After such an amazing response to my previous blogs, I just felt like I had SO much more to tell you about dolphins in captivity that was too much to cram into the first post. If you want to refresh your memory on what I said last time then please have a mooch! The more information that we are armed with, the more people we can tell people and the more informed decisions can be made about attending these BARBARIC places. To be quite honest I can’t believe that these places still exist in this day and age. I touched on the very basic reasons in my last blog as to why dolphins should NEVER be in captivity, so this time I am going to go into more detail and delve a bit deeper.
Amazing things they do in the Wild:
I’m going to start with how fantastic these animals are in the wild because I truly believe appreciating what they would do naturally tells us so much more about a species. Dolphins in captivity tells us absolutely nothing about them.
–> Helping out the fishermen. So dolphins in certain parts of the world have cottoned on to the fact that fishermen come to catch fish, and the dolphins act like shepherds and gather them all up to help the fishermen out!
–> Saving people at sea. Incredibly, there have been so many situations where dolphins have saved people that have got into trouble at sea. For example, someone was being attacked by a shark, so a pod of dolphins spotted this, swam up, circled the person to protect them until the shark swam off and then towed the person back to the shore! Absolutely unbelievable! Similar things have happened where people have been drowning at sea and dolphins have towed them back to the shore, blows my mind.
The Capture Process:
Firstly, in order to source dolphins, lots of them are captured from the wild….this means going out on boat, brutally chasing down a pod of dolphins, cornering them so that some of them physically can’t get away (often using things like explosives) to then snatch a few. Many die in this process from stress, or from the brutal capture process itself. As I mentioned in my last blog, dolphins have such incredibly strong family bonds. They stay with their families for life, so to see their mom/sibling/baby be snatched and taken away must be so horrifically traumatic. Captivity is actually the largest slaughter process.
Their Brain Power:
This is when I hear cries of people disputing their intelligence and not actually realising how amazingly intelligent dolphins are. The cortex of their brain is 40% more folded than ours and to put it really crudely, the more folding of the brain = the more intelligent the species. It’s not even just about intelligence, really, but about consciousness. They really do know that their family member is being snatched from them. Dolphins are one of only a few species that are able to recognise themselves in a mirror. I’m sure we’ve all held our dogs or cats up to a mirror and been like “look! it’s you!” and watched their little blank faces (and to be quite honest I think my cats are total geniuses and they don’t even know when they’re looking at themselves so that just says it all really hehe).
Also, dolphins in the wild each have their own name which they’re given from birth by the rest of their pod (my heart melts)!
I mentioned in my Swimming with Dolphins and Dolphins in Captivity Part 1 blog that they have an extra bit of their limbic system in their brain which means they experience heightened emotion, grief, love etc. I think the only way we can appreciate this as more than just a statement is if you imagine how it would feel to be one of the most social creatures on the planet, sitting alone in a pool having had your family snatched from you. The list just goes on and on and on as to why these animals should never, ever be in a swimming pool.
Once in Captivity:
Did you know that wild caught dolphins that are taken into captivity have to be force fed because they refuse to eat? This means putting a tube down their throat and cramming them.
In my last blog I touched on the issue of sound and that it travels differently through water than it does through air. This means that the noises of captivity (machinery, water pumps, screaming audience members) is terribly stressful for dolphins. There are no two ways about it, stress kills them.
Aside from all of these things, it is totally degrading to be expected to perform the same “tricks” day in day out. Dolphins will not get food until they have performed the desired action that their trainer asks of them. Unless they pose for a kiss photo or unless they do a pectoral wave (or whatever other ridiculous routine) they will not get food. These poor animals have no choice but to carry out these horrifically degrading and demoralising behaviours, because in reality if they don’t do them, they go hungry. In lots of dolphinariums, the animals are horribly emaciated, riddled with infection and are driven to being mentally ill from the tragically understimulating environment.
By going to dolphinariums and by taking your children to see them in captivity it teaches our next generation that it is acceptable! These animals are kept in less than 1% of the space of their natural habitat…. less than 1%!!!!!
In previous years, dolphins used to be protected and their capture was punishable by death! Now we can snatch them out of the sea, thrust them into a swimming pool and force them to perform these degrading tricks day in day out for their entire lives?
If you want to know more the following videos/documentaries/books are amazing:
-The Cove (this is on YouTube and is about an hour long)
-Inside the Tanks (YouTube as well)
-Behind the Dolphins Smile – Ric O’Barry (a book written by ex dolphin trainer)
-Whale and Dolphin Conservation (their website has tonnes of great info)
Please, please, please make a pledge never to go to see dolphins in captivity. It really is that simple, just don’t go.
P.S – Next time, orcas.