Something else of interest in Japan – Okinawa is home to Churaumi Aquarium, the second biggest aquarium in the world. I’m not keen on seeing animals in captivity but it was part of my press itinerary so I went along to check it out.
It really is gigantic – 77 different tanks, and the main one measures 8 by 20 metres, containing nearly two million gallons of water. The star attraction is four massive whale sharks, up to 8 metres long.
The sharks were beautiful (and seemed happy enough), but it didn’t seem right for the biggest fish in the sea to be cooped up in a giant fish tank.
I actually found the manatees and turtles more distressing though – the two manatees looked completely miserable.
I’ve been reading some interesting/disturbing pieces about aquaria on the Captive Animals Protection Society website – it’s calling for an end to any whales or dolphins being kept in captivity. I can’t see Japan taking this onboard any time soon – animal welfare doesn’t seem high on their agenda . In Naha, I saw a man with performing cat – he’d tied it to a stool and made it dance for money.
I’m not sure that aquariums in the UK or anywhere else are any better though. A report by CAPS in 2004 suggested that the animals in 75% of UK aquaria had health problems, and that touching pools seriously harm the creatures involved.
Hmm. Will aim to steer clear of aquariums and stick to scuba diving instead in future methinks.
[The biggest aquarium in the world is in Georgia in the States by the way. They have whale sharks AND beluga whales there. Next stop – blue whales?]