Sunday, September 30, 2012

Death at Sea World: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity by David Kirby

As the subtitle of this book explains, this is an examination of the dark side of keeping highly intelligent and social creatures like killer whales in captivity.

Award winning investigative journalist David Kirby goes behind the scenes of the captive marine mammal industry to unravel the carefully constructed fantasy that the industry has spun, and we meet all the humans involved in capturing them, studying them, displaying them, and training them.  He takes you to the center of an international controversy where public sentiment, science, business and government concerns clash over the use of killer whales in entertainment.  Contrasting the lives of wild orcas at sea with orcas in confinement dealing with the stress of capture as well as confinement (which can turn them into sick, unstable, aggressive animals) we look at the true costs of holding the ocean's top predator in captivity.

Kirby also details the deaths of trainers like Dawn Brancheau (a beloved and experienced trainer at SeaWorld Orlando) in 2010 and Alexis Martinez, a young spanish trainer who died in 2009.   It is a fascinating and shocking book that will help you decide where you stand on the issue of whales and dolphins in captivity.

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