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    Sunday
    Sep072014

    Blackfish

         One of the coolest parts of Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s documentary Blackfish is at the 24 minute point, when Orca Researcher Howard Garrett and Neuroscientist Lori Marino speak of the highly evolved social behaviors and intelligence exhibited by orcas.  (The transcription of what they said is below.)

        The entire film is quite fascinating, and examines how orcas in captivity act erratically and unnaturally as a result of their tortured lives.  One significant point that is made is that many captive orcas will experience dorsal collapse – when their dorsal fins become limp and fold over – a phenomena which is seen in less that one percent of wild orcas.  The film makes clear that orcas should not be kept in captivity, that SeaWorld needs to stop capturing and breeding them, and that they are beautiful creatures that should be allowed to flourish in the wild.

    Howard Garrett – Orca Researcher:

    “If you go back only thirty-five years, we knew nothing, in fact, less than nothing.  What the public had was superstition and fear.  These were the vicious killer whales, you know, that have forty-eight sharp teeth that would rip you to shreds if they got a chance.  What we learned is that they’re amazingly friendly and understanding and intuitively want to be your companion.  And to this day there’s no record of an orca doing any harm to any human in the wild.”

    “They live in these big families and they have lifespans very similar to human lifespans – the females can live to about a hundred, maybe more; males to about fifty or sixty, but the adult offspring never leave their mother’s side.”

    “Each community has a completely different set of behaviors.  Each has a complete repertoire of vocalizations with no overlap.  You can call them languages – the scientific community is reluctant to say any other animal but humans uses languages – but there’s every indication that they use languages.”

    orca3
    Image from: http://www.grindtv.com/outdoor/nature/post/orcas/

    Lori Marino – Neuroscientist:

    “The orca brain just screams out intelligence, awareness.  We took this tremendous brain and we put it in an magnetic resonance imaging scanner.  What we found was just astounding: they’ve got a part of the brain that humans don’t have.  A part of their brain has extended out right adjacent to their limbic system – the system processes emotions.  The safest inference would be that these are animals that have highly elaborated emotional lives.”

    “It’s becoming clear that dolphins and whales have a sense of self, a sense of social bonding that they’ve taken to another level – more much stronger, much more complex that in other mammals, including humans.  We look at mass strandings, the fact that they stand by each other.  Everything about them is social, everything.  It’s been suggested that their whole sense of self is distributed among the individuals in their group.”

    References (5)

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      Response: Belinda Broido
      Divided Core - Nature - Blackfish
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      Response: Belinda Broido
      Divided Core - Nature - Blackfish
    • Response
      Response: Belinda Broido
      Divided Core - Nature - Blackfish
    • Response
      Response: Belinda Broido
      Divided Core - Nature - Blackfish
    • Response
      Response: Belinda Broido
      Divided Core - Nature - Blackfish

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