Orcas in captivity are unable to experience a wide variety of sea conditions such as strong currents and tides. To help simulate some of the nautral conditions of the sea, wave machines could be installed and used in orca enclosures. In the wild, it is important for killer whales to be able to swim against strong currents and high waves in order to forage successfully throughout the year. If these conditions can be better replicated in zoological institutions, it could help to improve the physical welfare of orcas.
A wave machine could also be beneficial in terms of providing a challenging acitivty which could be mentally stimulating. With the addition of a wave machine, the orcas would need to change and adapt their behaviour to cope with the turbulent, variable water conditions, especially if their food was carried by the waves or currents in the pool, or the whales had to swim against the currents to access food. In association with this and acting as a cue to the changing conditions, underwater recordings of the sea in rough-weather conditions could be played, harmonized with the actions of the wave machine.
Photo: John Lowrie Irvine