scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Beluga whales should have gone to a sanctuary, not an aquarium

Mystic Aquarium employees use a crane to lower a beluga whale into its new home on May 14. Five beluga whales were airlifted from Canada to the Connecticut aquarium.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

The article “A long, and fraught, migration: Mystic Aquarium airlifts beluga whales as advocates protest their confinement” (Page A1, May 16) demonstrates how the United States’ weak and poorly enforced animal welfare laws result in the suffering of these and other highly social and cognitively complex beings. Canada is soon to be home to North America’s first whale sanctuary, a place where these belugas could live freely with respect and dignity. Instead, they will be forced to live as research subjects in concrete pools that are widely known to cause belugas extreme psychological and physical harm.

The horrifying photo of the beluga suspended in a sling while surrounded by hard-hatted aquarium employees isn’t something to marvel at or celebrate. Rather, it marks the beluga’s first day in yet another prison, and I applaud the animal protection groups that were trying to prevent it from happening.


Put simply, the United States and entities like Mystic Aquarium need to stop subjugating belugas and recognize that research and conservation are no justification for the cruel imprisonment of these majestic beings, who need and want to live freely just as we do.

Courtney Fern

Director of government relations

Nonhuman Rights Project

Coral Springs, Fla.