No matter what your views on marine parks, it is important that you know as much about the lives of the animals there as possible. Otherwise, you can’t really hold whatever views you have honestly. A few days ago, a picture came across my desk, and Elizabeth Batt has written up the backstory over at Digital Journal.
I hesitated to publish the picture because it is dramatic and open to mis-interpretation. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt that not publishing it also is a dis-service, and also dishonest. And that you can never know or understand more by NOT seeing something.
So below is the picture that got Elizabeth going on her article. It shows a team at an Asian marine park trying to save a dolphin’s life by amputating an infected dorsal. One one level it is hard to object to what they are doing, as brutal as the procedure might be for an animal that can’t handle general anesthetic. But the picture also shows the sort of lives and experience marine mammals at marine parks live, in contrast to the lives they live in their natural environment.
If this dolphin came from the Taiji drives, as seems likely from Elizabeth’s reporting, you can say that it is “lucky” to be alive, and you would be right in the sense that getting sold to a marine park is possibly better than being slaughtered in a cove (though who really knows which of those two fates a dolphin would choose it if could choose between those two fates). But that doesn’t take away from the truth of what the picture shows about the alien (to a marine mammal) world of marine mammal captivity (plus, it is the sale of dolphins to marine parks that underlies much of the economic incentive for the Taiji drives, so there is a bigger picture).
Finally, yes, the ocean can be a tough place, and dolphins no doubt get injured and die at sea. But this situation is a result of human choices and human culture. So I am publishing the picture so it can be seen by human eyes.