One of SeaWorld’s oldest whales, a pilot whale named Bubbles, has passed away after 30 years old at the amusement park. According to ABC News, Bubbles had lived in captivity since being captured off the Californian coast in the 1960s. She first performed at a park called Marineland of the Pacific in her own stadium, but then moved to SeaWorld’s San Diego location in 1987. 100 million people apparently saw Bubbles perform during her lifespan at SeaWorld; her specialty was an air spin.
Here’s some more information on pilot whales, according to ABC:
Pilot whales, like killer whales, belong to the dolphin family and are considered highly intelligent and social, living in pods of 20 to 90. They are not considered endangered. They eat squid and fish and in the wild and can dive to more than 1,000 feet in search of prey.
SeaWorld has come under fire recently for the treatment of its marine mammals, particularly its killer whale population. Protests erupted again on Twitter after SeaWorld Orlando revealed that its orca Tilikum was suffering from an incurable gum infection. Tilikum was the subject of the documentary Blackfish, which chronicled the alleged abuse killer whales face at the park. More recently, a SeaWorld-owned orca apparently tried to kill itself.
There’s no indication of how Bubbles was treated while at SeaWorld, but one wonders what the rest of her life would have been like if she could live among other whales of her kind, and enjoy the freedom of the ocean. Pilot whales can live up to 60 years old in the wild.
(via ABC News)