Where When How March/April 2017 : Page 66
Protect Dolphins from Captivity In the Turks and Caicos Islands A proposal to build a captive dolphin facility on Grand Turk for the entertain-ment of tourists is being considered. The keeping of captive dolphins should be considered counter to the Turks & Caicos Islands “Beautiful by Nature” slogan. Dolphins are complex and highly intel-ligent animals. Some characteristics that make dolphins more like humans than other animals are: • They exhibit complex behavioural, cognitive and social traits. • The brains of dolphins are highly developed and larger than humans. • They have clearly demonstrated the ability to understand how diﬀerent things function and how to understand combi-nations of complex instructions. • They have highly developed com-munication skills. • Dolphins experience emotions much like humans. What happens to these highly intelli-gent, social animals when they are kept in captivity? Many of their natural skills and attributes begin to change. Dolphins during the capture process suﬀer tremendous trauma and stress. There is a six-fold increase in the mortali-ty rate of dolphins captured from the wild in the ﬁrst ﬁve days after capture. In fact, this increase in stress mortality hap-pens each time a dolphin is transported. Given the conﬁned space of all cap-tive habitats in which dolphins are held, physical activity is greatly reduced. Sea pens (fenced oﬀ portions of open seawa-ter or lagoons) are thought to be better, but even the largest sea pens greatly reduce the space available for the dol-phins. They also generally don’t provide protection for the animals from hazards such as hurricanes, potential pollutants from the land, and potential exposure from human waste. Wild dolphins catch their food, which consists of live ﬁsh. Captive dolphins must be taught to eat dead ﬁsh which is lower in nutritional value. Our wild dolphins, Bo and Lemon Lips Social structures within dolphin com-munities are quite dynamic, but in captivi-ty dominance determines the hierarchy resulting in a substantial increase in aggressive behavior between the dol-phins. Dolphin communication skills change, or don’t develop as they would in the wild. The vocalisations decrease in diver-sity and new vocalisations are learned, often imitating noises found in their new environment. Dolphinaria operators cite the fact that lifespans in captive facilities is com-parable to that found in the wild. There is no increase in lifespan for captive dol-phins and there is continuing debate about whether lifespans in captivity are actually worse. The health of dolphins in captivity is also a challenge to monitor. The lack of mobile facial expressions (the “smile” on their face is a ﬁxed, unchanging expres-sion) makes it diﬃcult to identify animals in physical distress. Most often the ﬁrst sign of a problem is a lack of eating with dolphins often dying within a day or two of this observation. Captive dolphin programs require dolphins. Captive breeding programs do not generate enough dolphins to fulﬁll the demand from new and existing dol-phinaria. This means more dolphins must be captured from the wild and the meth-ods used to capture dolphins are trau-matic and lead to many dolphin deaths. Swim with dolphin programs provide no educational beneﬁts, they merely exploit the animals while exposing them to additional risks, such as increased stress related to too much exposure to humans, increased exposure to health hazards and health risks from inadvertent or intentional touching of sensitive areas such as the blowhole and eyes. Humans also are at risk during these programs from aggressive behaviour from the ani-mals. Bottom line, captive dolphins are much like captive humans or slaves. This is not an attraction that is com-patible with the “Beautiful by Nature” Turks and Caicos Islands, and only harms the eco-friendly image of this country. I BY DON STARK -TCREEF.ORG You Can HELP Us Preserve and Protect the TCI Marine Environment GO TO >> WWW.TCREEF.ORG 66 • • • • • MARCH/APRIL 2017 “Where When How -Turks & Caicos Islands”
No Captive Dolphins
Protect Dolphins from Captivity In the Turks and Caicos Islands
Read the full article at http://onlineissues.wherewhenhow.com/article/No+Captive+Dolphins/2721297/387443/article.html.