Fifth Animal Dies At SeaWorld In 8 Months. Why Isn’t The Enterprise Shut Down Yet?

In the last eight months, five marine mammals have perished at SeaWorld...

dolphin2When the controversial documentary Blackfish was released, the public’s perception on SeaWorld changed dramatically.

No longer were people assuming that life in captivity for marine mammals is the same as in the wild. In addition, it became acceptable to question whether animals, in general, should be trained to entertain humans at all.

Since the feud began, many ugly truths have surfaced about the enterprise.

For example, a 103-year-old orca named Granny was spotted in the wild – truly thriving, and this completely shattered the findings of SeaWorld’s self-funded study proving orca longevity.

Then, news of beluga whales and dolphins dying while in captivity made headlines. Sadly, similar has only continued to happen.

Recently, a 12-year-old Pacific white-sided dolphin passed away at SeaWorld Antonio. The dolphin, named Dart, is the fifth known marine mammal to die while in captivity in SeaWorld within the past eight months.

Though no ‘cause of death’ has yet been determined, it was relayed that the dolphin had been under veterinary care for “health-related issues.”

According to a statement made by SeaWorld, Dart was a “high-energy, extremely playful, [and] enjoyed participating in shows.”

Because this is not the first time a porpoise or orca has died under curious circumstances, activists have begun pointing fingers at the establishment, claiming that the park is mishandling and mistreating its wildlife.

In the wild, white-sided dolphins live to be roughly 36 to 40 years old. Would Dart have lived a longer – and more pleasant – life if he hadn’t been raised in captivity?


While it is impossible to know, it is clear that something needs to change before more creatures in tanks are pronounced dead.

Last month, a mature Comerson’s dolphin named Betsy passed away at SeaWorld Orlando after an ill-advised move across the country.

And in November, a 2-year-old beluga calf named Stella also passed away at the same park. Don’t forget – in July 2015, a 3-week-old beluga calf died. The cause of death for both of the whales is still unknown.

When The Dodo sought out answers to explain the unfortunate deaths, Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist with the Animal Welfare Institute, had the following to say:

“Given that the facilities have corporate reasons for insisting captivity has nothing to do with these deaths and refuse to conduct the necessary, objective science to truly understand mortality risk for captive-born calves, I am left to speculate that yes, captivity had something to do with this calf’s death.” 

Rose is not alone in her opinion. Even former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove – who once worked with the entertainment park – now believes all whales belong in the wild. 

Is this the beginning of the end for SeaWorld? 

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