24 June 2010
A one-year-old beluga, named Nala, has died at the Vancouver Aquarium. A penny and rocks were found lodged near the young beluga's airway.
Sadly eating debris is a sign of neurotic behavior in whales and dolphins, caused by living in captivity. Countless cases have been recorded of cetaceans dying after swallowing foreign objects, with visitors dropping or even handing dolphins objects from the side of the pool.
A Vancouver-based animal advocacy group said it was common for people to throw coins into Nala’s pool as though it was a wishing well.
The life expectancy of captive belugas is greatly reduced. In the wild belugas can live as long as 60 years. In captivity they routinely die before the age of 30, most barely making it into their teens or twenties.
The death of Nala this week is a sad reminder that captivity is cruel and almost always ends in tragedy.
For more information about dolphins and captivity click here