who specializes in Physical Medicine and
Rehabilitation & works at a spine clinic in Central Washington. In
1996 Jeff joined Ken Balcomb & Dr. Astrid van Ginneken for Orca Survey, an ongoing photo identification study of the the Southern Resident population of Killer Whales in the Pacific Northwest.
The duo's first article, "Keto & Tilikum Express the Stress of Orca Captivity" was submitted to The Orca Project in January of 2011, is available in Spanish, and has been read over forty thousand times.
They followed it up with a peer reviewed piece that was published in
the Journal of Marine Animals & Their Ecology.
unreported in wild orca populations, mosquito-transmitted diseases have
killed at least two captive orcas (Orcinus orca) in U.S. theme parks.
St. Louis Encephalitis Virus (SLEV) was implicated in the 1990 death of
the male orca Kanduke, held at SeaWorld of Florida. In the second case,
West Nile Virus (WNV) killed male orca Taku at SeaWorld of Texas in
2007. Captive environments increase vulnerability to mosquitotransmitted
diseases in a variety of ways. Unlike their wild counterparts who are
rarely stationary, captive orcas typically spend hours each day (mostly
at night) floating motionless (logging) during which time biting
mosquitoes access their exposed dorsal surfaces. Mosquitoes are
attracted to exhaled carbon dioxide, heat and dark surfaces, all of
which are present during logging behavior. Further, captive orcas are
often housed in geographic locations receiving high ultraviolet
radiation, which acts as an immunosuppressant. Unfortunately, many of
these facilities offer the animals little shade protection.
Additionally, many captive orcas have broken, ground and bored teeth
through which bacteria may enter the bloodstream, thus further
compromising their ability to fight various pathogens. Given the often
compromised health of captive orcas, and given that mosquito-transmitted
viral outbreaks are likely to occur in the future, mosquito-transmitted
diseases such as SLEV and WNV remain persistent health risks for
captive orcas held in the U.S. [JMATE. 2012;5(2):9-16
Jett,J., and Ventre, J. (2011). Keto and Tilikum express the stress of orca captivity. The Orca Project.
- Click here to read this article in Spanish.
- This Article As Described at The Orca Project (2011):
a new study, nearly a year in the making, former SeaWorld trainers
Jeffrey Ventre, MD and John Jett, Ph.D, take us deep behind the scenes
of Marine parks and their ability to provide environments adequate for
keeping killer whales alive in captivity. Drs Ventre and
Jett introduce us to detailed observations and strong statistical
calculations that add up to an abundance of evidence that captivity
kills orcas, usuallyat a young age… and that stresses, social tensions
and poor health are chronic issues in marine park facilities. Born
from this report, a new statistic called “Mean Duration of Captivity”
(MDC), drawn from diverse credible sources, allows overall comparisons
with free-ranging orcas and reveals a shockingly low average longevity in captivity. In this research paper, you’ll see the precursors and symptoms of stresses in orcas in captivity,
illustrated with powerful photos. The authors invite
students, teachers and the public to share these images and use them in
their reports and projects. As former orca trainers, and now a medical
doctor and biology professor respectively, Drs Ventre and Jett have a
perspective that has not been heard in the intensifying debate about
captivity for orcas.
AV Presentation - Keto and Tilikum Express the Stress of Captivity