Incredibly, this December 11th marks the 38th anniversary of Corky’s capture in 1969. We say “incredibly” for several reasons. One is that Corky, who has held the record for captive orca longevity for decades, is still alive despite her circumstances. Surrounded by concrete walls, shut off from every natural ocean sound, circling her tank around and around and around, totally deprived of her kin – all grounds for giving up – Corky has endured. From our distance we can only admire and applaud her resilience, and yes, character.
Sadly, we reflect on how thing might have been, if only….
Corky, should be a healthy orca mother, secure within her pod and with offspring to carry on her traditions. Her days should be filled with all the routines and adventures of an orca in her natural, ocean home. Tragically, her reality is far different.
Recently, while preparing a short presentation about orcas, we were struck by the stark differences between Corky’s and Springer’s lives. In 1969, outright greed and opportunism sealed Corky’s fate as a captive. By 2002, times and attitudes had changed. Instead of the life of a captive with its endless boredom, the lost orphaned baby orca, Springer, became the beneficiary of an elaborate plan that concluded with her translocation and reintroduction to her family. Now, every year, we anticipate Springer’s return, and welcome her back to her “home” waters.
As we reflect on Corky’s fate, we are acutely aware that in Japan, plans are being made to capture more orcas. Last month, a symposium aimed at producing a “scientific” justification for more captures was held at Kaiyo University. A report on the symposium (in Japanese, English & Spanish) has been posted athttp://www.sha-chi.jp. Needless to say, we oppose any futher captures, anywhere. There is no need to repeat the tragic tale that is Corky’s story.
Just what might it take to bring Corky home? So far “we” have tried appeals, demonstrations, messages, protests, art and songs (listen to Wendy Harford’s song for Corky). Alas, for Corky we have come up short. We take heart that the untiring efforts of so many have helped change the careless and destructive attitudes of years ago, sowing the seeds of the sentiments which gave Keiko his freedom and brought Springer back to her family. Although, we will not give up trying to bring her home, we know that Corky has both inspired and earned this enduring legacy already.
Please, today: Light a candle for Corky, and believe.
Thanks to Wendy Harford for her Corky song.