An orca named Katina’s dorsal fin was split open—a potentially life-threatening injury—during what SeaWorld officials implied was an “interaction” with other orcas she’s confined with at SeaWorld Orlando in Florida.
SeaWorld is trying to trick people by claiming that such interactions between orcas are “a natural behavior we’d expect to see.” But the truth is that aggression is rarely seen in podmates in the wild. On the other hand, captive orcas, like those at SeaWorld, often fight because people have taken members of different pods from their homes or families and crammed them into cramped concrete tanks. When fights occur, there’s no way to escape because the tanks are so small.
Imagine the stress that these animals must be experiencing as they’re forced to live in a crowded, unnatural environment with strangers who often don’t even speak the same dialect.
Katina’s wound is deep, and a large chunk of her fin appears to be missing. Orca’s dorsal fins have an elaborate network of blood vessels that help the animals regulate body temperature. And while wild orcas have been known to survive severe trauma to their dorsal fins—such as that caused by being struck by boat propellers—healing is much harder for captive orcas. Large open wounds make them particularly susceptible to infections, which are the leading cause of death among captive orcas. Katina’s life depends on the wound’s successful healing.
In nature, Katina would be overseeing a family unit comprising several generations of her male and female offspring. She’d teach her pod to navigate vast ocean terrain, to speak a distinct dialect all its own, and to find food.
But at SeaWorld, she can only swim in circles in her barren prison. Her “pod” consists of only three immediate offspring—one who is the result of inbreeding with her son and another who is a grandson who wouldn’t normally live closely with his paternal grandmother in the wild. The remaining two “pod” members—including Malia, who is suffering from an infection that has caused lesions on her body—are completely unrelated.
PETA is lodging a complaint and demanding that the U.S. Department of Agriculture investigate SeaWorld for possible violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. We’re also calling on the park to send the orcas to seaside sanctuaries, where they can live more natural lives.
What You Can Do
Don’t support SeaWorld or any other place that uses animals for entertainment. Don’t buy a ticket, and urge your friends and family to stay away, too.