“Swim with dolphins” programs profit from tourists’ curiosity and desire to be close to the animals they love. Although people may have good intentions in wanting to interact with their favorite marine mammals, they’re actually supporting an industry that condemns these individuals to a lifetime of loneliness. Have you ever wondered where these dolphins came from in the first place? Well, here’s the deal:
Sometimes, dolphins are torn away from their families in the wild and sold to marine parks around the world. Even babies, who typically stay with their mothers for three to six years, are taken. Can you imagine how you’d feel if you were stolen from your parents as a kid?
Many of the dolphins who are considered less “attractive”—and, therefore, less profitable—are actually slaughtered during this capture process and sold as meat to consumers. Can we say “WTF?!”
Others are bred in captivity and suffer for their entire lives in miserable pens or concrete pools.
Not only are the dolphins used in these tourist attractions forced to live in barren pools, they also have to endure the trauma and stress of being repeatedly transported. One dolphin named Sasha was captured from her home in the Gulf of Mexico in 1987 and has since been transported to different facilities 21 times! She is now being held captive at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas, one of the most popular “swim with” facilities.
In the wild, dolphins swim up to 60 miles each day, but in captivity, they’re confined to cramped sea pens and often chemically treated concrete pools. This is especially traumatic for them since they communicate through echolocation.
Captive dolphins are often housed in incompatible groups, and because of the cramped conditions, they’re unable to escape conflicts.
Many dolphins develop painful ailments, such as stomach ulcers, and some die prematurely from the stressful conditions of captivity.
Some other illnesses—including viral, fungal, and bacterial infections—can be passed from dolphins to human visitors. People have also been bitten and sustained broken bones during their swimming sessions or while “interacting” with dolphins at marine parks. Umm … no, thanks!
Now that you know about the true cost that dolphins pay for our amusement, what will you do? Never visit marine parks or participate in “swim with” programs—and urge your friends and family to avoid them, too. Dolphins are NOT OURS to use for entertainment.