Trying to capture a wandering thought is hard it’s like trying to capture a elusive housefly, you can hear, but by the time your eyes catch the buzzing dot in your living room it’s gone. You’re better off letting it roam free, opening a window, and letting it exit on it’s own accord. I let my thoughts wander from time to time just like houseflies, wandering the internet like a developed mammalian scrolling through a Facebook feed, the equivalent of a living room for my thoughts. My wandering thought started here, from a friend’s Facebook post on the legislative ban of cetaceans in captivity, so no marine mammals like ocras, or belugas in Canadian aquariums. The live capturing of marine mammals from oceans had been banned sometime before, but Bill C-68 will now officially ban the captive breeding of cetaceans for Vancouver Aquarium and Marineland. A recent CBC article by John Paul Tasker outlines the dichotomy of opinions around this decision. A lot of hooray, especially from the groups petitioning outside the Vancouver Aquarium, and also some opposition from Aquarium owners. Justifiable because this one legislative change will affect how the two big Canadian aquariums, Vancouver Aquarium and Marineland Canada run as an organization. However, the scientific merits and popularity of the counter argument for banning cetaceans in captivity is compelling. We know marine mammals like bottlenose dolphins, and killer whales have high encephalization quotients, big brains compared to body sizes. So is this shift in legislation guided by the knowledge gained through scientific research, or did politicians cave under public pressure? For an issue already heavily dichotomized it seems to me that a knowledgeable community raised their voice against a standard they saw no longer accepted ethically. It felt like a win for conservationist, a legislative change reflecting a new way of collective thought. This got me reflecting, what aspects of cetaceans in captivity felt unethical to me, then I understood, it was my personal encounters of them in the wild that guided my emotions. Killer whales demonstrating their hunting ability instead of their trainability, maybe the human fantasy of domestication gone too far. Even now personal subjectivity only exasperates the controversy throwing matches on top of smouldering values; igniting arguments.
But in the end it’s all about the non-human species right?
Even that title removes us from the equation, the executive decision makers, watching over this world, but when we are true spectators do we really become dumbfounded. At least I did the first time (and hopefully not the last) I saw a pond of ocra’s hunting Stella Sea Lions. This was no joke, in an hour we’d be out there with these killer whales joining their world in tiny plastic kayaks. On vacation I felt my first bout of anxiety, spikes of adrenaline, it was allure coupled with freight, and it felt so real. I wasn’t the only one freighted, theses Stellar Sea Lions hollering as they were pushed up against the shoreline. All they could do was wait. Through my SLR I saw it, faintly, the brown hump of sea lion amongst hungry predators. In one Youtube video I saw; each orca was taking turns punching single seal lion, tiring it out until it began to sink. If the sea lion was still alive it was dragged down until it drowned. This singled out sea lion I saw must have just been a punching bag for these cetaceans. What was marketed to me as human loving, smiling, and friendly whale just became the deadliest predator of the pacific north west. All my childhood preconceptions collapsed from nature’s reality, and in that moment the Orcinus Orca became the ultimate British Columbian apex predator for me.