The Georgia Aquarium welcomed a juvenile, 9-foot manta ray to its 6.2-million gallon tank this week. This is the same aquarium that had two whale sharks die on them last year. The Atlanta-based fish tank also charges folks nearly $300 a pop to scuba with the world’s largest fish. The manta, named Nandi, will share the tank with the two 13-to-15-foot long whale sharks: Yushan and Taroko. Clearly, the home ranges for the cartilaginous leviathans is a hell of a lot bigger than the ginormous fish tank, yet the trend to capture and display some of the world’s largest animals continues.
What’s next? The first blue whale in captivity? Heck, Sea World held an endangered juvenile California gray whale for a few months, so why not? Atlanta’s aquarium already houses four beluga whales named Nico, Marina, Maris and Natasha. Bigger is definitely better for the Georgia Aquarium, regardless of the impact to the confined species. The large animals must be happy because they all have cool names, which clearly means that they are loved.
I’m not an aquarium hater, in fact Heal the Bay has a small aquarium under the pier, but confinement of species that are this rare and this big just isn’t right. Imagine a full-grown manta at 27 feet across and two 55-foot whale sharks sharing the same tank. On second thought, please don’t.