End Cetacean Captivity? Empty the Tanks Thinks So

Empty the Tanks is an annual worldwide protest and public awareness campaign against the cetacean captivity industry.

Concerned citizens across the globe will gather on Saturday, May 7, 2016 for the 4th annual Empty the Tanks Worldwide Event.

Thousands will gather in solidarity to bring awareness to the plight of captive whales and dolphins during this annual event, which spans over 22 countries with over 60 events being held world wide.

Not Just Seaworld Whales

beluga 400x267 End Cetacean Captivity? Empty the Tanks Thinks So
Cetaceans in captivity suffer from a wide range of issues such as medical ailments, stress, separation from family and much more. If captivity has taught us anything its that these animals should not be confined to tanks. Credit: Jason Pier in DC, FlickrCC.

On June 15, 2012 the Georgia Aquarium submitted an application to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for a permit to import 18 beluga whales who were captured from the Russian Sea of Okhotsk.

While the application requested that the animals be imported and legally held by the Georgia Aquarium some of those belugas would be transported to other marine parks around the US under a breeding loan, Mystic being one of them. Over 9,000 commented in an open comment period on the NOAA website most of which were in opposition to the import. On August 5, 2013 NOAA denied the permit. The Georgia Aquarium along with Seaworld, The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and Mystic Aquarium appealed the decision and on September 30, 2013 filed a lawsuit against National Marine Fisheries Services. On September 28, 2015 a federal judge upheld the ruling and the appeal was lost. In November 2015 the Georgia Aquarium announced it would no longer move forward with the permit.

The average life span a beluga in the wild is 35-50 years. Since 1975 Mystic Aquarium has housed 11 Beluga whales. Three are still living, three have died under the age of three, four have died between the ages of 8 and 15 and only 1 lived to be 29. That’s a mortality rate of 73% In early February 2016 Mystic transferred one of its three beluga whales to Seaworld Orlando on a breeding loan.

Belugas are Artic animals. Their sense of hearing is highly developed and echolocation allows for them to move about and find air holes under sheet ice. While belugas are slow swimmers they can dive up to 2,300 feet in depth.

While Mystic is known for their great rehabilitation work with Seals along the East Coast, keeping highly intelligent, social animals confined to a tank for entertainment purposes is inhumane and cruel. There is nothing educational about painting with a beluga or watching one swim in circles.

As the eye-opening documentary, “Blackfish” demonstrates, cetaceans in captivity suffer from a wide range of issues such as medical ailments, stress, separation from family and much more. If captivity has taught us anything its that these animals should not be confined to tanks. Children are captivated by dinosaurs but do not and cannot see them in a zoo’s to love and learn about them.

Mystic needs to focus their efforts on rehabilitation and release and stand with the growing public by phasing out the breeding, display and keeping of these animals in captivity.

Please join us on Saturday, May 7, 2016 from 10 am to 2 pm at Mystic Aquarium for a peaceful demonstration. We will be at two locations. On the green located at the main exit from the highway as well as Coogan Blvd at the entrance to the aquarium parking lot. It is our hope that Mystic can take their place on the right side of history and show they truly care for the well being of these animals by saying no to captivity.