Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nudity and Delphinapterus leucas - Ugly backstory?

The U.K Daily Mail has a story and images this week of Natalia Avseenko, 36, who went diving naked with Beluga Whales in the Arctic - for science.

Apparently Natalia is an actual whale researcher and her hypothesis that "Belugas do not like to be touched by artificial materials such as diving suits", was tested by her dropping in sans le suit.

On the surface this is another Daily Mail hit, it's got all the angles, nudity, great images, a backstory, but one name popped out at me almost immediately and if you do not know it you should.

The Utrish Dophinarium.

I became aware of this outfit back in 2005 and they have quite a track record, as a high percentage of captive Arctic species found in zoos and aquariums worldwide come from this operation. Including Beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas).

So, as it turns out, the real story here is not so much about half baked science as Natalia Avseenko could have just removed her gloves, but of a staged moment for the cameras, using captive Beluga whales on their way to a new home somewhere in the world as a backdrop for a series of inane shots, under the guise of science and conservation.

While I have to hand it to Natalia Avseenko and her crew for going to the extremes they did for this shot, I am also not surprised that the Utrish Dophinarium is somehow involved or enabling of this stunt under the thin veneer of science and research.

We can do a lot better with wild animals, and I think it's high time we stopped stunt work with animals calling it science or conservation, because fundamentally both science and conservation does not look like this.

Or does it?

Patric Douglas CEO

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