The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. Its claim to fame was Keiko, the Orca Whale that starred in the popular movie Free Willy. I have some really mixed feelings about zoos and aquariums. I simply love seeing wild animals and birds, but it’s sad to see them penned up. Granted they tell you that the critters have been ‘saved’ and that they wouldn’t survive out in the wild, but that doesn’t quite diminish that sense of captivity that is so pervasive. If any good is to come from such places, it might be that kids learn to love these poor creatures and they might develop enough appreciation to help keep them from being wiped off the planet….

Here’s a warning if anyone plans to visit – the pinniped (seals and sea lions) exhibit is under renovation and closed for several weeks.

Enough ranting…  on to the show…… (a click on any picture will bring up the slide show with captions)

Somewhere in the archives of crudest instinct is recorded the truth that it is better to be endangered and free than captive and comfortable.
― Tom Robbins

Then, I stumbled across this TED talk which seems utterly pertinent to this topic:

Once more I seem to be a bit behind the curve….  I’m guessing that the first shot of the otter could have qualified for the Photo Challenge: Lunchtime


34 thoughts on “captivity

    • Thank you, Sylvia. The sea stars are beautiful. The woman supervising the touch pool talked me into touching and I did so very gingerly. They aren’t as bad as I expected. The sea urchins were especially interesting (I’m not sure why I didn’t get a picture of them) because they very gently hug your finger when you do touch them. In case you’re not sure what a sea urchin looks like – The ones I say came in gorgeous colors like magenta and a lovely deep blue.


  1. Photos are beautiful, Gunta but yes, I do share your opinion about aquariums and zoos. There’s always that “Oh, they are sooo cute!” mixed with sadness of animals being kept in cages…behind fences when their home is out in wilderness.


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  4. I share your thoughts about the captivity aspect of zoos and refuges, but know that I would likely never see such animals if they weren’t in such places…but I suppose there is a proper way to keep the animals and ensure that their lives are as much like their natural ones would be as possible…. I enjoyed the video, as well…isn’t it wonderful what science can do? 🙂


    • I’m coming around to the same thinking, but I do wish that some of these places took a bit more care of the critter needs than bringing in the tourist dollars. Science can be wonderful, though it can also be a two edged sword at times.


  5. I’m with you Gunta. I don’t like to see animals in captivity. Hopefully children will learn from these aquariums that life is best when lived freely.


    • That video clip I found actually made me feel better about the situation because it points out how technology is getting to the point where they can just about resurrect extinct species from bits of DNA… so preservation of these critters does serve a purpose. I’m still somewhat on the fence about it all, though. I suppose much of it comes down to how it’s down and the motive behind it.


      • Agreed. I believe the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum outside Tucson is a good example of a zoo-like setting that tries to emulate a more natural environment for the animals and I believe they do a good job.


  6. I have mixed feelings about zoos too Gunta and the “wildlife park” that was the inspiration for the film “we bought a zoo” is on our doorstep but I’ve never liked it on account of the small pens but I do like your pictures


    • We have a safari park not too far from here where the animals (lions, tigers, bears, etc) are somewhat free to roam in larger open spaces, but the visitors stay in their cars. That one isn’t quite as bad.


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  8. I too have mixed feelings about these places but after reading some comments here and watching that video, I do see some positives now. Thanks so much for this post! Your photos here are just beautiful as always. My favorite is that Common Murre swimming like crazy!


    • The video was pretty fascinating. It helped me to feel a little better about the captivity, but I don’t suppose it helps much for the current ones cooped up in relatively small spaces. That Murre was simply nuts, zooming back and forth, but the otter was the one that creeped me out the most. I kept watching him for the longest time to see if he’d quit, but he just spun around in a complete loop (like a tire on a moving car) non-stop. OCD out of boredom or frustration?


    • Your post featured the artist working on the Washed Ashore project: They really do some good stuff. Bringing attention to the crap we dump into our water with their traveling art made up entirely of said trash. And, yes, the colored lighting for the jellyfish was pretty amazing.


  9. We all have such personal takes on zoos and aquariums. The negatives scream out at you but in a very few cases there are positives. Breeding programs where endangered species may be able to be reintroduced to secured habitats; as you mention, the chance that the young generation might be awoken to losses we are heading at breakneck speed towards. Mostly they are heartbreaking places, especially for the larger species. Your chance to see and place your rock pool specimens must have been very rewarding.


  10. I love the photos, and I agree with you about zoos and aquariums. Before the advent of photography and video recording, the only way for most of us to see exotic animals was in zoos and aquariums. But, I think that they have outlived their usefulness, and they should end the practice of confining animals in such places.


    • I’m not quite as certain as you are about eliminating them altogether. There are situations where these creatures are rescued and might not survive if released, or the only way to keep some remaining examples from going totally extinct. But I also had a very strong impression that the birds and the larger critters definitely could have used more space. I think it’s a tough call.


      • You might want to take a look at a TED talk I just added that talks about de-extinction. Utterly fascinating and possibly an answer to why captivity might be a good thing in some cases.


  11. I very much relate to what you are saying about zoos and such places. The last zoo I visited, and the first since I was a child, was Tokyo zoo back in the ’90s and I had to leave, fighting back the tears. I’d just seen a polar bear pacing to and fro, an animal that in the wild would roam many hundreds of miles, confined in such a way that it only had a few yards.. I just couldn’t stand it.
    These are lovely pictures Gunta. I imagine the molluscs, starfish, anemones and jellyfish are reasonably happy..


    • Obviously I totally agree with you. I can’t imagine the larger critters being happy confined in such limited spaces when they were meant to roam or fly free. I hope the smaller ones are better off, but I wondered about the “touch pool” where they are poked by inquisitive little fingers. Though there were volunteers watching over the exhibit. Having said that… I did learn more about the creatures I’m apt to encounter on my beach. And I cling to the hope that a visit to the Aquarium may foster an appreciate in some young mind.


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