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Mystic Aquarium's mission of education, research, rescue

In recent months the subject of the Mystic Aquarium has generated quite a bit of coverage in The Day, not only regarding the transfer of beluga whales from a vastly overcrowded facility in Canada to the more spacious and far less populated one here, but on the overall nature of this organization's function. Having utilized aspects of the Mystic Aquarium for research concerning a writing project of my own, I feel compelled to offer my perspective.

Years ago when dolphins were still among the primary attractions there, I was permitted by the head trainer to interact with them − always supervised − and to glean what I could regarding their behavior and their personalities. They are truly among the most remarkable living beings on this planet and I feel blessed to have had that opportunity, though I am not disappointed that the premise of dolphins in captivity is no longer permitted. By nature they roam the open sea in pods and I agree that is how it should be.

It's of course a shame that nations like Japan, Russia, Finland, and Iceland, just to name a few, would rather slaughter these elegant cetaceans for profit and insatiable greed, and that entities like the commercial fishing industry and even the Unites States military treat these intelligent beings as disposable items. Read Susan Casey's remarkable book, "Voices in the Ocean," and consider what her firsthand experiences have revealed in the areas of cetacean abuse. Casey's book also exposes the horrors permitted to exist in "marineland" tourist facilities throughout the world, where cetaceans and other aquatic lifeforms suffer daily.

Having been to the current Mystic Aquarium frequently over these past two years, while resuming research on marinelife, I have seen none of what Casey's book detailed so vividly regarding her many quests worldwide on behalf of our oceans and the fascinating creatures that populate them. I am not begrudging anyone their private opinions of the Mystic Aquarium, nor do I contend that all conditions there are ideal. But I do believe this organization has made a significant transition over the years into one where public education, research, and rescue now appear to be its primary functions.

My suggestion is to visit and make up your own minds, based more on what you experience and perceive through your own eyes.

Nicholas Checker lives in the Quaker Hill section of Waterford. 


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