By Mackenzie Myatt
On June 10th, Canada passed legislation that bans keeping whales, dolphins and porpoises in captivity for entertainment. The new law makes it more likely that the Whale Sanctuary Project will succeed in building its first sanctuary, possibly at one of the Eastern Shore locations it has been scouting.
Bill S-203, the “Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act,” phases out the captivity of cetaceans (i.e. whales, dolphins and porpoises) in Canada, except for rescues, rehabilitation, licenses scientiﬁc research, or cetaceans’ best interests. It also prohibits the trade, possession, capture, and breeding of cetaceans.
Lori Marino, President of the Whale Sanctuary Project told the Cooperator that the new bill doesn’t change the possibility of locating a sanctuary on the Eastern Shore, “but increases pressure on places like Marineland to better care for their whales and that’s exactly what the WSP is offering.” (Marineland, located in Niagara Falls, has some 50 beluga whales in two tanks.)
She said sites near Sherbrook and Sheet Harbour are still in the running for locating 5 to 8 beluga whales. WSP will be returning to those communities in early August after the fishing season to continue the conversation. Marino said she, executive director Charles Vinick, and Nova Scotia coordinator Catherine Kinsman will be present: “We want to go over all the pros and cons, especially with the fishing community and First Nations.”
Marino said Marineland knows WPS is interested in taking over some of the company’s belugas, but that WPS had not held an official meeting with the company yet. WPS is also currently working on finding a location on the west coast for a few orcas.
When the Cooperator asked Marino how the whales would be transported halfway across the country, she said marine parks move whales all the time. There are two techniques for moving large marine mammals: wet transit, in which the animal is kept in a large tank of water; and dry transit, in which the animal is placed in a padded sling and kept calm, wet, and cool by human assistance.