First published on October 7, 2014.
SeaWorld states that survival rates for their captive cetaceans are better than ever, so I took a look at just one species spanning the last decade, the bottlenose dolphin.
Statistics were taken from the phenomenal Ceta-Base.org — by far the best and most comprehensive database for captive cetaceans. With its accessibility online, anyone can check these stats for accuracy or form their own project. I’m not a statistician, nor a math whizz so yes, if you spot an error, please do let me know. Ceta-Base, thankfully, has done most of the hard work, I simply counted and crunched some numbers.
I’d rather present the numbers and allow you to interpret them in whatever manner you choose. Some of the data did pique my interest — but I will touch on that later.
In 10 years (2004-2014 inclusive), there are 62 known bottlenose dolphin deaths across four SeaWorld facilities. The latest animal to die was 'Bodine' at SeaWorld San Diego. He died in early September. Broken down by park, the numbers are as follows:
Notes About Each Park:
Discovery Cove: The oldest dolphin (Scarlet) was 26 years-old when she died; the youngest (Cindy’s calf), nine days old. They currently hold 45 bottlenose dolphins, five wild-caught and 40 born there.
SeaWorld San Diego: The oldest dolphin (Stein) was 37 years-old when he died. The youngest (Cascade’s Calf) was 14 days old. They currently hold 33 dolphins, 5 wild, 28 born and 1 stranded. Interesting note: In 2004, three calves were stillborn in two months — Beaker’s calf in July, and Malibu and Gracie’s calves in August.
SeaWorld San Antonio: The oldest dolphins — both having lived to 36 years were Davy II and Clicker. The youngest — Yoyo’s calf was 12 days old. Yoyo has lost two calves and finally had a successful birth with Koko in 2011. Davy II was in the petting pool and died of a stomach perforation. It’s possible he ingested a foreign object. San Antonio currently holds 22 bottlenose dolphins. Three wild-caught, 4 stranded and 15 born.
SeaWorld Orlando: The oldest dolphin (Tanya) was 28 years old at death. The youngest — Yoko’s calf, was one day old. They currently hold 44 bottlenose, 1 wild, 43 born. Interesting notes: Calli has birthed three stillborn calves; Alpha is inbred. His parents Ariel and Razzle are paternal siblings.
Total number of bottlenose dolphins currently alive and held across all SeaWorld parks: 144