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Inquiry about beluga whales in Manila Ocean Park

Inquiry about beluga whales in Manila Ocean Park

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Published by Anna Oposa
A letter to the Manila Ocean Park management to clarify and verify information that it will be holding beluga whales in captivity
A letter to the Manila Ocean Park management to clarify and verify information that it will be holding beluga whales in captivity

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Published by: Anna Oposa on Jun 01, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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June 1, 2012
Ms. Armi Cortes
Vice-President,Sales and Marketing Department,Manila Ocean Park 
Ms. Cortes
:First of all, congratulations on the successful Back to the Wild shark release program held on May 26,2012, in Calatagan. Unfortunately, I was out of the country that weekend, so I wasn’t able to attend andwitness the historical occasion.I am writing about information we received from a former employee of Manila Ocean Park (MOP) via aprivate message on Facebook. This person, who wishes to remain anonymous, brought our attention to thenews that MOP will again attempt to import dolphins and now beluga whales for an
open-air attraction
 scheduled from 2013-2015.Civil society groups, led by organizations like Dolphins Love Freedom and Earth Island Institute, weresuccessful in putting a stop to the importation of dolphins for MOP a few years back. Due to the amendmentof the Fisheries Administrative Order 233-1 passed in late 2011 without a thorough public consultation, thePhilippines can now serve as a hub for import and export of marine life—including marine mammals.The source also told us that MOP caught 6 tiger sharks, 4 of which died because the apex predatorsof the sea did not adapt at all to the tiny aquariums of MOP. The person added that the shark meat wasallegedly cut by kilo and sold to the employees.We are reaching out to MOP on behalf of civil society groups who are planning to act upon theseissues. We would like to confirm the information first, and at the same time encourage the facility toreconsider if the information is true.Beluga whales inhabit cold Arctic seawaters and live in family pods.
Their current status in theInternational Union for Conservation of Nature is already NEAR THREATENED.
In captivity, thewhales’ behaviors are altered because they are unable to go on their daily wide-ranging undersea treks, 1-kilometer dives, and annual transcontinental migration through frozen Arctic waters. They are unable to feedon mollusks, crustaceans, and fish near the bottom of the sea. They are also unable to use their highlyevolved echolocation skills since sound bounces off concrete walls in a reverberation that defeats thisfundamental mode of communication and survival.Moreover, the lives of beluga whales in captivity are dramatically shortened due to the stressful andchlorinated conditions.
This may even be further shortened with the tropical and highly
polluted environment that Manila has.
Just early this year, our very own Department of Healthconfirmed that breathing polluted Metro Manila air is risky.
 I am sure that if MOP’s plans push through, the facility would be providing the beluga whales theirown small tank/s with marine chillers and a well-researched diet. But if the four out of six tiger sharks reallydid die, then it appears that MOP does not have a good track record and the appropriate facilities to keeplarge marine animals alive.Madame, I would like to respectfully assure you that we share the same vision to educate Filipinos,especially children, about marine life and its conservation and protection. I too learned to love the sea becauseI had the chance to visit ocean parks abroad when I was young. With the establishment of MOP, we need notgo to Florida or Hong Kong for such an experience; we have one at the heart of Metro Manila. However, Istrongly believe that keeping beluga whales in such disturbing conditions goes against the very principles ofMOP. We would be happy to meet with you at your most convenient time to discuss alternatives and areas ofcollaboration, if necessary.Thank you and we look forward to your reply and expeditions action on this matter.In service of the Philippine Seas, Anna OposaCo-Founder, Save Philippine Seasannaoposa@gmail.com +63917-851-0209Copy furnished:Mr. Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan Atty. Asis PerezCEO, World Wildlife Fund for Nature-Philippines Director, Bureau of Fisheries and AquaticResourcesMs. Trixie Concepcion Hon. Naderev Sa
ñoRegional Director, Asia-Pacific, Earth Island Institute Commissioner, Climate Change CommissionDr. AA Yaptinchay Mr. Guerrero SañoPresident, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines Artist, Dolphins Love Freedom
Andrade, Jeannette. “Breathing Metro Manila air now risky-DOH.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. 26 February 2012. Accessed on 1 June 2012. URL Available:http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/151925/breathing-metro-manila-air-now-risky%E2%80%93doh 

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