Dolphins, orcas, and whales perish by dozens at Vancouver Aquarium

The following is a list of "known cetacean [large sea animals] deaths" at the Vancouver Aquarium. It was provided to the Georgia Straight by Peter Hamilton, founder and director of the Lifeforce Foundation.

1. Orca "Moby Doll" was harpooned in 1964, survived 86 days.
2. Orca "Natsidalia" was captured in 1968, died seven months later.
3-6. Dolphin "Splasher" died in 1969 after less than two years in captivity.
Companions "Diana" and two others died.
7. A baby narwhal was captured in 1968, shot due to severe rope cuts.
8-13. Six narwhals were captured in 1970 and died within four months.
14-16. Three Pacific white-sided dolphins capture with Whitewings died.
17. Beluga "Bella" died in 1976 after 8.7 years in captivity.
18. Baby beluga "Tuaq" died in 1977 at four months.
19. Orca "Skana" was captured in 1967 and died in 1980.
20. Beluga "Lugosi" was captured in 1967 and died in 1980.
21. The dolphin "Arion" was obtained in 1983 (date of death not known).
22. Beluga "Sanaq" captured in 1976 and died in 1985.
23. Beluga "Churchill" died in 1989 after 4 years of captivity.
24. Orca "Bjossa's" first baby died at 22 days old in 1988.
25. "Hyak II" was captured in 1968 and died in 1991.
26. "Bjossa's" 2nd baby, "K'yosha," born 1991, died in 97 days.
27. "Bjossa's" third baby, born March 1995, died within 10 minutes.
28. Orca "Finna" dies in October 1997 at only 21 years old.
29. "Bjossa" was moved to Sea World in April and died in October 2001.
30. "Whitewings" was captured in 1971 and died in 2002.
31. Beluga "Tuvaq" born to "Aurora" in 2002 dies in 2005.
32. Pacific white-sided dolphin "Hana" has a stillbirth in June, 2006.
33. "Hana" has second stillbirth in May 2007.

Lifeforce Foundation is a Vancouver-based nonprofit organization that aims to “raise public awareness of the interrelationship between people, animals, and the environment,” according to its Web site.




Jun 26, 2008 at 10:21pm

SO WHAT? These animals were brought in at all stages of life. I am sure that the aquarium provides excellent care and wants their animals to live as long as possible. There are several that died at birth or close to it. The fact that they are breeding is a good sign. Many young animals do not survive in the wild too. Look to humans in the 1800s - many children died young due to many causes. There is a difference between life expectancy and longevity. Just because every dolphin or whale in captivity does not live 50 years there is no proof of anything. Only 33 deaths since 1964?? I'd say that their record is commendable. That's only .75 deaths per year. For many animals in captivity the life expectancy is double that in the wild. Give me a break!


Jun 27, 2008 at 9:45am

Give you a break, dgross? From what? The article and list just serves to keep people aware... it looks like it was written without any bias one way or the other. You judge 33 deaths since '64 to be fine, but what I'd really like to know is 33 deaths out of how many animals total, then I'd be more willing to judge one way or the other whether their record is commendable or not.

Aquariums and zoos have always been a bit grey for me, ethically speaking... I'm all for the education they provide, but part of me still can't help thinking of the animals as prisoners wrongly convicted and kept in a plexiglass prison.



Jun 27, 2008 at 3:24pm

It does not look like an unbiased report to me. The headline made it appear as though dozens of animals just perished at the aquarium. Lifeforce is an organization with an agenda - to be fair it would have been civil to include comments from the Vancouver Aquarium.

Travis Lupick

Jul 2, 2008 at 3:41pm

On the morning of June 31, the Vancouver Aquarium was contacted by the Straight and made aware of this article. A media representative was told that if the Aquarium submitted a response, it would be published on the Straight's Web site. We have yet to hear back, but the offer still stands.


Jul 7, 2008 at 11:49am

Don't forget the basic ethical issues here. All animals are entitled to their freedom, in the wild. Additionally, when an animal is captured in the wild, it inflicts suffering on the family, due to the loss. Their social and behavioral needs cannot be provided for in captivity. The Aquarium/Zoo entertainment industry exploits them for financial gains. Watch a video on Belugas in the wild and hopefully you will feel the truth in your heart, that captivity is no place for these beautiful animals to spend out their lives:

Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce

Dec 8, 2010 at 2:40pm

Now 36 Reasons to Boycott the Vancouver Aquarium

Lifeforce is continuing:
1. To urge that all dolphin imprisonment be phased out.
2. To campaign to stop the $120 million Vancouver Aquarium expansion that would imprison more dolphins and other animals such as river otters. It was planned for the 2010 Olympics.


Katie White

Mar 27, 2011 at 1:23pm

This article is such BS. Why don't we count all the animals that the Vancouver Aquarium/Marine Mammal Rescue Center actually rescues and saves? Why don't we count the times when they do release the animals deemed releasable back to the open ocean? Or what about the dolphins and belugas that have been bred through the aquarium that are to this day, still living and healthy like Qila?

Or what about the research have been conducted to help preserve aquatic life due to studying marine mammals behaviours up close?

Lifeforce needs to get a life.