Sarah Frias-Torres sfrias_torres at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 15 14:01:31 EDT 2008

Dear Coral-listers,
The recent posts on captive whale sharks underline a more general question, or the free versus captive marine wildlife. I am certain this is a topic of extreme importance as we live in an increasingly human-dominated world, of shrinking marine habitats, polluted oceans and disappearing wildlife. I would like to bring this issue upfront at the upcoming Second International Marine Conservation Congress (20-24 May 2009, Washington DC)
Therefore, this is an open call for anyone reading this message (scientists, conservationists, educators, managers, sociologists, etc) to participate in the forum. I will provide a summarized version of the information received eventually. Please, send your replies directly to my email sfrias_torres at hotmail.com ; and indicate whether you want to remain anonymous for the purpose of information sharing, or you want your name to appear in the summary.
To stimulate discussion, I have selected three sections:
1) Captive habitat. 
Mainly live coral (hard and soft) collection for the purpose of public aquarium display or aquarium hobbyists
2) Wildlife showbiz
Mainly marine mammal acrobatics “alla” Sea World (a.k.a., Shamu world, etc)
3) Captive dive encounters
Mainly swim with (sharks, whale sharks, dolphin) programs at either public aquaria or resorts / hotels.
What to talk about? In your experience, or based on information available to you:
1) Is there a justification for those activities?: scientific, ethical, economic…
2) Is there evidence that having captive habitat/wildlife promotes marine conservation among the public? (case studies, examples..), 
3) For those of us working in any aspect of the non-captive ocean, what should be our interaction with aquariums / resorts/hotels that keep animals in captivity?   
Send you comments, or web sites, papers, publications etc you would like to contribute on the issues addressed above. Remember, no censorship, and anonymity allowed upon request.
Best wishes

Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D. 
Marine Conservation Biologist
Ocean Research and Conservation Association, Florida USA

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