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Dolphin in Brazil helping with fishing illustration

Dolphins and fishermen working together

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Gray whale (eschrichtius robustus) Gray whale in Ojo de liebre lagoon Baja California.

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Dolphins with keepers in the new Windsor Safari Park. Image: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo

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Fishers' involvement is crucial. Image: WDC/JTF

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Whale evolution cover

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Fishers chatting

Scottish fishers working with us to reduce risks to whales

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Vancouver Aquarium – Uncovered

A new documentary, Vancouver Aquarium – Uncovered is available to view on YouTube or watch below. Over the course of 60 minutes, it details, through interviews with cetacean experts, Vancouver Aquarium staff and Vancouver Park Board representatives, past and current, the problems associated with the keeping of whales and dolphins at the Aquarium, problems which are typical of the industry which displays whales and dolphins to the public for entertainment.

One thing the Aquarium does do differently to a lot of aquaria holding whales and dolphins in captivity is the claims it makes regarding its contributions to conservation and education. Other facilities may make similar claims, but Vancouver Aquarium has built its reputation on it. It has also claimed the belugas it keeps are not in a breeding programme. The film exposes how little the Aquarium does in fact contribute to conservation, reporting that no wild whale or dolphin has benefitted from the Aquarium’s captive programme. Footage also shows interviews with school children after a visit suggesting they learned next to nothing about wild whales and dolphins, let alone conservation. It also reveals how belugas from the Vancouver Aquarium are part of SeaWorld’s active breeding programme, including Nanuq on long term breeding loan from Vancouver, who died in 2015 at SeaWorld Orlando while suffering from an infection in a jaw injury that resulted from an “interaction” with another whale.

Further shocking revelations, many of which are documented in Park Board meetings, with Board Members asking poignant questions, include the high calf mortality at the Aquarium compared to the wild, sourcing of Pacific white-sided dolphins from Japan under “rescue” claims, and CEO John Nightingale’s clanger from June 2015: ““I think the idea that animals ought to live free in nature is absolutely a natural human emotion, but we believe that is wrong.”

Worth a watch, if a depressing one.

About Cathy Williamson

Cathy Williamson was policy manager of our End Captivity Programme until July 2021.