Marine Parks Essay
The issue of whether we should allow marine parks to stay open has been widely debated in our community recently. It is an important issue because it concerns fundamental moral and economic questions about the way we use our native wildlife. A variety of different arguments have been put forward about this issue. This essay will consider arguments for having marine parks and point to some of the problems with these views. It will then put forward reasons for the introduction of laws which prohibit these unnecessary and cruel institutions.
It has been argued that dolphin parks provide the only opportunity for much of the public to see marine mammals (Smith, 1992). Most Australians, so this argument goes, live in cities and never get to see these animals. It is claimed that marine parks allow the average Australian to appreciate our marine wildlife. However, as Smith states, dolphins, whales and seals can be viewed in the wild at a number of places on the Australian coast.
In fact, there are more places where they can be seen in the wild than places where they can be seen in captivity.
Moreover, most Australians would have to travel less to get to these locations than they would to get to the marine parks on the Gold Coast. In addition, places where there are wild marine mammals do not charge an exorbitant entry fee – they are free. Dr Alison Lane, the director of the Cairns Marine Science Institute, contends that we need marine parks for scientific research (The Age, 19. 2. 93). She argues that much of our knowledge of marine mammals comes from studies which were undertaken at marine parks.
The knowledge which is obtained at marine parks, so this argument goes, can be useful for planning for the conservation of marine mammal species. However, as Jones (1991) explains, park research is only useful for understanding captive animals and is not useful for learning about animals in the wild. Dolphin and whale biology changes in marine park conditions. Their diets are different, they have significantly lower life spans and they are more prone to disease.
In addition, marine mammals in dolphin parks are trained and this means that their patterns of social behaviour are changed. Therefore research undertaken at marine parks is generally not reliable. It is the contention of the Marine Park Owners Association that marine parks attract a lot of foreign tourists (The Sun-Herald 12. 4. 93). This position goes on to assert that these tourists spend a lot of money, increasing our foreign exchange earnings and assisting our national balance of payments.
However, foreign tourists would still come to Australia if the parks were closed down. Indeed, surveys of overseas tourists show that they come here for a variety of other reasons and not to visit places like Seaworld (The Age, Good Weekend 16. 8. 93). Tourists come here to see our native wildlife in its natural environment and not to see it in cages and cement pools. They can see animals in those condition in their own countries Furthermore, we should be promoting our beautiful natural environment to tourists and not the ugly concrete marine park venues.
Dolphin parks are unnecessary and cruel. The dolphins and whales in these parks are kept in very small, cramped ponds, whereas in the wild they are used to roaming long distances across the seas. Furthermore, the concrete walls of the pools interfere with the animals’ sonar systems of communication. In addition, keeping them in pools is a terrible restriction of the freedom of fellow creatures who may have very high levels of intelligence and a sophisticated language ability.
Moreover, there are many documented cases of marine mammals helping humans who are in danger at sea or helping fisherman with their work. In conclusion, these parks should be closed, or at the very least, no new animals should be captured for marine parks in the future. Our society is no longer prepared to tolerate unnecessary cruelty to animals for science and entertainment. If we continue with our past crimes against these creatures we will be remembered as cruel and inhuman by the generations of the future.
The Age, 19.2.93 The Age Good Weekend, 16.8.93 Jones, G. (1991). The Myths about Animal Research in Marine Parks. InScientific Australian. Vol 12, No 3. Smith, H. (1992). Marine Parks: Good for Business, Good for Australia. In Leisure Business Review. Vol 24, No. 4 The Sun-Herald, 12.4.93