A piece of legislation is going to the House of Representatives in the USA. The Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement Act of 2017 put forward by Republican Adam Schiff tries again to make it illegal for Sea World to continue to breed Killer Whales, also known as Orcas, in captivity. This relatively small legal challenge opens up some serious and contentious questions about how humanity should face up to helping the living things on the planet that depend on us.

Over twenty years ago I went to Sea World. I had a wonder filled time there and, the best part of the visit was the show put on with the Killer Whales. To see these immense, agile, intelligent and sensitive creatures up close was something that is still vivid in my mind and confirmed my course of admiration and concern for wildlife.

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A few years later I visited California and went Whale watching. Seeing Whales in their natural environment within the seemingly endless Pacific Ocean, that even at its furthest extremes merges into the Southern Indian Ocean, was to see the world the way it was meant to be.

No Black Hats

This dispute has no villains. The owners and especially staff at Sea World are not wearing #Black Hats. Some vilify these people who work every day to look after a whole range of aquatic creatures. The organisation has done some amazing work to benefit their charges and educate the rest of the world. This vilification is pathetic and should stop. It is true that without the opportunities at Sea World many, perhaps most people will never get to see Orcas and many other creatures at all. Without their campaigning some of the reckless and stupid practices of human kind would be even more advanced in threatening to wipe out the life they now know.

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The Difficult truth

Still, the difficult truth is that however hard they try it is not possible to construct an enclosure in a resort that comes close to giving these creatures a decent life. Some believe that a sea based enclosure would be less cruel but, it is still far short of ideal. In the oceans Killer Whales swim up to one hundred miles a day and dive to almost two hundred feet. I can't do the exact math but, it seems like it would be the equivalent of a human living all their life in a prison they could take maybe three steps in. For Whales rescued or collected before humanity had progressed as far as it now should have that may be defensible, but to continue to breed these magnificent creatures knowing we will be condemning them to a life of such extreme confinement is, in my opinion, one step beyond justifiable.

I wish the Bill well, and I wish Sea World well. But most of all I wish the Orcas well. We must stop looking only at the benefits to humans of being able to conveniently observe wild creatures when it causes those same creatures to be condemned to being born into a life of imprisonment and servitude with no hope of parole.