Although a dolphin in the wild would seldom approach a human being, hundreds of them are forced to swim with tens of thousands people every year. Dolphinaria can even open 7 days a week and perform 4 shows a day ranging from 20 minutes to one hour without holidays or breaks for the animals.
Programmes allowing people to swim with dolphins increase their feeling of stress already experienced by living in captivity. Young females are normally used in these programmes since their behaviour is easier to manipulate. On the contrary, males are more prone to aggressiveness and sexual behaviour under certain circumstances depending on the time of the year.
Dolphins are more aggressive and dangerous than one could imagine. They are strong and temperamental animals (big in size and weight, a dolphin strength is up to 7 times higher than a human athlete’s). It would be naive to believe them harmless towards humans especially when the interactions are forced onto them. After all, they are wild animals and as such, as much as they are trained, they are unpredictable.
A dolphin in the wild would never attack a human being. Those few cases recorded have only occurred when dolphins have been subject to stressful situations, harassed or disturbed. However, the stress caused by the unnatural conditions of captivity together with the forced interactions with human beings can result on frustration leading to aggressiveness towards people and other dolphins. Dolphins are wild sea mammals with their own patterns of behaviour and social conduct. They play and mate in a different way to human beings and in many occasions, these activities, which are normal for them, can be potentially dangerous for human beings.
Information and public safetyMost participants are not informed of the possible hazards of swimming with dolphins. Dolphins are extremely agile animals, so accurate in their perceptions and exact and synchronised in their movements under water that they would be able to evade the movements of people. Therefore, any bump or scratch to swimmers would be intended, not accidental, even in the smallest and most crowded spaces.
This behaviour can result on severe physical damage to swimmers and could lead to hospitalisation: muscles torn, damaged organs, internal wounds, open wounds, broken bones and shocks. It has been the case that a dolphin fell on top of a person damaging her neck and causing deafness as a result.
Dolphins tend to be more submissive towards adult men, but children and women are the most threatened by their behaviour. Young women are in higher risk of suffering aggressive sexual behaviour.
Dolphins can sense the nerviosism in swimmers, react to them with aggressiveness and injuring them as a result.
Dolphins seem to have the ability of telling the difference and treat more carefully handicapped people. However, the actions and reactions of handiccaped children are unpredictable. If an animal is harmed intentionally or not, their immediate response will be another aggression or a rough and dangerous escape.
Likewise, there exists the risk of zoonotic agents´ transmission between humans and dolphins. It is believed that respiratory infections can transmitted from men to dolphins and vice verse. A large number of bacteriological diseases can penetrate through cuts, rashes, and especially bites. The participants are not informed of the possible infections and the centres do not inform about the accidents that occur during interactions. In fact, participants must often sign a document exempting the centre and administrations of any responsibility from any report of accident that may happen during the encounter.
Safety of dolphinsThrough these behaviours, dolphins are trying to communicate their stress and fear. However, human beings do not realise of that stress, fear and frustration displayed by animals during the programmes. Apart from endangering people, the safety and well-being of dolphins are also affected in the swimming-with-dolphins programmes in different ways:
- They suffer from stress, which can relate to negative physiologic disorders in the long run (stomach inflammation, ulcer, etc).
- They may suffer from an unusual exposure to human bacteriological or viral infections.
- They may swallow objects that have fallen into the swimming pool (keys, swimming caps, etc).
- They may suffer from other stressing environmental agents like noise, deprivation of rest, inability to withdraw from human contact.
- The participants may intentionally or unintentionally disturb the animals by pulling their fins, chasing them, touching their eyes or blowholes, etc.
- Some studies show that the level of whistles made by dolphins increase before and during the swimming-with-dolphins sessions as an indication of stress in anticipation to the sessions and during the course of these.
- Sometimes, mediocre swimmers are allowed to participate. In these cases, the dolphins can be beaten by the arms, hands, flippers, etc. of the swimmers.
ConclusionsIn their search for their personal satisfaction, people are oblivious to the damage they may inflict on other species.
The issue of captivity raises a debate between the rights and justification of humans to use wild animals for our entertainment or therapy purposes (of which effectivity nothing has been proved so far).
To conclude, these programmes can be ethically unacceptable for the following reasons:
- They only exist as a means of commercial exploitation of wild animals
- They impact negatively in the wild populations of these animals
- They represent a severe risk for the health and safety or human beings and dolphins
- They do not offer a real programme of education or preservation.
- These programmes do not increase people’s awareness and education on wild animals, their lives and threats in nature, but they induce people to think that animals can snatched from their environment for our entertainment.
- Do not attend shows performed with animals.
- Inform any person you know of the suffering that these animals endure.
- Join any organisation that works towards the end of these practices.
- Join my facebook page for updates and information here
Lastly check through this list as many of the dolphins have come from Taiji
Whilst you support these programmes you also support this and the two are entwined as demand for dolphins increases across the globe. Dolphins are wild ocean predators and should be treated as such, they are not toys for our entertainment.
What happens in Taiji? find out here
script courtesy of faada