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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,...
Orcas at the seabed

The secrets of orca beach life

Rubbing on smooth pebbles is a generations-old cultural tradition for a particular group of orcas...

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.