Good Evening Bookworms
It was John Hargrove's childhood dream to become a whale trainer. He worked hard to make that dream come true and over two decades worked with 20 different whales on two continents and at two of Sea World's facilities in the US.
His account of his relationship with the whales is deeply moving, especially those with his favourite Orcas, Kasatka and her daughter Takara. Over time Hargrove loses faith in Sea World and sees the captivity of whales as detrimental to this highly social creature, as well as a danger to the trainers.
After two orcas kill two of Hargrove's colleagues he leaves Sea World and speaks out publicly about the conditions in which the orcas are held and the safety of the trainers. He contributes to the controversial but award-winning documentary Blackfish, and uses his expertise to convince federal and state governments to act.
I was moved to tears many times whilst reading this book. The orcas are held in a small facility (no better than concrete swimming pools), asked to repeat the same tasks day after day for (rewards) food, they are bred against their will as part of an artificial insemination programme and will never experience the freedom of the ocean. This is only a small part of awful events surrounding the capture and captivity of orcas. Their lives are a microcosm that does not even begin to compare to anything they would experience in the wild. Indeed Hargrove admits that ultimately the orcas are prisoners. However, what took me by surprise was the clear love and adoration Hargrove and his fellow trainers had for the orcas. They tried their best to act in the interests of the orcas but Hargrove and some of his fellow trainers realised that to act in the best interests of these creatures they need to remove themselves from the facilitator of their captivity.
This really is an interesting, if upsetting. look at orcas in captivity, the unsafe environment for the trainers and the first step in ending the captivity of these intelligent and beautiful animals.
You will see that I have preferred to use Orca rather than killer whale, this is for two reasons; firstly orcas are part of the dolphin family they are not whales, and secondly the name Killer Whale conjures up all sort of negative connotations.
Although Sea World has ended it's orca breeding programme, there are still orcas held in captivity not just at Sea World but at marine parks all around the world, and I feel it's time to give these animals the respect their deserve. Wild release may not be an option but sea sanctuaries are a real possibility.
Bookworm Blessings. x