Confined in small cages, bombarded by severe dental issues, blamed for several deaths, punished for poor quality performances... these are eminent facts that lead us to the conclusion: killer whales are unfairly treated. The orca documentary Blackfish left viewers ashamed and enlightened. Various issues hover over orca captivity, particularly SeaWorld's famous Tilikum. The killer whale Tilikum has displayed unfortunate behavior and health issues, yet he still resides in his tank at SeaWorld. Using orcas for entertainment is not only inhumane and inept, but also Tilikum and other orcas have been overworked and stripped of their natural abilities. Captive orcas cannot return to their true habitats; therefore, they should retire in "sea pens," comfortable and natural environments.
Captive orcas' tanks are minuscule compared to the ocean. There is a dramatic difference between the lives of captive and wild orcas. Orcas live in pods and hunt fish, squid, seabirds, seals, and sealions. Orcas, dolphins, whales, and porpoises are part of the cetacea group, highly adept aquatic animals. Killer whales hunt using "novel hunting strategies that are handed down through multiple generations" ("The Killer Whale's Weapon: It's Brain" par. 3). Flexible, advanced cognitive abilities allow them to develop strategic protecting and hunting tactics. Killer whales in the eastern North Pacific "are structured into several social tiers, which possess distinctive cultural attributes in vocal, social, feeding, and play behavior" (Marino et al par. 23). Researchers have observed methods of profound communication in orca pods. In small tanks of confinement, captive orcas have little social interaction and prey. Trainers and caretakers feed orcas a constant diet of dead fish. These orcas are completely misplaced where they rely entirely on humans for survival.