Separated from her pod, thin, and possibly sick, a young orca was spotted swimming in the shallow Wedden Sea in the Netherlands in June. The Dutch marine mammal rescue group “SOS Dolfijn” captured the little whale and transported her to the Dolphinarium in Harderwijk, Netherlands.
Obviously thin, malnourished, and distressed, there is no doubt that this was the humane thing to do for her, and the original statements from the Dolphinarium were clear in their expressed goal to rehabilitate and release the whale once she was healthy and her family could be located.
Now the Dolphinarium seems to be waffling on when and if they will release the orca, and what the other options are for her.
Here is the original story, posted the day after her capture:
Young orca caught in Wadden Sea
Thursday 24 June 2010
A 3.5 metre-long orca, said to be starving and weak, has been captured by sea mammal experts in the Wadden Sea.
Staff from the Dolfinarium in Harderwijk helped catch the animal, which was spotted swimming between the sea resort of Lauwersoog and the island of Ameland on Wednesday.
Because the animal, a young female, is too weak to be taken out into open sea, it has been taken to the Dolfinarium to recover and will then be released again.
Dolfinarium spokesman Bert van Plateringen told the paper the animal is fighting for her life. Dolphin trainers are constantly with her in the tanks to stop her bashing into the sides because the animal is not used to a confined space, he said.
The last time a live orca was spotted in the Wadden Sea was 1947. Orcas, also known as killer whales, are the largest member of the dolphin family.
Within days, SeaWorld stepped in and offered veterinary help, a generous and appropriate thing to do, given their dominance in the marine mammal amusement park industry:
Veterinarians with SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment are counseling their counterparts at a marine park in the Netherlands who are trying to nurse back to health a female killer whale calf found off the Dutch coast.
SeaWorld says its vets are offering advice and guidance by phone.
The killer-whale calf, which has been named Morgan, is the first orca found alive in Dutch coastal waters in more than 60 years, according to Reuters. A spokesman for the marine park, Dolfinarium, told Reuters that rescuers believe the calf was separated from her mother and became lost.
The goal, the park says, is to help the animal rehabilitate and then release her back into the sea.
And now? Oddly enough, the latest press release from the Dolphinarium states (this is a Google translation from Dutch, so the syntax is off but the information is accurate):
“…The future of Morgan is currently little to say. The Dolphinarium get opinions from around the world. These opinions are valued in the coming period. All possible options will be explored. Eventually we will do what is best for Morgan.”
They have started admitting the public to see her during just a few hours a day, and are soliciting donations for her care – reasonable enough. But the young orca is gaining weight and returning to good health rapidly, and every effort should be made right now to locate her family and plan her release.
Of course as a captive, she offers fresh genetic lines for breeding for SeaWorld and other amusement parks. The question is, does little Morgan represent our compassion, or will she be another cash cow for our entertainment?