The bill, which contains an exemption for facilities to temporarily hold cetaceans for rehabilitation or research, indicates that all animals that are unreleasable should be moved to sea pens to live out their lives in more natural settings.
Washington isn't the first place to introduce legislation like this. Earlier this week, Ontario announced a ban on selling or buying orca whales for captivity. Last year, New York state and San Francisco passed similar measures, and another is pending in California.
While there are currently no captive cetaceans in Washington, the state is no stranger to the effects of marine mammal captivity. In the 1960s and 1970s, hundreds of orca whales were captured for marine parks off the state's coast, many of them going to SeaWorld. Ranker, who lives on Orcas Island, a site where wild orca pods often swim by, told NWPR that a trip to SeaWorld San Diego was what turned him against the practice.
"It was a very powerful experience for me and not a positive one," he said.