The first: Regurgitation of food. "Many of the whales threw up constantly, which is a byproduct of their boredom," he says. "As soon as we would break from them after feeding they would flip upside down or roll sideways, and puke up all the food. Then play with it, eat it, and puke it up again."
Over the course of his career, Hargrove worked at Seaworld California (1995-2001), Marineland in Antibes, France (2001-2002), and SeaWorld Texas (1993-1995, and 2008-2012). When he worked at SeaWorld California, only one killer whale, Splash (who died in 2005), was a chronic regurgitator. "But in Texas all the whales regurgitated. In France all the whales regurgitated. And I heard that the whales in Florida regurgitated," Hargrove says. "I've seen it as a problem with the vast majority of whales I worked with in captivity. Even whales that were holdouts would eventually learn from another whale."
Regurgitation may sound like benign (if gross) amusement for a bored killer whale. But it can create serious health issues, according to Hargrove, who also confirms the use of Tagamet on the orcas. He explains that chronic regurgitation not only reduces the amount of nutrition the killer whales get (so they lose weight, and their base food amount needs to be increased), but the physical process and the digestive acids involved damage the esophagus and further erode the teeth (beyond the erosion from chewing on the pools or gates). "The vets would say that the nature of regurgitation is that it damages everything coming back up," Hargrove says.