Conclusions

The Sea Life brand is part of a huge and ever-expanding commercial business with an increasing influence around the world. This study strongly suggests that Sea Life aquariums are not benign institutions with the best interests of animals in mind but businesses adept at attracting positive publicity from sometimes questionable activities, whilst actively avoiding areas of controversy. The pursuit of positive publicity continues even if it means being somewhat economical with the truth. In some cases, simple questions to staff are met with outright lies when it was deemed the true answer might not be one which Sea Life visitors might expect to hear.

Given the evidence of removing animals from the wild, welfare concerns, poor education and contradictory messaging to its visitors, the prospect of Sea Life’s increasing global influence should not just be a concern for animal protection advocates, but for all of us.

Healthy oceans are vital for a healthy planet and Sea Life, whose mission appears to be focused not upon the protection of such habitats, but upon the furtherance of its own business brand and expanding empire, should not, in our opinion, be trusted as a reliable ambassador of these precious and threatened environments.

The ethical and animal welfare concerns surrounding the zoo industry are being brought under increasing scrutiny worldwide but fish and other marine animals are often overlooked. This is perhaps because it is easier for us to empathise with the plight of mammals, who are more like us and share so many of our own traits. Since Suffering Deep Down was published by CAPS in 2004, many myths surrounding aquatic animals have been dispelled. Fish have lives of their own. They suffer and experience pain. They learn and choose to avoid situations which put them under threat of harm. It is time that we gave fish and other aquatic animals our full consideration; and that can begin by bringing an end to support for their lifelong confinement in public aquariums.