As mention in my last post one of the things I hoped to do while in Cuba was to swim with dolphins. It been on the top of my list of things I wanted to do in life forever. I have always been a huge animal lover and wished I could be dedicated enough to be a full time Vegan. Before I started searching for places in and around Havana, Cuba for places that I can swim with dolphins, it had never accrued to me that swimming with dolphins like going to certain circuses could be supporting unethical treatment of animals.
I read arguments posted on boards for and against swimming with dolphins. Some arguments being that dolphins are captured in the wild taken from their mother too young or mother taken from their young leaving them defenseless and ultimately to die. Or the dolphins generally seemed to enjoy the interaction with humans. Money from these endeavours help fund research. So I took to PETA’s website (http://www.peta.org) and looked up their views on swim-with programs http://www.wildlifepimps.com/feat-SwimWithDolphins.htm
Many foreign facilities acquire their dolphins from the wild. A recent exposé on ABC’s Primetime detailed the cruel methods that are used to capture wild dolphins and the enormous profits that are made by those who sell the animals. In this piece, a marine park in Cancún is placed under the microscope, as is the capture of dolphins for swim-with-dolphins programs. What Primetime discovered is alarming. In the Solomon Islands, for example, dolphins are driven to the shore and slaughtered for their flesh, but a few are instead sold into the marine-park trade.
Although captive dolphins in the United States are afforded some legal protection, programs outside the United States are often governed by few, if any, protective regulations. Conditions are often poor: Dolphins are sometimes kept in small pools and exposed to sewage drain-off and other pollutants. Their diets may be inconsistent because many facilities generate additional revenue by selling fish to tourists to feed the dolphins; assertive dolphins can grow obese, and less aggressive animals can suffer from malnutrition. Debris and trash left in or near these pools, such as plastic bags, coins, or the paper used to wrap the “fish food,” can be ingested by the animals, causing acute gastrointestinal problems and sometimes even death. Many facilities operate almost continuously, giving the animals little respite from a constant stream of tourists.
What about programs that your snorkeling in the ocean in areas highly populated. Organizationsthat have tough rules about how to interact with the animals (they come to you, no touching), no foreign products left in the ocean. Companies who support research and conservation of these animals. Is that okay?
To Swim or Not to Swim? What’s your take on the subject? Is it all animal cruelty no matter how you look at it. Or is only aquarium, tourist programs who use unethical practices cruel? Vote in the poll and leave your views below.