Recently launched on YouTube, Jonny Meah’s short documentary, Inside the Tanks, presents a balance of views on the keeping of whales and dolphins in captivity, centred on the one of only two facilities to keep orcas in captivity in Europe, Marineland, in the French Mediterranean resort of Antibes.
Jonny accompanies marine biologist Dr Ingrid Visser, as she photographs and documents behaviour and injury among the whales and dolphins held at the facility, expressing her disgust at their incarceration and how unnatural their lives are. She talks him through how captivity leads to stereotypies developing among captive whales and dolphins, causing them to chew on walls and bars and damaging their teeth, as well as injuries such as rake marks they inflict on one another, unable to escape from the stress and aggression caused by their close confinement.
In an interesting twist, the documentary features an in-depth and first time interview on the topic with the Zoological Director of Marineland Antibes, Jon Kershaw. Perhaps surprisingly, although clearly dedicated to the continued keeping of whales and dolphins in captivity and somewhat flummoxed by SeaWorld ending the captive breeding of orcas, Jon agrees with many of Ingrid’s concerns about what happens to whales and dolphins in captivity, noting that public opinion has led Marineland to alter their dolphin shows.
The documentary is particularly interesting given the recent passing of a governmental decree banning breeding of captive whales and dolphins in France which will also end imports and swimming with dolphins programmes.
Inside The Tanks is well worth a watch.
Photo: Valentin, now deceased, at Marineland © Anne-Sophie Ring