Dolphins and Other Ocean Animals Belong in the Ocean
Dolphins, like you and I, are mammals. They have teeth, are warm-blooded, have a four-chambered heart, and nurse their young. Dolphins belong to a group of mammals called cetaceans, which include all whales and dolphins. They also have feelings and are highly intelligent. Places like Marineland and Seaworld, where dolphins are held as captive slaves, are called dolphinariums. Captivity and performing is torture for dolphins both mentally and physically. Captive dolphins get sick and diseased and they die young. Dolphinarium death camps don’t want you to know the truth about how they treat beautiful, innocent dolphins. This isn’t how dolphins are meant to live. Life in the wild is complex, unpredictable and challenging. Dolphins are ideally designed to flourish in this rich, varied environment.
Dolphinariums claim that their mission is to protect dolphins in the wild through research and public education. Those are nice words but facts speak louder. If dolphins are so happy in captivity, why do they die so fast? Why the secrecy about their mortality rates? Perhaps if the death records were displayed at the entrance, no one would buy a ticket. Most dolphinariums have made little or no contribution to education about dolphins. Jacques Cousteau believed that captive dolphins are conditioned and deformed and bear little resemblance to dolphins living in freedom in the sea.
Dolphins navigate by echolocation—bouncing sonar waves off other objects to determine their shape, density, distance, and location—but in tanks, the reverberations from their own sonar bounce off the walls, driving some dolphins insane. Jacques Cousteau said that life for a captive dolphin “leads to a confusion of the entire sensory apparatus, which in turn causes in such a sensitive creature a derangement of mental balance and behaviour.”
We blindfold dolphins to study the efficiency of their echolocation system. We put probes in their larynxes and nostrils to examine their sound production. We train them to push buttons and levers, to choose between materials and colors, we teach them to speak. We clamp them down, drill holes into them, and dissect them. Why? They do not exist as subjects for agonizing experiments by man. Dolphins suffer no less than humans. The only way scientists should study dolphins is to swim with them in the wild. No argument can rationalize the forced confinement of these highly intelligent creatures. Dolphins are innocent sufferers in a hell of our making.
Dolphins have evolved over millions of years, adapting perfectly to life in the ocean. They are intelligent, social and self-aware, exhibiting evidence of a highly developed emotional sense. Here are just a few of the issues with captivity:
-Captures of dolphins are traumatic and stressful and can result in injury and death of dolphins. The number of dolphins that die during capture operations or shortly thereafter are never revealed in dolphinariums or swim-with-dolphins programs. Some facilities even claim their dolphins were “rescued” from the ocean and cannot be released. This claim is almost invariably false.
-Training of dolphins is often deliberately misrepresented by the captive dolphin industry to make it look as if dolphins perform because they like it. This isn’t the case. They are performing because they have been deprived of food.
-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 much like forcing a person to live in a hall of mirrors for the rest of their life – their image always bouncing back with no clear direction in sight.
|In the Wild||In Captivity|
|Dolphin can live up to 55 yrs||53% die within the first 3 months|
|Orcas live up to 90 yrs||Average life span = 5.2|
|Eat live fish||Fed dead fish|
|Live in complex social structures, staying with family their entire lives.||Often isolated in barren tanks, many suffer from stress. Some commit suicide!|
|Swim up to 50 miles/day, and dive to depths of 100 to 1000 feet||8 foot dolphins can legally be confined in 24x24foot tanks, only 6 feet deep.|
|Live in ocean’s salt water||Live in chlorinated, treated water|
|Use sonar to “see” and to interact||Unable to use sonar because of sound bouncing off tank walls. A hall of mirrors.|
|Can reproduce every 2-3 years starting at age 10-12.||At least 1/3 of all captive births die.|
|Average offspring = about 6-7||Captive breeding is very poor. Average offspring = less than 1|
|Live free.||Captive dolphins perform unnatural “circus” tricks, beg for food, and give rides to be fed.|
Mass Murder in the First Degree
One of The most horrific things humans do to animals takes place in Taiji Japan. Many captive dolphins come from this heinous hunt for dolphin meat at Taiji’s killing cove. The movie The Cove first documented the bloody hunt for the world in 2009. Many still don’t believe its happening. Sea Shepherd and The Cove Guardians risked their lives to show us what is being done to dolphins today. Now. Each year from September to May over 20,000 dolphins are slaughtered in Japan. Fishermen round them up by the hundreds using sound barriers to disorient and herd the frantic pods out of their normal migrations into hidden lagoons like the one featured in The Cove. Bottlenose dolphins, especially ones that look like Flipper, are pre-selected by trainers and sold off for upwards of $200,000 to marine mammal parks around the world, where they will remain in captivity performing as circus acts. After the trainers and spectators have left, the rest of the dolphins are slaughtered screaming in pain and begging for the lives of their young. They are brutally massacred.
The butchered dolphins are later used for food, but the Japanese government has intentionally sheltered people from the dangers of eating them. Consumers of dolphin meat run the risk of mercury poisoning due to high levels of the toxin within the animals. Adding to the danger, much of the pricier whale meat they purchase is actually mislabeled toxic dolphin meat. While the Japanese government defends dolphin hunting as part of their cultural heritage, this tradition has serious health effects on its own people.
The Hunters push the dolphins into a smaller more private cove, known as the “Killing Cove”. By its name, one does not need a huge imagination to know what happens there. At this point (depending on the type of dolphin that is caught) the “Trainers” are called in. These people work for Dolphin Base, Dolphin Resort Hotel, and the Taiji Whale Museum. It is their job to come in and pick the best dolphins out of the pod to be sold in the live dolphin trade. They get into the water and inspect the animals, and decide if any are good enough to sell. When they find an animal they like, multiple trainers jump on the animal and hold it down. They get it into a net or sling attached to a skiff (sometimes the animal goes right into a boat for its ride) and it’s moved to a sea pen in the harbor, or directly to the Taiji Whale Museum. Once the trainers are done picking their favorites, they leave with their animals, and the rest of the pod is stabbed and shot to death. Screaming.
Less well known, but equally torturous, is an annual slaughter of Calderon Dolphins that takes place in the Faroe Islands of Denmark. An example of how guarded these atrocities are , Snopes.com has this slaughter tagged as “probably true.” Teens from the Faroe Islands in Denmark engage in a brutal dolphin slaughter that may turn some heads. Considered a rite of passage, this video captures a blood-soaked ritual that leaves hundreds of dolphins dead.
What you can do:
– Never again buy a ticket to a dolphinarium or any place that enslaves animals for yout entertainment. Your money helps them torture animals.
– Organize a protest at a dolphinarium or Japanese Consulate – we can help!
– Go vegan. If we stop eating meat, people stop killing for profit. Period. Learn more and
order your free vegan starter kit! (Click on learn more)
– Educate yourself. Donate. Take action. Contact Sea Shepherd to see how you can help.