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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

National Aquarium, Get Your Priorities Straight!

Earlier this week, the National Aquarium in Baltimore announced that, by 2020, it would be phasing out it's Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins, sending the eight marine mammals away.  The dolphins would be going to a new, specially built sanctuary, which the aquarium will, in the years to come, be designing, building, and maintaining for the remainder of these animals' lives.

I am so disappointed.

Not that they are phasing out dolphins.  I can understand why, even if I don't agree.  There's been a lot of public opposition to cetaceans living in human care, and if the National Aquarium doesn't want to deal with that mess anymore, I can respect that, especially if they want to make the argument that they'd rather focus their efforts on conservation.

That's the part of this that makes no sense to me.

They are going to spend how much money - millions, I am guessing - to do this... for eight animals?  Eight animals, of a non-endangered species, who, to be pretty frank, are ok where they are now?  You don't want dolphins anymore, fine, stop breeding them (which the aquarium has already done).  Send them to another facility.  That's fine.  But spending all of this money and time and effort doesn't strike me as what's best for marine conservation.  It strikes me as pandering, of patting yourself on the back for the crowds.

Just last week we heard in the news about the vaquita, and how it's numbers have gotten so critically low that captive breeding may be its only hope.  And yet no one is talking about them, or what all of this money could do for their conservation.  It could very well be what turns the tide for the species.

The National Aquarium in Baltimore was the first aquarium I ever visited, and it has always meant a lot to me.  Over its thirty-odd year history, has done tremendous good for marine conservation, which I respect them greatly for.  Which is why this last decision I find so very disappointing.

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