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We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...
Humpback whale underwater

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Black Sea common dolphins © Elena Gladilina

The dolphin and porpoise casualties of the war in Ukraine

Rare, threatened subspecies of dolphins and porpoises live in the Black Sea along Ukraine's coast....
WDC's Ed Fox, Chris Butler-Stroud and Carla Boreham take a message from the ocean to parliament

Taking a message from the ocean to parliament

It's a sad fact that whales and dolphins don't vote in human elections, but I...
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Tokitae in captivity

Talking to TUI – will they stop supporting whale and dolphin captivity?

Last Thursday I travelled to Berlin for a long-anticipated meeting with TUI senior executives. I...

Earth Day Q&A with Waipapa Bay Wines’ marketing director, Fran Draper

We've been partnered with Waipapa Bay Wines since 2019 so for this year's Earth Day,...

Scientist Statement Opposing the Beluga Imports by the Georgia Aquarium

Marine mammal scientist, including WDC, jointly submitted comments to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recommending the denial of Georgia Aquarium’s application for authorization to import 18 wild-caught beluga whales into the US for public display. Here is a summary of the submitted comments:
We object to the Georgia Aquarium’s permit application on the grounds that the proposed transport and confinement of wild beluga whales are inhumane and present an unnecessary risk to the health and welfare of these animals and are, thus, a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Handling and transport produces an increase in stress hormones whales and dolphins and chronic stress can lead to immunosuppression and susceptibility to disease. Furthermore, handling and transport increases mortality risk and beluga deaths during ground transport have occurred in the past.For these belugas, the transport plan includes a flight from Russia to Belgium where each beluga will be transfer to a new container and plane for further transport to the states. This additional step is unusual for a cetacean transport. We find the permit applicant’s claim that “switching carriers and aircraft is an added step, but it poses no additional risk” to the animals to be disingenuous. We believe that these whales will be subjected to exceptional levels of handling and transport stress, solely for unclear logistical, rather than veterinary or biological, reasons. If these belugas do survive the exceptionally rigorous transport, they are then subjected to captivity where in the best cases belugas experience life history trajectories that match but do not improve on those of free-ranging belugas. Given that the sources of mortality in the two environments must differ, it is highly plausible that the primary cause of mortality in captive belugas is related to stress, which would be long-term or chronic in a captive situation. Given the known deleterious effect of chronic stress on immune function, it is plausible to argue that captive belugas lead less healthy lives than their wild counterparts, both psychologically and physically, which would explain why, despite protection from natural hazards, they do not live longer in captivity.
No import of cetaceans deliberately captured for a US facility has occurred in 20 years. Therefore, we find the Georgia Aquarium’s action of sourcing belugas directly from the wild regressive. Given the prolonged transport being proposed, which will require mid-journey transfers to different containers and planes, we also find this proposal inhumane. Once again we urge the NMFS to deny this permit application.You can still submit your comments to NOAA

About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.