Marine mammals do not bode well in captivity. There are large amounts of evidence from scientists and researchers to prove that these amazing and beautiful animals are far to intelligent to be imprisoned in tanks. Statistics suggest that within the first 6 months of capture more than 50% of wild-caught dolphins will die. The stress alone of the capture process is extremely inhumane and causes many cetaceans to form ulcers and other stress-related illnesses; eventually leading them to their demise and later death. Marine-parks and dolphinarium’s would like their patrons to think that cetaceans enjoy their lives in captivity but the real truth is quite the opposite.
Facilities around the world holding cetaceans captive often tell tremendous lies to the general public. Basic research and science tells us that the majority of “education” shared from these places is, in fact, incorrect. Marine mammals, like dolphins and whales, are large free-roaming animals that tend to travel up to a hundred miles a day in the wild. Cetaceans are also extremely social and family-oriented creatures; the Southern Resident Killer Whale males, for example, spend their entire lives by their mother’s side, only leaving to forage and to mate. Captive marine facilities will not highlight these important facts, instead they will spread misinformation and lies. Marine mammals forcibly impregnated in captivity (often called artificial insemination or breeding programs) are more likely to birth a stillborn calf than have a successful live-birth. Within the first three months the calf is more likely to lose it’s life than to thrive. The harsh artificial environments for these animal is just too much for a newborn and fragile mother to cope with.
Marine mammals do not belong in captivity regardless of the factors. Sea-pens are adequate places to rehabilitate and release a cetacean or to a retire an older captive-born mammal from “shows”. Times are changing in favor of cetacean rights and many people are saying “no” to the dolphin-show. However, it’s important to remember that “swim-with-dolphin programs” are not regulated by the US government, leaving the facilities to run their programs the way they deem fit. Many will not follow the older regulations, in favor of the dolphin’s welfare, and will do what they can to maximize profits. The sad fact of the matter is that captive cetaceans are unhappy and not healthy. The best way to take a stand is to never visit a facility that holds cetaceans captive. Also check out our dolphins campaign page to find simple and easy actions to help captive cetaceans. We highly recommend reading “Death at SeaWorld” and visiting our resources page for other books, films and television programs packed full of information on this subject.