The ongoing marine mammal conservation and its implications in marine welfare is an issue that needs to be addressed. There are circulating environmental concerns regarding the destruction of oceanic habitat impacting cetaceans; the marine conservationists regard cetacean captivity to be the valid option to sustain the marine mammal population. Nonetheless, the conservation perspective of marine welfare also addresses issues regarding their negative impacts on their behavioural and psychological traits in the cetaceans by residing in a captive environment. The practice of cetacean captivity is not advantageous in the conservation perspective of marine welfare. The assessed risk is the development of the negative impacts of psychological and behavioural factors issuing the health of the marine mammals. The captive atmosphere in aquaria reinforces the behavioural patterns among the cetaceans; cognitive implications such as the development of stereotypical behaviour, calf detachment due to impoverished nursing skills, and depression are emerging, impacting the natural psychological adaptations of the marine creatures.
Change within the behavioural patterns among cetaceans are limited in captivity. Many of the decisions available in the wild are detached; this is where the development of stereotypical behaviours within the caged atmosphere reduces the cetaceans’ natural behavioural adaptations. Ross. C and Georgia. M (2003) experimented the impacts of natural ranging behaviour and welfare of species from the order carnivora in captivity. There is a comparison between minimum home-range size (log km; accounting for body weight) and stereotypy frequency (% observation). In the graph, there is a positive slope referring to the proportional relationship between the body weight and stereotypy frequency. Accounting the body mass of the cetaceans, they require a much wider range for their home-size, therefore they also have a higher per cent of stereotypy frequency. In captivity, naturally wide-ranging animals did not display normal cognitive interactions, as well, the physical movement among the surroundings was limited. Stereotypical behavioural traits such as bar chewing and swimming in repetitive circular motion are responsible to negatively impact their psychological and behavioural welfare Lott R and Williamson C. (2017). Among the carnivores, naturally wide-ranging species show the most evidence of psychological implications in captivity. The continuous, one-dimensional activities are repetitive; this is where the choice and decision-making has been removed for the marine mammals to follow through. Consequently, the loss of psychological adaptations in marine mammals is a relevant concern that needs to be addressed; the continuous patterns and activities conducted in aquaria displays a negative impact on the cetaceans’ natural behavioural adaptations and forces them to develop continuous stereotypical behavioural patterns.
In artificial oceanic habitat, the cetaceans are on the verge of developing flawed nursing skills necessary to raise their calves. The implications are emerging where high rates of calf separation in cetacean breeding are impacting their psychological welfare. Records display that SeaWorld has separated 19 orca calves from their mothers, ranging from 10 months, 20 months to 24 months. These separation implications affect the psychological conditioning of the orca calves, where the separated calves are likely to develop an unattached bond with their young. The related case study about mother-calf separation is based at Loro Parque in the Canary Islands, where a female orca became pregnant at seven years of age and gave birth to a male calf in 2010. In 2012, the mother gave birth to Vicky, and at the age of ten years old. The mother dejected both of her and Williamson C. (2017). The forced separation of the young calves from their mothers in the captive environment is an improper practice to foresee in cetacean conservation. The psychological impact in the orcas is the result of improper maternal care for the young, and the next generation will not be able to develop enough maternal skills from their mothers to care for their young. ‘De maternalisation’ is the term used to address the failure of one generation to pass down necessary maternal skills to the future generations. Similarly, the female orca from the case study was separated from her mother and was not able to develop enough maternal skills to nurse her calves resulting in the separation from her calves.