The Beluga whale in Finding Dory is nothing like the Beluga whale at the Georgia Aquarium.
As a part of a science grant at my seminary received, my Old Testament class went to the Georgia Aquarium. The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere, housing thousands of animals and representing several thousand species, all of which reside in 10 million gallons of marine and salt water. It used to be the largest aquarium in the world from its opening in 2005 until 2012.
As we entered the aquarium, I was telling my friends how inhumane it is that we take these intelligent, social, enormous creatures who swim vast distances in oceans, and put them in fish tanks. I walked around complaining about the small fish in small aquariums – until we came to this. The Beluga whale.
Beluga whales are gregarious (fond of company) and form groups of up to 10 animals on average, although during the summer, they can gather in the hundreds or even thousands. They are slow swimmers, but can dive to 700 m below the surface. Their worldwide population is thought to number around 150,000. They use echo location to find objects far away. They migrate.
At first, I stood there; knowing all this about Belugas. Knowing that each sound these two Belugas make, is reflecting off the glass of their quarantine and they hear themselves over and over and over and over again. I watched, shaking my head, at the fish tank which was before me.
However, the longer I stood there, the more mesmerized I became. This was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. So beautiful, it hurt. The longer I watched them, the longer I wished to stay. In that moment, I found myself thinking how grateful I am to see this. It hit me then- this is why we live in a world of injustice. We are mesmerized by what we gain, we forget what the other loses. Taking beauty from the world, we put in a tiny box, so you and I can enjoy it.
Evidently, we enjoy it.