Cetaceans

The marine mammal industry is big business and is driven by the attraction for people to see these amazing and iconic animals up close and, in many cases, to swim or interact with them. However, life in a marine park is totally unsuitable for these animals.

The marine mammal industry is big business and is driven by the attraction for people to see these amazing and iconic animals up close and, in many cases, to swim or interact with them. However, life in a marine park is totally unsuitable for these animals.

Live Capture from the Wild

Many dolphins and whales are caught from the wild to supply the captive marine mammal industry, presenting serious animal welfare and conservation concerns:

  • Families are separated from each other;

  • Cetaceans can be injured and killed during the capture process;

  • Studies are rarely conducted to ascertain what happens to those animals left behind;

  • Once removed from their natural environment dolphins are transported to small enclosures which lack not only their families and social groups but also the open space to which they are accustomed;

  • Research shows that death rates increase six-fold during and immediately after capture.[1]

Once removed from their natural environment, cetaceans are transported to tanks and swimming pools which lack not only their families and social groups but also the open space to which they are accustomed. According to the Humane Society of the United States, a “spike in mortality also occurs every time dolphins are transported. Each time they are confined and shipped from one place to another, it is as traumatic as if they were being newly captured from the wild. The experience of being removed from water and restrained is apparently so stressful to dolphins that they never find it routine.”

Life in a tank

A life in a tank is so far removed from a cetacean’s natural environment that the effect this has on their mental and physical state is almost inconceivable. In the wild, cetaceans live in social groups, but in captivity many are kept alone and mothers and calves are regularly separated. They are intelligent and wide-ranging animals, swimming up to 60 miles a day, and can attain speeds up to 22 mph and dive to depths to over one thousand feet!

Captivity presents a lack of the social, visual and auditory stimuli of their natural environment. Tanks used to house dolphins and whales are “concrete” environments with no variety, no texture, no substance and no depth. The water is chemically-treated, meaning that no live fish or plants can be placed inside, thus leaving the tank barren, with no mental stimulation. These chemicals can potentially cause ulcers and skin lesions.

A life in captivity has a devastating effect on a cetacean’s welfare, resulting in abnormal behaviours, injury, illness, and in some cases premature deaths.

[1] R. J. Small and D. P. DeMaster, “Acclimation to captivity: A quantitative estimate based on survival of bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions,” Marine Mammal Science 11 (1995): 510–519

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