Something weird happens to us humans when we hear about stranded whales or dolphins. We want to help in their recovery, we follow their stories, their progress. We know intuitively that the state of their health relates to the health of the planet.
On Sunday, September 2, five pilot whales, out of a group of 22 that beached themselves on a Fort Pierce beach, were rescued. They were taken to Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Beach Institute for rehab.
“They’ve all been through a pretty stressful ordeal. We’ve seen each of them, at one point or another, have a little bit of trouble and need a little bit of help,” said Dr. Michelle Davis, senior veterinarian for SeaWorld Orlando.
The five survivors have only minor injuries. One of them, a whale under the age of two, was still nursing from its mother, who didn’t survive. They are being fed fish smoothies through feeding tubes every four hours. The hope is that they can be strengthened to the point where they can make the two-hour journey to Sea World in Orlando.
I have mixed feelings about Sea World. If these whales go into the enclosed tank, it means they will never again see natural sunlight or breathe natural fresh air. It means they will become tourist fodder, it means nothing good for the whales. But because they are so large, perhaps the whales will be placed elsewhere.
These creatures are wild. Unpredictable. Probably smarter than we are. If you were a whale, would you want to be at Sea World? Would you want to live out your life in a carefully controlled tank? Would you want to do tricks just because your trainer said that you should?
While I think it’s admirable that Sea World has agreed to take these creatures as they are recuperating, remember that the facility is for profit, a part of Disney, whose tentacles reach everywhere.