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Risso's dolphin at surface

My lucky number – 13 years studying amazing Risso’s dolphins

Everything we learn about the Risso's dolphins off the coast of Scotland amazes us and...
Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

What have dead whales ever done for us?

When dead whales wash up on dry land they provide a vital food source for...
Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

We’re getting to know Risso’s dolphins in Scotland so we can protect them

Citizen scientists in Scotland are helping us better understand Risso's dolphins by sending us their...
Pilot whales pooing © Christopher Swann

Talking crap and carcasses to protect our planet

We know we need to save the whale to save the world because they are...
Fin whale (balaenoptera physalus) Three fin whales Gulf of California.

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...

Why do whales and dolphins strand on beaches?

People often ask me 'why' whales and dolphins do one thing or another.  I'm a...
A spinner dolphin leaping © Andrew Sutton/Eco2

Head in a spin – my incredible spinner dolphin encounter

Sri Lanka is home to at least 30 species of whales and dolphins, from the...
Orca (ID171) breaches off the coast of Scotland © Steve Truluck.

Watching whales and dolphins in the wild can be life changing

Whales and dolphins are too intelligent, too large and too mobile to ever thrive in...

Must the show go on? Loro Parque loses an orca

It is with great sadness that WDC learns about the death of the ten-month old orca known as Vicky at Loro Parque in Tenerife, Spain. This poor orca never really stood a chance. I saw her at Loro Parque last September when she was just one month old. I was there to check up on Morgan after reading reports of her getting battered and rammed by the other orcas as they attempted to establish a social hierarchy over her. Whilst observing Morgan I could see this tiny calf at the far end of the holding pool receiving constant attention from the trainers. I knew this was Vicky and, like her older brother before her, also knew she had been rejected by their mother, Kohana, at birth.

This was hardly surprising. Kohana was just seven years old, a child herself, when she first became pregnant with Adan and was ten years old when she gave birth to her second calf. In the wild female orcas are at least 13 years old before they have their first born and then are surrounded by their extended family, often including mothers, aunts and grannies, providing expert care and support. Kohana does have a family of sorts at Loro Parque but in the very worst possible sense – the father of both her calves, according to media reports, is actually her uncle, Keto. Serious concerns over the level of inbreeding and orca attacks - on each other and their trainers - at Loro Parque has given this marine park the unenviable reputation of housing the most dysfunctional group of orcas in captivity today.

This vile ‘experiment’ in trying to display and breed these huge, powerful ocean animals in concrete tanks has surely failed. How many more must die before we say enough is enough?

Today, there are now 45 captive orcas in 7 countries. 13 of these were snatched from the ocean.