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Common dolphin (delphinus delphis) Gulf of California Mexico.

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Bianca Cisternino Bianca is WDC's bycatch coordinator. She leads our work to protect whales and...
Lottie and Ed outside the Norwegian parliament

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Humpback whale playing with kelp

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Tanks Too Small to Swim

Belugas are considered slowpokes in the world of whales and dolphins (if I lived in freezing Arctic waters, I’d probably want to conserve my energy, too) but they would medal in any diving competition.  Belugas regularly make 1,000ft (305m) foraging dives, and can dive 2,300ft (700m) or more.  The maximum recorded depth for a beluga is 2,860ft (872m).  In comparison, their fellow (and much larger) deep-diver, the sperm whale, averages 1,300ft (396m) on a typical dive, though they too are capable of dives much greater.

Aquarium tanks aren’t even close to this depth.  For captive orca tanks, the law requires, based on an assumed average length of 24 feet, that pools be at least 12 feet deep and 48 feet in diameter.  For smaller belugas, assuming an average length of 14 feet, the tank dimensions shrink to 28 feet across and only 7 feet deep – that’s barely enough room to swim, let alone dive!  These tanks often have several individuals living inside them, and with the ever-rotating cast of captive whales and dolphins, it is always possible that a larger whale may join the “collection” – but the tanks will not be changed.

This week, we’re asking UPS, a global company that works in multiple countries, to protect the rights of belugas to dive anywhere.  UPS has numerous humanitarian and sustainability projects and should include protecting belugas in the wild in their efforts.  Tell them: “UPS, extend your high environmental standards to your sponsorships – don’t sponsor the Georgia Aquarium and their effort to import wild Russian belugas! Captivity is never sustainable!

Thank you for helping WDC keep belugas safe and free to dive anywhere they please!