Australia plans to open its largest aquarium this March … in a night club. Because yes, sharks love to disco. Or, at least, that’s what Atlantis Lounge, which will feature two hammerhead sharks in a 250,000-liter tank inside of its new luxury night club, would like you to believe.
Let’s get one thing straight: sharks do not want to get crunk, turn down for what, get low, or shake it off. Especially not in a dark night club with loud music, drunk people, and flashing lights.
While Atlantic Lounge would like all of its high-paying clientele to believe these sharks will be in elite-class tanks, there is no way a hammerhead shark could ever live a normal, healthy and happy life in a tank. This is because hammerhead sharks are naturally very social creatures. They usually swim in schools of more than 1,000 other members of their pods. At Atlantis Lounge, the shark pod would have a grand total of two.
But sadly, this nightclub is hardly the only facility that spews out lies in order to justify using animals like sharks, whales or dolphins to turn a profit. Here are five other ridiculous facts aquariums and marine park would like you to believe:
1. Animals Are Safer in Tanks Than in the Ocean
“Oh these marks? Just from being attacked by my neighbor. Totally ‘normal behavior,’ the boss says.”
Some may assume that life in an aquarium is one of luxury, where predators can’t reach you and there is always food at dinner time. On the surface, it doesn’t seem too shabby, but animals in captivity are actually more prone to violence than they are among their own pods in the wild. This is because the stress of living in captivity makes them go, well … a little mad.
Think about it: if you’d been kidnapped from your family, kept in a jail cell, and forced to perform tricks for food for the rest of your life, you might get mad too! That’s what happens when orcas and dolphins, who have been put through this trauma, are grouped together in small tanks – they get agitated. Who wouldn’t?
Orcas and whales take out their frustrations on one another by biting or “raking” their teeth against each other, leaving marks and wounds. SeaWorld likes to tell its visitors that these marks are from “play” and are only “superficial.” Absurd. This would be like getting punched in the face every single day … for fun! The stress and tension between the animals can get so bad that it results in fights, injuries, and even death. For example, Kandu, a killer whale died in SeaWorld after suffering from massive bleeding when she attacked another whale, breaking her jaw. All the while, SeaWorld claimed this was “normal behavior,” but they’re not fooling anyone.
2. They’re Healthy
“Don’t mind me. Just breaking my teeth to get out of this place.”
Marine parks and aquariums want you to believe that their animals are healthy. After all, you probably wouldn’t cough up very much dough to see sick animals. That’s why places like SeaWorld go so far as to tell their guests that orcas only live up to about 20 years, when in fact, the life expectancy for orcas in the wild is between 30 and 50 years (although they can live past 100)! The average lifespan of an orca at SeaWorld is just 13 years.
While marine parks will never admit it, many animal deaths and illnesses are brought on by the stress of captivity. Take tooth infections for instance, which can eventually lead to kidney and heart disease for instance. Out of sheer boredom and frustration, captive cetaceans’ often bite down on the metal bars and walls of their enclosures. This causes cracks and fractures in their teeth, yikes! This leaves them ripe for infection, especially when parts of little dead fish get trapped in the crevices. The most common way to treat these infections, is with pulpotomy procedures, in which holes are drilled into the whales’ teeth to rid them of the infection– this is done without any anesthetic. This would basically be like having a root canal without any anesthetic – how awful!
3. They’re Happy!
“I’m not smiling. This is just my RBF.”
You know when someone’s resting face looks a little perturbed even if they’re totally calm, cool, collected? Well, dolphins have the exact opposite problem. Because their mouths naturally turn upward, it gives us humans the impression that they’re smiling, and are therefore happy. This couldn’t be further from reality. Dolphins are intelligent, self-aware animals – like human beings. So when they, or any animal, is placed in an isolated tank, and denied basic freedoms, they can become severely depressed and anxious, causing their mental health to degrade. To deal with their stress, dolphins and whales have been known to slam themselves against the sides of their tanks concrete walls, vomit or even attempt suicide. So what do these facilities do to help their animals? Douse them with antidepressants until they’re slightly less unhappy. Freedom? They don’t need that! Just give them some Valium.
4. They Love to Entertain People
“I’m so glad you’re going for a piggyback ride on my face!”
“I’ve always wanted to have someone use me as a surfboard,” said no animal, ever. In the wild, dolphins and whales don’t jump through hoops, have people ride them like toys or do tricks simply for human entertainment. What they do love to do is to swim up to hundreds of miles, be surrounded by their family members, play, and explore the vast oceans in which they’re supposed to live. Witnessing staged, artificial behavior in a dolphin or whale is neither natural nor desirable, no matter how vehemently SeaWorld and other amusement parks might state otherwise.
5. They Care About Their Animals
“Freedom? No, I don’t want that. I’ll stay here in this cage. Where I can see how much you love me.”
If marine parks and aquariums actually cared about the animals they keep, they would retire them to sanctuaries, where they could live out their lives in peace. At the end of the day, marine parks and aquariums are money-making businesses (although lately, they’re becoming experts in the losing-money business). As long as their animals are making them money, they will continue to use and abuse them, no matter the cost. For example, after massive backlash from the documentary, “Blackfish,” SeaWorld decided to make its tank at its California park larger – a multimillion dollar project. However, the park then sued the state when the approval for the plan included the stipulation that the park could not breed any more orcas in captivity, even though captive breeding is one of the most detrimental things that can be done to an animal.
What You Can Do
The most important thing you can do help end the exploitation of captive marine animals is to stop visiting aquariums or marine parks. These facilities rely on ticket sales. Without your support, they cannot exploit more animals. You can also sign a petition here to tell Atlantis Lounge Bar that no animals belong captive in their night club. Share this article to help spread the word and keep whales, dolphins, sharks and all other animals in the wild, where they belong.
Featured image source: Justin Ennis/Flickr