Press Release – SEA Aquarium Shark Tank Potentially Dangerous, Not Because of Sharks
For Immediate Release
December 19, 2022
Rachel Bjork, President, Northwest Animals Rights Network, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hannah Thompson-Garner, Director of Advocacy and Mission Advancement, Northwest Animal Rights Network, email@example.com, (206) 229-2035
SEA Aquarium Shark Tank Potentially Dangerous – Not Because of Sharks
Seattle, WA. – A giant tropical fish tank, much like the one planned for the Seattle waterfront, has exploded in Berlin, Germany. 1,500 Fish were killed in the explosion. U.S. company Reynolds Polymer Technology constructed the tank, along with part of our local Seattle Aquarium. Berlin’s tank, constructed using modern methods, was located inside of a busy hotel, located on a busy street. RPT believes the explosion could have been caused by “material fatigue;” freezing temperatures may also have been the culprit.
There are catastrophic consequences in not considering public safety in the entertainment industry. Furthermore, it is chilling to us advocates working on social justice issues that the Seattle powers-that-be continue to turn a blind eye to the intersectional nature regarding the Seattle Aquarium. The Aquarium’s new tropical shark tank will also be located on a busy street, Alaskan Way. What will happen if something goes wrong with this tank? Will the Sharks, Rays, and other tropical Fish die immediately, or will they be swept into the Puget Sound, disrupting, perhaps catastrophically, the native ecosystem of the Sound. What amends will be made to humans injured and killed by such an accident?
NARN has been actively working to highlight the inherent financial risks to the city, obvious flaws, and extremely questionable practices surrounding the Aquarium that affect both humans and nonhumans. Recently, we highlighted the confusingly inequitable way the Seattle City Council awarded the Aquarium $20 million in REET funds intended to support affordable housing and fix our infrastructure problems (think bridge repair). The Aquarium remains cagey during requests to access pertinent information regarding the structure of the tank, which animals will be in the tank, where the animals will come from to supply the tank, and who will be responsible for any damage done to Puget Sound regarding the known future climate impacts of the tank. Now, we can add problems with safety to the list.
Seattleites know what disaster prep looks like. We have been perpetually under threat of “The Big One.” We watch with alarm as our PNW summers are smothered by heavy wildfire smoke. Given anticipated problems from climate change, anticipated population growth and density in Seattle, and anticipated mass species extinction globally, you would think an entity as community-focused, “conservation minded,” and “climate-conscious,” as the Aquarium would be perfectly forthcoming about how it plans to mitigate future impacts caused by the new tank.
Another worrisome trend perpetuated in part by the Aquarium has yet to be addressed: that of cultural erasure, colonialism, and disrespect (at best) of Indigenous practices and livelihoods. Furthermore, both tourist aquariums and small personal aquariums acquire Fish from the same sources; these sources are inherently tangled with the global illegal wildlife trade. It was recently announced that Alaskan Way will be renamed in the Lushootseed language to honor the Tribal history of Seattle. There is irony in the name change, due to the colonial legacy perpetuated by one of Alaskan Way’s biggest draws, SEA Aquarium, because of the obvious white-washing of social justice, so common and pervasive in Seattle. Merely changing a street name while still casually allowing the Aquarium to continue to enter into foreign lands (think Indonesia and the Philippines,) and enter into U.S. sacred Tribal lands (ex: Native Hawaiian land) and steal resources (in this case Fish used to stock tanks), is a backwards and highly problematic step in repairing the damage done by white colonialism here in Seattle.
Seattle is once again urged to reconsider its plan for urban density and tourism revenue. We hope the extremely disturbing news highlighted above will cause the City to reconsider its relationship with the Aquarium and with the colonial practices still perpetuated by the City of Seattle across the PNW and across the world.