Beluga, dolphin die at Marineland, government says

Kiska, Canada’s last remaining captive killer whale, died at the park two months ago

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

A beluga whale and a bottlenose dolphin have died at Marineland, the Ontario government said Monday.

The Niagara Falls, Ont., tourist attraction recently informed the province about the deaths, a spokesman with the Ministry of the Solicitor General said.

Brent Ross said Marineland told the province’s Animal Welfare Services, which enforces anti−cruelty laws and inspects all zoos and aquariums in Ontario, that necropsies had been conducted by professionals retained by the park.

“Animal Welfare Services continues to conduct compliance inspections at Marineland to determine if the standards of care are being met,” Ross said in an email.

Marineland did not immediately return a request for comment, but told the Niagara Falls Review that Sonar, a 26−year−old dolphin, and Kodiak, a 28−year−old beluga, died last week.

Marineland told the local paper the staff was “devastated” by the deaths.

Two months ago, Kiska, Canada’s last remaining captive killer whale, died at the park.

The province has had an “ongoing inspection” of Marineland since it took over enforcement of anti−cruelty laws from the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in January 2020.

The province has inspected Marineland at least 160 times since then, Ross said.

So far, the ministry has refused to release any details of its inspections.

In 2021, the provincial inspectors found all marine mammals in the park to be in distress, court documents show.

Marineland refuted those findings, saying its animals were not in distress.

In 2021, court documents revealed the province ordered Marineland to repair the water system in the pools that house beluga whales, dolphins, walruses, sea lions and Kiska.

Marineland appealed the order on May 18, 2021, denying the animals were in distress and noting that an unknown number of whale deaths at the park were not related to the water issues. Marineland dropped its appeal a few weeks later.

A number of animals have died at Marineland in recent years, including four walruses and an unknown number of beluga whales.

In 2021, Marineland moved five beluga whales to a marine park in Connecticut. One of those whales died within months of the move, and another died within a year of the move.

The deaths prompted the U.S. government to begin an investigation into the move. That probe is ongoing.

banner image: The Canadian Press