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


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!