Beluga whales are amazing creatures, typically found in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of our planet, who generally live together in small groups known as pods. Their language includes a wide range of vocalizations: clicks, whistles, and clanging noises. Belugas are expert imitators of sound, and have even been known to mimic human voices! They play a critical role in balancing their native ecosystems by feeding on the most common marine species in the ecosystem, preventing them from becoming overabundant. While searching for food, belugas can dive to a depth of up to 1,000 feet, but have been known to dive down twice as far as that.
Sadly, belugas’ way of life is under threat. Underwater noise pollution (driven by factors such as offshore drilling, sonar testing, and ship movement) seriously interferes with these animals’ ability to communicate, travel, hunt, and breed. Beluga whales are listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List, but a specific subspecies called the Cook Inlet beluga is listed as “critically endangered,” with a 50 percent chance of going extinct within the next ten years.
As if this weren’t bad enough, these beautiful animals are often targeted by the marine captivity industry, which forces them to dwell in tiny tanks that can never replicate their wild habitat and perform inane tricks for members of the public. The experience of being torn from their wild habitat takes an enormous toll on the health and wellbeing of belugas. Last year, a White Arctic beluga whale named Nanuq passed away at SeaWorld Orlando after undergoing treatment for a jaw injury. Sadly, unusual injuries, illnesses, and infections – seldom witnessed in wild cetaceans – are rife among captive whales and dolphins.
Jo-Anne MacArthur is a world-renowned photographer whose pioneering work, “We Animals”, shed light on the unseen emotional intelligence of non-human animals. She recently shared a photograph that highlights the fate of captive beluga whales.
This photo – which was taken at Vancouver Aquarium in 2009 – shows that captivity can never compare to the wild.
Vancouver Aquarium has been known to use its alleged “rescues” of certain animals to justify keeping other animals – such as belugas – in captivity. All of the whales and dolphins at the facility – whether “rescued” or not – are on a strict daily show schedule, with little indication that the aquarium intends to ever rehabilitate them for release back into the wild. Gary Charbonneau, director of “Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered,” states that “the Vancouver Aquarium expounds conservation, research, and education as one their key mandates and yet, in the past decade, although revenues have soared, their spending nearly half the amount of money towards those three areas. … Conservation is used as a deception to fool the public into allowing the Vancouver Aquarium to continue with this aquatic circus.”
By sharing this stark photograph, MacArthur hopes to educate people on the brutal reality behind beluga captivity. To see more of MacArthur’s work, visit her website or Facebook page. “We Animals” recently joined Patreon, where supporters can sign up to become a regular sponsor of MacArthur’s work, the Patreon link is available here. To learn more about the truth behind whale and dolphin captivity – and why you should never buy a ticket to an aquarium, marine park, or other facility that holds these animals in tiny tanks – check out the links below.
- A Heartbreaking Look at Beluga Captivity (PHOTOS)
- The Scary and Sad Truth About These Beluga Whales Celebrating Halloween
- How Did We Get Here? The Evolution of Whale and Dolphin Captivity in the U.S.
Image Source: Jo-Anne MacArthur/Facebook