Harry Styles Saves Whales From SeaWorld: New Film To Be 'Blackfish' For Belugas

Harry Styles of One Direction has been credited by The Independent for doing more damage to SeaWorld than the movie, Blackfish.

Styles used a concert in San Diego in July 2015 to urge his fans who love dolphins to boycott SeaWorld.

Over the past year, the musician's comments contributed to a 400 percent spike in mentions of SeaWorld and a 13 percent increase in negative commentary month-over-month, investment bank Credit Suisse discovered.

SeaWorld may have been caving under pressure, but it changed course, saying it would no longer accept 18 stolen Beluga whales from Russia. This followed a year of negative press which hit a high point when One Direction singer Harry Styles told fans to boycott the company.The belugas were captured in the wild and are now in a state of limbo at the Georgia Aquarium, according to World Animal News.

The aquarium, which recently announced its decision to no longer accept wild-caught whales, has been acting as a steward for the belugas, according to Aquarium Chairman and CEO Michael Leven. He stated that the aquarium is searching for suitable facilities for eight of the whales.

"We've tried very hard to get these animals housed somewhere in the world. We just felt that we had a moral and ethical responsibility to find them a place."
The aquarium made the announcement mere days after the release of a documentary, Born To Be Free. The film exposes the life of beluga whales in captivity, with a focus on practices in Russia.

World Animal News said that "the aquarium has been unsuccessful legally in transporting captured whales, which are in holding tanks, into their facility."

The film, Born to Be Free, hopes to replicate the impact of the film Blackfish, essentially raising awareness about the plight of belugas in captivity in Russia.

The film shows how the whales were kept in enclosures too small after being captured in the wild.

Lori Marino, president of the Whale Sanctuary Project, said that anticipating the film's release is putting pressure on the Georgia Aquarium.

".. They want to come out ahead of time looking better than the film will probably make them look."
Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist with the Animal Welfare Institute, is optimistic about the trend of turning away from whales in captivity.
"You're going to see more and more of this happening. You see the National Aquarium, deciding to retire eight dolphins, and SeaWorld ending its orca breeding program."
The Obama administration in 2016 became involved in the movement to stop importing belugas from Russia, according to an article by Take Part.

The National Marine Fisheries Service recently announced its recommendation to designate the population of beluga whales in the western Sea of Okhotsk as "depleted" under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.

"The agency estimates that there are around 3,700 of these belugas remaining along Russia's Pacific coast, less than 60 percent of their historic population."

Rose, whose organization petitioned the fisheries service jointly with Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Cetacean Society International, and Earth Island Institute to designate the western Sea of Okhotsk belugas as depleted, said that the proposal will stop anyone from ever applying for another import permit.

"It's a precedent-setting proposal, and one that is part and parcel of the changing zeitgeist on captive cetaceans."
Born To Be Free is expected to be released in the USA later this year.

The turnaround on SeaWorld's decision to take the wild-capture Russian belugas is due in part to Harry Styles, sources say.

[Image via Daniil Ermolchuk/Shutterstock]