This weekend (Sunday 11th) marks 47 years that the longest held captive orca Corky, has been kept confined in a tank. Corky was taken from her family in the wild in 1969 when she was only about four years old. She remains one of only a few wild-caught individuals still alive and the only Northern Resident left in captivity.
Corky was held at Marineland in California for almost 20 years before she was transferred to SeaWorld San Diego. Although she was taken before we knew about the structure of orca populations in the Northeastern Pacific, we now know that she is a member of the A5 pod in the Northern Resident community, and has a brother and sister swimming free that she has never met.
In the wild, Corky would have stayed with her mother, Stripe, and helped to raise her younger siblings, Fife (one of our WDC adoptable orcas) and Ripple, who have sadly never met their older sister. Corky had seven calves in captivity. Not one of those that survived being born lived to see their first birthday.
Corky’s pod is well-known around Vancouver Island and in Johnstone Strait, but instead of swimming free with her family, following the wild salmon runs, Corky has spent a lifetime in concrete tanks eating dead fish.
Although SeaWorld’s recent decision to end its captive breeding programme marks significant progress in the fight to end captivity, SeaWorld has failed to take the next step and retire the orcas they hold to sanctuaries. Corky, a wild orca with a known family, is perfect for a seaside sanctuary in the waters of her birth. WDC will continue our work to end captivity for all whales and dolphins, and to see Corky reunited with her family.