THAT’S the heartbreaking moment when Morgan the killer whale leaps out of her tank in what animal rights activists believe was a suicide attempt.
Footage that went viral in 2016 shows the orca lying motionless for 10 minutes as it beached on the edge of its shell.
Animal rights activists and concerned onlookers argued the animal attempted suicide as it was unhappy in captivity at Loro Parque in the Canary Islands.
However, park attendants criticized the video, saying it was an “exaggeration” and insisting the behavior was “completely normal”.
Killer whales that lie on the beach for too long are crushed by their own body weight and die when their huge mass, unsupported by the water, crushes their internal organs.
And another video, which surfaced around the same time, showed her repeatedly banging her head on a metal gate.
And it’s also been suggested that the orca was actually trying to “escape” its captivity rather than injuring itself in the clip.
Captured in the Wadden Sea off the Netherlands, Morgan was taken into captivity in 2010 after she was found to be malnourished and in poor condition.
It has been the subject of longstanding battles between park organizations and animal rights activists who argue that orcas should not be kept in captivity.
Morgan was originally said to have been captured on the condition that she would be released back into the wild and not shown to the public.
However, she ended up in Loro Parque when she was turned into one of the park’s attractions.
The park argues that she cannot be released into the wild as she is deaf and would not survive in the ocean.
Morgan was originally “owned” by SeaWorld – but was loaned to the Spanish park as part of a breeding program.
And in May 2016, her apparent plight surfaced in the infamous video released by The Dolphin Project.
Footage showed Morgan lying face down on the edge of her 100-metre-long, 12-metre-deep concrete tank under the sign that read “Loro Parque.”
We can only look at their behavior, which shows signs of deep distress and great social problems
“This is one of many examples of what is wrong with imprisonment. You would never see this bizarre behavior in nature,” said The Dolphin Project.
It remains unclear exactly what Morgan was doing as she lay on the edge of her tank – but experts didn’t rule out an attempt at self-harm at the time.
John Hargrove, a former orca trainer, told The Daily Mail: “How could we know she’s a whale.
“We can only look at their behavior, which shows signs of deep distress and major social problems.”
Hargrove, who worked with 20 orcas during his 14-year tenure at SeaWorld, added, “Extended beaching is a sign that the whale is deeply distressed in its environment and social group.”
dr Ingrid Visser, a marine biologist, described Morgan’s behavior as “fundamentally wrong” and said she was trying to escape.
However, Wolfgang Rades, the director of Loro Parque Zoo, disagreed, saying: “Stranding itself is perfectly normal behavior – orcas do this all the time in the wild when they are hunting.”
“You are not unhappy.”
He added, “You can just see more out of the tank.”
Their ownership was officially transferred to Loro Parque in 2017 when SeaWorld stopped breeding orca.
The Free Morgan Foundation claims the whale was exploited while being trained to perform tricks and kept in tanks “barely big enough” for its size.
“We have not given up on Morgan – she continues to suffer in captivity and as such we will continue to expose the scandal of what happened,” the group claims.
And in the meantime, tragedy struck Morgan this year when the calf she gave birth to in 2018 – Ula – died last month.
The orca remains at Loro Parque to this day, and the dispute between the aquarium and animal rights activists seems never-ending.
Whales in captivity have been reported to engage in self-destructive behavior such as B. wearing their teeth and banging their heads against their shells.
And there have been high-profile cases like Hugo, who is said to have essentially killed himself after ramming his head into his armor and later developing a brain aneurysm.
Another killer whale – named Kiska – was filmed last week banging her head against the side of her shell in a startling echo of Hugo.
Whales in the wild have also exhibited some self-destructive behaviors, with reports of mass strandings of whales – but this is often attributed to confusion or disease.
It is unclear whether these acts can be clearly classified as “suicide attempts” – the animals seem to be in distress.
And this behavior has been well documented in captive orcas.
Killer whales have the second largest brain in the animal kingdom at 6kg – four times larger than humans at 1.5kg.
Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute, a nonprofit organization, told National Geographic in 2019 that orcas don’t do well when kept in enclosures because of their size and intelligence.
“It’s basic biology,” she said.
“If you evolved to travel great distances in search of food and mates, then you’re adapted to that type of movement, whether you’re a polar bear, an elephant, or an orca.
“You put [orcas] in a box that’s 150 feet long, 90 feet wide, and 30 feet deep, and you basically turn it into a couch potato.
She added, “Not a single marine mammal is fit to thrive in the world we’ve created for them in a concrete box.”
But while it is accepted that animals can exhibit self-destructive behavior, it is unclear whether whales are capable of “suicide” in the human understanding of the term.
However, dolphins are said to be capable of taking their own lives – with numerous anecdotal cases such as the case of Peter.
A 2017 study found that 25 percent of all captive orcas have severe dental damage and 70 percent have at least some dental problems.
Captive killer whales grind their teeth on the tank walls to the point of exposing nerves – leaving them ground up and open cavities.
The successful documentary film Blackfish laid bare the psychological toll said to take on orcas in captivity – including testimonies from former trainers.
SeaWorld trainers have claimed while working in aquariums that whales regularly self-injure due to psychological trauma.
One said the whales regularly damage their jaws and need to be given drugs like Valium to calm them down.
Hargrove added: “I have worked with some whales that were taking medication every day and have personally observed whales dying of disease at a very young age.
“Having to walk away from the whales I loved to become a whistleblower and expose the industry was the hardest decision of my life.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/3694836/orca-morgan-suicide-beach-seaworld/ Heartbreaking moment: SeaWorld’s miserable killer whale named Morgan tried to kill himself by jumping out of the tank