A newly-released report, authored by the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, has citied serious problems during a recent inspection of the Miami Seaquarium.
The routine inspection, dated June 8, 2021, outlined numerous issues plaguing the aging facility, including:
- potentially placing incompatible animals together resulting in the injuries and/or deaths of cetaceans and pinnipeds
- poor water flow leading to an increase in bacteria and algae in several tanks and pools
- poor-quality fish fed to marine mammals which could result in illness and/or death
- reduction in food quantity, leading to possible malnutrition and dehydration
- insufficient shelter to protect the mammals from direct sunlight
- inappropriate and potentially dangerous routines demanded of Lolita, the solitary orca held at the facility since 1970
Between March 2019 and April 2020, five bottlenose dolphins and a California sea lion died at the facility, adding to the urgency of this report.
For decades, Dolphin Project has vigorously campaigned against the facility’s captivity of dolphins. While aquariums and marine parks will have you believe there is much to be learned from captive dolphin shows, the real education doesn’t begin until after the show’s over. Forced to perform and interact with other mammals day after day, held in small, sterile enclosures and lacking the ability to escape from the public eye creates an escalating cycle of stress and exploitation for captive dolphins. Depriving them of the vast open spaces and social bonds that they would normally have in the wild, and confining them to small, concrete tanks to perform tricks for dead fish is highly unethical and inherently cruel for these complex marine mammals.
Despite a July 12, 2021 follow-up visit by USDA inspections, and a subsequent promise that a new attending veterinarian’s program was being implemented, the time is NOW to end the dolphin shows, and permanently empty the tanks of captive cetaceans.
Featured image: Lolita performing in her tank, Miami Seaquarium. Credit: photo received by submission, 2012