The Law On Whales And Marine Mammoths
The federal laws governing the marine sanctuaries that house orca whales are known as the Animal Welfare Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act respectively. Under both acts, a swimming pool facility for an orca whale has to be at least 12 feet long and forty-eight feet wide at the widest point. It also has to be enclosed on all sides with a solid fence or with a combination of solid and split-level fencing. Both the State and Federal governments have total authority over the aquatic habitat of the orca whales.
The main reason why these whales are kept in captivity is because of their ability to provide a wealth of scientific information. These marine mammals are known from their fossilized teeth, which have been found in samples taken from ancient sites in Mexico. These teeth give scientists a complete fossil record of the orca whale’s population throughout the past two million years. Unfortunately, the number of fossils available has made it impossible to determine exactly how these creatures lived before humans arrived on the scene.
Another reason why orca whales and dolphins are kept in captivity is because it is against the express wishes of the animal rights activists who want to see the whales returned to the wild. The orca whales were introduced to the West by American whalers in the early twentieth century. At that time there were just a handful of people who understood the true benefits of these mammals. Without the orca’s help, many of the natural environments of their native oceans would have been destroyed.
In recent years, however, more people have become aware of the area’s importance to human and marine life. There are now thousands of dedicated people who are trying to help the area get back in the wild where they belong. There are even organizations that help fund the captive management programs needed to maintain the area’s current population levels. These organizations understand that it is impossible to rescue an area from the brink of death – or, at least, the temporary death – if it is put in a cage in a crowded area. It is not possible to properly care for these animals if there are other wild animals that will eat it first. Therefore, it is not in the best interest of the orca whales or dolphins to be put into captivity.
The state of California is one of the few states that have laws protecting the orca. The result of this is that captivity is not legally required for most California species. Two of these highly endangered species, the grey whale and the pilot whale, need to be returned to the sea right away so that they can recover. If the California state government believes that the protection of these two species is not important enough to protect them, they are within their rights to prohibit their capture. The orca welfare groups, along with scientists from all over the world, support this position.
When the whales enter the area where they will be kept, they are in obvious danger. Even a small bump from another boat can send one of these animals plunging to the water. Also, if the boat is not near the water mass or is moving too quickly, the whale could hit it or jump out and drown. Even if the animal is not drowning or being towed back to the sea, the stress from being confined in cramped quarters for long periods of time can lead to mental disorder and depression. There is no legal stipulation stating that killer whales and pilot whales must be fed while in captivity. This means that if a keeper does not feed an area, it is up to the animal to take care of itself.
Although the state of California has laws protecting the orca, other countries are beginning to follow suit. Tilikum, an Orca whale that was once considered illegal in Australia, was recently reintroduced to the Bay of Plenty waters. The New Zealand government has also made it a priority to protect these large marine mammals by banning whaling. In the past, only a few orca whales were being harvested in the area. Now, it appears that the number of whales has been increasing. Because there is such an increase, it is likely that the number of incidents will also grow.
One law that is directly related to the law concerning whales and their rights to be free from being taken from the sea includes the idea of a sanctuary area. A sanctuary area is anywhere within a hundred yards of a ship or a marine vessel that is permanently fixed in place. If a ship takes any marine mammal from this area, the owner of the vessel is guilty of poaching. If a boat is not permanently fixed in place, a boat that leaves from the port and returns southwards towards the sanctuary area on a continual basis is guilty of the same offense.