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© WDC, gray seal

Shark Week – Cape Cod Bay style

© WDC, gray seal with great white shark bite July 11, 2024 - Yesterday morning,...
Photo credit: Julia Cumes / © IFAW, All activities conducted under a federal stranding agreement between IFAW and NMFS under the MMPA.

WDC supports IFAW during mass stranding

Photo credit: Julia Cumes / © IFAW, All activities conducted under a federal stranding agreement...
North Atlantic right whale #1950 © Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, taken under NOAA permit 24359. Aerial survey funded by United States Army Corps of Engineers.

Right Whale Vessel Strike Protections Sought Nov. 1

July 2, 2024 - Contact: Regina Asmutis-Silvia, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, (508) 451-3853, [email protected] Jay...

High levels of toxic contaminants in whale meat sold to public

WDC, together with partner organizations is calling on the Norwegian government to expand comprehensive and...
All policy news
  • All policy news
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling
  • Strandings

Whale culture should play a part in their conservation says new international study

An international group of researchers working on a wide range of species, including whales, argues...

No change in Norway whaling quota as number of whales to be killed remains high

Norway’s Minister of Fisheries has announced that the country has set itself the same number...

Preparations for beluga whale move to Iceland continue

Ahead of the relocation of Little White and Little Grey to the world’s first open...
Photo taken by Sea to Shore Alliance under NOAA Permit #15488

Senate Leaders Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Save the North Atlantic Right Whale

After a deadly summer for North Atlantic right whales, Senators Booker (D-NJ), Isakson (R-GA) and...

Norway’s whaling future uncertain after survey shows little domestic appetite for whale meat

The future of Norway’s whaling industry appears to be in serious doubt as it struggles...

Moving in the wrong direction: new application would bring belugas to US marine parks

Earlier this year, WDC celebrated the passage of a landmark law to ban whale and...
Fin whale

Positive whaling news emerges from Iceland

News is emerging from Iceland that the company behind Iceland’s fin whale hunts, Hvalur hf,...
Valentin - orca held at Marineland Antibes, France

Success! France to ban captivity of whales and dolphins in marine parks

WDC’s continued campaigning to end the keeping of whales and dolphins in captive facilities for...
Beluga whale

Belugas take ‘little steps’ into the ocean sanctuary

We are pleased to confirm that beluga whales, Little Grey and Little White, have taken...

Beluga Whale Sanctuary Winter 2020 Update

Using the landside care facility for this purpose has always been part of the long-term...
Leonardo Da Silva/Flickr

Alarming report raises worries for marine mammals held at the Miami Seaquarium

Leonardo Da Silva/Flickr A disturbing report on the conditions at the Miami Seaquarium from the...
Beluga whales - Little Grey and Little White

Beluga Sanctuary Update – July 1st

Update: 1st July 2020 We have been working to relocate belugas, Little Grey and Little...

Moving in the wrong direction: new application would bring belugas to US marine parks


Earlier this year, WDC celebrated the passage of a landmark law to ban whale and dolphin captivity in Canada.  But we’re already faced with a new battle to make sure this law is upheld, and that it truly moves us closer to ending captivity worldwide.

Take Action!

You can help oppose Mystic Aquarium’s application and speak up to protect these belugas.  NMFS is accepting public comment on this application until December 2nd.  Let them know that you oppose this application because:

  • It is not in the best interest of these belugas.

  • The research could be conducted in Canada, without the stress of transport.

  • It is illegal under both Canada and U.S. law – public display and captive breeding is now illegal in Canada, and the MMPA does not allow the import of whales from depleted populations.

Please Remember to be respectful and polite in your comments - they're entered into public record!

Thank you for being a voice for these belugas, and for helping us create a world where every whale and dolphin is safe and free.

Beluga whale


The law has already been tested, with Canada’s Marineland granted permission to export two belugas to an aquarium in Spain, despite the recent ban on imports and exports in Canada.  The law makes exceptions for welfare or for conducting scientific research – seemingly good intentions from Canada, but these exemptions could open dangerous loopholes in the new law.

Now, it’s the U.S.’ turn – Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium has requested to import five belugas from Marineland, for the stated purpose of scientific research.  However, the whales would also be on public display, may be subject to breeding, or moved to other facilities.  The application states that while Mystic does not intend to breed the whales, they won’t prevent “natural” breeding, and it even includes plans for any calves that are born during the research project.  This directly contradicts Canada’s new law, which explicitly prohibits captive breeding.

WDC strongly opposes this proposal to move these belugas into the U.S.  This permit must be denied.  This request puts the lives of these belugas at risk, sets a dangerous precedent for importing whales descended from at-risk wild populations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and will only increase the number of captive-held belugas in the U.S. – a step in the wrong direction at a time when the public is strongly supporting the end of captivity, marine parks are moving to phase out whale and dolphin breeding and public display, and travel companies are no longer selling tickets to captive facilities.

Transport can be very stressful, and a move from Marineland to Mystic may not be the last journey for these whales, all young individuals.  Mystic’s application includes reference to a partnership between Mystic and the Georgia Aquarium for the project, the belugas, and any potential calves, but does not provide detailed information about how involved Georgia Aquarium will be, or the chances of further moves between the two facilities.  Additionally, trade between facilities only encourages further wild captures around the world, and any captive breeding sadly increases the number of captive-held individuals.

In 2015, WDC and our partners won the fight to prevent the import of 18 wild-caught belugas from Russia into the U.S.  Now, we’re working with many of the same partners to oppose this import request as well.  Sadly, the belugas who would be imported from Canada are descended from the same at-risk population of Russian belugas.  The Sakhalin-Amur community is considered “depleted” under the MMPA, and attempting to import the offspring of these wild-caught belugas raises questions about the legality of the request.  In another twist, the hugely controversial Russian “whale jail,” which brought international attention to the ongoing capture of orcas and belugas in Russian waters, originally held 90 belugas from this same population.

WDC is asking the National Marine Fisheries Service to deny this permit, and with your help, we can stop this attempt to bring captive-held belugas into the U.S.  The research proposed could be conducted at Marineland without the stress of transport or the uncertain future for these belugas – or better yet, at a sanctuary where the belugas can live in more natural settings.

What can you do?

Help fight for whale and dolphin freedom from captivity.

Make a donation

Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists visit facilities holding whales and dolphins in captivity. Support our campaign to persuade the travel industry to change its ways and to stop promoting these establishments. Thomas Cook have already removed SeaWorld. Who will be next?

Creating sanctuaries

There are more than 3,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises held in tanks. If we want an end to captivity, we need to find somewhere for them to go. Find out more about our ground-breaking work to create the first beluga whale sanctuary in Iceland.