SeaWorld drugs its whales with benzodiazepines to alleviate this behavior, but the aggression doesn't stop. "These are all symptoms of boredom and stress from being housed incompatibly in very small quarters," Rally said. "Whenever there is a confrontation, it does tend to escalate."
As rake marks usually heal within a year and a half or so, the wounds Rally saw are fairly recent. "That means that the aggression that we're witnessing is ongoing, and it's current," Rally said.
Of course, orcas usually get most of the media attention when it comes to SeaWorld discussions. But Rally also took issue with the company's treatment of the sea lions who, she said, were at risk for severe eye damage.
Rally, who has experience working with rescued and rehabilitated sea lions, explained that they have remarkably sensitive eyesight that's adapted to catching fish in murky waters, and are prone to ocular disease in captivity. At SeaWorld, she said, the sea lions have no shelter from the sun, and often stared right into it.