The Vancouver Aquarium is concerned that injured dolphins, whales and porpoises could die on the coast if a motion to ban showing live cetaceans on park property by the Vancouver Park Board is passed Monday night.
Vancouver Aquarium CEO and President John Nightingale says the three rescued cetaceans already there would be allowed to stay.
However, he says any future whales, dolphins or porpoises that are deemed unreleasable would be banned.
“They’ll be left to die on the beach, or a federal officer will have to put a bullet in them. Because without being able to provide a longer term home, should they live through the rescue process, there won’t be any long-term home so there’s no point in rescuing them to begin with.”
Park Board Chair Michael Wiebe has previously said any unreleasable cetaceans could stay at a different facility, sea pen or the marine mammal centre in Crab Park instead.
Nightingale says that wouldn’t work.
“The rescue site’s a hospital. Patients don’t live in a hospital, you either get well enough, you go back to your normal life, or you end up in a long-term care facility. So for whales, dolphins and porpoises, we’re the only long-term care facility in the entire country, so if that’s gone so is the rescue program.”
The debate over whether cetaceans should stay at the aquarium comes after two belugas died last fall from an unidentified toxin.