Over the weekend, The Dodo posted a short article I put together on how the effort to maintain sparkly, clear water in SeaWorld’s pools can affect the physical well-being of the animals (and the humans who used to swim with them).
It’s not the biggest issue with captivity, but is a perfect example of how every little thing can impact the lives of the orcas and other marine mammals:
It is indeed true that great effort is made to maintain the water at just the right temperature and salinity for the animals. What is not mentioned is all the chlorine that is used to keep the water clear and sparkling (you can’t see Shamu clearly in a murky pool), and free of algae and bacteria. (Don’t even get a killer whale trainer started on what it looks like after a killer whale defecates in the pool, or produces any other bodily emissions.)
A number of former SeaWorld trainers I have spoken with about water quality have noted that captive killer whales routinely have mucus streaming from their eyes — an apparent protective mechanism that is considered “normal” at SeaWorld.