Canadian Senate Hearing on Banning Captivity of Whales & Dolphins
Should it be made a criminal offense to keep healthy whales and dolphins in concrete tanks in Canada?
This was the topic of a hearing held by the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans on Thursday, March 30th in Ottawa, regarding Bill S-203.
Whale Sanctuary Project President Lori Marino and Advisory group member Hal Whitehead testified about claims made by the captivity industry regarding the educational and research value of keeping whales and dolphins in concrete tanks.
In her testimony, Dr. Marino discussed her analyses of the research output of the Vancouver Aquarium and Marineland and summarized her conclusion that little-to-no research with captive dolphins and whales has made an impact on conservation research in Canada.
She also discussed her previous findings that there is currently no convincing evidence for the claim that seeing dolphins and whales on display in concrete tanks has any educational value.
Dr. Hal Whitehead is a University Research Professor in the Department of Biology at Dalhousie University, whose research focuses on social organization and cultural transmission in deep-water whales, and on their ecology, population biology and conservation. He discussed the importance of research directly with wild populations of whales and dolphins and the many ways we can analyze their social behavior, culture, and communication systems non-invasively applying computer-modeling methods to data from free-ranging groups in the wild.
In answer to questions from the Senators, Dr. Marino also discussed the mission of The Whale Sanctuary Project and the fact that the search for a suitable sanctuary site includes many possible locations in Nova Scotia and British Columbia (as well as Washington State).