Monday, August 07, 2006

Beluga Whales at Aquariums

I was down in Atlanta the other weekend and noticed that the flyer for the Atlanta Aquarium featured a beluga whale on the front. I didn't have time to go to this attraction but it's very interesting how some aquariums around the world are catching onto the beluga whale craze. The Vancouver Aquarium had this huge promotional event a few years back with the birth of a new beluga and the TV commercials around here in eastern Canada about Niagara Falls' Marineland stars their beluga whales complete with a music soundtrack written just for them. The aquariums are definitely positioning the beluga whales into the similar status of the dolphins and killerwhales. When you see video scenes of beluga whales kissing trainers and kids, you know that the urban world has elevated the beluga whales to the category of animals which we must love. In contrast, the Inuit up in the Canadian Arctic have been hunting the beluga whales for food for centuries and I can see that this will be somewhat of a conflict for many in the rest of the world now that most of us are being conditioned to love belugas. After all, who could imagine hunting dolphins or killerwhales as food? And now the belugas? We will have to see what the effects are on people's attitudes when they find out that the Inuit consider the beluga whale to be just game (and rightly so). Perhaps the aquariums never considered this. Since I'm involved in Inuit art, I always respect the ways of our Inuit artists and their culture. However, I have to admit that everytime I see the Marineland TV commercial, I do feel some conflicts deep inside knowing that these wonderful creatures are killed for food. Darn those aquariums and what they have done to me!

Free Spirit Gallery has some nice Inuit carvings of beluga whales. See Inuit Art Whale Carvings.

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