What Beluga Whales Are Telling Us

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It has been demonstrated that belugas can imitate speech and they try to communicate with us non-verbally as well – and as can be seen in these videos, the beluga is clearly “saying” that he is annoyed, or possibly he is so bored that he has made a game of frightening people.
The tapping, clicking, squeaking, pounding on the glass walls of the beluga tanks is nearly constant for the whales, each visitor not really understanding that it can be aggravating and stressful – and it goes on day in and day out. The aquarium personnel not only permit the behavior, but are disingenuous in what they tell the public.

Uploader: “Hi- I recorded this video… I don’t know who those kids are, but I blame the Mystic aquarium for not posting signs advising that the whales get agitated by people at the glass. An employee told me in confidence that they keep it a secret that the whale reaction is aggressive, because it can be interpreted as playful by someone who doesn’t know.”
A comment: “I’m sure you’ve already gotten this, but in the video Juno is jaw-popping. I’ve visited Mystic often enough to notice the pattern in this behavior. He only jaw pops at kids, and he only jaw pops when people are tapping on the glass. Sometimes the kids don’t even do anything and he STILL jaw pops at them. Normally this is an aggressive behavior, however I’ve been told my multiple employees that he learned it from Kela, and that he either does that for the reaction, or when the noise gets too loud.”

Jun 18, 2011
In an article on the educational value of captive displays of marine mammals, Dr. Lori Marino of the Kimmela Center reports that “I found that these organizations misrepresented information about the welfare and intelligence of marine mammals with boldly inaccurate assertions and biased half-truths.”
In Japan:

Dr. Marino is adamant that sentient, intelligent animals do not belong in tanks where they are continually subjected to unnatural conditions, and where the captive industry fails in their promise of education:

Saying that something is educational is not the same as something actually being educational. And this was the focus of my testimony to Congress at the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife in 2010 on the educational claims of the marine mammal captivity industry.
In my testimony, I questioned whether the marine mammal captivity industry is meeting the educational requirements of the MMPA and argued that in order for any program to meet even minimum standards for education or conservation, two straightforward criteria must be met:
This is the first time since 1993 that a U.S. marine park has sought to acquire wild-caught whales for public display. When asked to justify this major change in policy, the Georgia Aquarium replied that it is “to promote conservation and education.” They play the education card regularly because the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) requires public displays of marine mammals to be educational. They also know that education is an unassailable objective, so all zoos, marine parks and aquariums pay lip service to it.

(Mystic Aquarium, the Shedd Aquarium, and SeaWorld are included in the permit application.)
Please let NOAA know how you feel about taking more belugas from the wild and subjecting them to life in captivity.

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