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© Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, taken under NOAA permit #26919. Funded by United States Army Corps of Engineers

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Captive beluga dies shortly after transfer into US

Sadly, a beluga known as Havoc, one of five whales recently moved from MarineLand in Canada to Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, has died after just a few months in the facility. He was approximately six years old.

According to Mystic Aquarium, Havoc suffered from a pre-existing gastrointestinal issue, but it has yet to be determined if this condition caused his death.  The Aquarium was aware of the issue and noted Havoc was closely monitored during and after his move and was undergoing treatment.

WDC and our partners opposed the transfer of these belugas into the U.S. and urged both the U.S. and Canadian governments to deny the permits.  The negative effects of captivity on whales and dolphins are well-established, and we raised additional concerns about the stress of transport, the research plans for these belugas, and the possibility they would be used for captive breeding or entertainment.


“His loss at such a young age is another sad case of how life in a tank affects whales and dolphins at every age" - Colleen Weiler, Jessica Rekos Fellow for WDC

The move was also contrary to legislation recently passed in Canada designed to end whale and dolphin captivity, with a ban on the import and export of captive-held individuals, though exceptions can be made for research or for individual welfare. The transfer was approved, but the U.S. government added requirements to prevent breeding for at least 5 years and use in public performances.

“The stress of transport and adjusting to new surroundings undoubtedly contributed to Havoc’s death,” said Colleen Weiler, Jessica Rekos Fellow for WDC.  “His loss at such a young age is another sad case of how life in a tank affects whales and dolphins at every age, whether born in the wild or in captivity.”

WDC is working to end the use of whales and dolphins for entertainment, and to develop sanctuaries where captive-held whales and dolphins can live in natural environments.

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