Letters to the Editor

Freedom weekend: Marine parks are not for mammals

The death last month of Winnie, a killer whale at SeaWorld San Antonio, has renewed calls to free “Winnies” and “Willys held in marine mammal parks.

During Marine Mammal Freedom Weekend, which coincides with Memorial Day weekend, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) urges the public to consider what life is like for captive marine animals:

“When you put a dolphin or a killer whale in a pool, it’s like throwing them in jail,” says Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.

In the wild, orcas and dolphins may swim up to 100 miles a day; in marine parks, these animals are walled in day in and day out, swimming in endless circles. An orca in a marine park would have to swim around the edge of a tank more than 500 times to cover 50 miles.

Dolphins navigate by echolocation, bouncing sonar waves off objects to determine their shape, density, distance, and location. In a tank, says Jean-Michel Cousteau, dolphins “are bombarded by a garble of their own vocalizations, which may in fact be acutely painful. Because these are sounds of communication as well as navigation, their world becomes a maze of meaningless reverberations.”

Dolphins and orcas are highly social animals who are traumatized when ripped from their families; those left behind mourn for their captured companions and may even try to save them. When Namu, a wild orca captured off the coast of Canada, was towed to the Seattle Public Aquarium in a steel cage, a group of wild orcas followed the cage for miles.

You can help by never patronizing marine mammal parks and aquariums. To learn more, please visit PETA’s Web site PETA.org.

Paula Moore

Norfolk, VA

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