Subject: report on japanese whales
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 18:48:13 GMT+1200

Dear Ma'am
im doing a 9th grade persuasive paper on not capturing whales and putting
them into captivity.  My report is based on the japanese and the 5 whales
that they took from home and put into captivity.  I am trying to tell
everyone that whales should not be captured.  If you have any information
about them it would be deeply appreciated.  Thank you. 

I have been told that five killer whales were taken from around Japanese waters under the 
hospice of 'research'.  In fact it is most likely that they will end up in some small tank, 
preforming for the public.

Apparently, the five whales were taken from a group of10 whales.  We know that killer whales 
are extremely tightly bound socially, and that removing those individual surely disrupted 
the group.  So not only does this capture affect the five captured whales, it also affects 
the rest of the remaining whales.

Killer whales have enormous home ranges.  One whale was sighted off Baja California and also 
sighted in Alaska.  To place such animals in a tank is probably the equivalent of putting 
you in a bathtub for the rest of your life.  So, it's no wonder that the maximum lifespan of 
killer whales in captivity is about 20 years, while in the wild it is about 50 years for 
males and 75 years for females.  Caturing whales is tricky business and some whales die 
during the capture, many die within the first few years of captivity.

There's also something known as the 'floppy fin' syndrome which you may have heard of.  
Floppy fins that don't stand erect are almost always observed in captivity and rarely at 
sea.  We don't know why this is but it is thought that because killer whales spend most of 
their time at the surface in a tank the connective tissue of the fin heats up too often and 
loses rigidity.  Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that captive killer whales 
are continually swimming in circles.  Whatever the cause, the high incidence of this 
syndrome in captivity is concerning.

I am not a killer whale expert.  If you want to find out more about this specific case try 
surfing the web. I have been told that there is a web site for it.  Try using the key word 

I hope this helps you. 

Nathalie Patenaude
Molecular Ecology and Evolution Group
School of Biological Sciences
University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Auckland, New Zealand