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SeaWorld and GA Aquarium petition to import wild-captured Beluga Whales

SeaWorld seeks to import Beluga Whales from Russia

SeaWorld again contradicts their public statements

The Georgia Aquarium is urging their supporters to sign a petition or send a letter supporting their effort to overturn the permit denial by NOAA to import 18 wild-caught beluga whales to the U.S. from the Sea of Okhotsk in Russia.  The petition is directed to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and seeks a judicial review of the decision from Fisheries and the Department of Commerce.  The whales are pictured above in holding pens with their ‘scientist’ from the Russian Academy of Science.  This is the critical research being conducted that benefits the wild population.  Selling tickets to tourists and training them to do tricks so they can be shipped to aquaria around the world.

As seen on the permit application to NOAA, eleven of the eighteen wild caught Beluga were to be dispersed to three SeaWorld parks.  In reading both the petition and the form letter there is little doubt that the messaging was influenced by SeaWorld and the content directly includes their parks when referencing the false statement that there are “fewer than 35 belugas in accredited aquariums in North America”.  That statement is a blatant mistruth in that Marineland, Ontario has more beluga in captivity than the total that is given.

The letter and petition also make the outrageous claims that without beluga in captivity, “the public will lose touch with these magnificent mammals”.  This should sound very familiar in that it is exactly the case that SeaWorld uses for their continued captivity of orca.  Given the current climate of public opinion regarding any further capture and import of orca into the United States, when it comes to whales White is the new Black.

Another statement that hits a nerve is that “population of animals in human care is facing certain extinction”.  What that actually means is that while wild populations thrive because they are left in their natural environments, while captive whales have not survived long enough within the confines of pools and tanks to sustain growth in the population.

SeaWorld using Georgia Aquarium as the ‘Fall Guy’

The timing of this plea comes directly on the heels of news reports that imply that the import of a new strain of genetics through wild caught Beluga to the Vancouver Aquarium will face stiff opposition from both the public, and now the government.  It is more likely now that their efforts to expand their inventory of Beluga will be halted.  Obviously this is bad news for SeaWorld as they trade animals back and forth with Vancouver Aquarium regularly.  The renewed focus to have the permit denial overturned is a direct benefit to both companies and their contributions behind the scenes, using GA Aquarium as the mouth-piece shouldn’t fool anyone.

The state and federal politicians have indicated that they do listen when the right messaging addresses issues within their directive.  With this being known it is important to reiterate the causes for the NOAA denial of the import permit as shown below:

population of animals in human care is facing certain extinction

Take Action

I urge you to counter the efforts of SeaWorld, Vancouver Aquarium and Georgia Aquarium by sending letters and emails and making phone calls that voice your support of the NOAA denial on the terms presented.  The federal government is not interested in discussing the issue of captivity because it is legal under current law.  Addressing the stated reasons for the denial are the best talking points as they are issues of law.  The size of the Russian capture whaling fleet TRIPLED the year after these 18 Beluga were captured, with an estimated annual ‘take quota’ of 1900 whales.  Since the wild population is highly debated, this take quota is not deemed sustainable.

Please address your comments to:

The Honorable Penny Pritzker
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20230

Main line: (202) 482-2000

On Twitter: @CommerceGov

On Facebook: U.S. Department of Commerce

Email Secretary Penny Pritzker:

Of course it is necessary that this call to action be shared widely if the impact is to be felt.  Please post to the groups that you belong to or pages that you are a fan of on Facebook that care about Marine Mammal Captivity.

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