Sanctuaries and Cetacean "Bans"
When Canada Has Created Potential for Double Standards
Recently, an animal rights group known as the "Whale Sanctuary Project" revealed its desire to develop a marine mammal "sanctuary" that would house cetaceans that have spent most of their lives in human care in southeastern Nova Scotia. The pen, which would house up to ten orcas, would be about the size of around 40 soccer fields and might open by 2020 even though it would cost around $20 million for the project to be completed. Sounds ideal right?
While I have no issue with the concept of sea pens as being used a method to house marine mammals as long as there is a filtration system in place that is meant to keep the pen clean and healthy for the animals, why on Earth would activists want to place a sea pen in an area that is known to serve as critical habitat for endangered North Atlantic Right Whales and already does have problems with potential oil drilling by BP that could result in another potentially disastrous oil spill? This also includes the concern for other equally threatened animals that often make the coast of Nova Scotia home as well. Yet, when activists discussed how the pens would work, it sounds more like the netting around the area would be pretty insufficient, which means if there is ever a storm that were to hit the area, there are chances of the animals accidentally escaping. Also, the activists seem to not be worried about the health of the animals upon arriving at the facility as if they are assuming that the animals would remain "healthy" as soon as they enter the natural sea water.
Aside from that, the activists make no mention on if they plan to use a filtration system that would keep the pen clean and healthy for the ten orcas who would live in it since it's required by law to do so. They also don't talk about how there would be any form of control in the pen for the animals, nor if there would be any access to veterinary care if God forbid, one of the animals were to get sick, nor a regular training or enrichment program that would keep the animals healthy, active, and stimulated throughout the day. However, if there is anything that activists mention about animal care at this potential "sanctuary" it's the fact that they claim that they want to prevent the animals from breeding with birth control that would require daily controlled administration in fish that would be given to the females. Then again, no form of birth control is considered to be one hundred percent effective and there is always a chance that one of the females may accidentally fall pregnant in the process.
Another concern is the financial support that would be needed to keep this "sanctuary" running for a long period of time. According to the members of the "Whale Sanctuary Project," they currently have $2 million of a $20 million budget that would be needed to get the "project" going, but where are other $17 million in funds going to come from one fundraising begins? Are they going to come from private donors? Celebrities? Other radical activist groups that target scientifically accredited facilities that house marine mammals? The public? They did not seem to address this matter considering that it would cost them more than $300,000 a year to give the animals all the world-class care that they are going to need on a long run. This would include all the care and enrichment from their trainers and vets on a daily basis, as well as habitat maintenance that would be required to keep this pen from potential damage it could face. Then again, this was something the article made no mention of when discussing making Nova Scotia a potential location for this "sanctuary" project. Yet, keep in mind that most animal rights groups use such proposals as methods to raise money in order to sell it off as an animal rights agenda. In the process, they could end up be collecting millions of dollars in the process for a project that may never be realized and get away with it. Then again, these extremists groups tend to see any wildlife issue as worthy of making money off. But, if God forbid, the funds for the "sanctuary" were to run out all together, then one question remains: Would the animals be moved to another facility that has the resources to care for killer whales? Or will they end up like Keiko did when the funds for his sea pen in Iceland ran out?
Finally, another concern in regards to this sea pen is the fact that since it would be operated by an animal rights group, it would end up creating a double standard in Canada. After all, there is currently a bill in Canada that would ban zoos and aquariums for ever housing cetaceans in their care, which would obviously, slow down conservation efforts for animals such as orcas and belugas. Ontario currently has a law in place that "bans" facilities from housing killer whales in zoos and aquariums while being okay with the housing of other animal species such as elephants and gorillas. In fact, it would create a double standard for Canada by allowing animal rights activists to build their own marine mammal facility while passing off as a "sanctuary" while going down-right Thanos on anyone with actual zoo and aquarium experience if they were the ones operating such facility, even if they were scientifically accredited. In the past, activists groups have attempted to build similar "sanctuaries" in Greece, Spain, and Egypt without any success, due to EU laws that were in placed in ensure the protection of wild dolphin populations in the Mediterranean, Red and Black Seas that continue to threatened by pollution, over-fishing, and the effects of climate change.
So anyway, my advice at this point is that when it comes to animals in human care, more focus should be put on improving animal care, habitat enrichment, and breeding programs at already existing facilities to ensure the animals continue to have a better quality of life. In addition, there should be more investment in efforts to protect what is left of wild cetacean populations and establish effective rescue and rehabilitation programs in the process. This also includes improving educational programs at zoos and aquariums in hopes to inspire a brand new generation of people to want to make a difference in our ever changing world.
About the author
Zoo and Aquarium Professional, Educator, Cosplayer, Writer and B.A. in Psychology whose got a lot to share when it comes to animals, zoos, aquariums, conservation, and more.