Seoul Aquarium Hosts Shark-On-Shark Bloodbath, As SeaWorld Reacts To Animal Captivity Criticism

In a Seoul aquarium, a shark-on-shark attack has occurred, stirring up a interest on social media, but, while many see this as an interesting aspect of nature’s number one rule of survival of the fittest, the attack may not have happened had those same sharks been left in the wide open spaces of their natural habitats. It’s a growing concern for aquariums worldwide and, while SeaWorld may be taking the brunt of the blame, this incident only serves to provide evidence that all captivity may be harmful to sea creatures.

COEX Aquarium In Seoul Plays Host To A Brutal And Bloody Shark On Shark Attack

Officials at COEX Aquarium say that their largest shark precipitated the attack on a smaller shark over territory, suggesting that the sharks had established their own borders, but are aquarium officials neglecting the larger issue of the effects captivity has on the creature’s psyches?

“Sharks have their own territory. However, sometimes when they bump against each other, they bite out of astonishment,” explains the COEX Aquarium’s PR manager, Oh Tae-youp.

In this case, the eight-year-old female sand tiger shark, measuring approximately 2.2 meters (7.22 ft.) long, attacked and devoured the smaller five-year-old male shark, about 1.2. meters in length, attempting to swallow that other shark in one large gulp.

The assault didn’t go quite so smoothly, however. Ten minutes later, the smaller shark’s body was still seen dangling from the female shark’s gaping maw, as she struggled to eat her former tank mate.

“I think the shark swallowed the whole body, because they usually eat it all when they bite the head part,” says Oh Tae-youp.

Researchers at the Seoul aquarium predict that the tail will dangle from the larger shark’s mouth for four or five days, before she completely regurgitates the entire shark. As the shark will be unable to digest her prey, she will be forced to spit it back out within a week’s time.

SeaWorld Defends Animal Captivity In An Effort To Ease The Consciences Of Their Declining Customer Base

If anyone recognizes the public relations hazards now faced by COEX Aquarium in Seoul, that would have to be the United States’ own SeaWorld, who has been on the defensive for years over their animal captivity practices. While the company usually makes it a practice to keep their comments limited to specific incidents, SeaWorld has come out swinging at the gathering of animal rights groups seeking to defend sea creatures from the aquarium company’s practices.

“We don’t try to be ‘the wild,'” said SeaWorld veterinarian Dr. Lara Croft. “We’re not the same environment, so the animals here are not the same as the animals out there. That being said, I don’t think they have lesser lives, I think they have different lives.”

Hunter Menning, a representative for PETA2, disagrees with Dr. Croft, providing an impassioned argument that SeaWorld’s Orcas don’t belong in captivity, making a special plea that SeaWorld recognizes that such “beautiful and intelligent animals” should be left in the wild.

“SeaWorld is exploiting these animals for profit and that’s not right,” says Menning.

While SeaWorld has no plans to release their killer whales, they do agree with Hunter’s sentiments about the unique beauty and intelligence of the whales and also suggest that the species be preserved for future generations. The aquarium’s officials say they have implemented more programs to educate the public about killer whales and have pushed for greater conservation efforts.

This comes after the release of the documentary Blackfish (2013), which detailed the inhumane treatment of Orcas being held in captivity. The film reveals that much of the animals’ time is spent in enclosed bays with no lighting and that the whales are forced to work for their fish, which is only delivered in small quantities. There is also debate that the fallen, or limp, dorsal fins of the whales is of key significance in relation to the affect captivity has on the creatures.

“These orcas in captivity are in parks in the three hottest states: California, Texas, and Florida, and in the wild they live in extremely cold waters,” Menning said. “Because there is no bone or muscle in the dorsal fins, because of the warm temperatures the tissue completely collapses, so no it’s not natural.”

It seems clear, by the past behavior of SeaWorld’s killer whales and the latest incident with the shark on shark attack in Seoul’s COEX Aquarium that captivity is harmful to all sea creatures, both physically and psychologically. As the internet makes these incidents more and more transparent, the day may soon come when we will no longer be able to turn a blind eye to the harm these aquariums do to the wildlife they keep captive for our amusement.

[Featured image by COEX Aquarium via Getty Images]

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