When I was a young girl, from the ages of probably around ten, to fifteen or sixteen or so, I was absolutely obsessed with whales and dolphins. I wrote school papers about them, I hoarded pictures of them and hung them on my walls, I watched every possible piece of informational video footage of them. I felt very passionate about the environmental state of the oceans and the conversation of these fantastic creatures. I was beyond obsessed.
Being from the completely landlocked state of Colorado, I dreamed of one day becoming a marine biologist and and then using that education to become a trainer for orcas and dolphins at Sea World. I thought it would be a real dream come true to swim and perform with the animals I loved so dearly, though I had never seen one, or even the ocean itself. When I was twelve or so, one of my dreams came true as my family visited the Sea World that was in Ohio. Sea World in Ohio? Believe it. I was thrilled that I was going to get to see a real live whale!!! I don't remember many details of the day to be honest, but I definitely remember seeing an orca in a tank for the first time. The shows and the entire experience wowed me and I bought enough postcards and memorabilia with dolphin and orca pictures to fill all the walls of my childhood bedroom.
Years passed and growing up happened. Somehow my obsession with whales and dolphins waned and I found myself caring more about punk rock and running away. My life took a different path than one that would make me a marine biologist, and for that I am grateful.
Growing up also made me realize that keeping these fantastic creatures in captivity is beyond wrong, something my parents had never suggested to me. Call it society's conditioning, but we are just brainwashed into thinking this is normal. Not to mention that we keep them in captivity for our entertainment and profit, regardless of their physical and emotional health, and fully ignoring the social structure in which they thrive in the wild. We wheel and deal them like they are tomatoes from a farm.
Having just watched the documentary "Blackfish" about orcas in captivity, I find myself infuriated at the degree to which we exploit these animals. From their capture, to their breeding in captivity, to separating young from mothers(something I just learned does not happen in the wild and brought tears to my eyes), to starvation techniques sometimes used in order to train them, I am fucking pissed off. It is wrong that we celebrate these animals in captivity. It is wrong that we go in droves with our children to these parks to stare at these enormous animals basically living in a prison, working for their food. It is wrong that trainers are injured and have been killed in attacks by these animals with seemingly pure intention in some desperate attempt to release frustration that has no other outlet.
What the fuck are we doing as humans to cage so many majestic creatures who are fully capable of taking care of themselves in the wild? Oh, and then using them as entertainment in exchange for profit as though it is some step up in quality of life from their natural habitat?
I do not feel foolish for my childhood dreams and obsessions with wanting to become a trainer. To me, that was something perfectly normal that just happened at these magical theme parks which seemed a world away to a poor Colorado girl. However becoming a conscious adult has given me the awareness of the unacceptable reality regarding the situation of whales and dolphins in captivity. I do not agree with it, anyone with any inkling of consciousness towards animals should not agree with it. Even the former Sea World trainers interviewed in the documentary are all against it, knowing full well the quality of life the captive animals are living vs that of the wild. May this humanity continue to awaken to what we are doing to the planet, all the blessings and gifts of nature we take for granted, and have the courage to change it.