Amid controversy about the shortened lifespan of its captive orcas whales, a 38-year-old female beluga whale died at Sea World San Diego, according to park officials.
The whale, named Ruby, had been at the park for 17 years, and gave birth to a female calf in 2010. Park officials didn't say the cause of death, noting that the results of a necropsy would be available in a few weeks.
There are many different studies that estimate beluga lifespan in the wild. According to SeaWorld's clock, the average lifespan for a beluga whale -- wild or captive -- is 25 to 30 years. But other studies give drastically different estimates -- one paper that used radiocarbon dating of the dentine layers on the animals' teeth showed that belugas can live for a whopping 70 or 80 years.
The park now has five beluga whales left on exhibit.
SeaWorld and marine parks profit off keeping orcas and other marine animals in captivity -- despite evidence that captivity not only induces unnatural behaviors in whales, but also endangers trainers. Join us in pledging never to visit SeaWorld or other marine parks until they empty their orca tanks.