Does anyone know where Morgan’s family is?
Despite numerous requests, Harderwijk Dolfinarium has not publicly released the results of DNA tests. However, independent researchers have commented that Morgan’s vocalizations may indicate that she likely belongs to a Norwegian population of orcas.
Can Morgan be freed even if her family isn’t found?
There is nothing to suggest that Morgan would not survive in the wild on her own. Ideally, an orca’s home is with her family. But even if her family can’t be confirmed, that is not a good reason to confine her to a tank for the rest of her life. There are many options for a free life in the wild for Morgan.
Can an orca so young feed herself in the wild?
There is no evidence that suggests that Morgan will be unable to feed herself. In fact, in the two most well-known cases of young, lone orcas — Luna and Springer — both were able to catch their own food. Luna was separated from his family and lived alone in Nootka Sound, British Columbia. He learned to catch his own fish at 22 months old. He was never fed by humans, and was able to survive without his family throughout his life. Another young orca, Springer, was seen alone in January, 2002, in the waters of Washington state. She was about two years old, and was able to feed herself for five months. She was then captured and successfully moved back to her family in Canada.
Why can’t Morgan just be released back into the ocean and allowed to swim free?
That is possible but may not be ideal. There should at least be a monitoring program in place for her release. One detailed plan has already been proposed by one group of experts. Another option would be to transfer Morgan to Norway if it is confirmed that her family is there. There is still further work to do to determine the best long-term care plan for Morgan in the wild, but there are many options for the design of a successful plan.
She has been in captivity for many months now. Will she still be able to swim long distances in the ocean?
Orcas are born to travel. In the wild, they can swim more than 100 km per day. Even after a long period in captivity, an orca can still swim long distances. For example, Keiko, who became known worldwide through the ”Free Willy” movies, was released after more than 20 years in captivity and had no problems travelling long distances. On one occasion, he swam 1400 km! Orcas’ natural ability and apparent desire to swim far is among the reasons why keeping them in captive environments is morally wrong. Studies have shown that orcas and dolphins in captivity suffer stress-related diseases and in general have shorter life spans than those in the wild, and part of that must be due to the fact that even the largest tanks are tiny compared to their natural home.
Would it be better for Morgan to be with other orcas in captivity?
Orcas are naturally social creatures, and in the wild it would be best for Morgan to have the company of her own kind. But keeping her in captivity so she can have company does not make sense. In fact, putting orcas together in captivity may sometimes even make their lives worse. Many problems arise in captivity when animals are put together as ‘tank mates.’ Orcas have individual natures and backgrounds, just like humans. And, like humans, not all orcas get along with each other. In the wild, studies show that orcas often have favorite companions with whom they travel and socialize. In addition, in the wild, orcas often belong to groups that never interact with other groups of orcas even when they are nearby. This may be because of genetic differences, or different calling dialects, or cultural habits. In captivity all choice is removed, and this can result in animals attacking each other or becoming so stressed that they harm themselves or attack their trainers. But in the wild orcas and other cetaceans have had successful lives even when alone.