Are You Dreaming of Swimming With Dolphins? Here’s what you need to know
Swimming with captive dolphins is on many holiday makers ‘to do’ lists, promoted and sold by tour operators as a lifetime opportunity where you can have a one-to-one encounter with the animals. Whilst on the surface swim with dolphins (SWD) activities may appear a harmless interaction, the truth is far darker, for both the dolphins’ concerned and paying customers. If you or someone you know has or is considering this as an activity whilst on holiday read on and find out what price the animals have to pay for your brief encounter.
Dolphins used in SWD programmes are either taken from wild populations or born into cramped conditions in captivity where their tanks, or even lagoons, are a tiny fraction of the space they would have in the wild. This results in dolphins becoming bored, frustrated and developing stereotypical behaviours such as swimming endlessly in circles or lying motionless on the surface.
Dolphins are also worked constantly all day, almost 365 days a year – never getting a break from tourists touching them or taking photos. This constant exposure to the public, confinement in a small space and demands on them to ‘perform’ results in many animals developing stress-related diseases. It is common for dolphins to receive a variety of medications to counteract bouts of depression and aggression. Self-mutilation is common as is poor dental health due to them gnawing on the sides, walls or gates of their tanks or ingesting foreign objects which fall into the area they are being held in. Due to being fed mostly a diet of frozen fish, captive dolphins also need to have these packed with vitamin supplements and antibiotics to reduce the danger of disease/infection by their constant close contact with the paying public.
And the danger isn’t just to the dolphins, the public are at risk too! There are countless documented cases of injuries of participants being bitten or butted by dolphins, incurring serious bruises, and even broken bones. Dolphins also carry bacterial, viral and fungal diseases which can easily be transmitted to humans and vice-versa.
If you love dolphins please do not add this activity to your ‘bucket list’. You do not need to touch dolphins, to be touched by dolphins – their lives are more important than your entertainment. A captive environment cannot provide adequate stimulation for these social, intelligent, marine mammals so please help us end the keeping of all dolphins and whales in captivity.
Courtesy of our friends over at Marine Connection