Orcas are among the world’s most charismatic animals, combining grace and power, violent when they need to be, but rarely toward humans and never in the wild. Attacks on humans have been restricted to captive orcas, opening up widespread discussions on the ethics of marine-mammal captivity and prompting major changes to the North American orca-display industry, as represented by corporate giants such as SeaWorld. Orcas are now more likely to be followed online than watched either in captivity or in the wild, with some individual orcas becoming celebrity targets for activist campaigning. This article assesses some of the different ways that orcas are being “followed” today, showing how the figure of the celebrity orca offers an opportunity to reflect both on the performative nature of celebrity and on the continuing human exploitation of performing animals, which is tied in with the depredations of the modern corporate world.

You do not currently have access to this content.