While I have come to expect that the Georgia Aquarium and other marine parks will come after our children in many ways, from discounted to free tickets, I was surprised to see that Google – an innovator and pioneer in searching on the internet – would participate in propping up the outdated concept of marine mammal captivity.
From free admission for a toddler with a heavily discounted adult fare during “Toddler Time” to free admission on your birthday, the Georgia Aquarium finds many ways to attract children and their parents. Now they, along with Google, are exploiting, not only marine mammals, but also those children who are, the theory goes, less likely to be exposed to the natural world. The solution of Google and the Georgia Aquarium? Take them to see captive animals on a “one of a kind field trip.”
They may be right about that. A “one of kind field trip.” But what is that “kind”? First and foremost, they are taking children to an unnatural experience but teaching them that it is natural.
No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal. – Jacques Cousteau
Marine captivity is not natural. What the Georgia Aquarium, and now google and educators, turn a blind eye to is the observation of one of the world’s foremost marine environment educators, Jacques Cousteau. Cousteau knew, by virtue of experiencing the marine environment first-hand, that keeping marine mammals in captivity was not natural.
That the Georgia Aquarium continues to entice educators (because who doesn’t love a field trip) into thinking that they are witnessing the natural world when they see a beluga or dolphin or whale shark in a tank, it’s, well, it’s worse than a damn shame. It is a lie.
One of the educators who, in good faith no doubt, brought her students to the Georgia Aquarium said,
One of the things that I’ve seen, and I’ve taught for 28 years, the biggest part I’ve seen is I can teach them all day and tell them about it, but actually experiencing it, seeing it and doing it, brings it to life. . . You catch ’em with a book, but you hook ’em with an experience.
And that is precisely the point. The children have now been hooked into thinking – without realizing that their thinking has been hooked – that marine mammal captivity is natural, that it is acceptable – and this is the one view that all who support marine mammal captivity have in common. Some may like the beluga whales more, some the dolphins; but they all accept tanks as part of the deal.
The human-nonhuman bond. One has only to watch the Georgia Aquarium’s video of the #googleweek event to see the glee on the part of the students. It was a field tip. It was a field trip to see animals. The connection, the bond, between human and non-human animals is vast and deep. Humans are nearly always moved by an experience of or interaction with a nonhuman animal. And now, the hearts of those students were “set” by that moving experience, and that experience taught them, at least most of them, that captivity is a wondrous thing. While that “setness” is not irreversible, as many are coming to learn, so long as the aquarium industry has its way, it certainly will be.
The impact? So, now that you know, watch the promotion of the event by the Georgia Aquarium and Google, and witness, firsthand, your own “field trip” to indoctrination into thinking that marine mammal captivity is natural, is acceptable, is good.
What is the alternative? Catch the inspiration in the children in the video below. No exploitation involved. Google, in particular, should be able to appreciate that a technology that inspires without exploitation makes a better future for our children.
And hold onto your Inspire Hat for this one:
A field trip to your local wildlife rehabilitation center where they learn a true respect for wildlife is certainly a better, and ethical, alternative.
There is no circumstance in which one can take his or her children to see dolphins, whales or other large migratory marine animals in aquariums, marine parks or swim-withs without letting in the silent specter of “captivity is good.”
What you can do: Contact Google wherever you live and tell them that captivity for marine mammals is not okay and that it is unacceptable to exploit marine mammals under the guise of a field trip of exploitation masquerading as an interaction with nature.
A few Google locations:
- Headquarters, Mountain View, CA: 1 650-253-0000
- Ann Arbor, MI: 1 734-332-6500
- Atlanta, GA: 1 404-487-9000
- Austin, TX: 1 512-343-5283
- Cambridge, MA: 1 617-575-1300
- Chicago, IL: 1 312-840-4100
- Detroit, MI: 1 248-593-4000
- Irvine, CA: 1 949-794-1600
- Kirkland, WA: 1 425-739-5600
- Los Angeles, CA: 1 310-310-6000
- New York, NY: 1 212-565-0000
- San Francisco, CA: 1 415-736-0000
- Seattle, WA: 1 206-876-1800
- Washington, DC: 1 202-346-1100
- Beijing: +86-10-62503000
- Belo Horizonte: +55-31-2128-6800
- Dubai: +971 4 4509500
- Hong Kong: +852-3923-5400
- London: +44 (0)20-7031-3000
- Madrid: +34 91-748-6400
- Mexico: +52 55-5342-8400
- Moscow: +7-495-644-1400
- Paris: +33 (0)1 42 68 53 00
- Sydney: +61 2 9374 4000
- Tokyo: +81-3-6384-9000
Light up Google switchboards and tell them to stop supporting this antiquated and exploitative partnership with the Georgia Aquarium.