Comment: Against dolphin captivity

I am Karam Ibrahim and I am 15 years old. It is my sincere request that this article I have written in order to express my views and make the public about dolphin captivity is published.

I am a 15 year-old student. I have been fascinated by dolphins and whales as long as I can remember. Since I opened my eyes into a blessed island surrounded by the ocean, I have seen dolphins more than a few times in the wild.

In my eyes, I saw breathtaking creatures that teased and leaped in the endless ocean. They are definitely interested and curious about human beings, and it was impossible not to feel their joy and freedom just watching them. To me, dolphins resembled freedom, and I’m sure that any Maldivian who had encountered the amazing cetaceans in the wild will feel it to some extent too!

About three years ago, my interest in animals made me persuade my parents to take me to the Safari World during a trip to Bangkok, Thailand. We visited the Dolphin and Beluga Whale show, which I profoundly regretted later.

I could see the difference between the wild dolphins in Maldives and the dolphins in the show. They were miserable! Sure, the tank in which they were kept was gigantic, but I questioned myself. Is the tank big enough for these mammals that were once swimming in an endless ocean which by no means can be compared to this cage?

Dolphins are mammals, not fish. They are huge, meaningful creatures with big hearts confined in a small body. Thus, that visit to the Safari World turned out to be my last trip to a place where dolphins and whales were cruelly kept in captivity. It was merely a feeling that these animals did not belong there.

Later, I saw the movie “The Cove” which confirmed that it was not only a feeling! Dolphins and whales do not belong in captivity.

In the wild, they’re travelling 40 miles a day. They could be surfing at one area in the morning, and the next hour they could be 25 miles away teasing or socialising. Dolphins are acoustic creatures. These dolphins are captured and put in a concrete tank surrounded by a stadium full of screaming people. Imagine how they would feel!

When I heard the news about the opening of a dolphinarium in Maldives, it was like a nightmare come true! Since the government ministers have given Amir Mansoor the right to open a dolphinarium, I did a research on the internet, trying to understand why the government would promote this absurd proposal to open a dolphinarium in an eco-friendly country like the Maldives. Here are a few facts that I believe the public, and the Maldivian government should be aware of:

  • The average life span of a dolphin in the wild is 45 years; yet half of all captured dolphins die within their first two years of captivity. The survivors last an average of only 5 years in captivity.
  • When a baby dolphin is born in captivity, the news is usually kept secret until the calf shows signs of survival. Although marine mammals do breed in captivity, the birth rate is not nearly as successful as the one in the wild, with high infant mortality rates.
  • Wild dolphins can swim 40 to 100 miles per day – in pools they go around in circles.
  • Many marine parks subject their mammals to hunger so they will perform for their food. Jumping through hoops, tail walking and playing ball are trained behaviors that do not occur in the wild.
  • When trapped together, males often become agitated and domineering. This creates pecking orders (unknown in the wild) and unprovoked attacks on each other and the trainers. In the ocean, although fights are not unknown, the wild dolphins have a chance to escape.

As dolphins and whales are large wild animals, the stress and trauma caused by captivity makes them dangerous, which proposes a threat to their trainers. The following is evidence:

In the year 2000, a dolphin entangled a trainer in a net, spun her around and held her underwater during a dolphin capture exercise at Sea World, San Diego. The trainer suffered three fractures and torn ligaments in her right arm.

In the year 2002, a Killer whale Orkid pulled a trainer into the pool by her foot at Sea World, San Diego. The trainer broke her arm before being rescued.

In the year 2006 a dolphin bit a boy celebrating his 7th birthday with a sleepover at SeaWorld Orlando. The boy, under the supervision of a SeaWorld employee, was petting the dolphin at the Dolphin Cove, a petting attraction.

The boy’s mother, Hollie Bethany, told the Orlando Sentinel two adults had to pry the dolphin’s mouth open to free the boy’s hand. The bite bruised the boy’s thumb but did not break the skin.

A dolphin at the same attraction had bitten a 6-year-old Georgia boy on the arm three weeks earlier, the Sentinel reported. The resort’s spokesperson told the paper that the dolphin in that incident might be sent to a “behavior modification” program.

In 2010, trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, was grabbed by a killer whale, pulled into the water and held there at Sea World, Orlando. She was killed brutally by this stressed out whale in front of thousands of spectators.

Like Richard O’Berry once said, dolphins are whales. Size does not matter!

I would like to state that no matter how much we try to replicate the features of the sea in a dolphin cage, there is no possibility that a dolphin held captive will be happy and healthy.

This is not a matter of keeping the dolphins in Maldives safe. The dolphins that are bred in captivity and transported to Maldives are also dolphins. This is a matter of saving and protecting these wild animals and discouraging the brutal hunting and slaughtering of dolphins worldwide.

I wish that this could not only be about the huge amounts of profit that could be made from this industry, but also about what a good deed we are doing for the environment and ways of life and nature by refraining from such activities which can only be stated as inhumane animal abuse.

I sincerely hope that the government ministers and Amir Mansoor will consider this, and find sympathy and love in their hearts to prevent this nightmare from happening by abstaining from holding dolphins, which can help diminish the number of dolphins that are captured every year in order to be sold to dolphinariums all over the world.

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56 thoughts on “Comment: Against dolphin captivity”

  1. If enough 15 year olds have the same opinion as you, perhaps it may help to save the dolphins, whales and even sharks!
    The late, great, Steve Irwin once said you only need to touch one of these creatures to love them and want to save them.
    I now love dolphins, a nurse sharks and I'm hoping one day to touch a whale shark. Good on YOU!

  2. I agree with Ahmed above that this Amir Mansoor guy only loves money and he and the gang trying to rip off this country. I mean this Amir guy is being used as a stooge by the Lily crowd who is not friendly with this government. Even tennis court land was given for a long term lease to this guy n look at what he has done! He has brought the Lily crowd n got them to invest there to sell mas banas for a whopping Rf 60 ...!! I mean business ethics is not in this gang's vocabulary. Once a small timer told how this Lily crowd attempted to destroy his business by an alleged retail sale of one of their presumed products!! We should never ever allow egocentric ruthless business tycoons to exploit our fragile ecosystem and make a killing out of it! This Amir buggar has to be stopped at any cost right in the midst of his tracks.

  3. ...Amir can talk of food, beverage, tennis and fishing. What would he know about dolphins?

    ...What we need to know is the international company that is behind it, and thats when we would understand the real motive of such a stupid idea.

    ...Shiva would rather buy a new cargo vessel for Lily Shipping than spending a million dollars for a creature that may die on flight for Naseer, he would prefer to put up a ten storey building with such money.

    At the end of the day, its business as usual. As the saying goes, scratch my ass and i would the same to yours'..the government needs lily to fund their political agendas, likewise lily needs the government to get richer through various deals...including the tennis court, the addu projects, etc.

    ...we would never allow such a thing to happen in Maldives. if a few men can tear down emblems at GMR airport, am sure a few fishermen will release these dolphins into the wild! Amir be prepared!

  4. Wow what an idiot this 15 year old karam ibrahim is grow up u gonna see it and u are even gonna go there so loool

  5. Karam,

    I support your eloquent case against dolphins and other creatures in captivity. I will provide a counter argument for you to consider. In short, the reason why we do need to permit dolphins in such circumstances is because the world needs more Karams.

    In our increasingly digital, virtual, manufactured, urbanized life, more humans on this planet are deprived an intimate connection with nature and a connection with its wonderful creatures. The more people get exposed to such magical animals (not just dolphins) the more they tend to support causes that benefit them with their votes and their pocketbook. Without this support, the entire dolphin species is at risk.

    If a few noble dolpins can be cared for in healthy, somewhat comfortable habitat in order to help save thousands, then I think that is a good thing.

    You and a number of commenters mentioned 'The Cove'. The Cove was not about dolphins captured for entertainment, but captured for food. It is well established that the stronger the emotional bond with animals (eg. pets like cats and dogs), the less people want to eat them. So, having facilities where people can connect with them can help reduce the demand for the hunting them as well as help build the political pressure to ban such activity.

    Keep fighting for the dolphins, Karam. You do it very effectively.

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