Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Conservation

Debate over whale longevity is futile

The unquestionable importance of ethical animal husbandry aside, I doubt whether the ongoing dispute over the respective lifespans of captive and wild killer whales (Orcinus orca) will contribute anything to our long-term efforts to save the species (see Nature 531, 426–427; 2016).

The days of keeping killer whales in captivity are in any case numbered for marine parks such as SeaWorld in the United States. And the conservation value of breeding the tiny number of captive killer whales worldwide is negligible.

In my view, we should be focusing on the real conservation plight of wild killer-whale populations around the globe (see, for example, R. Esteban et al. Ecol. Indic. 66, 291–300; 2016). In the main, these are so poorly understood that entire populations are at risk of extinction (see P. J. N. de Bruyn et al. Biol. Rev. 88, 62–80; 2013).

Meanwhile, we waste precious resources debating the longevity of a handful of captive animals.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to P. J. Nico de Bruyn.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

de Bruyn, P. Debate over whale longevity is futile. Nature 533, 36 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/533036c

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/533036c

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing