Why We Shouldn't Empty the Tanks

In light of all the recent arguments and accusations against Sea World and other marine parks around the globe; I would like to add my opinion. First of all, I am and will always be a Sea World and marine park supporter. I am inspired by their work for marine conservation and believe that they are making a positive influence on our ocean ecosystems. It does indeed sadden me to hear that one of Sea World Orlando’s killer whales, Tilikum, is sick and dying but I know that he is receiving the best care that Sea World can offer and that they will continue to care for him until he takes his last breath. I do not, however, agree with many people out there that Sea World should release him back into the wild, along with the other whales. Emptying the tanks of all the captive marine creatures is not a good idea and here are some reasons why.

Having marine creatures, like killer whales in captivity helps to protect the species.


Orcas, along with other marine creatures like beluga whales, sea turtles, porpoises, and humpback whales, are currently on the Endangered Species List. With some of these marine animals in captivity, we can protect the species better. For example, hypothetically if all of the wild Beluga Whales in the oceans died off, we would only have the ones kept in captivity left. Those whales would automatically become the ambassadors for the species and biologists could use them to try and bring the species back. If we released these Belugas back into the wild, they would die off too. In keeping them in captivity, we just saved that entire species from becoming completely extinct. I know that this sounds extreme but think about it. Our oceans aren’t getting any healthier; in fact, they’re getting worse. Pollution from oil, plastics, human waste, and chemicals are all killing our oceans and if we don’t stop it in the near future, aquariums may be the only clean place that marine creatures can live and thrive.  

Aquariums and marine rescue facilities contribute a great deal of information to marine research that would be impossible to obtain without them.

Having marine animals like orcas, dolphins, sea turtles, and beluga whales in captivity allows scientists and marine biologists to observe, monitor, and understand them better. Having the ability to observe a baby dolphin or orca grow up and mature lets biologists know how these creatures develop, in the wild, and gives them a better feel on things we could do to help the species and ultimately protect them. Without this research, we would be clueless about how our ocean creatures live and develop and would be blind to the best ways to save them from going extinct.  For instance, if we weren’t able to observe orca whales Echolocation, we wouldn’t know that a possible problem with wild orcas finding food could be that the water is more clouded and thicker than it used to be and is making their echolation, to find fish, harder. It is things like this that make this research of orcas in captivity so important. As told by Pierce Brosnan in “Dolphins” the IMAX movie, “We cannot protect what we don’t understand.”

Marine parks and aquariums are important to have because they inspire people.

If you had never seen a dolphin or orca in captivity, would you have known how beautiful they are and how important it is to protect them? Marine parks and aquariums inspire hundreds of people, every day, to learn more and care about our oceans and the creatures in them. Everyday people, especially children, often visit aquariums just to see and interact with the creatures of the sea. It is this early interaction that can inspire individuals to want to care for the sea and the animals that call it home. As a young girl, one of my favorite places to visit was Sea World Orlando because it was the only place where I could be to face to face with a dolphin, get splashed by an orca or give a polar bear a high five through the glass. If I didn’t get to have those experiences growing up, I don’t think I would have been able to really appreciate the beautiful world around me as I do now. Its places like Sea World and Georgia Aquarium that inspire me and many others to want to make a difference. Whether that difference is just picking up trash on a beach, educating people about the environment or volunteering with marine rescue and research teams, marine parks and aquariums are the ones responsible for much of the inspiration to care for the oceans. If we don’t have aquariums and marine creatures in captivity, we won’t know the beauty of what we’re losing as pollute our oceans. Aquariums are needed to inspire future generations.

Overall, I feel that one of the best ways to support and care for the ocean for futures to come, is to keep some marine creatures in captivity. I do agree that we shouldn’t take any more marine creatures out of the ocean, however. I think that the ocean still needs them and that they should stay there unless they are sick and in need of being rescued. But as for the animals that are currently in captivity, I feel that it is best if they stay there. After all, being raised in captivity would give the animals a big disadvantage if they were released back into the wild because they would not be used to catching live fish or migrating with the rest of their species. Living in captivity is not a bad thing either. The animals currently in captivity receive first class treatment by their trainers and the best medical care available. Plus, they get to help inspire millions of people to care about the ocean and the wonderful creatures that call it home. As SeaWorld’s One Ocean Show closing song says, “We’re one people, one planet, one ocean brilliant and blue, one world, one dream and one chance to make it come true.” Marine parks and aquariums are unique and important and I vote that they stay that way.