Today very sadly marks 47 years of captivity for Corky the Northern Resident Orca whale from British Columbia.
When I sit down and really think of the magnitude of this simple fact it makes me feel so absolutely beside myself with sadness.
Every moment of my 28 year existence on this planet, every place I have been, every person I have seen, every time that I have laughed, every time I have cried, she has been in that tank. Every time Ive taken a risk, every time Ive made a mistake, every time Ive stood up for myself and every time ive stuck my head in the sand I have had the freedom to make those choices and Corky has not.
Taken from her mother at 2 years of age Corky has has spent every waking moment circling the motionless, chlorine saturated waters of her artificial home at Seaworld San Diego. An intelligent sentient being she is self awear and has learnt to beg for her food and trust the hands that feed her. She has had multiple tank mates over the years and had 7 unsuccessfully pregnancies as she was unable to nurse her calves due to the inability to learn important skills from her own mother she was so cruelly taken from.
With the average life expectancy of just 12.5 years in captivity Corky have surpassed everyones expectations and still remains in good health. How remarkably impressive it is that she has lasted this long is a testament to her incredible strength. But in turn how remarkably sad that in that 47 we haven't yet learnt our lesson. We haven't yet bridged that gap between right and wrong. In this 47 years we have learnt more about her species than any other marine mammal on the planet. We are scientifically aware of their complex social lives and more importantly about their ability not just to survive but to thrive.
Sea World and all other facilities around the world that house whales and dolphins alike just can not and will not ever be able to meet the needs of these poor animals and regardless of the justifications behind the terms of their captivity which in most cases is completely false or irrelevant these animals are not happy, not healthy and more importantly not FREE.
Corky's family are still alive and swimming today as I type this off the waters of Vancouver Island. In this video shown you see Corky's family and extended family including her brother Fife A60 swimming free. I urge you all to share this post and take time our to really visualise the severity of those simple facts I placed before you at the beginning of this post... for the last 17,155 days or, 411,720 hours or 24,703,200 seconds Corky has been in that tank.
In the past 6 years I have spent on this rugged coastline I have known to call home I have tasted, smelt and seen more of this world than Corky ever has done and although I feel eternally privileged to have done so I would swap with either of them in an instant just for knowing that at least one of these poor captive animals could one day leave this earth with a better view of humans than most.
With the help of Sea World and Orcalab Corky could, can and should come home and retire to her home waters of Hanson Island so she can once again taste, smell, hear and see the the true meaning of what they were both entitled to.
Born Free, Living Free and Forever Free.
By Megan Hockin-Bennett