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Ugly Plans to Import Beautiful Belugas

Written by Paula Moore | October 24, 2012

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is coming under heavy fire for its outrageous plan to import 18 wild-caught beluga whales from Russia, subject them to a nonlife in captivity, and use them as breeding machines to churn out more babies for profiteers at marine parks and aquariums across the country.

In an article for National Geographic titled “Should We Import Belugas for Display?” Virginia Morell takes issue with the idea that aquariums “need” more captive beluga whales. “Those in captivity now will grow old, perhaps lonely, and die,” says Morell. “But to replace them will cause other belugas harm and grief—because it can only be done by tearing apart families that are doing fine now in the wild.” Exactly!

Morell describes for readers the rich lives that belugas lead in their natural homes:

[T]hey are highly social, gregarious creatures; they make long migrations; they have an impressive range of calls, and like dolphins (to which they are distantly related) use these in a variety of ways, including imitating one another. (A just-released study shows that captive belugas can also imitate humans.) They like to hang out in the summer in shallow coastal waters in large groups (sometimes numbering in the thousands), which are most likely made up of close relatives—mothers, dads, and kids, aunts and uncles, and cousins. Sometimes, they make solo journeys just to visit other groups—a behavior that reminds me of elephants, who sometimes leave their families to visit clan members far away.

Compare this to life in their own diluted waste in a small cement tank, where belugas and other marine mammals spend their days swimming in endless circles, deprived of everything that they enjoy, even the use of echolocation. Aquarium visitors come, spend a few hours, buy some souvenirs, and then go home and carry on with their lives. Animals in aquariums will remain in the same tanks until the day they die.

Your Voice Is Needed!

Please help us stop the Georgia Aquarium’s cruel and misguided plans. Take a moment today to contact the National Marine Fisheries Service and let officials know why they should deny the Georgia Aquarium a permit to import wild-caught beluga whales.

Commenting is closed.
  • Hadden Beckham says:

    I mean really, why must we do this? Huh? We have no right to. They were here first.

  • Emm says:

    They should not be allowed to keep any of these animals. How many have died at the Georgia Aquarium since it opened. Three or more have died while in their captivity. Based on their record they should be ordered to remove any of the animals already there, not to add more. They subject them to private parties with loud music and people. They are totally in it for the money, not for the animals. Also, they charge $85.00 a ticket for their lousy aquarium.

  • Natalie says:

    This world is a sad dreadful place for animals. The US is no example for other countries. Many people believe animals were put here for us to use and abuse as we please. It’s the same ignorant people that have caused violent acts throughout history, feeling certain beings are inferior.

  • sandra guyomard says:

    With all my support…

  • jean klatt says:

    no no no do not sell or bring whales fron Russia wrong for thinking about the whole thing

  • Beth says:

    This has got to stop. Tearing up families because someone thinks we want to see captured beluga whales. I don’t support Sea World or the Zoo. Leave the whales where they are. I would much rather watch a video of them in their natural environment.

  • carine blum says:

    non à la captivité!

  • SEZILLE Mathilde says:

    Free for the animals! Stop this NOW!

  • Christopher Ungureit Jr says:

    Who in their right mind would allow this!? It’s disgraceful.

  • Marcus says:

    Today in the UK, plans were unveiled to relocate a family of gorillas back into the wild in Africa. Meanwhile, in the US there are plans to capture wild beluga whales and confine them to display tanks for what, the public’s viewing pleasure. Really? really?! As in the title of the article, this is Ugly.