MAST Academy has a rich history of many time-honored traditions, and with its ideal location on the bay, the marine-themed school has given students the opportunity to study and appreciate the wildlife right in its backyard.
One of the most unique traditions the school has every year is MAST Blast. The event is typically held on the last day of school before spring break. The day used to involve water slides on the pool deck, water gun fights and other water themed events.
As the MAST population has grown, the campus has become too small to hold the event. It was moved to the field but because of the synthetic turf, water events were no longer possible.
The solution was to move the event to the Miami Seaquarium. It’s across the street, it allows for water events, it’s the seemingly perfect solution.
Yet, unfortunately, the Miami Seaquarium has a long, dark history tainted with animal abuse. Many of the animals in marine themed parks are captured from the ocean and ripped away from their pods. Whales are highly intelligent creatures; they live in their family pods and communicate and recognize each other. After some members are kidnapped by hunting boats, mothers can be heard crying for days for their lost calves.
Once the animals are transported to the parks, the conditions are even worse. In the wild, Orca whales swim 100 miles per day.
The tanks these animals are confined to are .0001 percent of the space that they would have in the wild. In the ocean, whales spend 95 percent of their time submerged under water which protects their delicate skin from sunburns.
The whales are often sunburned and trainers use black zinc oxide to cover the burns so the public doesn’t see.
At the Miami Seaquarium, the deepest part of Lolita the whale’s tank is only 20 feet deep. The size of the tank—affectionately called the whale puddle—doesn’t even meet the governments’ already insufficient standards.
These living conditions result in a myriad of health problems. While orcas in the wild have an average life expectancy of 30 to 50 years, the median age of orcas in captivity is only 9 years.
“I really think it’s just lack of education. If people understood exactly what happens at these parks they wouldn’t want to go. The animals are under a lot of stress and extremely depressed, making them do tricks is cruel,” junior Lauren Broce said.
MAST has been a school dedicated to educating its students about the marine environment, so the fact that MAST Blast was held in a park that blatantly mistreats marine mammals is appalling.
“I just don’t feel right giving my money to an organization that is extremely cruel and essentially tortures animals for profit and entertainment,” senior Carlos Fernandez said.
Over 700 students attended the event and each one paid 5 dollars; the Miami Seaquarium once again profited from exploiting animals.
However, despite the large turnout not every student was happy with the location of the event.
“I made a dentist appointment that day. I’d rather get my wisdom teeth removed than support MAST Blast at the Seaquarium,” senior Julia Levay said.