The Psychology Of Whales

I was struggling for a theme for the week, so I asked the family what I should write about. My daughter, who loves sea animals said “Write about whales”.

“Not really the theme of the site.” I said.

“Well, what about psychology of whales. You can talk about how they are sad at SeaWorld.”

Hmmm. Now this piqued my interest. Here we have highly intelligent creatures living in a world clearly not suitable for them and dying young. Did you know that in captivity a killer whale rarely lives beyond 20 years old, but in the wild a female typically lives to 50, but can reach 70 or 80 while a male usually makes it to 30 but can live to 50 or 60? I didn’t know either until I read about it HERE.

Whales are highly social creatures who stick together in families. Like humans, they also experience depression when they are void of hope and have lost their purpose. The more I looked at this, I found that the life of a whale in captivity seemed to be highly relevant to the human state. When life is a monotonous task with nothing to hope for, nothing to work towards, and no purpose, what else can we expect to happen?

The 40 hour work week has long gone. Many corporations now hire salaried people expected to work 50+ hours a week, or they cut hours for hourly to prevent them getting benefits or to suit the business, without regards for the people who are doing the work and their needs. Is it any wonder that depression is increasing? Is it any wonder that suicide is up 25% in just 20 years? When we look at the world we have created for ourselves, it shouldn’t be a surprise, and even though I am excited happy to see the increase in discussion around mental health, talk alone won’t fix it. We need to reshape society, and we have to do that starting in our own life and sharing it with others. This week we’ll look at some thoughts on this, and revisit our most popular article on starfish.

Here are today’s three takeaways:

1 – When we see a depressed whale being harmed by a dysfunctional offspring we can see the environment is a problem. How do we see it when this happens in our world? Who do we blame?

2 – There are dangers and risks in the wild that a whale would never have to deal with in captivity. And yet in captivity they live less than half of what they would in the wild, and the time they are alive isn’t really living.

3 – Our world has risks and dangers and if we keep ourselves safe, we miss out on purpose, hope, freedom, and all the things we strive for as humans.

In researching for this article I found many claims and counter-claims regarding the well-being of whales in captivity. I came across some pretty upsetting videos as well. I think that ultimately SeaWorld probably does some good work with research, but the harm done through damaging of social systems and natural order does a great deal of damage. Ultimately there doesn’t appear too much difference between what SeaWorld does and experiments that have been conducted around the world on prisoners. It’s damaging and harmful to those being researched on, but there is good that comes from it. Does the end justify the means? To some, it seems so.

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