Miscarriages In Performing Orcas Caused By Slide Out?


The above photo is of Gudrun, an Icelandic female who lost her calf presumably after being told to go on the slide out during the later stages of her pregnancy.

It is common knowledge that a beached killer whale is a doomed killer whale. There are multiple reasons for this. One: They can’t get back in the water. Two: The weight of their bodies crushes their internal organs providing a slow, painful death. It is also common knowledge that there are whales out there called Transients, or Biggs whales that hunt other mammals and will tactfully beach themselves to get a seal if it is in the water. These whales are masters at this art and rarely over shoot their goals and get stranded; however they do not stay on the beach nearly long enough for their weight to have an impact on their organs. They get up there and get out whether they have the kill or not.

Now, let us discuss the very popular slide out (an unnatural behavior to Resident Orcas). Not only would these whales in particular (with the possible exception of Kshamenk who is a Biggs orca) ever beach themselves for any reason other than to die, they would definitely not do it for as long as they do in a show. The amount of time a whale will spend on the slideout varies, but it is always long enough for everyone to get a good picture and to gawk at their size. Sometimes the whales may even stay up there for the length of a speech. We know that the weight of a whale can crush their organs, but how long do they have to be on that stage before it really starts to do some damage? Not only that, but these whales perform every single day. It’s one thing for them to be on a stage out of water for 3 or so minutes, but to do it almost every day, sometimes several times a day, can start to raise questions on the effect it would have on the animal.

Of course it is very hard to tell if this does have an effect which is why this post is entirely speculation, but after reading Gudrun’s story and then looking at the statistics: http://orcapod.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Pregnancy_Stats it starts to make a person wonder. What is even more perplexing is that this hasn’t been thought of before or at least if it has then it hasn’t gone very far. Everyone knows that the slide out (for those who are close enough and those who look at pictures online) is the highlight of the orcas tricks. It’s amazing to see just how big they are and to be able to look in their eyes and see them looking back. So, this is definitely something that happens a lot every day for most whales. It has to at least have some serious consideration that this would have an overall effect on whales at some point, after so many and long beachings.

So, if this alone can effect a normal whale that typically slides out when involved in a show, then certainly it would have an effect on a pregnant mother especially in the more developed stages of the pregnancy. They have to sit up there without any support and pose for several minutes before being aloud back down in the water to relieve the strain they must be feeling. And it’s one thing to consider that it’s not only during the shows that these whales slide out. They also do it to be weighed and for practice before-hand. I do not know the specific details and which orca does what in a show. I don’t even know if marine parks have actually put a rule in place for pregnant whales and slide outs, but I think the overall effect may be worth looking into. I truly hope this isn’t the case, but it would make a lot more sense on why there are so many miscarriages and still births in captivity. The number is completely outrageous and very obviously a sign that something is wrong. Also keep in mind that the miscarriages and stillbirths could also, mostly, be attributed to the mothers stress of their captivity and probably many, many other stresses they feel about their situation. The stress factor is huge and I will admit probably the biggest reason for the unsuccessful births, but I can’t see how the slide out wouldn’t have an effect as well. Surely something so repetitive, even for just a couple of minutes, couldn’t go without an overall negative effect.

Again, this article is just speculation and I am more than open to thoughts and ideas and facts (if you have them) to prove one way or the other why my own thoughts are or are not correct. I would love the input. Please, remember to keep it civil when replying to this post. Rudeness will not be tolerated.

Gudrun’s Story: http://endkillerwhalecaptivity.tumblr.com/post/29580108236/john-and-jeff-had-previously-discussed-gudruns 

Suicide In Whales and Dolphins

Dolphin Commits Suicide in Hong Kong

False alarm: This dolphin did not die; however, the officials at Ocean Park say that this is normal behavior for this individual dolphin since her capture. Obviously this is not ‘normal’ behavior and something is very wrong here regardless.

Seeing this picture does bring up a good topic of discussion. Suicide in captive whales and dolphins is actually not new and some will dare to say it is common. Some of the famous suicides were done by today’s popular cetaceans.



  Hugo is known well for being the whale that Lolita    shared a tank with at the Miami Seaquarium and then ultimately ending his own life by ramming himself headfirst into the side of their tank. It was reported that he has done this on several occasions, even breaking the aquarium glass at one point.



 Or otherwise known as one of the Flipper dolphins. While she was a cast member in this much loved TV series, Cathy really gained her fame after her death through the memory of her former trainer Ric O’Barry who, directly after her death, decided to fight captivity and to stop the Taiji dolphin slaughters.

Cathy ended her life by taking her last breath and sinking to the bottom of her pool, right in front of her former trainer, changing him and the face of captivity forever.

Aside from these two very sad tales there have been several cases where it is thought that dolphins and whales have committed suicide while being held in captivity. Through scientific research it is said that whales and dolphins are conscious breathers. They are not like humans where we breathe without thinking, every breath for them is a conscious effort. If they wanted to end it all all they would have to do is close their blowholes.

There are some people who dismiss that whales and dolphins are conscious thinkers. They say that they are programmed to survive and don’t have the intention to end their own lives. Some scientists say that despair is not something that marine mammals feel. This is where other scientists and many advocates have to disagree. It is common knowledge that even cats and dogs can feel despair so why would it make sense for something as intelligent as a whale or dolphin, who have been proven to have empathy levels higher than humans, to not feel these same intense emotions?

We are past the days when anthropomorphizing whales and dolphins is unreasonable. They have proven to us that they feel the same despair in the death of a family member as we do and they have also proven to us that, like us, they do not do well being locked up. Something that officials for whatever reason continue to overlook is that the average life span of a killer whale in captivity is less than half the life span of orcas in the wild. Killer whales in the wild can live between 50-80 years on average (males living the least amount of time and averaging around 50 years) which would mean that on average captive whales die before even entering adulthood by orca standards. It’s a very sad realization that has gone ignored for so long. What is even more sad is being able to look at Lolita and know that she is a miracle whale, but also realize that she could literally go downhill any day now. What is sadder than that? She is only middle aged.

It is a clear indication that, “Hey, something is wrong here.”