Say No to Whales! #BTC4A

2012.10.28 Georgia Aquarium

A free ticket and a desire to learn about ocean conservation landed me at the Georgia Aquarium a year ago. I was wholly impressed with their tremendous space, engineering, advanced technology, and how much information I absorbed. That was until, ultimately and sadly, I entered the dolphin show to see the equivalent of a circus performance and not the premium educational program I expected. Explosive music hurt my head and flashing lights were nauseating.I couldn’t fathom how this act of fairy-tale fiction was part of GA’s mission for education, research, or conservation. All I could see were 2 kids saying “I want one!” Terrific.

I headed for the door. Watching wildlife enslaved and exploited solely for human delight isn’t my thing.

On my way out, I passed the Beluga whales. As I watched them gracefully glide and float, anger subsided and joy took its place. I can’t help but think that these are one of the most beautiful species on this planet. Taking a seat for what I thought would be just a moment, I couldn’t tear myself away. But my perception changed as I sat watching. Over and over again, these beautiful whales rounded what amounts to a pond, bouncing themselves off of the confines of the glass.

Watch for yourself. This is the video I shot in October of 2012.

These creatures who had so quickly captured my heart were the cause of it breaking as I realized what a very sad and repetitious life they lead. GA boasts of having the largest aquarium habitat in the world, but it’s nothing more than a small prison to these incredibly intelligent whales who naturally explore 100s of miles of ocean out of sheer curiosity.

1.) Say No to New Russian Import Whales

I learned upon my return home that the Georgia Aquarium was asking permission from NMFS (now NOAA) to import 18 more Belugas from Russia for display. Sustainability of the whales in human captivity was of great concern, as was research and conservation – although the GA spends only 3% of their annual funding on conservation efforts. GA’s application, the first of its kind in more than 20 years, was also the first public display permit ever denied by NOAA in August. NOAA’s reasons include all the various ways that removing the whales from their natural habitat would cause considerable damage to the animals’ wild population. Read NOAA’s decision for yourself.

Guess what. GA is appealing the decision.  If overturned, Georgia Aquarium will transport the whales under breeding loan agreements to other U.S. partner facilities including Sea World of Florida, Sea World of Texas, Sea World of California, Shedd Aquarium and possibly Mystic Aquarium. (See SeaWorld’s issues below.)

How do these animals come to be captured? Watch if you’re brave enough.

If you agree that public display and hope of successful captive breeding to keep displays full isn’t enough reason to open Russia’s door on cruelly capturing and selling wild marine animals, tell GA!

Contact Public Relations:
Meghann Gibbons
Director, Communications
(404) 581-4109
mgibbons@georgiaaquarium.org

 

2.) Keep Whales Off Our Streets!

sad orca

And now, just in time for Thanksgiving, turkeys aren’t the only ones running for cover. SeaWorld will get promotional glory in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with their own float… unless we decide that it is not acceptable to enslave highly intelligent marine creatures like whales and dolphins. When these animals are confined in a small space, they become bored, angry, and lash out. Their human handlers have died when this happens, but it is humans who are at fault.

According to PETA’s petition, they have made Macy’s well aware of SeaWorld’s cruel treatment of animals, lack of concern for safety, and willful violation of federal law. Macy’s doesn’t seem to care, so let’s tell them how much WE do.

Tell Macy’s that promoting SeaWorld at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is offensive.  

 

3.) Keep Wild Aquatics Out of New Aquarium

2012.10.28 Georgia Aquarium

In June, Omni Development Co. announced a plan for a downtown Albany, NY science museum, aquarium and an IMAX-type theater on land originally targeted for an Albany Convention Center. On August 21, they announced hiring a consulting firm to study the feasibility of such a project. ConsultEcon of Cambridge, Mass., described as “the leading consultant to the aquarium and educational attractions industry,” has done numerous aquarium studies for cities in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia … including Atlanta. (Feel like you’re circling the same tank over and over yet?) The first phase of results is expected to be finished by the end of September and the findings shared with the public.

Well, some of the public isn’t waiting to be asked. Thanks to Change.org, a petition exists to express why a new aquarium is a bad idea. Albany may not be your home town, but consider this. The aquatic animals ripped from their natural habitat belong to none other than this Earth. And it’s our collective job to protect them no matter where you live.

Please tell Albany “No New Aquarium!”

Thanks for all your help today! This post (and those listed below) is written in honor of Blog the Change for Animals, which happens the 15th of every January, April, July and October. Join us!

Comments

  1. I live in San Diego, home of Shamu and it really urks me to see killer whales and dolphins pinned up all the time. Especially the whales, it is like putting fish in a glass of water and make that their home. Great post!

    • Paula, I feel you and agree 100%. And I think it’s actually worse to enclose whales than fish because these beings have a higher intelligence and they rely upon an involved social culture for survival. Humans may provide for physical needs, but nurturing their mental and emotional needs an aquarium environment is impossible.

  2. The Beluga video was beautifully filmed Kim. Truly, you are a documentary filmographer in the making. I agree with you though, it is sad to see them stuck swimming in circles all day long. We used to have two Beluga’s here in MN at the Minnesota Zoo nearby. One of the whales developed health issues and both were shipped to an east coast aquarium for more care. They never came back. Our dolphins soon left as well. I suspect the aquariums were just too small for both these beautiful creatures. It makes me sad that they were here to begin with given what happened.

    I was surprised to find out that the Georgia Aquarium mostly uses these animals for circus-type shows and not for education purposes. Obviously education doesn’t make them as much money as the oohs and ahhs of fans seeing aquatic tricks. 🙁

    I signed both petitions and will share on my FB page. Great post.

    Mel Freer
    No Dog About It
    BtC4A team

    • I’m so sorry to hear about the MN whales and dolphins, although I’m not surprised. There was a live Beluga birth at the Geargia Aquarium not long ago, but the calf died almost immediately. If the GA, with all their impressive scientists, vets, engineering and technology, can’t support the life of these mammals, I have little faith that anybody else can.

      Please don’t misunderstand my comment about their use of dolphins though. The GA provides a ton of education and even has children’s classrooms inside the space dedicated to that purpose. The dolphin show seems to be their attempt at enhancing the experience with entertainment.

      I’m not even sure how I feel about the dolphins’ experience aside from the horrid loud music and flashing lights. I mean, now that they are there, this is their one social activity that involves play in a different space than their own tank. That must be exciting for them. It’s when the message to the children in the audience breeds a desire to own that things become dicey for me.

      I particularly struggled when I learned that the aquarium offers pricey human diving experiences with the Belugas and other marine life. How is that natural for the animals? But they do seem to enjoy it while lacking any like-species alternative. It’s something new each day to break up the monotony. At least that teaches people more about the animals in a one-on-one session.

      That the dolphin show has to look so cartoonish is far more troublesome. Can’t it discuss how they love to play and offer the message that this is exactly why we don’t want more dolphins in tanks? The theatrics are the disgusting commodification of a beautiful being.

      Anyway, thanks for signing both petitions.

  3. Great post. I’m not a fan of keeping any animal in captivity. In addition to simply being unnatural, I believe it is cruel. Certainly believe that GA does not need to add any more misery to the animal kingdom. Heading to the petitions.

  4. Fantastic blog. Thanks for your efforts for whales and for Be the Change for animals.

    Will share this on Twitter and Facebook and just added links from in our blog hop for Btc4animals.

  5. This is a great post – I signed both petitions. I used to love Seaworld when I was younger because of all the fanfare and hype they put on. As soon as I realized what they were actually doing I stopped being a fan of them. Thank you so much for sharing this and hopefully we can make a change to help these animals!

    • When I was a child I always thought Shamu would be a terrific sight to see, but I never did. To this day, I still think whales are a tremendous sight to see, but I prefer to do so in the wild. I’ve seen Humpbacks and Gray whales from Alaska to South America and I’m still waiting to see the J pod of Orcas off the shores of Seattle. Cruises and excursions offer natural views and behaviors, not those forced by the hand of humans. There are plenty of ways to learn about whales without keeping them on display in high-tech puddles. Toss in an IMAX theater with HD footage instead and people will come.

      Thank you so much for signing and sharing the petitions!

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