Community mourns death of Maris, aquarium's beluga whale

Some say the whale's death is sign of whay they do not belong in captivity.

ATLANTA — The Georgia Aquarium is mourning after the loss of their 21-year-old beluga whale, Maris.

Some say this is another sign as to why these whales do not belong in captivity.

“I was devastated. Maris has been exploited in her short life. She was 21 when she died. She’s been impregnated twice,” said Martha Brock.

Content Continues Below

Brock is with the Georgia Animal Rights and Protection group, and she, like many, strongly oppose keeping Beluga whales in captivity.

Maris is the third beluga whale to die at the Georgia Aquarium since 2012. The other two were her calves.

“She was used and used up, and now, she’s gone. It’s extraordinarily tragic,” said Brock.

Channel 2's Craig Lucie went to the Georgia Aquarium Friday where he was kept off the property. When Lucie requested an interview, the aquarium's communications manager told him, “To respect our animal care and veterinary team’s privacy during this really difficult time, we are not going to be conducting any interviews.”

“I believe they owe the public a response more than no comment at this tim,e because we are grieving. I’m grieving,” said Brock.

On the aquarium's website, the chief veterinary officer said it was a “case of sudden, acute animal death.”

Aquarium visitors told Lucie they were not aware of her passing.

“I didn’t see anything. I was over there, taking pictures and everything,” said visitor Christina Bolus.

Some aquarium supporters told Lucie the educational and conservation work they do outweighs the negatives many bring up about keeping the belugas in captivity.

“They can figure out why it died and do research on that, and if it’s a disease that beluga whales have, they can use that,” said Jenna Hanslits.

The Georgia Aquarium now only has two belugas and recently lost their fight to import 18 belugas from Russia.

The Georgia Aquarium says her necropsy will take weeks, and even then, they may never find out her exact cause of death.