It’s more good news this week for marine mammals. The Georgia Aquarium has announced it will no longer take in dolphins or whales that are caught in the wild. This is just the latest in the list of aquariums and zoos who have changed their policy in response to the continuing backlash from activists concerned about the care of captive marine animals.
Emotions have been high the past few years, thanks in major part to the success of the movie Blackfish which portrayed the life of captive orcas. In response, other organizations, such as SeaWorld announced the end to their captive breeding program earlier this year.
The natural habitat for dolphins, whales, and orcas spans many miles, and activists claim that there is no way to humanely keep the large mammals in captivity.
Georgia was scheduled to receive 18 beluga whales from Russia in an effort to create a sustainable population in the United States. However, after a denial from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the aquarium has ended its efforts to obtain the animals.
From the Georgia Aquarium’s official statement: “We feel strongly we were doing what was right and lawful and that NOAA Fisheries violated their longstanding interpretation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which specifically stresses the importance of caring for animals at zoos and aquariums in order to not only advance science, but to encourage conservation and awareness in the millions of guests who visit these organizations.
However, we believe NOAA’s decision is precedent-setting and could be challenging for any future requests for acquisition from ocean-dwelling populations.”
Despite not taking any more wild caught whales and dolphins, the aquarium will continue their breeding and research programs with their captive-caught animals.