Imagine going for a walk on the beach. Looking at the sun shimmering on the ocean, the water melting with the blue of the sky in the distance. The salty wind brushing through your hair, making the sand dance by your feet. Everything is at peace, happy thoughts wander through your head when suddenly, a huge net jumps from the water and explodes over you, trapping you within seconds. In shock, you start to scream, try to rip the net open, but the harder you try to free yourself, the more you tangle yourself up. While adrenalin is rushing through your whole body, the net pulls you deeper and deeper into to the sea.
Only seconds before you drown, you’re put in a small box with air in it. Little did you know, you will never see your home or the faces of your loved ones again. In time, you are put in a new box, maybe as big as your bedroom was at home. It is made of glass, so no matter what you do, the fish are always watching you, observing your every move. Tapping on the glass, making loud noises you don’t understand. You constantly have to fight for food, safety, and against the chemicals polluting the air you breathe.
Welcome to the life of millions of marine animals living in captivity for human entertainment. My friend Leigh and I decided to collab on this special day, in order to show a bigger picture: Her article is about the ways we are destroying the oceans and why they will be fishless by 2050! (Link at the end of the post). Now, let’s jump right in:
There are a million things wrong with keeping marine animals in tanks and ruining their lives for us to stare at them. If you’ve been somewhat near the vegan community lately, you probably have heard about the issues with Seaworld and other marine parks that abuse orcas to fill their bank accounts. But how does captivity kill animals?
Collapsed dorsal fins
Just look at them: All adult male orcas kept in captivity have collapsed dorsal fins, which rarely ever happens in the wild and is a sign of injury. This condition is caused by lack of space, an unnatural diet, and depressive symptoms. In the wild, orcas swim up to a hundred miles a day. Obviously, being held in tanks the size of bathtubs to them, forcing them to swim back and forth in boredom, they are denied the exercise they desperately need.
Breaking families apart
Dolphins are highly social animals, living in groups ranging from 2 to 15 individuals. While in the wild, most of them stay with their mothers for life, they are torn apart and forced to live with orcas of different family units that speak a language they don’t understand. In the ocean, orcas are able to escape when fights occur. But in tanks, fights often lead to bad injuries or death. Also, orcas are constantly moved between facilities to breed and perform, which doesn’t exactly make it better.
According to peta.org, Orcas and other dolphins navigate by echolocation, but in pools, the reverberations from their own sonar bounce off the walls, which can drive them insane. World-renowned oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau compared the keeping of orcas in tanks to “a person being blindfolded in a jail cell.” And if that’s still not enough to convince you, take a look at this:
Orcas, like most marine animals in captivity, are denied every chance to engage in almost any natural behavior. They are forced to mate, build their own family units, denied the physical and mental exercise they need, malnourished and have to live in tanks full of chemicals. On top of that, they are forced to perform stupid tricks to entertain the audience. They get torn from their families, and female dolphins usually have one miscarriage after another. In the wild, orcas can live for decades (one matriarch named Granny is over a hundred years old!) when the median age for them in captivity is only 9.
Many other countries have realized that keeping dolphins in tanks is wrong.
Croatia, Chile, and Costa Rica have completely banned the keeping of marine mammals in captivity, India banned the keeping of dolphins for public entertainment and Brazil, Luxembourg, Nicaragua, and Norway, have highly restrictive standards that make it nearly impossible for marine parks to exist.
The U.K. closed its last dolphinarium more than 20 years ago.
They are everywhere. Your doctor’s office, restaurants and in many houses all around the world: saltwater tanks. With their bright and shining colors, they feel like a part of the ocean inside your living room. But ironically, nobody realizes where they actually come from.
95% of all saltwater fish are taken from ocean reefs since they can’t be bred in captivity (for commercial use, but also because the whole ecosystem of the reef would have to be recreated).
Most tropical fish in pet stores are taken from reefs in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Fiji and Indonesia, using a highly toxic chemical called sodium cyanide. It’s a nerve toxin that makes the fish float up so they can be easily scooped up. Obviously, it often kills them as well and triggers coral bleaching.
The demand for tropical fish was boosted in 2004 and 2012 when the movies “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Nemo 3D” were released. “Every child wanted a Nemo ( clown fish ) and Dori ( regal tang )” recalls Andrew Rhyne, a marine biologist at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. Clownfish are one of the few tropical fish that can be bred in captivity and make 80% of all tropical fish sales, but yet almost all of the other 1,500+ species of tropical fish are caught live in the ocean.
Because of their size, people forget that fish are very intelligent and sensitive animals that feel pain the same ways cats and dogs do. In fact, scientists at Oxford University have discovered that some fish can learn even faster than dogs! They also need stimulation from other fish and their natural environment. Yet, they are treated like artwork: some breeders even inject fluorescent dye into their bodies or alter their genetic colors to make them look more colorful and therefore, more attractive to buyers. Fish are often sold in tiny cups or plastic bags, there are even online catalogs that will ship these beautiful creatures to people’s homes! Every time a fish is bought, the buyer contributes to the cycle of abuse, encouraging pet trades to continue kidnapping fish from their ocean homes and breeding them on disgusting farms.
So what can you do?
Mainly, it would be an amazing help to not contribute to the filth- to any of it.
Do not go to marine parks, aquariums, etc.
Try to talk to your loved ones about it when the subject comes up, most people do not even know of the consequences their actions have! Most of us (me included) grew up going to the zoo, aquariums, heck I even had my own aquarium as a child! You can also go to Peta.com and sign petitions or send emails to your local marine park etc, the more people do it, the more serious it will be handled.If you already have a seawater tank- don’t panic. Do not buy any new fish and take extra good care of those you already have.
No matter how small, bright or aesthetic they may be – all fish are meant to swim in the water nature has put them in. And not even the biggest, well-maintained aquarium will ever compare to that. Fish are living beings. And living beings are not on earth for our entertainment or as fancy home decor in aquariums.
As Gill, a character in Finding Nemo said:
“Fish aren’t meant to be in a box, kid. It does things to ya.”
Check the facts and get further information here: