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Marine Theme Parks Should Not Be Banned: Argumentative Essay

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A marine theme park, sometimes called an aquarium, is where marine animals are kept and open for public viewing for both entertainment and educational purposes. Marine theme parks have grown extremely popular over the years, and according to Gusset (2011), there are more than 700 million visits to aquariums per annum. Thus, it is obvious that the potential of marine theme parks to play a significant role in public education and marine animal conservation is noteworthy. Although it is to be said that marine theme parks are against ethics, however, it should not be banned as it is highly beneficial as education centers and helps in marine animal research purposes.

Marine theme parks, as educational centers, provide great learning opportunities by allowing visitors to have a greater understanding of marine animals. Visitors expressed now being able to understand marine animals better, despite the on-site visit being only conducted for a few hours with minimum formal education sessions, and that they have realized that marine animals deserve much respect just as any other living beings (Packer & Ballantyne, 2010). Statistics of a study at the National Aquarium in Baltimore (NAIB), dated March to July 1999, also show that up to 93% of exiting visitors expressed being able to receive an impactful message, meanwhile, 12% of visitors came out feeling grateful and showed appreciation for the environment (Adelman, Falk & James, 2010). A short-term increase in conservation-related knowledge, attitudes, and intended behaviors can be observed from participants of on-site interaction programs like dolphin shows, and all of these three attributes are significantly higher when compared to participants’ entry-level (Miller et al., 2013). Additionally, an increase in long-term conservation-based knowledge is also shown by participants, which there is a significant difference between participants and non-participants when putting their conservation knowledge in comparison (Miller et al., 2012).

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Marine parks also serve as a research base for wildlife researchers and marine biologists. Routine behavior monitoring is being performed on animals kept in aquariums for research purposes. Regular behavioral monitoring can help to keep animals’ physiological and physical status on track, whereas sound behavioral monitoring is used to recognize atypical behavior in animals (Watters et al., 2008). With something as minor as weight gain and nutritional intake in question, the cost and effort come into the picture if the animal is not held captive in the aquarium but is instead in the wild. One of the most notable studies carried out in marine theme parks includes the stimulation of climate change, in terms of temperature change and salinity shift, to observe the effect of climate change on fish growth, breeding, and behavior. Plenty of species that are managed in the marine park are not studied in the wild, therefore aquariums provide excellent opportunities for researchers and scientists to collect data for the study of stress exerted on marine animals by climate change without the concerns of high costs (Barbosa, 2009).

However, animal advocates protested that keeping marine animals in captivity is in fact inhumane and immoral for marine animals deserve the right to live freely as much as other living beings do. Animal philosophers have raised their voices that animals in captivity should be given rights and moral considerations equal to what is given to human beings, and they believed that any form of human use on animals is wrong (Kreger & Hutchins, 2010). Marine parks are also being criticized for the possibility of the facility exploiting marine animals for commercial gain, as the necessity of marine animals to be held in captivity for the sake of public education has caused arguments (Kreger & Hutchins, 2010). Even though there is no doubt that keeping marine animals in captivity is indeed unethical, however, this action is unavoidable as it is essential for animals to be in aquariums in order to perform conservation procedures for marine animals on the brink of extinction. Comparing the alternative between ‘letting marine animals face extinction in the wild than keeping them in captivity’ and ‘keeping marine animals in aquariums but ensuring that their species is not endangered’, the latter serves as a better option when being analyzed this way, as it is not moral either to let marine animals face extinction without taking any action. In this case, zoos, the land counterparts of aquariums, have performed ex-situ breeding and proved successful results with the restoration of the Arabian oryx, the black-footed ferret, and the California Condor, which all of them previously were endangered but were brought back through conservation procedures in a controlled environment (Minteer & Collins, 2013). Therefore, despite keeping marine animals in captivity is immoral and inhumane, letting them face extinction in the wild without taking any action is not any better either.

In conclusion, marine theme parks should not be banned as they benefit society in terms of public education and scientific research. Despite keeping marine animals in captivity may sound inhumane to some, this may be the best alternative in order to keep the marine system functioning now that the marine environment has been facing destruction due to the activities of humans, with the direct victims of such acts being the marine life population. Therefore, with combined forces of educating the public, researching, and conserving marine life, the marine environment may see a light of hope before things worsen.

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