Do Not Visit Marine Parks, Aquariums And Zoos Holding Dolphins In Captivity
I "swam" with dolphins at Two Step in Kealakekua Bay here on the Big Island of Hawaii two days ago. My wife and I saw a dozen dolphins. The signs say DO NOT BOTHER THE DOLPHINS as they are resting here, swimming slowly until they go to sea in the late afternoon to hunt. We never try to get close or touch them, if they come close it's great, if not, they are still beautiful. A couple times we've seen them leaping and doing flips, it is fun, and sometimes it's amazing.
Popular culture depicts dolphins as symbols of tranquility and peace. They are considered by some to be benign and all knowing; the very embodiment of wisdom. One can see illustrations of jolly dolphins jumping heroically out of the ocean waters with lasers and rainbows shooting out everywhere. Dolphins actually practice murder of other species (they kill porpoises for unknown reasons - they don't eat the the same fish). And dolphins practice infanticide.
Not that they are some evil creature, but they aren't Disney cute, and they aren't on some movie screen. The ones people swim with at hotels and resorts are captives kept in a pool. Dolphins can swim more than a hundred miles a day. How big is the pool? Dolphins use sonar, but that doesn't work in a cement tub.
Some resorts use captured young dolphins, torn from their family pods - often sold by Japanese fishing companies who sell the older ones for meat. Some resorts, like the Hilton Waikaloa here on The Big Island, use bred animals. Nevertheless, they are captives, they are slaves. The ones at the Hilton aren't even from the Pacific Ocean, much less Hawaii. They are hungry and are trained to interact with humans with food as their reward. While the Hilton runs an OK program, elsewhere there are horror stories, specially in foreign countries.
Dolphins are perhaps cursed by the shape of their mouths: - they always seem to be smiling. One can't assume that's a happy face. Stress factors include confined area with no place for retreat, hunger satisfied only by performing, and stress from surrounding noise - people, loud music, fireworks, whatever the resort has going on. Some resorts claim that they are "connected" to the ocean. They won't mention that the connection has a net or fence across it to prevent their slaves from escaping.
The dolphins were either bred and have never seen the ocean, or captured and stolen from their pod. Resorts and cruise ships call this a 'dolphin experience' , a very expensive tour that is NOT a 'swim with dolphins' but rather a visit in a pool with captive dolphins.
A 'dolphin experience' allows you to climb into a concrete tank and 'experience' some dolphins while the trainer makes them perform tricks. These dolphins are subjected to the slavery of captivity and abuse, and the experience may be disappointing, is nothing like a real swim with dolphins in the wild.
There are dolphins-in-the-wild tours available, and here they are reputable and try not to disturb the animals resting, feeding or mating. The wild tours encourage people to let the dolphins set the agenda. They aren't horses, no one rides the animals like children are sometimes allowed to do to the slave animals.