orca surfacing

One of the videos I took on Tuesday, to show how close they were getting!

The wake at the beginning of the vid is from when they popped up right underneath us 🌊

And I kept the sound on, despite the bits of chatter, so you can hear that distinctive blow 💨 

Photograph by @paulnicklen for @sea_legacy // A large male orca breaks the surface as he swirls around to pursue a school of herring. This is what it looks like at high noon in northern Norway in January. The sun never fully breaks the horizon and the diving conditions were dark but with new digital technology we are able to bring back images from this amazing dance between predator and prey. To see my favorite images of orcas underwater, please #follow me on @paulnicklen. With @cristinamittermeier #gratitude #orca #norway #nature #naturelovers #wildlife #beauty by natgeo

Photograph by @paulnicklen // It was a surreal moment to be lying motionless in the sea while a huge male orca worked hard to drive a ball of herring towards the surface. The orcas use the surface as a natural barrier to corral the fish. Check out the whole story in the July edition of National Geographic Magazine @natgeo and please #follow me on @paulnicklen to see my favorite orca pictures from this incredible experience. With @cristinamittermeier and @sea_legacy #blackfish #nature #ocean #orcas @natgeocreative @thephotosociety #keepitwild #gratitude by natgeo

Dorsal collapse has to do with the collagen within the dorsal fin. Dorsal fins are composed of fibrous, connective tissue. Less than one percent of orcas in the wild have collapsed dorsal fins (Dave Ellifrit & Astrid van Ginneken)

What leads to collapse in wild whales: Wild orcas seen with dorsal collapse had explainable reasons as to why it occurred. This includes spinal issues or injury from other orcas or surfaces that weakened the tissue, causing it to flop over. It was also documented that there was collapse in a few bulls in Prince William Sound after the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.


Dorsal fin collapse can also indicate signs of poor health. If the orca is dehydrated, the tissue is weakened. If an orca is near getting a “peanut head” (a “peanut head” is a shape of an orca head just prior to death. It usually is a sunken area behind the neck), its fin is going to collapse.


In captivity, the orcas do not face any currents or obstacles that strengthen their muscles. This leads to “pattern swimming”. Pattern swimming is repeatedly swimming in the same manner, such as clockwise or counterclockwise. This creates only one side of pressure against their body. The fin collapses in the direction the pressure is forcing it to.

Orcas rest at the surface in captivity out of boredom and stress. The fin is weightless under the water, but since they’re above it, gravity pulls the fin downward.

In many parks, including Seaworld, the water is warmer than it should be. This is so trainers can go in the water. The warmer water can take part in dehydrating them.


Hydration is key to preventing the tissues from weakening. Orcas extract fluids from their food to keep themselves hydrated. The orcas are deprived of the right nutrients they must intake since their food is dry and dead already. Also, orcas are given less food than what they would get in the wild, believe it or not. Less relative food leads to less water intake.

So it is proven captivity IS the reason Tilikum, Ulises, Kshamenk, Keet, Bingo, Keto, Kyuquot, and Tuar have collapsed dorsal fins, and from negative impact on their lives and bodies.


Captivity is not okay. It just isn’t.