Writer M.D. Thalmann jumps into the controversy surrounding two new aquariums set to open in the Valley

Desert Sea Life? backstory

Writer M.D. Thalmann jumps into the controversy surrounding two new aquariums set to open in the Valley.

“Dear lort, we just cain’t learn! What a buncha idjits”

That’s my mom. She’s eloquent.

What she was responding to was the gossip about a new Arizona aquarium that plans on importing sea life to our pleasant desert burg, where 115-degree temperatures are the norm for at least three months out of the year.

Turns out, what she heard is true. The 14-acre OdySea Aquarium, brought to you by the folks behind Butterfly Wonderland, is opening any day now. The 200,000-square-foot, two-level aquarium, housed next door to Butterfly Wonderland, off the Loop 101 and Via de Ventura in Scottsdale, will hold more than two million gallons of water and feature sharks, turtles, penguins, jellyfish, octopus, and more, according to OdySea’s website.

I’m not going to get too political or bring up distasteful issues. With everything the media is blasting at you right now, no doubt you have enough to contend with, especially once those ballots arrive in November. But, let me ask this: Is it really a good idea to transport and house such delicate aquatic creatures so far away from their natural habitats? What happens if the cooling system goes out or the water filtration system fails in the aquarium? These creatures can’t adapt to sudden changes in their ecosystem as readily as, say, a lion in a zoo.

On that note, I admit to going to zoos, and I’m grateful for them (as are my children), so I’m trying my best not to be a hypocrite here, but a huge aquarium in the desert seems an ill-conceived idea.

Not to mention, I heard another outfit, Dolphinaris, is opening a facility here where visitors can swim with and ride on captive bottlenose dolphins. According to their website, dolphinaris-arizona.com, “Our instructors will guide you into shallow water where you become acquainted with the dolphins through swim-bys, gentle caresses, and even hugs and kisses. Then, for the more adventurous, guests can join the dolphins in deeper water for an exciting interaction that both guests and dolphins enjoy!”

Kisses. Caresses. Say, what? We’re talking about a majestic sea creature that doesn’t deserve a life in captivity away from its home in the ocean, not a toy. Swimming around in monotonous circles, while being fed a diet of dead fish, can’t be healthy for a dolphin that’s instinctually programed to roam the ocean’s abyss hunting for prey. Folks, this is not a domesticated animal and being in its presence shouldn’t be treated like a pony ride, where anyone with a couple of bucks can hop on for a spin.

After reading plenty about both projects, I understand both companies hope to raise awareness for these sea creatures and representatives say the companies support ocean conservationism. To be honest, I see the appeal of these places. I even kind of want to take my kids to the aquariums, because they’re experiences I may not be able to afford to give my children any other way. Yet, I still think these projects are ill conceived and will, instead of raising awareness to the damage being done to our oceans and other ecosystems, make these majestic creatures just another app or gimmick.

Easily accessible and readily available, sea life in the desert will lose its novelty. What will happen to these creatures once the Valley’s interest has waned and revenue sources no longer cover the expensive upkeep for these animals? Only time will tell.



Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

© 2018 North Valley Magazine

Scroll to top