Dorsal collapse has to do with the collagen within the dorsal fin. Dorsal fins are composed of fibrous, connective tissue. Less than one percent of orcas in the wild have collapsed dorsal fins (Dave Ellifrit & Astrid van Ginneken)
What leads to collapse in wild whales: Wild orcas seen with dorsal collapse had explainable reasons as to why it occurred. This includes spinal issues or injury from other orcas or surfaces that weakened the tissue, causing it to flop over. It was also documented that there was collapse in a few bulls in Prince William Sound after the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.
Dorsal fin collapse can also indicate signs of poor health. If the orca is dehydrated, the tissue is weakened. If an orca is near getting a “peanut head” (a “peanut head” is a shape of an orca head just prior to death. It usually is a sunken area behind the neck), its fin is going to collapse.
In captivity, the orcas do not face any currents or obstacles that strengthen their muscles. This leads to “pattern swimming”. Pattern swimming is repeatedly swimming in the same manner, such as clockwise or counterclockwise. This creates only one side of pressure against their body. The fin collapses in the direction the pressure is forcing it to.
Orcas rest at the surface in captivity out of boredom and stress. The fin is weightless under the water, but since they’re above it, gravity pulls the fin downward.
In many parks, including Seaworld, the water is warmer than it should be. This is so trainers can go in the water. The warmer water can take part in dehydrating them.
Hydration is key to preventing the tissues from weakening. Orcas extract fluids from their food to keep themselves hydrated. The orcas are deprived of the right nutrients they must intake since their food is dry and dead already. Also, orcas are given less food than what they would get in the wild, believe it or not. Less relative food leads to less water intake.
So it is proven captivity IS the reason Tilikum, Ulises, Kshamenk, Keet, Bingo, Keto, Kyuquot, and Tuar have collapsed dorsal fins, and from negative impact on their lives and bodies.
Captivity is not okay. It just isn’t.
While many of your points are valid, I feel like elaborating on some that I feel aren’t quite correct.
The water is not warmer at SeaWorld because the trainers can get in it. The water is kept at a constant 52 degrees, which is not warm by any means.
Also, do you have a source for the information on food intake by wild orca? Because SeaWorld’s whales get fed based on their body weight. How do you know they eat less than wild whales?
I think the max that ive seen is about 250lbs for orcas like Corky and Ulises (aka big animals)
And its true that wild orcas can and do eat more. But they aren’t being fed regular intervals every single day. Wild animals tend to eat when and what they can because a meal may not be around again so soon. Animals in captivity dont have that problem, their diet can be managed according to what’s healthy- they have a constant supply so they dont need to eat as much.
And I’d say its pretty to safe to say that orcas in Seaworld aren’t dehydrated to the point of collagen collapse, they supplement lost water from the fish with gelatin and blood (from the buckets) as well as ice. I’ve never seen a captive orca with a peanut head either.
And why would they log out of stress? Logging is a behavior they do when their sleeping or chilling. I can see boredom, but stress?
When orcas sleep, parts of their brain are still awake and they are constantly moving. Drifting is very rare in the wild; also, being bored and not knowing what to do can lead to stress and frustration.
and yes, orcas in captivity do not get peanut heads, but wild orcas do. that was my explanation to why you might see a WILD orca with a collapsed dorsal fin.
And the gelatin is completely unnatural to them. The fish blood is also dried out you realize, if there’s any. They’re completely frozen in stacked boxes in the back of seaworld.
killer whales are incredible, top predators. unlike most wild animals, they do not always have to eat if they see prey. they don’t have concern of seeing a next meal because food is literally all around them, wherever they are, since they’ll basically eat anything.
Yes, but the fish is thawed and laid on ice. The ice melts throughout the course of the day, by the end of it, there is a LOT of liquid blood in the buckets. I’ve been up to my elbows in it.
Also, while the salmon they receive is gutted, the guts (and blood) are still given to the whales later (the way it was explained to me was ‘it looks REALLY bad to lift a salmon up for the screen and then all the gore falls out in front of the kids’), which is more water for them. And trust me, those guts are not frozen or dry.
So, wild orcas don’t get eat anything unnatural? They have found orcas with moose and suits of armor in their stomachs. It’s not harmful, and it’s used as an EED (they put fish in it, blood, ice, etc etc)- so its a toy and a nutrient.
So, if they don’t need to hunt all the time, why have members of L Pod been found off of California? Why do they swim hundreds of miles every day? Why do they steal fish off fishing lines if ‘food is all around them’?
They are looking for food. If they didn’t have to expend the energy to swim and hunt- they would not do it. They don’t swim for miles and miles to explore, they do it looking for food.