At one point in most people's lives, they have witnessed a whale or dolphin in an aquarium or marine entertainment show. Have you ever stopped to ponder the effects this brings to the animal? In the wild, cetaceans, marine mammals such as whale or porpoise, live in complex familial groups and generations may live together throughout their lives. When they are brought into captivity they are stolen from these groups, causing prominent stress to the individual taken and the others remaining in the wild. These species brought into tanks, which often too small to support their size and needs, experience a dramatically shortened life span due to the conditions they are enduring. Along with this, there is an increased chance of attacks on other animals in the tank or their trainers, due to a lack of space to live healthily. Orcas, specifically, have a one hundred percent rate of dorsal fin collapse while living in captivity, though in their natural environment this is recorded in only minuscule amounts. To alleviate elevated stress levels in their marine mammals, some parks use tranquilizers on the animals to put them at ease. It is evident that the health and well-being of the animal are not taken into considerations when they are taken from their ecosystems.
In recent years, campaigns such as “Empty the Tanks” have arisen to end captivity. It is their mission to not see marine mammals forced to work and perform until their deaths. Marine entertainment is an outdated and unethical form of amusement. It is an exploitation of the intelligence of the individuals, who deserve to utilize their brainpower in their natural environments. Marine entertainment is used as an ecotourism boost for communities and is focused on the monetary aspect of having the species present in their park. It is unbeknownst to people that we are able to promote ocean conservation without keeping healthy animals in small tanks and unnatural conditions. Aquariums and sea parks may bring education to individuals on specific species, however, it is possible to observe them in the wild. There are approximately two thousand cetaceans currently living in captivity worldwide, since the year nineteen-fifty more than five thousand have died in captivity. This is a percentage too high to be ignored.
Initiatives Taking Place
A specific species of cetaceans, the beluga whale, is no longer permitted to be imported into the United States for aquarium. This is a strong step towards a larger goal of all species being eliminated from the ties of captivity. The state of California introduced the Orca Welfare and Safety Act, making it illegal to hold orcas captive and prevent captive breeding on the killer whales already in captivity. Other countries have followed this trend, including Canada, India, Costa Rica, and copious other areas. The more regulations that approved, the closer we come to emptying the tanks and freeing the cetaceans from the hardships of captivity.