Sharon Banta | Kathleen D'Aquila & Julia Perri | Laura DeSantis | Ariella Grinberg
Kathleen D'Aquila and Julia Perri tied for second place in the grades 6-8 category. Read their essays below.
Marine Animals in Captivity
I agree with people who believe marine mammals should be kept in captivity. My first reason for wanting marine mammals to be kept in captivity is when they are out in the wild they are killed by poachers for their body fat and other natural resources they supply, or caught in fishing nets, etc. They are also killed by diseases. It is not fair for the marine mammals to be killed for human use. All marine mammals have a right to live. If they are kept in captivity they could have a chance to live because no poachers would try to go after them. Also when animals are kept in captivity they can get vaccinations for the diseases and diseases can also be prevented by the people who care for these marine mammals and get excellent care by professionals. My second reason for wanting to keep marine mammals in captivity is if they are an endangered species we can breed them and increase their population. When they are in the wild it might be hard for them to find a mate. But when they are in captivity their professional caretakers will help increase their chances for mating and increase their population. Finally, my last reason for keeping mammals in captivity is scientists can do research on marine mammals and learn about them so they could maybe help the marine mammals to survive in the wild. For instance, let's say there is a marine mammal that is endangered because they were losing a food source. As a result of scientists doing research on these marine mammals in captivity they would know how to fix the problem and find a new food source. Scientists may also learn from the marine mammals information that will help not only their species but the human species.
I understand the arguments against keeping marine mammals in captivity. For instance, poor sanitary conditions, but in some present natural environment pollution is a major problem. Another argument might be abuse from their caretakers. But there are laws to prevent this from happening and they should be enforced. Also tourists who come to see these animals may treat them inhumanely, but employees of the facilities are ever vigilant and prevent harm coming to these animals. As I have noted I think marine mammals should be kept in captivity. I hope after you have read this essay you too will agree with my reasoning.
The Captivity Question
In my opinion marine mammals should not be kept in captivity for the sole purpose of entertainment for us humans. I think marine mammals should be kept in captivity in only some instances. I am sure that all those who are interested in marine mammals have their care and well-being foremost in mind concerning this topic.
First, I believe marine mammals should be kept in captivity for only some specific reasons. If the animal is hurt and definitely won't survive in the wild, then, by all means, put them in captivity. It has to be done right, however; the marine mammals need to be built up so they are fully prepared for the wild when they are released. For example, Ken Norris, the biologist who set up Long Marine Lab, captured two dolphins and kept them for about two years. He was successful in returning the animals back into the environment where he had captured them. Also, if a species of marine mammals is endangered or near extinction, it makes sense to put them in captivity in order to breed them. However, it's important to breed them correctly. There need to be large populations to avoid inbreeding and significant numbers lost due to accidents and disease. For instance, fewer than 100 Chinese River dolphins are left. They will all become extinct within 10-20 years if we don't do something about it. The dolphins have to be captured and bred carefully as though they were in their natural environment.
Second, I don't think marine mammals should be kept in captivity for the sole purpose of entertainment. Humans don't need zoos and aquariums and neither do healthy marine mammals. Some marine mammals, especially open-ocean species, don't adapt well to captivity. They sometimes crash into walls of their pen because they are not used to boundaries. As evidence, the British Born Free Foundation has documented "neurotic, self-destructive" captive animal behavior and even "self-mutilation." I don't think it is fair to put animals in captivity for our entertainment and enjoyment when things like this happen.
In conclusion, I am not saying that we should keep marine mammals totally out of contact with us, just that we should not exploit them. I feel that marine mammals should be kept in captivity only when they are hurt, endangered or near extinction, not for entertainment purposes.