Belugas create ‘art’ at Yokohama aquarium

AFP-JIJI

Beluga whales at a Yokohama aquarium are learning how to paint pictures as part of an autumn art program for visitors, an official said.

The whales at Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise will begin showing off their skills with specially adapted paintbrushes they are able to hold in their mouths, an aquarium spokeswoman said.

A poolside trainer will dip the brush in paint and guide the belugas to produce pictures that bear a passing resemblance to images held up by visitors to the facility in Kanazawa Ward.

“This is part of our ‘geijutsu no aki’ (autumn’s the best season for art) ” program, the spokeswoman said. “The idea is that a beluga will emulate what we’ve prepared for one of our customers to hold, (like) a fish-shaped paper cutout.

“Of course, trainers will guide the whale to do that. We’ll see how well they manage.”

Two female belugas will demonstrate their new skills in rotation once a day from Monday to Friday and twice daily on weekends, she said.

The species, also known as the white whale, is on the Red List of Threatened Species compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Some activists object to the training of whales and dolphins for aquarium shows, and Japan is frequently the target of complaints over its whale hunts and the annual slaughter of dolphins in the town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture.