After attending a meeting with the Whale Sanctuary Project, Orca Conservancy has spoken out against the Whale Sanctuary Project’s plan for creating a permanent seaside sanctuary.
Orca Conservancy has been a supporter of facilities that recuse, rehabilitate and return whales to their home but are concerned about the value of permanent facilities. Noting that the sanctuary would trade-off increased space for more limited social lives, Orca Conservancy stated that conservation efforts would be better focused on making a difference for wild whales instead of moving a few captive whales into an environment with significant problems.
The WSP’s planned facility would have the capacity for 6-8 whales and would separate males from females. This separation would severely limit non-kin social interaction as well as the family life that is central to the species.
Orca Conservancy notes several other significant issues with the current plan. The facility cannot protect the whales from sewage and oil spills, and the proposed site is likely to have consistent noise levels that will prove stressful to the whales. In terms of disease transmission and escape, Orca Conservancy characterizes WSP’s plan as “naive”. Because of these issues, Orca Conservancy made it clear that they would not support the current WSP plan.
Activists have been vocal about wanting to “save” captive whales but have yet to find a realistic means of doing so. Activists’ plans, like the one proposed by the WSP, center on the use of sea pens, which are essentially cages in the ocean.
Experts agree that the additional space the proposed sea pens claim to offer is negligible in the context of the stress the whales will experience as a result of relocation. Factoring in the issues observed by the Orca Conservancy it’s clear that this solution is not in the best interest of the whales.
Read the Orca Conservancy’s full response here.