In captivity, dolphins cannot escape from human swimmers when they do not want to interact with them.
Some have been observed demonstrating signs of alarm when they were in close proximity to swimmers.
Nails and jewellery can damage the dolphins’ delicate skin.
Many facilities keep the dolphins in enclosures on the coast.
Recent hurricanes have had serious consequences for dolphins in these sea pens. Some have been battered by falling debris, washed out to sea and even killed. Water quality can also be a problem. Sea pens close to shore may contain only very shallow water, which can get too hot in the sun. Those close to towns or resorts may also contain high pollution levels, bringing the risk of illness and even death.
Dolphins are wild animals and unpredictable, even when well trained.
Swimmers have been known to incur bites, bruises, scratches, abrasions and broken bones.
Exposure and pollution
Disease transmission is a serious concern, as dolphins carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans.
Shocking undercover footage – March 2015 report on Mexican dolphinaria
Source: Defines En Libertad
Fear and disappointment
Dolphins are large, strong animals and entering the water with them can be frightening for swimmers. Many people report a feeling of disappointment as the experience is far from the natural wildlife encounter they were looking for.
Swimming with wild whales or dolphins – the alternative?
It is very difficult to ensure that it is not an intrusive or stressful experience for the whales or dolphins targeted by swim activities. In some locations, dolphins are repeatedly disturbed by boats dropping swimmers in the water next to them. Dolphins have been recorded leaving their usual homes in favour of quieter areas. Disruption to feeding, resting, nursing and other behaviour may have a long-term impact on the health and wellbeing of individual dolphins and populations.
Other concerns include:
Safety of dolphins and swimmers. Injury to dolphins by boat propellers.
Risk of dolphins becoming dependent on humans for food, as some boat operators entice them towards the swimmers using food.