Why Don’t People Get That Swimming With Dolphins Is a Bad Thing?

Swimming with the dolphins

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that some of the national newspapers I read are carrying travel ads promoting “swim-with-the-dolphin” (SWTD) experiences. These ads, slick and vibrant, never fail to impress me for their summertime ubiquity — despite the fact that the publications I read cater to people who should know better.

After all, most educated Americans know that dolphins and whales are NOT meant to live in captivity — much less swim with affluent children and honeymooning newlyweds in the name of “eco-friendliness” and “education” so they can earn big bucks for their keepers.

The Argument Against It

In case you’re feeling not-so-sure on this issue, here’s a quick list detailing why most animal-welfare-minded people come down hard against this practice:

  • Dolphins are uniquely ill-suited to confinement. They are social creatures that live in large pods and travel forty-plus miles a day, with 80 percent of that time spent beneath the surface of the water. SWTD facilities can never measure up.
  • With the explosion of the SWTD industry over the past twenty or so years, the global trade in wild-caught dolphins has grown tremendously. Even if the facility you elect to use claims to rely on captive-bred animals alone, your dollars are nonetheless effectively supporting a global trade in wild animals taken from their pods in typically violent ways.

Yet the popularity of these places seems to be expanding. If the pervasive ads weren’t enough to prove it, the quick trip I took to the Florida Keys last month did. If the highway’s billboards and Google’s local suggestions are any measure, the industry is more than alive and well in my South Florida backyard.
Which brings me to the point of this post: Why?

Why is it that people who obviously love dolphins and care about their welfare don’t seem to understand that swimming with dolphins is a BAD thing?


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