Georgia Aquarium loses beluga whale

Posted Monday, November 2, 2009 8:47 PM | Contributed by Jeff

The Georgia Aquarium announced late Monday that one of the three beluga whales it moved temporarily to Sea World San Antonio in early October as a precaution during construction died suddenly on Saturday. The exact cause of death of Nico, who was estimated to be more than 25 years old, was inconclusive after the initial gross necropsy, or animal autopsy, conducted by veterinarians and other animal health specialists in Texas.

Read more from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 7:08 AM

Anybody up for a beluga BBQ? :)

It's sad to hear of such a beauitiful creature dying.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009 7:11 AM

::waits for obligatory PETA "we need details because we are 'authority' " demand::

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009 9:14 AM

I'm kind of intrigued as to what kind of litigation will come from the Georgia Aquarium. To what extent is Sea World responsible for the whale's health in their facility, even though the GA staff was monitoring him?

Last edited by Fun, Tuesday, November 3, 2009 10:41 AM
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009 9:31 AM

I would think it would depend on the circumstances of the animal's death. If it did something wrong in the care of the animal, Sea World may be liable for damages. If nothing can be established that Sea World did or didn't do as the cause of death, I wouldn't expect Sea World to have any liability. Seeking to hold Sea World in any way strictly liable (ie, something bad happened while the animal was in your care even though there is no evidence that you did anything wrong, but you are still liable) would make it very difficult for the Georgia Aquarium to find someone else to house other animals in similar circumstances in the future. And I suspect they had a written agreement which spelled out each parties responsibilities and contained waivers of claims with respect to anything that happened to the animal that wasn't caused by negligence on the part of Sea World.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009 12:15 PM

I really only had two thoughts on this topic and they are both silly:

The first is when I read the thread title and thought, "Well, gee, did anyone check the pool? Where did they see it last?"

And the second had to do with the whale having been shipped by FedEx... Really? That just creates a very silly mental image for me.

Ok, now that I have that out of my system, please feel free to resume serious discussion. :)

Last edited by Carrie M., Tuesday, November 3, 2009 12:15 PM
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009 2:46 PM

I believe using Fed Ex to ship animals is part of a sponsorship arrangement. I remember a display involving the shipment of the whale sharks that focused on the carrier. (I thought it was UPS, but I haven't been to the aquarium in a few years.)

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009 3:15 PM

Carrie M. said:
I really only had two thoughts on this topic and they are both silly:

The first is when I read the thread title and thought, "Well, gee, did anyone check the pool? Where did they see it last?"

And the second had to do with the whale having been shipped by FedEx...

Seriously. I would think the odds of losing it would've been greater had they used the USPS...

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009 4:49 PM

WTF? Everyone is a lawyer on this site. Read the article. The aquarium's people were there monitoring the animal.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009 5:03 PM

Reading back Jeff, I would say everyone was aspiring comedians more so.. :)

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009 5:17 PM

If they had shipped the whale UPS, they'd have a tracking number.

UPS rocks. My local driver (Mark) delivers parts to the house on regular basis.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009 5:59 PM

Carrie M. said:
I really only had two thoughts on this topic and they are both silly:

When I read the title, I had an even sillier idea. I kept having flashbacks to last week's South Park episode. For those of you who are South Park fans, I think we know what really happened to that poor defenseless whale. :(

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009 6:22 PM

Jeff said:
WTF? Everyone is a lawyer on this site. Read the article. The aquarium's people were there monitoring the animal.

Huh? At the time of your post, there were 8 posts in the thread, one indicating intrigue at possible liability issues and one (mine) discussing those possibilities and "everyone is a lawyer on this site?" Not sure I follow the logic there. And yes, the article does indicate that folks from the aquarium were monitoring the animal but it doesn't say how closely. And in the end, if Sea World did anything wrong which caused the death of the animal, SW may very well have liability even if the aquarium was monitoring the animal. That the aquarium was monitoring the animal may reduce (or even eliminate) that liability though.

And FWIW, I have it on good information that some folks posting on this site are indeed attorneys.

Now if you want to go to the Cedar Fair earnings release thread and talk about everyone on this site being accountants/financial analysts, I am right there with you. :)

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009 6:22 PM

Assuming your "Read the article" was aimed at me, I guess you missed the part in my two sentence comment where I acknowledged that "the GA staff was monitoring him".

The article doesn't mention the the average life expectancy of a beluga whale is 25-30 years. It's entirely possible that it just died of natural causes. But if people can sue each other over cracks in the sidewalks in front of their homes, it doesn't seem so far fetched to think someone would claim negligence on the other's part.

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