The death of Nala, the baby beluga at the Vancouver Aquarium has rekindled the debate about the ethics of keeping whales in captivity.

Annelise Sorg from No Whales in Captivity said the cetaceans are “psychologically stressed” and have nothing to do.

“They are just stuck in a little concrete bathtub,” Sorg said.

She believes boredom is one reason that a penny and pebbles were found in Nala.

The objects became lodged in an unusual “pocket” off her airway, causing infection and swelling and contributing to her death.

However, John Nightingale, president of the Vancouver Aquarium, said that as long as the animals are properly taken care of, they are better off in captivity than in the wild.

Nightingale counters that even though whales live a different lifestyle in the wild; they still “play with all sorts of stuff.”

“They find stones in almost all of them, in their stomachs. So clearly whales pick up stones and in fact stones may be a helpful part of their digestive system,” he said.

Nightingale also points out that because there are no veterinarians in the wild, whales have better chance of battling infections when in captivity.