I decided to write this post after I recently came across a fellow mom blog who had a detailed bucket list of things she would like to do in her life before she kicks it. Swimming with dolphins was one of them.
I’m not linking to this woman’s blog, who happens to be a TV news reporter, as she doesn’t need to be attacked by animal rights activists. But as a fellow parent who’s job it is to teach our children compassion and as a fellow writer and sometimes journalist who’s job requires being a savvy researcher, I was disappointed to see that swimming with dolphins was up there with visiting another country and opening a 401(k).
I don’t think people understand that more harm than good is being done when you swim with dolphins who are in captive environments. So here it is folks…
For starters, the capturing of dolphins is traumatic and stressful and often results in injury and death.
Dolphins are trained to look as if they perform because they like it. This isn’t the case. Tailwalking and playing ball are trained behaviors that do not occur in the wild. Dolphins perform because they have been deprived of food. Hold food in front of me when I am famished and I too would jump through hoops to get to it.
Most captive dolphins are confined in minuscule tanks containing chemically treated artificial seawater. Dolphins in a tank are severely restricted in using their highly developed sonar, which is one of the most damaging aspects of captivity. It is similar to forcing a person to live in a maze of mirrors for the rest of their life - their image always bouncing back with no clear direction in sight.
Perhaps the saddest part of dolphin captivity is how short their lives are. The average life span of a dolphin in the wild is 45 years; yet half of all captured dolphins die within their first two years of captivity. The survivors last an average of only five years in captivity.
Wild dolphins can swim 40 to 100 miles per day – in pools they go around in circles.
These are simple facts that people and especially parents, should know. If you think it would be cute to get snapshots of your spawn swimming with dolphins during your next vacation to Atlantis in the Bahamas, please, think again.