Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Georgia Aquarium

Not long ago, our good friend and fellow activist Holise, wrote a blog post about the Georgia Aquarium. After speaking to Holise on this aquarium and their plans to open a new dolphin exhibit I decided that I needed to look into the history of this aquarium and the animals that call it "home". We would like to thank Holise for bringing this aquarium into the spotlight to us, and many others. Please take a moment to read Holise's post Dolphins in Georgia. Holise has an amazing blog and I encourage everyone to follow it.

The Georgia Aquarium opened its doors to visitors on November 23 2005. The worlds largest aquarium, The Georgia Aquarium has over 60 exhibits and more then eight million gallons of water. The Aquariums more then 400 employees and 2,000 volunteers have welcomed over elven million visitors since its opening.

In the Ocean Voyager exhibit, a 6.3 million gallon habitat, guest will see thousands of fish, sharks, and rays. But the stars of the exhibit is the 4 Whale sharks and 4 Manta Rays that call this tank home. Visitors can get multiple views of the animals while walking through underwater tunnels, a variety of different windows, including the monstrous 23 feet high, 61 feet wide viewing window. This exhibit is by far the most popular exhibit at the aquarium.
   In the Coldwater Quest exhibit, guest get a glimpse at the aquariums resident Beluga whales: Maris, Beethoven, Grayson, and Qiun. Playing along in the same exhibit, harbor seals dart around in the water. You will also find African penguins and otters as you travel through the Coldwater Quest, which was closed in 2009 and then reopened in 2010 after a full renovation.
  Sometime in 2011, the Georgia Aquarium will open a brand new $110 million Dolphin exhibit.Report. It will be the largest expansion to the aquarium since it opened its doors. The new exhibit was scheduled to open in late 2010, but the dolphins were not 100% ready for show, so the date was pushed back. “Some of our animals have come in a little later than expected due to permits, so we started our heavy training more than two months later than we expected,” said David Kimmel, president and chief operating officer of Georgia Aquarium. “We had to go through acclimation periods, and it’s taking them a little longer to learn their behaviors.” Guest will have to pay an additional fee to see the new dolphin show, although what the price will be has not been released.
  The facility sounds amazing, if you like that sort of thing. I will admit that our family went to the Georgia Aquarium in the spring of 2008 while visiting a friend. I was amazed by the Ocean Explorer exhibit. The site of those whale sharks in person, their size, the way they and the Manta Rays glide through the water, such grace. It was an amazing site. But we, as a family, were not thinking. We did not know the truth behind these fish, and the Beluga's that were being held in this facility. But now, we do, and we want to share a history timeline and information about the animals housed at the Georgia Aquarium.

 October 17 2005
The Georgia Aquarium receives two Beluga whales, Gasper and Nico from Mexico.
 *  Gasper (captured in 1997) and Nico (in 1996), both males, were both captured in the White Sea of Russia and  were sent to Mexico. Both Beluga's were housed under poor conditions while  in Mexico. Gasper NOAA ID is NOAOOO6291 Nico's is NOA0006292 Report

November 6 2005~
The Georgia Aquarium receives three Beluga whales, Maris, Natasha, and Marina from the New York Aquarium (NYA).
* Maris, a male, was born 7/28/1994 at the NYA. His mother is Natasha and Father is Winston. On 12/18/2002 he was transferred to Mystic Aquarium from NYA, and then transferred back to NYA on 5/26/04. His NOAA ID is NOA0005587
 *Natasha, a female and mother of Maris, was captured on 7/16/1984 from Manitoba Canada.
  She arrived at NYA on 7/22/1984. She, like her son, was transferred to Mystic and then back.
  Her NOAA ID is NOA0000748
 *Marina, a female, was captured from Manitoba Canada on 7/25/1987. She arrived at NYA 8/2/1987. There is no record that shows were Marina was kept before going to NYA, nor if she was transferred along with Natasha and Maris to Mystic.  NOAA ID is NOA0000764

 November 23 2005~
 Georgia Aquarium opens its doors.

 January 2 2007~
Gasper the beluga whale dies. Cause of death is listed as Osteomyelatis, infection of the bone.
 January 12 2007~
Ralph the whale shark dies. Report Cause of death is  peritonitis. Report

 May 2007~
Georgia Aquarium gets two new whale sharks from Taiwan.

 June 13 2007~
Norton the whale shark dies. Report 
He was euthanized after months of strange behavior and illness. Report

 December 1 2007~
 Marina the beluga whale dies. Report

 October 4 2009~
Maris, Natasha, and Nico are transferred to Seaworld Texas while their exhibit is renovated.

October 31 2009~
Nico the beluga whale dies at Seaworld, weeks after his transfer.
 Cause of death Meningoencephalitis, pneumonia. Report  Report on all 3 Beluga deaths
 February 22 1010~
The Georgia Aquarium welcomes Maris back from Seaworld Texas, along with friend Beethoven.
 *Beethoven, a male, was born at SWT on 8/8/1992. His mother is Bandit and father is Ike.
  On 4/20/1997 he was transferred to Seaworld San Diego. On 11/21/1998 he was transferred
  to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma. On 6/1/2009 he was sent back to SWT.
  Can not find his NOAA ID. 
 *Natasha was left at SWT. She had been with her son Maris all his life, they are now 100's of  miles apart.

 June 6 2010~
 The Georgia Aquarium receives its first dolphins in for its new exhibit.                  
              Niele, Shaka,  Makana and Kei, are transferred in from Dolphin Quest Hawaii (DQH).
                  *Niele, a male, was born 6/30/1994 at Dolphin Discovery. He is transferred to DQH on
                    10/1/2003. NOAA ID is NOA0000419  Parents unknown
                  *Shaka, a female, was captured 8/20/1988. NOAA ID is NOA0003745
                  * Makana, a male, was born 11/9/2003 at DQH. Mother is Pele and father is Lona. NOAA
                     ID is NOA0006246.
                  *Kei, a male, was born at DQH on 10/18/2003. Mother is Kona and father is Lona
                     NOAA ID is NOA0006245

 July 6 2010~
The Georgia Aquarium welcomes Phebe the dolphin, transferred from Marineland Fl.
                   *Phebe, a female, was born at Marineland Fl on 5/5/2002. Her mother is Betty and father
                      is Chubby. NOAA ID is NOA0006017

 July 25 2010~
Bermuidiana, Luna, and Lily (dolphins) arrive from Dolphin Quest Bermuda (DQB)
                   *Bermuidiana, was born at DQB on 7/6/2007. Mother is Calibon Father is Stien
                     NOAA ID is NOA0006406
                   *Luna, a female, was born at DQB on 5/23/2007 Mother is Cirrus Father is Stien
                     NOAA ID is NOA0006405
                   *Lily, a female, was born 4/9/2004 at DQB. Mother is Cirrus Father Khybu
                      NOAA ID id NA0006429

 July 31 2010~
Briland and Salvador arrive at Georgia Aquarium from Dolphin Experience.
                   *Briland was born at DE 5/17/2003
                   *Salvador, a male, was born at DE on 9/28/2004 Mother is Robala Father is Unknown

November 20 2010~
Quin and Grayson come to Georgia Aquarium from SWT.
                   *Quin, a female, was born at SWT on 7/31/2008 Mother Sikku Father Nanuq
                   *Grayson, a male, was born at SWT on 6/26/2007 Mother Martina Father Nanuq

This is of course, just a timeline and information on the "big" animals of the Georgia Aquarium. It by no means includes all the deaths that have happened there. The problem is, unless people witness these deaths, they are swept under the rug, and hidden from the public. For an example...
 Imagine being in the amazing 100 foot long underwater tunnel at the aquarium. The tunnel is filled with many different guest, including children an this happens....

Yep you are seeing it. A hammerhead shark decided it was hungry and took a chunk out of a stingray!

Listen to the terror, screams, and crying from the poor kids watching. The poor stingray falls to the bottom of the tank and bleeds to death, as the sharks circle over head in a blood frenzy and the people look on, some in terror, others in shock.

Just how many animals have died at the Georgia Aquarium is unclear. However, questions to why some of the animals have died, have gone unanswered. How many Beluga whales will die? How many more whale sharks will die? When will the dolphins start dying, and will pneumonia be the cause (as per norm)? With already having 3 belugas die in just 5 years, The Georgia Aquarium is in line with other facilities death rates. I am surprised they have not lost a dolphin yet, since many seem to die of pneumonia after transport, especially long distances. How many animals will have to die for the sake of human enjoyment? When will we wake up and see just how wrong this is?
   In recent news AT&T has been named as the official sponsor of the new Dolphin show at the Georgia Aquarium. As a result many activist have called for a boycott and letter writing campaign against AT&T. Companies that support these facilities are contributing to animals being held in captivity, forced to preform, and not being allowed to live out a normal life, most facing early deaths.
 We encourage everyone to take a stand against the Georgia Aquarium. Do not buy tickets to this facility. Write, call, fax, or e-mail them about your concerns.  We also ask you to stand up to AT&T. Let them know that supporting a dolphin show is inhumane and morally wrong. Tell them that if they support these kinds of activities, you will no longer be able to support them.  Remember, if we all stand together, we can achieve anything!

Georgia Aquarium
225 Baker Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30313

SIDE NOTE: In doing my research, I noticed that many of the parents of the dolphins, now housed at the Georgia Aquarium, were captured from the wild. Most of these had been transferred from the US Navy. Now, I know that the US Navy received wild dolphins from many places, but I wonder if any of these wild dolphins are connected to Moby Solangi...Just a thought)


  1. If a child is born in prison, should it be subject to incarceration for the remainder of his or her life? If so, why? I can only imagine the reasoning would be for paying for the crimes of the parents. What crimes have they committed?

    “There’s about as much educational benefit studying dolphins in captivity as there would be studying mankind by only observing prisoners held in solitary.” – Jacques Cousteau

    Anyone who can justify a family being split apart, must justify their own broken home in the same way.

    “We do not need to reflect too long before we realize that all beings spontaneously look for happiness and try to avoid suffering.” – Dalai Lama

    I do not doubt that trainers love their subjects. In the story 'Misery' the woman crippled that man so that he could never leave. She loved him in her own way. Trainers should not aid the warden in crippling these magnificent creatures. They should instead speak up to have them freed.

    “And those who dismiss love for our fellow creatures as mere sentimentality overlook a good and important part of our humanity. But it takes nothing away from a human to be kind to an animal. And it is actually within us to grant them a happy life and a long one.” – Joaquin Phoenix | quote from EARTHLINGS

    They say that the inmates could never be able to survive in the wild after being in captivity. Maybe they should train them to survive. If they can train them to do silly tricks, certainly they can train them to do what is natural.

    “Science and the law can both help us forecast the consequences of our actions, but neither can tell us how we ought to act in a moral sense.” – Dalai Lama

  2. I only have 2 words that can describe the horror I saw in those videos and the sadness in my heart for these beautiful creatures stuck in these small tanks for their entire lives: CAPTIVITY KILLS. I hope that one day, education will open the minds and hearts of society and they will refuse to attend these types of facilities. When the demand stops, the killing can too...on so many levels. Thank you for sharing this!!

  3. This is a wonderful site. Finally the truth about the georgia aquarium. I would encourage anyone reading this and agreeing with it to cancel your AT&T service if you have it. Let them know that their support of this cruelty comes with an economic cost to them. The same with Home Depot. the GA is nothing but animal suffering with all the typical accompanying cruelty and death that is a by-product of animal captivity. This is not educational, it's not research; it's amusement park but the captive animals are the ones paying the heaviest price.

  4. Animals are killed in the wild as well. I don't see your point about the death of the stingray? You're basically complaining about animals being, well..animals..

  5. Anonymous~ I am complaining about animals being put on display and not having the chance to be wild... I am sorry you do not see that.

  6. Please take the time to watch a movie called "The Cove" about a place in Japan where most of the captive dolphins in parks around the world are obtained from. Every year at this cove in Japan, dolphins are driven from the open ocean, their home, their world, by way of loud noises into the cove. The ones that aren't selected form training are driven into a smaller side-cove and slaughtered. Around 23,000 dolphins are murdered in Taiji, Japan every year.

    If you can watch that movie and not shed a tear and not be moved into some positive action...well, perhaps there's no hope for humanity.

  7. Thank you for taking the time to educate the public. I found your website while trying to figure out what happened to the Belugas at the Point Defiance Zoo in Washington. Because I just felt that it was so preposterous to have such large wild whales at a zoo. I hope our society will wake up and realize that this is not how we should treat wild animals. Thank you agin for your time.

  8. "If a child is born in prison, should it be subject to incarceration for the remainder of his or her life?"

    Would you release those children if you knew they would die in the wild, because that is what would happen to captive born marine animals. They've never been in the wild, and they all would die within a week if you released them in the wild. But I'm sure you don't care about that. Anything for freedom, even if it means death.

    As for two of the Beluga whales death, these were two beluga whales rescued from godawful place in Mexico. They lived under a roller coaster in a small tank, in water that was too warm for them. They developed a bone disease and eventually succumbed to do diseases. The Georgia Aquarium were not responsible for those deaths, and they at least live in comfortable conditions.

    To the owner of this site, what is your suggestion? Do you want the Georgia Aquarium to close down and release their animals back into the wild? Do you want to see all of these animals, 99% of which were captive born, die within a week or two? Are you really so dense to not realize that captive animals can't survive in the wild. Do you want to see all zoos close down, only to release their animals back into the wild to suffer starvation and certain death? Since you're such an expert, what is answer to all of these zoos and aquariums?

    I also see you fail to mention that zoos and aquariums spend more money and give more of their time to protect animals in the wild. I'd have more respect for you whining idiots on the internet if you put your time and money where your mouth is. Give money to animal causes and give of your own free time. How about attacking Chinese traditional medicines that are wiping out multiple species of endangered animals, something zoos and aquariums are not doing.

  9. Joe H...

    Do things have to be that black and white? Life in a tank or life in the wild... are those the only options? How about the grey area? Is there not one? The fact of the matter is there is. I would never ask them to just through any animal back into the wild. Anyone who would, is no animal lover. These things would take time, but can be done. These animals should be moved to sea pens, no more shows, no more swim with me programs, no more loud music! They should be introduced to eating LIVE fish again. If things go well, yes, they should be released. To say an animal who was born in captivity does not have the instincts to survive in the wild is insane. You only have to look at a house cat to see the lie of it. Tell me you have never known a house cat, that has never lived in the wild, and always been fed its daily meals, do not show signs of hunters? You have never seen a cat go after a bird or a mouse? That's called INSTINCT! I guess you just think of these animals as entertainers, and not the amazingly intelligent beings they truly are?

    This post was about one single place, and the history of their animals... I did not make these up and everything I stated was sourced. You can call me an idiot, and say I am whining all you want...I am just speaking the truth.

  10. As far as your last paragraph... I would kindly ask how do you know what I do and do not do with my time and money? I have dedicated my life to helping animals! I donate to many different animal related causes. I spent 2 weeks in Taiji, Japan raising awareness of the dolphin slaughter. I have walked the gulf coast beaches raising awareness of the problems that are STILL going on, thanks to the BP oil spill. Please do not read one single blog post of mine, and think you know me. I am against Marine Mammals in Captivity. It is cruel. Never once did I say throw them back in the water and be done with it. Sir not all activist are the same. I am about education. I am about finding the best solutions to the problems. And I am about seeing laws that have been set in place are to be followed. Shall we go through a list of Zoo's and aquariums that have their animals housed in truly outdated and horrific conditions? Is this ok with you? Growing up in Dallas, I went to the Dallas Zoo often. It did not take me long as a child to see how awful some of the exhibits were. Our elephant Jenny had one of the worst exhibits in the country. And I was thrilled the day they announced they were building a new one. When it was all built, I was one of the first to go and see it. Tears ran down my face as I watched this elephant that I grew up with in this big open area. I could see joy in her face as she walked around. I was thrilled that Dallas decided to rescue 4 other female elephants. Thrilled that they decided to make the Dallas Zoo home to 6 old ladies, and not try to breed more. I still go to the Dallas Zoo from time to time to watch Jenny. I have known her most of my life and I love her. Same goes with so many of our Apes at the Zoo, but unlike the elephants, I am unhappy with their exhibit. Its not safe, as one Gorilla escaped and attacked Zoo goers. He was shot to death! Tell me the conservation in that? I was there LAST SUMMER, when Patrick, a young male, got so pissed off because people were teasing him, that he BUSTED the glass with his fist! Thank God, it did not shatter, and the Zoo staff got him inside fast. But as punishment, that exhibit was closed and he had to remain inside with no fresh air for 6 weeks while they fixed it. How is that good for him? And to answer your question... NO! No, I do not want Jenny or Patrick sent back to their home lands, where they would be killed by poachers! What I want is them, and ALL captive animals, to be given the RESPECT they deserve! These animals were not put here to entertain us! They are living beings and deserve to live a happy life. They should not endure being teased to the point of busting glass with their fist! They should not be chained up or have very little room to move. And they should not be put in Chlorine filled tanks and made to preform stupid tricks!
    I am sorry that you do not see that all I want is the VERY best for these animals. By the way, do you not hold SeaWorld responsible for Sully's death? He died in part, because of a horrific sun burn... is there not a law in place that states these facilities must proved shade from the sun? And what About Jozu? Reports say that she was in the middle of a show, and so ill, that the show had to be stopped and she had to be removed from the water and taken to emergency care, where she died. They did not see that she was that ill before the show? Park goers said it was awful to witness, do the trainers not check the well being of the animals before show time? How could they have missed this before the show, if it was so visible to those in attendance? Is it truly asking to much, or automatically makes me a whiny idiot (as you stated)to question the well being of these animals?