ATLANTA -- Turn the music down!
That's the message from PETA vice-president Dan Mathews to the Georgia Aquarium.
During last week's Atlanta Pride celebration, Mathews attended a party hosted at the aquarium. This week, he wrote an opinion piece for the Huffington Post in which he likened the music to "torture" for the animals.
"I was curious about a particular beluga whale squirming and twisting around more than others," he wrote.
Mathews claimed an Aquarium volunteer told him the music was so loud that the beluga whales attacked the harbor seals kept in the same tank. Mathews said the same volunteer told him that music played during the Aquarium's Jazz Fridays this summer actually got the animals to "fighting."
Representatives from the Georgia Aquarium called the article "outrageous."
"It's simply not true," said communications director Scott Higley. "One thing to note about the aquarium is that we set very rigid standards in terms of sound."
"We actually monitor decibel level," he added. "And for large scale events like the Pride party, we typically have sound engineers on site who are monitoring those levels. If by chance we happen to go beyond those levels, we are very aggressive about shutting down the sound at those events."
Dr. Tara Cox has studied marine mammals in the wild for more than 20 years. She said whales' hearing is not as fragile as one might think.
"Really the big concern would be hearing loss, but it takes a really loud sound to induce hearing loss in a marine mammal," she said. "That's pretty much the most rare effect we see."
Higley added that the aquarium was built with events in mind and in most places, the glass is so thick it prevents sound from getting through to the animals.
Mathews said he hopes Pride organizers select another party venue next year.