Aquariums and marine parks seem to spend a fair amount of time these days trying to convince us that their cetaceans live just as long in captivity as they do in the wild. The Vancouver Aquarium, which has seen four of its five captive-born belugas die prior to the age of 3, likes to remind us that the many threats to belugas in the wild means that they also die young in nature. Of course, this argument misses the point that in the captive environment, there are no such threats -- no shortages of food, no pollution, no risk of ship strikes, no predators; there's also health care to combat disease. So, in theory they should all be living much longer in captivity than in the wild.
And, in fact, from time to time it does happen like that. Take, for example, Kavna, the Vancouver Aquarium beluga that was the inspiration for Raffi's "Baby Beluga," a song well known to any Canadian under 40 years old. She lived to 46, a relatively ripe old age for any beluga, wild or captive. That's her in the photo above. The image, taken from a CTV news helicopter in 2012, shows Kavna, covered in a tarp, awaiting airlift from the tanks at Vancouver Aquarium just after her death.