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Keeping dolphins in Georgia Aquarium is cruel
Roy Hubbard
Roy Hubbard is a Richmond Hill resident, a retired Green Beret and a longtime environmentalist. - photo by File photo

The Georgia Aquarium claims to be an educational facility. I haven’t seen it yet, even though I’ve visited it several times.

The most pitiful part of the Georgia Aquarium is the endless bus-loads of children passing through the circus like atmosphere of the aquarium’s dolphin show. They travel in one door and out the other, with little or no factual learning involved. Why it remains a destination for Georgia students, considering the cost and the almost complete absence of learning experience to the positive, is a mystery to me.

The Georgia Aquarium is touted as the largest aquarium in the world, but it’s not nearly big enough. Dolphins in the wild swim an average of 100 miles a day. Where do the dolphins go when the crowds leave and the lights go out (rhetorical)? Never again will they see sunshine or the light of day or beaches or marshes. Never again will they play with jelly fish or small sharks or form their own games and entertainment like swimming through air bubbles they manufacturer. These highly socialized and intelligent animals will spend their nighttime in the belly of concrete caves. During the day they will spend their time racing frantically from trainer to trainer, anxious to do the trainer’s bidding in order to get rewards of food.

Scientists believe their intelligence is surpassed only by humans. In the Georgia Aquarium, they are trapped in concrete cages and trained to please their owners in a very unnatural setting.

Where do you think these dolphins come from? Young dolphin are snatched from their mothers. They would normally spend three to seven years or more with their elders and family members in a matriarchal society, living and learning in dolphin families called groups. Dolphin shows like the Georgia Aquarium simply by providing a market for the captive animals, indirectly support the annual slaughter of thousands of adult male and female dolphins and the taking of the young from their families to be sold into captivity.

Of course it is against the law to capture a dolphin in U.S. waters. However the rare live births that occur in captivity, rare due in part to stress and unnatural conditions surrounding them, do not come close to supplying the demand for captive dolphin shows. Young dolphins are taken by other countries, held in captivity for a time and then sold to the U.S. market as a dolphin that is captive already! Of course the defense is that they are being "rescued" from deplorable conditions. Deplorable conditions that would not exist if there were not a market for them in more "civilized" countries with "dolphin shows".

Today’s state of the art, narrated underwater photography offers a far more rewarding learning experience studying the animal in its natural habitat where it is acting and living naturally as opposed to the staged debacle at the Georgia Aquarium. Perhaps the Georgia Aquarium should consider an IMAX theater with a truly educational experience for its visitors.

Dolphins have exceptionally good hearing. Their hearing is far superior to that of humans. After all they live in the sonic sea. The sea is a place where sound waves, much more so than sight, dictate almost every aspect of sea animals lives. They find their food, avoid prey, communicate with each other and navigate by echo-sound. I can’t imagine what effects the flash bang sound and light demonstration in the Georgia Aquarium dolphin show, perhaps carefully prepared to psychologically manipulate the minds of the audience, is having on those sensitive hearing systems.

The vast majority of captured dolphins suffer short lives as compared to dolphins in the wild. This reduced life span is said to be related to continuous stress induced by conditions of capture. The concrete bunkers, as at the Georgia Aquarium, where dolphin spend their captive lives wrapped in artificial light and sound and suffer the constant demand of their human owners for them to perform in artificial ways, represent those conditions. Ironically, the intelligent dolphins are anxious to please humans. They relate to us. I.E. the endless true stories of dolphins saving humans from sharks and drowning. Sort of like a seemingly faithful dog that keeps coming back to its owner who beats him. In reality the dog has no place else to get food.

These animals, dolphins, unlike fish, but rather far more intelligent mammals, do not belong in an aquarium. They are being exploited and subjugated for human pleasure in programs disguised as a learning experience. There are better ways to explore our oceans and their inhabitants.

In my opinion, The Georgia Aquarium appears to be more about profit motivation than expanding knowledge of our oceans and its inhabitants.

Incidentally, they call it the Georgia Aquarium but it does not belong to the state of Georgia. It is a "for profit" operation owned by Bernie Marcus who owns Home Depot. Now, Home Depot I like!

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