(Rarg has returned after a long and unexplained absence. I may have fallen down the rabbit hole and got lost in the adventures. Woo! And now, back to the regular programming like it never happened....) We didn't hit up many of the tourist-y things while we were in Valencia. I think we climbed a tower, and visited the beach but generally we spent our time exploring. Most of the restaurants we ate at, and the bars we visited were populated with Spanish folk, rather than tourists.
However the one tourist-y thing we did do was visit L'oceanografic. It's a massive aquarium, the biggest in Europe. I love aquariums, watching all the fish glide by and pass over you in the tunnels. Exploring all the different tanks with different crustaceans, and watching jellyfish blob themselves about.
Except that L'oceanografic is more than that. For a start, it's massive. All of the tanks are below ground, but you walk between them above ground. All the buildings are white and modern day architectural pieces of art. So fancy. Appropriate and matchy with all the other City of Arts and Science buildings.
The other difference was that they had a host of marine life that I didn't expect to see. One was two beluga whales. Gorgeous, and white and large and so graceful! Also, probably bored out of their minds. One swam around and around and around the same circuit and the other waited quietly and patiently by a gate, clearly expecting something to happen. I was torn. I'd never seen a beluga whale before - they're gorgeous, and I was glad to have the opportunity. At the same time... it was pretty clear these animals should be in the ocean with miles and miles and miles of space to swim and explore. In the ocean, out in the wild. Not in a sad small little tank put on display for our viewing pleasure. There was also not that much information in English. It's entirely possible these animals were rescued and are unable to survive in the wild... except I think that's probably not true. Sad face.
I had similar experience with the dolphins. There was show, with half easily half a dozen dolphins. A SHOW. I was uncomfortable going in. The show was in Spanish, so I didn't understand much of it. Except that I was even more torn because I ENJOYED the show. It was amazing! There was lots of flips and diving and swimming fast, and pushing trainers into the air and surfing them along and that kind of thing. It was such a fun show.
At the same time.... I firmly believe dolphins should be in the ocean. Not flipping around and doing tricks that are clearly unnatural in a tank. It was a fairly big pool, by pool standards. But as a tank for dolphins? As opposed to the ocean... it's a bit sad. Again, I don't speak Spanish, so again these animals could have been rescued and are unable to survive in the wild... but I really don't think that's the case. I really really don't think that's the case.
Don't get me wrong, it didn't look like these animals were mistreated, and it was clear that the trainers cared deeply for them. But... they should be in the ocean. I spent a long time scouring the internet for successful dolphin release stories (the idea being that once in captivity it's not possible to rehabilitate dolphins back into the wild) and it turns out that a few years ago Born Free did rehabilitate two dolphins! In saying that, the two dolphins were in terrible conditions, and these ones looked fairly healthy and well looked after... I don't know, I'm torn.
There's also the idea that dolphins are often bought via Dolphin drive hunting (which, in short, is where dolphins are hunted by driving them together with boats and nets. It happens fairly regularly in places like the Solomon Islands, Peru, and Japan. I think they're mostly hunted for meat and are butchered, but some end up in dolphinariums...). Hunting's not cool. Super not cool.
Do having these animals available on display to the public raise enough awareness that the attitude towards their harm in the wild (like from commercial fishing and butchering) will have enough of an effect to change the circumstances (like the move towards dolphin friendly tuna)? Is the cost of altering the life of the animals that are in captivity worth the cost of the awareness and attitude change?
I ... don't know. I'm not sure. How do I find out all of this stuff?
Needless to say the rest of the park was pretty gorgeous. There was a wild life marshes area, with gorgeous birds and little turtles. There were fishes and jellyfish and crustaceans. Apart from the beluga's and dolphins (and the seals, and sharks and walruses), I thought it was a great park with some gorgeous wildlife.