Distressing photos show whales in 'ridiculously small tank' at aquarium

Michael Dahlstrom
·News and Video Producer

An image purporting to show whales in a tank barely wider than their bodies is causing outrage online.

Facebook group Boycott Sea World shared an image taken at Sun Asia Ocean World in Dalian, China.

“No cetacean deserves to be taken from the wild for this, let alone under the guise of ‘conservation and education’,” they wrote.

Social media reaction was swift, with the post receiving over 1400 reactions in 24 hours.

Two beluga whales float in a tank that is as wide as they are while tourists watch on. Source: Ningyo La Mar d'Aprop / Facebook
A social media post showing beluga whales in a small tank is causing outrage. Source: Ningyo La Mar d'Aprop / Facebook

“This is the worst I have seen a beautiful animal in a ridiculously small tank,” one Facebook user wrote.

Another person called the image “absolutely heart breaking”.

“OMG!!! This has to take the cake as the smallest tank I’ve seen. I’m appalled,” a third person said.

Comments continued to flood the page, “I find this distressing to just watch. I hate to think how those whales must feel”.

Sage Ashcroft, founder of the North American based Boycott Sea World group, told Yahoo News Australia their mission is to raise awareness about marine animals in captivity.

“Our goal is to end the captivity of cetaceans and to raise awareness about it,” Ms Ashcroft said.

Two beluga whales gaze through the glass inside a tank at Sun Asia Ocean World
An image from 2019 showing the same cramped conditions inside the beluga tank. Source: CTrip

A spokesperson for Sea World Australia clarified to Yahoo News that they have no association with Sun Asia Ocean World or the US-based SeaWorld.

“We have dolphins in human care, but no whales, orcas or belugas,” the spokesperson said.

A controversial history of keeping whales

While the image was originally shared to holiday rating site Ctrip in 2018, a review on the site from earlier this year appears to show the beluga whales in the same conditions.

Last year PETA Asia led a campaign against Sun Asia Ocean World after an online video surfaced of an employee applying lipstick to a beluga whale.

Reuters reports the aquarium apologised and promised to strengthen animal welfare protections.

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