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Tuesday, Sep 16th

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Activists: Fish backstop at Marlins Ballpark cruel

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Miami Marlins aquarium

Animal-rights activists are saying it's cruel for the Miami Marlins to house fish in an aquarium behind home plate, with high-speed foul balls potentially jarring to the life aquatic.

As part of the move to a new ballpark, the Marlins installed a huge fish tank that acts as the playing-field backstop. The aquariums will be built on each side of home plate and will be been positioned to prevent any disruption to players on the field. The aquarium to the right of home plate (when looking from the pitcher's mound) measures 34 feet long, 36 inches high and holds over 600 gallons of seawater, while the aquarium to the left, will be 24 feet in length, holding 450 gallons of water.

Each aquarium is clad in Lexan -- bulletproof glass -- with a durable fiberglass structure; acrylic panels 1.5 inches thick will be used for the viewing windows that run the entire length of the aquariums.

The aquariums attracted the attention of a local animal-rights group, who raised the question of whether it wa appropriate to subject fish to the ballpark experience. From Broward County New Times:

Animal Rights Foundation of Florida spokesman Don Anthony said stadiums are not really the place to be playing with tropical fish.

"I can tell you even if the glass doesn't shatter, it's going to cause a tremendous vibration and disturb and upset the fish," Anthony said. "No matter how many shock absorbers they build into the system, if there are thousands of fans screaming and jumping during a sporting event it's going to affect the fish in there....I don't know if its on the high end of animal abuse, I don't know if its going to upset them to the point that it kills them," but pointed out that if fish in somebody's living-room aquarium get startled by one person tapping on the glass, it was a pretty safe bet the fish forever trapped in a Colosseum of stomping, screaming, booing fans would be perturbed.

"Why put animals in a place like that, in a place where animals don't belong?" he said. "Fish are not a decoration."

The response from the Marlins: the fish will be fine, the aquarium is optimized for the life aquatic, and they've tested its stability, so there's little chance of an accident. Besides, what could go wrong with putting live critters in a glass tank close to the live action of a ballgame?

RELATED STORIES: New Marlins ballpark to feature aquariums in backstop

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