My friend Jill, an Antarctic researcher, dog rescuer, and fellow conservationist sent me the following e-mail this morning with her view on the subject. Here it is in it's entirety with no edits. I simply copied and pasted it in:
I think this is a big deal for me because of my childhood memories and my travels in Antarctica. During my formative years I often visited the Seaside Aquarium in Seaside, Oregon. Even as a small child I wondered about the space issue. This place is the size of a two stall garage and they have all the seals in a 20 by 30 ft area and about 16 ft wide. This houses a LOT of seals. Over 20 as I remember. The whole spiel is you buy raw fish for a dollar (more now I am sure) and feed the seals who perform and splash you with cold water. There is an old pipe that continually supplies sea water and then it is heated a bit and piped into the aquarium. This
bothered me even as a child and when I asked questions staff would laugh and shoo me away saying “isn’t she cute and such big questions for such a little girl” Some tried to answer, some pointed me to my Dad and others shooed me into the shop to buy something to pacify me but my questions always remained. I guess when your 5 or 6 they didn’t pay much attention back in the 1950’s. I don’t talk about it much because of dog rescue that I don’t think much as I used to.
In 1992 we made our first trip to Antarctica on a research ship and got to see real live Orca’s and Seals and Penguins in there real life environment. I was in awe of them, so free and wild and curious. Orcas in the wild are very curious about humans and ships in general. They love to have us break ice and they would follow us in, popping up and going back under getting them into food supplies they could not access before because as Rebecca says they have to breech the water. I thought about the seals in the Aquarium and how awesome it would be if they could be free in their environment in the ocean the way it should be. Why are humans so attached to see wild animals in a tank doing tricks. For some reason humans want to see animals in the wild cooped up. Maybe so we can watch and study. Even some researches have asked the same question but they try to do it in the wild and disrupt as much as possible.
The Antarctic Treaty says we could not react to them, petting, or putting gloves or hands or touching or feeding were prohibited BUT no one told them the could not react with us. Brought some funny moments over 15 years. NEVER were they aggressive or anyway did I feel threatened or in danger of these so called “killer whales” in their world. It always brought a smile to my face when I saw them breach and run alongside the ship and when we were on land doing projects. I did feel we were in their world and we were lucky to observe them.
So the feelings I had for seeing them captive in the small garage aquarium were magnified. I only went back after I was a teen once. Once seeing them in the wild, I wanted to go back and thump someone. All those seals were a side show and money maker for the aquarium which is still in existence today. NOW, that said the aquarium has rescued and cared for many mammals and returned them to the sea all fixed up so they do get kudos’s for that! As Rebecca says once captured or those born in captivity do not do well and need to be fed by humans. HOWEVER, I feel strongly that the capture of whales, seals and the like strictly for the entertainment of humans should be banned. The ones that are captive now need to be housed in ocean areas with nets or barriers so they are protected and managed until they are gone.
Rebecca says to visit and make up your own mind. I feel visiting them makes more money and many do it over and over. Sea World gets the short end of the stick but they have the most whales. They also want to get in with them and swim and should them off which is a danger to the whales in many ways and is not to the benefit to the whales. These are the whales in Blackfish. It shows the death of one of the trainers and the maybe why’s of her death and lead to the end of the trainers getting in the water with them to show them off to the people who buy tickets. Yes, they make millions off these show and yes they do donate to some cause but don’t think
for a second if they were not making money of those shows that they would continue and then what happens to the performers. Even wild animal’s perform for treats much like our dogs do tricks.
These animals are awesome in the wild, where they should be. You can rent space in a boat and take all the pictures you want of them in the wild where they should be and stay. Support groups that want to keep them in the wild not to watch them do tricks for human enjoyment.
Did you know whale hunting in the name of "research" brings in around 60 million dollars a year from their ill gotten whale meat?
It may sound like a lot but.....
Did you know whale watching brings in over a billion dollars a year?
Which do you think is the better industry?
Remember We Can Be The Change We Wish To See In The World!
It's not always easy but it is up to us to save what's left!
Keep The conversation going! Let's Create Positive Action! ~ Rebecca
P.S. To Make Jill Happy Let me clarify whale hunting is not research, they just call it that. There are good and bad research projects out there. All of the research in the Antarctic is done with special care to protect and save the Earth's wildlife. It is up to you as an individual to do yours and decide. We do not always like what people think or have to say but it is open discussions that lead to facts, then change, then positive results.