Jump to content
Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  
Cetacea

Captive belugas live shortened lives

Recommended Posts

Cetacea

Not really surprising seeing how drastically captivity affects orca lifespans but still good to see a study on it:

NO: Latest scientific research shows captive belugas live shortened lives

It has long been believed that beluga whales, Delphinapterus leucas, survive well in captivity. Recent research calls that into question.

In studies of wild belugas, age is determined by counting growth layers in teeth (like counting the rings of trees). It was previously assumed that for every year, two rings were laid down. The maximum number of rings ever counted was 60, so a maximum lifespan was roughly 30 years. (The growth layers become unreadable beyond this point in the teeth of “old” animals, meaning the maximum lifespan is probably a bit longer.)

A few captive belugas have lived past 30, while most die in their teens and 20s. This was interpreted to mean that captive belugas routinely achieve near-maximum and occasionally maximum life spans – an excellent record. In contrast, two studies from the mid-1990s comparing survival rates of wild and captive belugas suggested that belugas might live slightly longer in the wild, but the data from wild belugas was incomplete and therefore no statistical significance between captive versus wild was found.

However, science is always progressing and new research can upend past conclusions. In 2006, researchers used a novel method of tracing radioactivity in teeth (originating from above-air nuclear weapons tests in the mid-20th century) to determine that in fact beluga tooth rings are laid down only once a year, meaning previous age estimates should be doubled.

In light of the new maximum age estimate – 60 years or more – the longevity of captive belugas is no longer impressive.

The average American life expectancy is 75 years or so. If the maximum possible human lifespan is 120, this means that an American can reasonably hope to achieve about 60-65 percent of this maximum. The average captive beluga whose age is known at death is in his or her early 20s. This means that on average captive belugas attain only about 35-40 percent of the possible maximum lifespan.

In wild belugas, the working estimate for average lifespan was about the same as in captivity; however, this was calculated under the old “two growth layers a year” assumption. It’s more likely that wild belugas live on average into their late 30s or early 40s, which is a more “human-like” percentage of the maximum lifespan.

Even if it were accurate to state that captive and wild belugas achieve similar life spans, it seems that something about captivity kills with an efficiency at least equal to threats found in the wild, such as predators, pollution, parasites, entanglement, starvation, and disease. However, the current state of beluga science suggests strongly that something is killing captive belugas far more efficiently than these threats.

Naomi Rose is a senior scientist at the Humane Society International in Gaithersburg, Md. She oversees marine mammal issues and programs at HSI, including the protection of marine mammals in the wild and in captive situations. She has been instrumental in formulating policy opposing the capture and captivity of marine mammals for public display.

Source

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 
schizoidwoman

Thanks for that, Cetacea, I agree with you that it sadly isn't a surprise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Grandpa Greenman

Which is why I don't go to marine parks. When they quit keeping marine mammals I'll go and see the fish, because I love aquariums.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
aquatus1

Captive anythings live shortened lives. At least, mammals. I'm not sure why they needed a study to tell them that.

Edited by aquatus1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cetacea
Which is why I don't go to marine parks. When they quit keeping marine mammals I'll go and see the fish, because I love aquariums.

Same here.

Captive anythings live shortened lives. At least, mammals. I'm not sure why they needed a study to tell them that.

Not neccesarily true, some mammals live longer in captivity. It strongly depends on the species and the lifestyle. Wide ranging predators do more poorly than small bodied animals with small home ranges for instance. Asian small clawed otters as one example usually live maybe upto 7 or 9 years in the wild while the oldest recorded one in captivity is recorded at about 30 and their average live spans are generally longer as well. I wouldn't generally condemn zoos as being bad, some make an effort to aid conservation and only keep suitable or endangered species for breeding programs and have very good welfare (Chester Zoo in the UK for instance), others keep unsuitable species for the wow factor (like SeaWorld for instance).

Studies like this are important though to dispel the myths that are still being told by marine parks -and still believed by hundred of people-that their animals live healthier and longer lives sheltered from the vicious outside world. It may be true for some animal species but not for cetaceans which suffer from a vast variety of adverse effects due to poor enclosure design, size, lack of enrichment and disrupted social structure.

Edited by Cetacea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
aquatus1

I stand corrected.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
topskepticgirl1
Which is why I don't go to marine parks. When they quit keeping marine mammals I'll go and see the fish, because I love aquariums.

I agree with you Darkwind, though I am sure this will never make an impact it is nice to see those who feel this way.

Aquatus

What is a forum Divinity?

Edited by topskepticgirl1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cetacea
I agree with you Darkwind, though I am sure this will never make an impact it is nice to see those who feel this way.

If enough people do it it does :)

In the UK delphinariums were closed pretty much based on protest and decline in public demand to see dolphins in captivity and there has apparently even been a slight but consistent decline in profits of SeaWorld (they are for sale at the moment too, aren't they?) , so that is encouraging!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
aquatus1
What is a forum Divinity?

A nice way of saying "You talk too much."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Queen in the North

A lot of species live lives that are shorter in captivity, but it's sad that they even keep them. To the best of my knowledge, belugas are not endangered, are they?

So there isn't really a need to keep them. :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cetacea
A lot of species live lives that are shorter in captivity, but it's sad that they even keep them. To the best of my knowledge, belugas are not endangered, are they?

So there isn't really a need to keep them. :(

Yes, cetaceans especially live severly shortened lives in captivity, just look at orcas, 40-50 on average (but upto 90) for wild females and yet all animals that have died at $eaWorld in the last 10 years were under the age of 25 :no: I think that is still the most poignant example :(

But yeah, there has been a rising concern about certain beluga populations as the Cook Inlet belugas but that's not why they are in captivity, most marine parks state they wouldn't dream of releasing their animals and in fact there has been quite a bit of misfortunes in captive beluga breeding....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Queen in the North
Yes, cetaceans especially live severly shortened lives in captivity, just look at orcas, 40-50 on average (but upto 90) for wild females and yet all animals that have died at $eaWorld in the last 10 years were under the age of 25 :no: I think that is still the most poignant example :(

That is awful.

I mean, I have been known to go to parks where they keep marine mammals, but I don't like it and I absolutely refuse to watch shows, where they 'perform'. It's sickening. :no:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 
Cetacea
That is awful.

I mean, I have been known to go to parks where they keep marine mammals, but I don't like it and I absolutely refuse to watch shows, where they 'perform'. It's sickening. :no:

Ugh, I agree it's absolutely sickening! I have tried to watch shows on youtube, sort of trying to see the other side of the coin, but seriously, the music alone was enough to turn my stomach. Yey, happy smiley Shamu, look we can make two glorious apex predators touch tongues, isn't that fun, let's all clap and cheer, yeeeey? *shudders at thought*

I have been to places that keep marine mammals in the past, mainly when I was a kid. Obviously a lot of places keep seals and sealions and I am in two minds about that as their habitat can be replicated slightly better, as they do spend a lot of time hauled out.... I went to Epcot but was unaware that they had dolphins, I was pretty shocked when I was suddenly face to face with a dolphin! At least they were actually doing research while we were there and the enclosure was a LOT better than anything I have seen elsewhere but still, not going back. I used to intern at Mote, they had two dolphins but that was different as they were rescues that turned out to be unreleasable, I would have liked to see the people in charge make more of an effort but at least they did not do shows, only husbandry behaviours...

Edited by Cetacea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Queen in the North
Ugh, I agree it's absolutely sickening! I have tried to watch shows on youtube, sort of trying to see the other side of the coin, but seriously, the music alone was enough to turn my stomach. Yey, happy smiley Shamu, look we can make two glorious apex predators touch tongues, isn't that fun, let's all clap and cheer, yeeeey? *shudders at thought*

I have been to places that keep marine mammals in the past, mainly when I was a kid. Obviously a lot of places keep seals and sealions and I am in two minds about that as their habitat can be replicated slightly better, as they do spend a lot of time hauled out.... I went to Epcot but was unaware that they had dolphins, I was pretty shocked when I was suddenly face to face with a dolphin! At least they were actually doing research while we were there and the enclosure was a LOT better than anything I have seen elsewhere but still, not going back. I used to intern at Mote, they had two dolphins but that was different as they were rescues that turned out to be unreleasable, I would have liked to see the people in charge make more of an effort but at least they did not do shows, only husbandry behaviours...

Even some of the so called 'husbandry behaviours' are a joke. A friend once went to a sea lion show (I think that's what it was) and he said that in the *same* show, they had sea lions jumping through hoops to 'earn' food, and in the accompanying talk they dared to mention 'natural feeding behaviours'. That nearly had me going to the place in question and b****slapping the people in charge.

(now for the bit highlighted in blueee) You should see me at zoos in the reptile sections. :P I will walk around, p*ssing off whoever I'm with because I'll be making comments the whole time. "That isn't big enough for that snake," "That species are cannibals, what the hell are they doing?!" "Oh my God. They're keeping them on sand. They'll be dead next week." Etc, etc.

I think the only time I've been to a place where I haven't been fuming about marine mammals being kept there was when I went to a seal sanctuary in Cornwall. They were actually trying to replicate a natural habitat, and behaviour as much as they could. Many of them couldn't be released due to them being hand reared by people who had found them on beaches, but they released all the ones they could and had mimimal contact with them. That's the kind of attitude everywhere should have.

Such beautiful animals as orcas and dolphins really, really don't deserve to be kept in a tank which is hardly bigger than they are. Ever. No creature does. It makes me so mad. :no:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cetacea
Even some of the so called 'husbandry behaviours' are a joke. A friend once went to a sea lion show (I think that's what it was) and he said that in the *same* show, they had sea lions jumping through hoops to 'earn' food, and in the accompanying talk they dared to mention 'natural feeding behaviours'. That nearly had me going to the place in question and b****slapping the people in charge.

Oh yeah, the misinformation that goes on at these 'educational' shows, wonderful. SeaWorld is great for that... I saw bits of a show once and they were talking about feeding behaviour and how they slide up on the beach to get at seals in Patagonia and how therefore their shows were replicating this behaviour, well, I have news for you SeaWorld, different frigging eco-type to the one you are keeping! Seaworlds animals were sourced primarily from Iceland and BC resident populations which eat, oh, look, fish, not mammals. Plus, the few transients that they may have, they are feeding on fish, so yeah, very natural.

They also tend to explain the flopped dorsal, with oh, it's genetic, some natural populations have upto 20% flopped dorsal fin, also true, but guess what, non of SeaWorld's orcas come from that population, they come from populations with something like 1% of dorsal fin flop...

SeaWorld actually also had the cheek to ask questions in a quiz type thing with the audience and one of the questions was, how old do orcas get? the correct answer was apparently 30. They also used to have this section on their site on age saying 30 was the maximum age, shortly after a report on the misinformation in marine parks came out it was changed to 'scientists do not really know' (also bull) and now I think they have reluctantly upped it to a maximum of 50 (maybe cause one or two orcas are actually slowly approaching that mark now so they can champion it as the absolute maximum age).

Ah sorry I see I went on a bit of a rant there but it really nags at me...

(now for the bit highlighted in blueee) You should see me at zoos in the reptile sections. :P I will walk around, p*ssing off whoever I'm with because I'll be making comments the whole time. "That isn't big enough for that snake," "That species are cannibals, what the hell are they doing?!" "Oh my God. They're keeping them on sand. They'll be dead next week." Etc, etc.

I am the same :D I refuse to go to zoos I haven't researched in advance either as to not a) run into unexpected marine mammals as it happened to me in Epcot b ) end up in zoos with really bad enclosures, it's so depressing :( Really p***ed some of my US friends of when I was there, flat out refusing to go to some places... I am so glad there is nowhere in the UK that keeps cetaceans...

I think the only time I've been to a place where I haven't been fuming about marine mammals being kept there was when I went to a seal sanctuary in Cornwall. They were actually trying to replicate a natural habitat, and behaviour as much as they could. Many of them couldn't be released due to them being hand reared by people who had found them on beaches, but they released all the ones they could and had mimimal contact with them. That's the kind of attitude everywhere should have.

:yes:

Such beautiful animals as orcas and dolphins really, really don't deserve to be kept in a tank which is hardly bigger than they are. Ever. No creature does. It makes me so mad. :no:

I know :no: Have you seen Lolita's tank at the Miami Seaquarium, it's a crime :cry: I am not sure what is worse, that she as a social animal is all alone or that they used to keep two adult orcas in there :no:

They also have a REALLY educational sealion show. It's such a disgrace.

Edited by Cetacea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Queen in the North
Oh yeah, the misinformation that goes on at these 'educational' shows, wonderful. SeaWorld is great for that... I saw bits of a show once and they were talking about feeding behaviour and how they slide up on the beach to get at seals in Patagonia and how therefore their shows were replicating this behaviour, well, I have news for you SeaWorld, different frigging eco-type to the one you are keeping! Seaworlds animals were sourced primarily from Iceland and BC resident populations which eat, oh, look, fish, not mammals. Plus, the few transients that they may have, they are feeding on fish, so yeah, very natural.

They also tend to explain the flopped dorsal, with oh, it's genetic, some natural populations have upto 20% flopped dorsal fin, also true, but guess what, non of SeaWorld's orcas come from that population, they come from populations with something like 1% of dorsal fin flop...

I wish there had been someone with half a brain there to say "oh, so these orcas slide up the beach to catch fish? 'Cos that's a little bit off, if you ask me..." You could probably come back from one of these shows and start researching orcas/dolphins/whatever, only to find you have to relearn everything they'd told you! Hell, I bet even sodding Wikipedia is a more reliable source of information... :P

SeaWorld actually also had the cheek to ask questions in a quiz type thing with the audience and one of the questions was, how old do orcas get? the correct answer was apparently 30. They also used to have this section on their site on age saying 30 was the maximum age, shortly after a report on the misinformation in marine parks came out it was changed to 'scientists do not really know' (also bull) and now I think they have reluctantly upped it to a maximum of 50 (maybe cause one or two orcas are actually slowly approaching that mark now so they can champion it as the absolute maximum age).

Ah sorry I see I went on a bit of a rant there but it really nags at me...

That is SUCH bull. There's twisting the truth, omission, and then there's plain downright lying. It's just so wrong!!! They can't lie to people just to hide the fact that they are *** at looking after the animals they are supposed to be TAKING CARE OF.

I am the same :D I refuse to go to zoos I haven't researched in advance either as to not a) run into unexpected marine mammals as it happened to me in Epcot b ) end up in zoos with really bad enclosures, it's so depressing :( Really p***ed some of my US friends of when I was there, flat out refusing to go to some places... I am so glad there is nowhere in the UK that keeps cetaceans...

I can't even say anything to the actual keepers, y'know as a 15 year old, I'm just going to look obnoxious if I go up to them and go "you're doing it wrong." Not that I would ever be that blunt about it :P It just annoys me so much, sometimes I've found that *I* keep exactly the same snake/lizard and still do a better job of replicating their natural habitat than this so called zoo is doing. If they did keep cetaceans in the UK, I would the first (possibly second, behind you) person starting up a campaign to do something about it! :angry2:

I know :no: Have you seen Lolita's tank at the Miami Seaquarium, it's a crime :cry: I am not sure what is worse, that she as a social animal is all alone or that they used to keep two adult orcas in there :no:

They also have a REALLY educational sealion show. It's such a disgrace.

What the *** holy goddamn hell!? Oh my God. Whoever was in charge of putting not one, but TWO orcas in that... that hellhole should be shot.

Uh, I'm getting a little emotional now, LOL. It's just such a crime.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cetacea
What the *** holy goddamn hell!? Oh my God. Whoever was in charge of putting not one, but TWO orcas in that... that hellhole should be shot.

Uh, I'm getting a little emotional now, LOL. It's just such a crime.

It is very sad, as I said, not sure what is worse, being so confined or being alone. Most places that keep marine mammals do a poor job but the Miami Seaquarium is definitely on top of the list of worst places. They used to keep Hugo, the male orca, in the manatee tank before they were sure the two would get along, he could not even submerge fully :no: Hugo used to repeatedly ram his head against the viewing windows of the tank, on one occasion cutting off the tip of his rostrum. It's how he died as well. Now Lolita is alone again, more space but no company. It is rather amazing that she is one of the two longest living orcas in captivity, well into her forties, the other one is SeaWorld's Corky who lost no less than 7 calves due to captivity related welfare issues....the ones that suffer the most seem to be the ones hanging on :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Queen in the North
It is very sad, as I said, not sure what is worse, being so confined or being alone. Most places that keep marine mammals do a poor job but the Miami Seaquarium is definitely on top of the list of worst places. They used to keep Hugo, the male orca, in the manatee tank before they were sure the two would get along, he could not even submerge fully :no: Hugo used to repeatedly ram his head against the viewing windows of the tank, on one occasion cutting off the tip of his rostrum. It's how he died as well. Now Lolita is alone again, more space but no company. It is rather amazing that she is one of the two longest living orcas in captivity, well into her forties, the other one is SeaWorld's Corky who lost no less than 7 calves due to captivity related welfare issues....the ones that suffer the most seem to be the ones hanging on :(

That's truly awful. I read the page about Hugo, and nearly cried. :no: Same reading the Lolita page, that's appalling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.