...well, indirectly but that's good enough for me.
In an article I wrote about SeaWorld's science claims, I came to the conclusion (after running an extensive literature search) that, considering SeaWorld are supposed to have been studying orcas for 50 years, there just wasn't enough of it. I found that SeaWorld had only produced a maximum of 30 orca-related papers in all the time they have been holding orcas captive.
Since writing the article, SeaWorld have produced one more paper entitled Evidence for vocal learning in juvenile male killer whales, Orcinus orca, from an adventitious cross-socializing experiment. If you read the abstract, you will see their results "provided evidence that juvenile male killer whales are capable of learning new call types, possibly stimulated by change in social association".
Orcas with different dialects, from different populations, have been forced to communicate with each other in artificial environments for five decades. We already knew they were capable of vocal learning. This is how they come to use their population's dialect in the first place. They learn it.
Despite the fact this article does not add anything new to our understanding of orcas, it has nevertheless been published, taking SeaWorld's total orca-related science publications to 31 maximum.
And SeaWorld have agreed with this figure, stating on their Killer Whale Care webpage that "SeaWorld scientists have published more than 30 studies specific to killer whales". They have worded this in a clever way, mentioning the number of orca-related science papers they have actually published while insinuating that there are more. (We know there aren't.)
At an average of 0.62 papers per year over 50 years, SeaWorld's research productivity in this field is much lower than the productivity of scientists who have been studying orcas in the wild for a shorter period of time. In fact, most (if not all) of what we know about orcas today has been taught to us by the latter researchers who observe orcas in their natural environment, where these apex ocean predators are able to behave and function normally.
SeaWorld describe their orca research as 'groundbreaking' but in reality it is biased towards developing husbandry and care techniques to better maintain their captive populations. In this way, they successfully maintain the high financial profit gained from displaying their orcas to the paying public.
SeaWorld's main justifications for displaying orcas in captivity are 'education' and 'conservation' but the theme park franchise do not facilitate our understanding of wild orcas and they do not invest their time, money or effort into the conservation of wild orcas...
Doesn't that defeat their argument for showcasing any orcas in their entertainment parks?