The Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) and several other environmental groups yesterday said that the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium kept whale sharks in small tanks that caused their health to deteriorate.
The group urged the aquarium to release the last remaining whale shark and not to bring in new ones.
According to EAST director Chen Yu-min (陳玉敏), the aquarium in Pingtung County has held three whale sharks — a species that has been listed on “Appendix II” of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and labeled “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature — in captivity since April 2004, in the name of education and marine research.
Photo courtesy of the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan
The groups’ investigation suggested that one whale shark died of poor health in 2007, another was secretly released into the ocean without undergoing rehabilitation or tagging for follow-up research the same year and the remaining 6m-long whale shark was being kept in a small tank, Chen said.
Showing a video clip and photographs of the remaining whale shark at a press conference in Taipei yesterday, Chen said that it had scars on its tail from hitting the tank’s walls and reefs in the tank because the tank was too small.
Citing data from whale shark tag release research conducted by Chuang Shou-cheng (莊守正), an associate professor at the National Taiwan Ocean University’s Department of Environmental Biology and Fisheries Science, the groups said that whale sharks often stay in deep waters — about 5m to 10m below the sea surface, but sometimes submerge to 80m below sea level, and that they can migrate up to 34km a day.
Keeping the whale shark in its current tank, which is 33m long, 22m wide and about 8m to 12m in depth, is like keeping it in a jail cell, the groups said, adding that the video showed the whale shark swimming in the tank in the same circling direction.
It took the whale shark about 50 to 80 seconds to swim a circle in the tank, which meant that it would swim about 360 to 576 circles just in the eight hours that the aquarium was open daily, the groups said.
Lai Wei-jen (賴威任), office director of the Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation, said whale sharks have a life span of about 70 to 100 years in the ocean, but data from an aquarium in Okinawa, Japan, showed that 16 whale sharks kept in captivity during the period from 1980 to 1998 lived for an average of only 16 months.
Lee Chan-rong (李展榮), an official at the aquarium, said the aquarium has proposed to tag release the remaining whale shark after it introduces a new small whale shark into the tank, allowing the bigger whale shark to teach the new whale shark for a while.
The groups urged the government not to approve the proposal to introduce any whale sharks, and to ask the aquarium to tag release the remaining whale shark as soon as possible.
PILLAGING PENGHU: A 7,539-tonne Chinese ship found mining sand in the Formosa Banks area was escorted by several CGA ships to a Kaohsiung harbor The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) yesterday announced that it had dispatched ships to intercept Chinese dredging vessels operating in the nation’s territorial waters near Penghu and detained 10 crew members, who were transported to Kaohsiung. A coast guard patrol discovered more than 20 dredging vessels in an area known as the Formosa Banks, 46 nautical miles (85km) southwest of Penghu County’s Cimei islet (七美) at about 5am on Wednesday. The agency responded by dispatching two patrol boats, the 3,000-tonne Kaohsiung and the 500-tonne Penghu, along with two frigates, to intercept the Chinese vessels, while an airborne observation unit was used to monitor
‘HONEYMOON’ IS OVER: A political science professor said that the Tsai administration’s popularity peaked after it successfully contained COVID-19, but is waning President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) and Premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) approval ratings fell significantly this month in the wake of the government’s handling of the distribution of relief funds and stimulus coupons to people and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a poll released yesterday by the New Power Party (NPP) showed. The poll showed that 68 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Tsai’s performance, down 8.9 percentage points from last month, while 21 percent said they disapproved of her performance. Her approval among respondents aged 20 to 29 fell 14.7 percentage points, the largest decrease when compared with other age
CAUTION: The CECC would first observe how the nation fares after easing domestic restrictions and wait for the pandemic to further subside before making its next move The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that relaxing domestic restrictions and border controls simultaneously might complicate efforts to reopen the nation, amid discussions about Taiwan’s exclusion by other countries in their first lists of tourists. The center hopes for there to be a period of observation following the easing of domestic restrictions, before it decides what to do next, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a daily news briefing in Taipei. Chen was responding to a question about the reasoning behind the central government’s decision not to allow foreign students into the
Taiwan respects other countries’ decisions not to include it in their first lists of tourists allowed entry when they reopen their borders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. The Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday reported that the Japanese government was considering reopening the country to tourists from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand first. Greece on Friday announced that from June 15, it would allow visitors from 29 countries, including Australia, China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea and Germany. Japan has not yet finalized its visitor list, but the ministry has conveyed its hope that Tokyo would