Members of the Georgia Aquarium have not yet seen the film, but they deny that the capture operation is traumatic, and stress the value of the aquarium’s research and conservation efforts with belugas.
The Georgia Aquarium arranged to have the whales captured, with hopes of importing them to several facilities in North America. But the aquarium’s permit application was denied by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. During the ensuing the legal battle the animals’ fate remained in limbo. Finally, this summer, the aquarium announced it would no longer put wild-captured dolphins or belugas on display, and that is was seeking a permanent home for the belugas. Seven out of the surviving 15 have been moved to a water park in Japan.
Petrosyan hopes her film has the same effect on the trade in the endangered belugas that the 2013 film “Blackfish” had on the world of performing killer whales. (After “Blackfish” came out SeaWorld announced it would end its performing killer whale program.)