Aquarium Import in Flux After Belugas Fall Ill

AWI and a number of allies and partners have been working to minimize the harm to five beluga whales scheduled for import to Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut from Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario, for research purposes. The importation permit, with numerous restrictive provisions advocated by the coalition during the public comment period, was issued in August 2020 (see AWI Quarterly, winter 2020). The global pandemic and other factors have delayed the transfer. The coalition has learned that in the interim, however, three of the whales covered by the permit became ill, and Mystic successfully petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to substitute three other whales. The whales’ illnesses are transmissible, suggesting a major health situation exists at Marineland. We are informing both the US and Canadian governments that allowing any transfer from a facility facing such a health crisis is extremely ill-advised. Belugas should be prevented from entering the United States until Marineland provides transparent records indicating the whales are healthy.

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