CruiseMates Cruise Community and Forums

CruiseMates Cruise Community and Forums (
-   Shore Excursions (
-   -   Read this before you consider swimming with captive dolphins (

Roo April 4th, 2006 10:49 AM

Read this before you consider swimming with captive dolphins
What you need to know before you go swimming with captive dolphins

Wild dolphins and whales often travel hundreds of miles across oceans and dive hundreds of metres below the surface
Captive dolphins and whales often live in areas which may only be 4 metres deep and 15 metres wide

Wild dolphins and whales live in large yet close-knit groups called pods which consists of close family members
Captive dolphins and whales are often put in tanks with inappropriate companions and when captured are removed from their family

Wild dolphins and whales hunt for live prey and choose what they want to eat and when
Captive dolphins and whales must perform tricks and then wait until a human offers them a fish which is already dead

Wild dolphins and whales spend very little time on the surface of the ocean
Captive dolphins and whales will spend more than half their time on the surface of the water which may cause their dorsal fin to roll to one side

Wild dolphins and whales have a special way of knowing where they are and where their food is using an ability called echolocation*
Captive dolphins and whales find their unique family language which uses echolocation is worthless in a smooth tank with no live fish to hunt

Wild dolphins and whales are free to roam across ocean borders, hunt for their food and live in tight family pods which communicate with their own unique language of clicks and whistles!
Captive dolphins and whales can only swim to the sides and bottoms of their tanks, are removed from their family and their lives are absolutely controlled by their trainers.


In addition to the stark differences between wild and captive dolphins you also need to think about the risks to your health - many diseases can be transmitted from dolphins to humans from diseases in the tank water where the dolphin urinates and defacates. There have also been many injuries resulting from swimming with dolphins which have become agitated and aggressive.

There are many other opportunities in the places cruise ships travel to see wild marine mammals, how can a trained dolphin which simply performs for food compare to that??

Banshee April 4th, 2006 11:33 AM

Good read. Now time for lunch. Tuna sandwich anyone?

lemonpie April 8th, 2006 10:37 AM

If the dolphins have it so bad while in captivity, why is it they live so much longer than in the wild? They have medical care and never worry about food. You can tell the trainers take better care of them than probably their own children.
I would never support any business that hurts or abuses an animal. Just like anything else, do your homework. Only support those that treat their animals humanely.
If only all human children were treated as well as the dolphins.

badknees April 8th, 2006 10:54 AM

Some could say the same about a drug dealer sent to prison.

bluefish April 9th, 2006 10:32 PM


Originally Posted by lemonpie
If the dolphins have it so bad while in captivity, why is it they live so much longer than in the wild?

Can you site a source for this "fact"?

I know for a sure this "fact" isn't true for the 2 groups of dolphins that have died in Cozumel in the last 3 years.

lemonpie April 10th, 2006 02:52 PM

I don't bookmark or store all the information I come across, so the answer to your question is no, I can't provide a source for my "fact", without going back and researching again. Researching is what I encouraged people to do in my previous post.
Not trying to be ugly, but why did you not ask for the source of information the originator of this post got their information from?
You discredit my opinion for not listing a source, but yet say nothing about the true/false fact information the originator listed. What is their source?
You say some dolphins died in Cozumel. I am indeed sorry to hear about that. Where did you get your information?
I am not here to get in an argument with anyone. I just think people should check out all the facts and decide for themselves.

Banshee April 10th, 2006 03:41 PM

There has been much heated debate about the longevity of captive dolphins compared with that of dolphins in the wild. The dolphin captivity industry will often make the claim that dolphins in captivity live just as long, or even longer, than dolphins in nature. According to some of those who are opposed to keeping dolphins captive, the picture looks very different. Just a few examples of mortality statistics provided by members of the animal welfare community:

'Orcas can live up to 90 years in the wild. They live an average of only 5.2 years in captivity'

'Bottlenose dolphins live up to 45 years in the wild. In captivity, they live an average of about 5 years.'

The most obvious problem with these statements, of course, is the fact that they compare maximum life expectancy of wild dolphins with the average lifespan of captive dolphins. Maximum life expectancy and average lifespan are two different values. They can’t be compared as if they were one, and for this reason alone the statistics are misleading.

Furthermore, in order to calculate the average lifespan of captive dolphins one would have to know the exact time of the dolphins' capture or birth, and the exact time of their death. It's simply not possible to gather this information, as it's not made available to us by the dolphin captivity industry. In many countries there is no obligation to report dolphin deaths, nor is it required by law to report how many dolphins died during the capture process.

The most serious error associated with using mortality rates as an argument against dolphin captivity is the fact that it opens the door for dolphinaria to use mortality rates in defense of dolphin captivity. By putting so much emphasis on a captive dolphin's lifespan compared with that of a dolphin in nature, we reduce the dolphin captivity issue to being a question of how long a captive dolphin can be kept alive. The result is a futile dispute that diverts the attention from what this issue is really about. At some point the dolphin captivity industry may be able keep their dolphins alive for as long as in nature, but that doesn't make it right.

lemonpie April 10th, 2006 07:03 PM

Statistics provided by members of the animal welfare community. This is an unbiased fact? So unless my facts are from the animal welfare community, they don't count? I'm glad I didn't bother going back and finding my information from last year.
This is as far as I go with this. I do hope people will research the topic and use their best judgement on what they feel is right for them. After all, it really doesn't matter what my opinion happens to be.

griffinc April 14th, 2006 01:27 PM

We did the dolphin swim a couple of years ago, and they didn't look like they had it so bad. I know I'll get bashed but I enjoy going to the Aquariums, the Zoo, and I even have a pet that is forced to endure food delivered to her bowl, a nice fluffy bed in captivity, and she even has to deal with "doggie camp" when we go on cruises (no nasty boarding), and no danger while I hustle off to work every day. Sometimes you feel like these people need need to be asked if they need a little cheese with their "whine."

Ljberkow May 21st, 2006 04:45 PM

I wanted to comment on Dolphin Cove in Ochos Rios. I have two kids (6 and 8) and did the Dolphin Cove excursion because I thought it would give the kids a great chance to see, touch, and learn about Dophins. It was. I couldn't think of too many other things in Ochos Rios that my kids would enjoy and actually thought it would be highlight of our Cruise (Enchantment of the Seas). It certainly was. However, I have mixed feelings for a couple of reasons. The first is the price gouging done by Dolphin Cove. I did the swim encounter which was $139 or something close to that (from RCCL and combined with Dunns River Falls). There was no actual "swim with" involved. It was a good experience but not worth the value. The second, as mentioned in the topic post, is the questionable ethics of places like Dolphin Cove. SeaWorld in Orlando has a program and you have to believe they treat dolphins much better.

goldrush May 23rd, 2006 07:57 PM

What's Wrong With Swimming With Dolphins?
On the surface, swim-with-the-dolphin programs seem like a fun, safe way to get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures of the sea. The dolphins appear to smile as they pull laughing children around swimming pools by their dorsal fins. But you don't have to look too deep beneath this whimsical façade to realize that there is something fundamentally wrong with all swim-with-the-dolphin programs.

Regardless of what country they are located in, how crystal blue the water is, whether the trainers claim that their dolphins are allowed to "swim free" for a couple hours per day, or how much money park owners spend caring for their charges, swim-with-dolphin programs create a threatening environment for the dolphins - and sometimes their human visitors.

The Sad Truth Behind SWTD: Swim-with-the-dolphin (SWTD) programs allow visitors to pet captive dolphins in shallow pools or interact with them in deeper water by swimming beside them or being towed around by holding onto the dolphin's dorsal fin. Currently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not regulate SWTD programs, and as a result, record keeping concerning human injuries and dolphin deaths are often not complete, with countless dolphin deaths going unreported.

Dolphins have been on the earth for thousands of years. They are perfectly evolved to live and flourish in their wild ocean home, not within the confines of a human-made concrete tank or artificial lagoon. Statistics of dolphin deaths during capture and confinement prove that dolphins do not belong in captivity. Consider the fact that Sea World, one of the most recognized captive dolphin facilities in the U.S., reported 93 dolphin deaths between 1971 and 2002. That's an average of 3 dolphins per year, assuming that all dolphin deaths were accounted for. If these numbers were extrapolated to include the total number of captive dolphin facilities around the world, the number of dolphin deaths as a result of captivity in the last 30 years would be astronomical!

Wild vs. Captive: Wild dolphins can swim over 40 miles a day, they engage in mating, foraging, fighting and play behavior with their pod members and they use their echolocation to explore their diverse ocean environment. In contrast, captive dolphins are forced to swim in endless circles in artificial habitats, interact with unfamiliar dolphins and other species, eat dead fish, and perform behaviors that are unnatural and in some cases painful. Captive dolphins also face exposure to human infection and bacteria, chemicals such as chlorine, and suffer from stress-related illnesses.

Things to look for at captive dolphin shows and facilities:

Dolphins poking their head above water. Captive dolphins spend up to 80% of their time at the surface of the water seeking scraps of food and attention. This is in direct contrast to wild dolphins who spend 80% of their time below the surface of the water playing, hunting and exploring.

Beaching themselves as part of the show so that visitors can pet or kiss them. If left in this position for an extended period, a dolphin's immense weight on land would slowly crush its internal organs. Captive dolphins have been trained to ignore their natural instincts; wild dolphins never voluntarily beach themselves.

Vocalizing for food rewards and nodding their head as if to say "yes" or "no" and offering "handshakes" or waving at the audience with their pectoral fins. Dolphins are trained through food deprivation. When they successfully perform a trick they are rewarded with scraps of fish. If a captive dolphin waves to you, it is because it is hungry, plain and simple.

Swimming in circles or constantly peering through the fences (stereotypical behavior) or floating listlessly on the surface of the water. These behaviors indicate that the animal is bored and psychologically stressed. Wild dolphins rarely lie still and with the entire ocean at their disposal, they would have no need to swim in circles!

All of the above are unnatural behaviors consistently exhibited by captive dolphins. Dolphins perform these behaviors because they have been trained to do so using "positive reinforcements" - the captivity industry's politically correct term for food deprivation. They wave to the audience and kiss the trainer because they are hungry, not because they desire human interaction and sadly, they often float motionless in their tanks between shows because they are bored or lonely.

It's ok to use captive-born dolphins, right? Wrong. While countless dolphins are still ripped from the wild to populate SWTD facilities, some programs use captive-born animals instead. They hold up their use of captive-born dolphins like a trophy, proof of their mission to conserve dolphins. The truth of the matter is that captive breeding programs offer no contribution to the conservation of wild dolphin populations, acting instead to replenish the industry's dolphins when supplies run low. The fact is, whether born in captivity or pulled kicking and screaming from the ocean, all dolphins share the same physiological and psychological needs.

Setting a bad example: Unfortunately, the commercial success of SWTD programs and the high profile of the larger facilities in the U.S. have spawned a legion of copycat operations in the Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America and around the world. These operations are the driving force behind a sharp rise in dolphin captures from the wild. Many of these new SWTD programs lack the necessary funds and staff to properly care for the dolphins.

Perhaps the most damaging aspect of the SWTD industry is the misconception it perpetuates among the general public. SWTD programs present themselves as "educational" and "eco-friendly". They market themselves to people who love dolphins, care about conservation and are looking for a tangible way to express this interest. What SWTD participants don't realize is that by patronizing these programs, they are not only contributing to this expanding, profit-driven industry, but they are ensuring that dolphins will continue to be captured from the wild and suffer in captivity.

Love dolphins? Don't buy a ticket! Untold numbers of dolphins die during the notoriously violent wild captures. These captures are carried out in secret - far from the public's eye - so obtaining an accurate number of dolphins killed is nearly impossible. What we do know is that of those dolphins that survive the capture and are brought into captivity, 53% will die within their first 3 months in a tank. Every seven years, half of all captive dolphins die due to the violence of their capture, intestinal disease, chlorine poisoning and stress-related illness. To the captivity industry, these numbers are accepted as standard operating expenses, but if this information was printed on SWTD brochures, it is unlikely that any person who cares about dolphins would purchase a ticket.
to read it all go to

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 08:21 AM.

Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1