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Lawsuit to stop transportation of Beluga whales for research

A lawsuit was put into motion last Thursday to stop the transportation of five beluga whales

Friends of Animals is suing Mystic Aquarium, in US federal court, over their request to move five Beluga whales from Canada to their location in Connecticut, for research purposes. 

The animal rights group have stated that not only will the whales be harmed during the movement process, but they will then suffer the loss of their long-term relationships with the other beluga whales in their vicinity. These five were born in captivity in Marineland, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

Amongst those who are subject to the lawsuit are Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the National Marine Fisheries Service, who approved the research permit.

According to Mystic Aquarium officials, the permit is the first of its kind that enables them to conduct research that does not involve the use of medical instruments into the whale’s body. Additionally, their 750,000-gallon outdoor habitat is the largest in the United States. It even houses three Beluga whales already, which are famously known for their white colour and distinct vocal sounds.

Despite the points made, Friends of Animals is not backing down and emphasises that:

“moving these beluga whales inflicts two distinct traumas on them. It tears them away from deep familial and social relationships that they have formed with the dozens of other belugas at Marineland, and the long and foreign voyage on trucks and airplanes emotionally and psychologically scars them.”

Moreover, this type of research on Belugas is suitable to be done in the wild. Proof of this is in the waters off Alaska, where the beluga population is critically endangered.

Friend of Animals’ lawyer, Stephen Hernick, stated that “Not only is it unprecedented for the government to issue a permit to import members of a depleted species of belugas for purported research, it is illegal.”

News item submitted by Gemma Griffiths

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