😞 Rp @inherentlywild
Orcas are the ocean’s top predators, capable of killing anything from fish to birds and sharks to baleen whales. Different ecotypes and populations are often highly specialised to hunt their own culturally desired prey. For example, three distinct ecotypes have been identified by studying orca populations in the eastern north Pacific Ocean: resident killer whales feed on fish, transient killer whales feed on marine mammals and offshore killer whales feed on fish and sharks. Furthermore, killer whales have developed sophisticated hunting techniques, many of which co-operative, to successfully prey on more than 140 species of animals worldwide.
In their wild habitat, orcas spend between 65% to 90% of daylight hours foraging and hunting for food. However, in captivity, orcas are stripped of the ability to forage and given no opportunity to hunt live prey. Instead, they are hand fed a diet of frozen fish which has a lower water content than fresh fish due to freezing and thawing processes, leading to chronic dehydration. Worst still, the dietary differences between different ecotypes and populations are completely disregarded in captivity with even mammal-eating killer whales forced to consume a diet of fish, something that is completely unnatural to them in the wild.
One of the causes for dorsal fin collapse (also known as flaccid fin syndrome) is linked to dehydration. Collagen, the structural protein the dorsal fin consists of, requires water to maintain its rigid structure, therefore, dehydration will weaken the structure causing the dorsal fin to collapse. To counteract the lower water content diet, captive orcas are given ice and gelatine (a substance that is not natural to them) in an attempt to keep them hydrated. Tilikum, who weighed 12,000 lbs, consumed 83 lbs of gelatine a day prior to his death in January 2017.
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