15 deaths in 4 years
For decades, Marineland of Canada has been the subject of multiple protests, media reports, documentaries and investigations. In a report published on August 24, 2023, the Canadian Press, after numerous Freedom of Information requests, has learned that 13 whales and two dolphins have died at the facility since 2019.
According to a list created by the Ministry of the Solicitor General in Ontario:
- 12 beluga whales died between October 2019 and November 2021
- Kiska, the last remaining captive orca in Canada died in 2023 (March 10), as well as one bottlenose dolphin and another beluga whale
Bill S-203, Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act
On June 6, 2019, Canada passed Bill S-203, Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, which banned the keeping of cetaceans in captivity. Two existing facilities were grandfathered in, including the Vancouver Aquarium and Marineland of Canada. However, with the former no longer housing dolphins and other whales, Marineland is the last facility in the country to do so.
Multiple investigations, same conclusions
The facility has been cited many times, resulting in several cruelty charges (five counts of animal cruelty by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 2016, and another six counts of cruelty by the same agency in 2017).
In 2021, Ontario provincial authorities raised concerns about Marineland’s water quality, declaring that all the marine mammals residing there were under distress. In May of that year, inspectors issued two orders to the facility to repair the water system in the pools that housed the beluga whales, dolphins (including Kiska), sea lions and walruses. Marineland appealed, opposing the province’s findings, denying there was any link between the deaths at the facility and the quality of the water.
No more captive cetaceans in Canada?
With Marineland’s operating season soon coming to a close, the timing couldn’t be better for the facility to stop confining animals and focus instead on ethics-based educational or entertainment opportunities.
In a quote published by CTV News Toronto, Wayne Gates, the New Democrat provincial representative for Niagara Falls who has long defended the park, said he believes the time has come for Marineland to make changes, suggesting it get out of the animal business and focus on its rides and other entertainment.
“The time has come to repurpose Marineland for new opportunities,” he said.
We couldn’t agree more.
Learn more about dolphin captivity.
Featured image: Numerous beluga whales are confined in a tank at Marineland of Canada, credit: DolphinProject.com
Sources used in this blog:
More than a dozen whales have died at Marineland in the last 4 years
Kiska Dead at Marineland, Niagara Falls
Marine mammals ‘in distress,’ province orders Marineland to fix water system
Canada Passes Historic Anti-Captivity Law
Marineland Charged with Five Counts of Animal Cruelty