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3 Pictures That Will Make You Think Twice Before Visiting a Marine Park

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Nanuq was held captive at SeaWorld properties. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society / Nicolas Dumenil

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society launched a series of images today illustrating the tragic fates met by real-life captive cetaceans.

The images come just as the holiday season begins and families are making choices about how to spend their money on entertainment. The pictures are being published to educate and deter travelers around the world from buying tickets to marine shows, swim-with-dolphin programs and other similar animal encounter experiences.


The photos, featuring a dolphin, beluga and orca, respectively, show each animal breaking the water with their backs. Drops splash around them as they land from an aerial trick. Upon closer look, the viewer will see the drops of water are, in fact, broken glass. Each visual is accompanied by text that tells the true story of the mammal in the poster.

Sharky was held captive at SeaWorld properties.Sea Shepherd Conservation Society / Nicolas Dumenil

"That was the idea behind this campaign—to look closer and see what really happens to animals in marine parks," said Nicolas Dumenil, the Paris-based art director who created the designs for Sea Shepherd. "Going from a splash of water to a smash of glass was a simple but powerful way to illustrate the cruel reality of captivity. Marine parks work hard to hide what people should not see and work harder to engage in disinformation each time an animal dies in their parks."

Dumenil said he wanted to use stories of actual captive marine mammals for the campaign to remember and honor all of those who met similar tragic fates. The hardest part was choosing which ones to spotlight, especially as new deaths occurred, including the November 2016 passing of Aurora and Quila, a mother and daughter beluga pair who died nine days apart at the Vancouver Aquarium.

"Who will be next?" asked Dumenil. "Bucky, the 47-year old captive dolphin in Australia who is still jumping through hoops despite his history of cancer?"

Hugo was kept at the Miami SeaquariumSea Shepherd Conservation Society / Nicolas Dumenil

The art director said he grew up surfing in the oceans as a child and as such, was always concerned with the marine life around him.

"Now that I'm in a creative position, I felt it was time to take action," stated Dumenil. "I have long admired Sea Shepherd's commitment to save marine wildlife and am honored to team with them on this campaign. I hope the real-life stories of Hugo, Sharky and Nanuq can serve as reminders that animals are not here for our entertainment and must not be held prisoners, deprived from their natural settings and social structures."

Sharky and Nanuq were both held captive at SeaWorld properties, while Hugo was kept at the Miami Seaquarium. SeaWorld and other similar facilities have come under fire in recent years with blistering campaigns by animal activists since the 2013 release of the SeaWorld-critical documentary Blackfish.

"Every year Sea Shepherd's Cove Guardians document the atrocious dolphin drives in Taiji, Japan, where cetaceans are being slaughtered, torn apart from their families and transported to concentration camps masquerading as marine parks," Sea Shepherd Founder, president and CEO Captain Paul Watson said. "Nicolas' images are a wakeup call for those who think these animals actually like spinning in the air and giving rides to trainers on their backs."

Sea Shepherd COO David Hance agreed. "Having witnessed firsthand the atrocities in Taiji, I can attest to just how horrific life is as a captive prisoner in these parks," he said. "A captive life is no life for any animal. I hope everyone can make the humane and moral choice not to support marine parks this holiday season, or any season for that matter."

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