Which part of Marineland’s past is it celebrating, AJC?

Not surprisingly, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has done yet another “news” report which should be in an “I love to swim with dolphins because they’re cuuuuuuuute” blog or on a newspaper’s Opinion page.  But instead, the AJC markets a story that the Georgia Aquarium wants you to believe.  Because the AJC, as some in Atlanta, including Gay Pride, are having a love affair with domination, control and ownership.

Nellie the world's oldest dolphin in captivity

Nellie, at 59 years old, born in captivity on February 27, 1953, is an anomaly in the captive dolphin industry due to her longevity.  She has seen a lot of dolphins die.

If it’s history we’re talking, here’s a history that the AJC, Marineland and the Georgia Aquarium (which owns Marineland) don’t publicize.  And because record-keeping in the marine mammal captivity industry, as well as the various government agencies that have been tasked with maintaining a marine mammal inventory, haven’t done a stellar job, the statistics are a bit like the tip of the iceberg.

On the basis of the best information we have, compiled by Ceta-base, here is part of Marineland’s history that the AJC didn’t bother telling you, or likely even researching.

                       Species                                             Number Died at Marineland

  • Beaked Whale  (all species)                                           4
  • Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops spp)                          149
  • Common Dolphin (Delphinus spp)                               1
  • Pilot Whale, short-finned (Glob. macro.)                  23
  • Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus griseus)                             2
  • Amazon River Dolphin (Inia geof.)                              8
  • Sperm Whale (dwarf & pygmy)                                    16
  • Spotted Dolphin (Atlantic & Pantropical)                  11
  • Striped Dolphin  (Stenella coer.)                                   1
  • White-sided Dolphin, Pacific (Lagen. obliq.)              2

And while Marineland has been doing some celebrating over time, I’m afraid that some of their celebrations have been short-lived.  There was the news report in the March 4, 1954, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, of Marineland (more honestly called Marine Studios in those days) having bred the first dolphin – or porpoise as both Marineland and the newspaper incorrectly identified her – to have been born to a captive-bred dolphin.  That is, both the mother dolphin named Spray, born on February 26, 1947, and the baby named Peggy were born in captivity.  That didn’t turn out well for baby Peggy.  She didn’t survive the year.  We’re not sure how long she lived.  We also know only that Spray also died, but not when.  Hopefully, Marineland knows.

Before she died, Spray had what appears to be at least five calves.  All appear to be dead.  How many of you mothers can make that claim?  Obviously, you wouldn’t want to.  But Spray had no choice.

Or maybe we can recall the newspaper article where Marineland celebrated the live capture, on January 9, 1964, of a pregnant dolphin.  It would appear that neither the baby nor the mother lived to see 1965.

In a world where one sees these dolphins as fungible property, or props for a dance party, well, these statistics or these examples may lose the sting that they merit.  In that world-view, you lose one, you get another just after you put on your sad face.  And get a newspaper to write another piece celebrating something.

But, in fairness, Marineland has learned a few things over its history.  I will grant them that.  They learned that a dolphin is not the same as a porpoise, or at least I think they learned that.  They also learned to be less than honest in describing what they do with the dolphins.  They used to come out and say that what they do is teach them tricks.  Tricks.  Jumping and splashing on command.  Various tricks.  Now, they like to tell you, oh, they reaaalllly like to tell you, especially during the trick show, that they only teach “behaviors”.  Balderdash.

They got it right the first time.

When folks stop supporting this horrid history by pledging to not go to the dolphin show, that will truly be something to celebrate.

Dolphins swimming free as they should be

Celebrate dolphins swimming free as they should be by not ever going to a dolphin show or swim-with.

11 responses to “Which part of Marineland’s past is it celebrating, AJC?

  1. That AJC article made me want to vomit! And the pictures of the “smiling, happy” dolphins is such bullshit.
    You have eloquently written what I was thinking. Keep it up!!

  2. Thank you, darling! Yea – it was hard to read from start to finish because it was so misleading.

  3. Very sad to see how people unfeeling, uncaring yet joyously and oblivious can go to these shows and are teaching their kids to not have real feelings for these creatures also.
    Btw, I was named after a zoologist, spent much time at zoos as a kid but slowly began to realize the difference between right & wrong.
    No, I’m not radical. I just love all life & all God’s creatures.

    • It’s like something that you can’t see until you see it, like one of those picture puzzles. Many of us, especially anyone old enough to have children, started out going to zoos and circuses, and I must say, even the Shriner’s circus in my town had a girly show. We have learned a thing or two since then. And nothing that we have learned from captivity rivals how the animals health would be improved by having had their habitat untrammeled. Thank you for your comment. I feel you.

  4. Thank you for putting this on the record! Hope you have sent it to the AJC and the Georgia Aquarium. Not everyone in Atlanta, Georgia or in Florida supports this nonsense dolphin-for-profit-and-let’s-pretend-it-is-for-conservation crap.

    • Here, here! No, I haven’t mailed it to them directly, but it has been tweeted directly to them. I have reckoned that their eyes and ears have seen. I’ve never had a response. Oh, wait, maybe I haven’t tweeted it the AJC. On to my next task!!

  5. Well, as usual my blogging buddy….the nail has been hit right on the head! Your writings inspire me! Next time just post it to the website! If it’s about dolphins, you are always right! And as Sciencegeek posted, I hope you did send a copy to the AJC…..all this crap about telling both sides of the story you hear on the radio….bullcrap! The aquarium pays their salary!

  6. Pingback: Which part of Marineland’s past is it celebrating, AJC? | Cove Blue … | Our Endangered Planet and it's Wildlife.

  7. Hi Martha!
    Great article! One thing I wanted to comment on, the use of the term porpoise to describe bottlenose dolphins which was a common practice in the early years, it wouldn’t necessarily be incorrect to refer to them this way prior to the 1970’s as it was the vernacular of the time.

    The terms dolphin and porpoise were used interchangeably by scientists and the general public until the late 1970s, probably to avoid confusion with the cold-blooded dolphin fish, also called the mahimahi, a member of the mackerel family.
    http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/Murder-Most-Fish.html?page=all

    • Fair to say. I think the point is made, however, that learning the distinction between a dolphin and a porpoise does not justify capture and captivity. Thanks so much for the comment.

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