facts & information

Swimming With Dolphins

Swimming with dolphins, whether with wild individuals or those in captivity, is increasing in popularity. Unfortunately, most participants in these activities are unaware of the problems surrounding them, and the negative impact on the animals involved.

Dolphinarium companies rely on misinforming the public about the true state of affairs in captivity. Tourists have no idea the dolphins they are swimming with are anxious, depressed, heartbroken and sometimes neurotic.

Dolphins pull tourists with their fins or push them out of the water with their faces. The tricks are completely unnatural and interaction of this kind would never occur in the wild. They have to perform the same trick from 10–60 times a day every day of the year.

Swimming With Dolphins, The Dark Secrets Surrounding Dolphins
This documentary was made on the basis of the research of publications available to the public on diseases of marine mammals and cases of transmission to people and vice versa.

Dolphins are trained to carry out these tricks by a reward based system and are fed a fish every time they successfully perform a trick. This means to ensure the dolphins will perform they must be kept hungry. They are fed an adequate amount of food throughout the day but the food is staggered so the dolphins are desperate enough to perform. Staff will tell tourists the dolphins carry out the tricks voluntarily but really they are just obeying an order so they can eat.

Dolphins have been scientifically proven to have extremely sensitive hearing. No dolphinaria park takes this into consideration and dolphins are exposed to extremely loud noises from morning till evening.

 Visiting a marine park or aquarium

Swimming with captive dolphins may seem like fun. But the harsh reality is kept hidden. Many people don’t realise that the animals are suffering an impoverished and often dramatically shortened existence in captivity and that many have been captured from the wild. These intelligent, social and wide-ranging animals are forced to live in artificial, confined conditions, away from their natural family groups. Many die very young, during capture, transport or in their tanks or enclosures.

Dolphins continue to be captured from the wild to supply the growing demand for swimming with dolphins.

Methods used to capture and transport dolphins can be shockingly cruel and many animals die during capture operations or in transit. Very often, dolphins are captured from populations that are already under threat from other human activities.

In captivity, dolphins have a lower survival rate than in the wild.

They are unable to communicate, hunt, roam, mate and play as they would in the wild. The stress of their confinement often results in behavioural abnormalities, illness, lowered resistance to disease and death.

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.