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.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


56 thoughts on “Comment: Against dolphin captivity”

  1. Reading this, I can only hope, that there are more such Maldivians like Karam Ibrahim argueing against the planned "Dolphin Circus" and keep the Maldives "always natural".

    Please, show your standing also here:

    Please show your support by a signature !!!

  2. a 15 year old concerned citizen writing about this gives some hope. really!

    im with you on this and i am totally against this whole thing. but ive got a problem with those who are against this...why just dolphins? why not all other animals? aint that kinda "speciesist" ? im against keeping ANY animal in captivity. even goldfish!

    and we go to zoos and stare down at them or find entertainment in their misery. maybe our morality is evolving with regard to keeping other animals in captivity for entertainment. one species at a time? coz circus freak shows and human zoos wasnt that long ago in human history. now we (or atleast most of us) cant even imagine that without feeling bad.

    and for a people who bring in religion into every issue we dont really see the same being done with environment issues or even human rights issues. these things are kept separate, BECAUSE religious establishments are multinational cooperation looking for money, power and far as i know killing or harming ANY animal is by default haraam in islam. except for FOOD and for our SAFETY.

  3. This is going to be a threat also to the dolphin population in the Maldives, it wont be long before people start capturing dolphins and taking it to the dolphinarium. They may say they will be bringing the dolphins from outside, but it wont be long before they will switch to Maldivian dolphins due to high cost.

  4. Congratulations to Karam Ibrahim for a great piece of writing and well argued position.

    As the author notes, dolphinaria have nothing to do with protecting the marine environment, - simply with making money.

    Lets hope the Maldives authorities listen to this young man's well made arguments.

  5. BRAVO!!

    This 15 year old has more sense & love than the entire cabinet & Amir Mansoor put together...

    i hope the govt and Amir Mansoor STOP this CRUELTY...


  6. First its the bloody criminals getting the second chance. Now its the dolphins that need protection.

  7. Maldivian people, particularly in the capital city Male, can be compared to dolphins in captivity. Maldivians in freedom will be a a better people than Maldivians in captivity. We have the open seas around us, and the seas personify freedom. Let us choose freedom.
    Thanks to the young writer; and my congratulations.

  8. very well written. I really wish the Maldivian government takes all these points into consideration. come on people isn't this the "always natural Maldives"

  9. This is a very poor article, though I would refrain from criticizing the very young writer.

    Single cases do not prove the rule, especially described in unbelievable circumstances -> 2 persons needed to pry the dolphin mouth open but the 7 year old boys skin did not break!

    Also, as is common in Maldivian journalism, sensationalism has crept into the article. The writer chooses to mix and match dolphins, whales and orca's as seen fit by the writer. This is like discussing orangutans and gorilla's when the subject of discussion is homo sapiens.

    Personally, I do not understand this infatuation about ONE mammal species. Even today, over 200 mammals were slaughtered in Male' !

    Overall, a heartfelt article, but with little substance.

  10. Au contraire to Rose, I thought Karam Ibrahim has done a good job of mustering the facts against dolphin captivity. The fact that dolphins in captivity have much shorter life spans than dolphins in the wild should indicate to us that this is not good for them. Killer "whales" are merely a large species of dolphin, with many of the same behaviors. Please, let us enjoy these creatures in the wild, where they belong. Bringing them into captivity not only degrades them, it degrades us as well.

  11. Not exactly the best article, but who cares, this boy has more sense than the Amir Mansoor guy. And I would also like to congratulate you on getting your article published. We shall oppose the plans to hold dolphins in captivity, which is nothing more than a scheme to make money.

  12. All this hullabaloo about this, without knowing the concept for the sanctuary amazes me. Goes to show how lizard brained the lot can get. Giving canned responses to a trigger.

    I have no vested direct interest in the project, fyi, just pointing out that a sanctuary can be wild and could made into a form of tourism, like diving, or a safari etc...

    proof check this out

    so why jumping the gun with this dolphin issue, our crule and inhumane ancestors domesticated the dog the cat, horse and a array of cattle stock.

    Should we campaign against domestication those.

    Most people cant think outside of the box indeed, but let us try, now who could blame the poor boy.

    I am guessing since by law dolphins are a protected species here, it would be illegal to keep them in captivity, wonder why the activists never bothered to check on that.


  13. Would like to humbly remind all commentators that the above is an opinion piece and not an article so it should not be expected to meet journalistic standards.

    A powerful and emotive argument against Nasheed's hypocrisy.

    However, would like to tell Minivan that this is too little too late and your publication of this article does not brush away the fact that you have been exposed as an extremely biased set of whitewashers that are in the employ of a ruling government.

    The next time the British Conservative Party or the US government says anything about the Xinhua News Agency, we all must think twice about the integrity behind such comments.

  14. Really glad some people think outside the box and are against dolphin captivity. As for cats and dogs, they choose to live among us, i bet the cat who has to eat, sleep, and sh** in a cage would be quite miserable. I really appreciate the 15 year old who knows right from wrong.

  15. There will be lots of arguments against this dolphinarium,but in the end money talks...,but if the scheme comes to fruition,maybe a lot of civil disobedience around the proposed area would keep people away..No people,no money,no dolphinarium.....

  16. Dear Karam my boy, that's a good job.

    Try to write more sentimental stuff like this to OBSTRUCT these new projects. I hate this ANNI and his government. I can't let the ppl see and enjoy real development and real entertainment.

    If you keep writing these sad articles ppl wont allow this project to take place. Also the ppl are too FOOLISH to know that only a few dolphins being kept in captivity at a good facility won't affect or hurt the wild stock of the dolphins.

    Besides, how many cattle, livestock trees and other living things are we humans killing just for our purpose? And if we compare this with the couple of dolphins kept in a marine circus or any other facility or RESEARCH LABS; it DOESN'T AFFECT the wild stock. But the FOOLISH & IGNORANTS of MALDVIES don't know. HEHE - HAHA. So, my boy, keep be fooling them & try to be an OBSTACLE to any (just about any) development or entertaining projects coming up in this $#itty county. HAHA AAAAAAAAAAAA

  17. It time to shut these unnessary side showes and get a life. Grow up, read a book and just stop using your over weaning immature egos to use dolphins, orcas, belugas, and other marine mammals for your entertainment.

  18. This article gives me joyful hope for the future of our planet. I am of an older generation and despair at the fate of the world ... until I see what the younger generations (our future) are doing to save us all. Beautifully, thoughtfully and honestly written. Thank you Karam Ibrahim - you and people like you are an inspiration.

  19. KaraMaumoom - so you think taking away the freedom of wild creatures for your entertainment is development? for your information, we know a couple of dolphins held captive won't diminish the dolphin population, i'm guessing you haven't heard the word cruelty. if not, why don't we put some humans in a cage and watch them do tricks for u. I'm sure the human "wild stock" wont be affected. hire a boat, go out to the sea, and watch the dolphins if you like seeing them so much. development!!! bah! real entertainment my as*!

  20. I really like your article.
    it made my eyes wet.

    Let's start from refusing to go to any dolphinarium. If there is no market, then no such a business comes out.

  21. Maldives is known for tourism, eco friendly ways and methods of islanders, a place where Dolphins roam free. I have seen them in the Wild during my visits there. Creating this kind of Dolphinarium is a bad idea and this news is already having a negative spin on Maldives as a destination. Think twice before you alienate your tourist base unless you want tourists only from one part of Asia and you know who they are..Dolphins do not belong in captivity, kudos to this young boy for having written this article.

  22. Now this Amir Mansoor guy who is going to create this so called Dolphinarium is a hard core businessman who has no affection for the conservation of environment or the protection of the small businesses in the market. This guy has an affection only for money. This proposed Dolphinarium is just a farce to create another resort or something. This guy belongs to the ruthless business circle of Lily who has no ethics in their business dealings! And what can you expect from this guy??

  23. I have a idea how about we put all the humans who want to see these dolphins in a big box and leave them in the ocean away from their families their homes and any freedom for the rest of their lives.

  24. Well done Karam Ibrahim.

    I've set up a peition. Please get as many people to sign this!

  25. I would like to petition for undomesticated of all animal currently in domestic bondage

  26. Never seen a bunch of people working together this hard to stop development of their own loving country. Im simply dumbstruck.

    People, my advise, please grow up and try thinking 'out side the box' for the sake of your nation and your children.

    Politicizing and hate mongering only makes you 'the commentators' sound inferior and JEALOUS!

  27. Thank you for voicing out your concerns Karam. Wish that more and more people would share your beliefs. If you ever want to publish anything in Scuba Tribe let us know

  28. @ Malcolm J. Brenner on Sun, 6th Nov 2011 6:42 PM

    Nobody is stopping you from enjoying the wild. Taking a handful of dolphins does NOT deplete the stock. In fact, as one person has mentioned, this so-called dolphinarium or whatever, does not even make the list of threats to dolphins.

    Wouldn't it be better to galvanise this "anti-dolphinarium" energy on something that actually does threaten dolphins in the wild ?


  29. Perhaps Keith, it is the specific type of development Amir has in mind that the people of this country are opposing.

    You fail to understand that our resorts and our country are not theme-parks. However you are right in saying that if the nature of tourists change the type of tourism must also be adjusted along with it.

    There may be some truth in the fact that Indian and Chinese tourists would prefer Dolphinariums and shopping malls over sun, sea and sand. In such an event, our stand as climate change activists and environmentalists will not stand up to criticism.

    Do you see the dilemma here?

  30. All,
    You are all acting like 15 year olds.

    Any sensible person can see an animal that grows more than 2 metres in length should not be in a pool?

    Thats without having any special attachment to them. You would not put an elephant in your house?

    The UK banned the keeping of dolphins long ago. Its time the rest of the world , woke up and caught up?

    As for this authors article. Yes he mixes facts on Whales, dolphins etc.
    And maybe some of the English mixes up a bit.
    But give him his due ---- he is 15.
    Did you write an article and speak out when you were 15.
    He did !

    He is our future -- and I'm glad we have him on the right side of the fence !!

  31. agree no captivity for one single animal.
    what about those bakaris Fareed slaughtered on Eid? and the Camel he plans to "slaughter next Eid Insha allah"?

    Doesnt anyone voice against that? no tears for the slaughtered goats shown on every news ? blood gushing through the veins while the poor thing gasped for its last breaths?

  32. Very proud of you Karam! It's so amazing that a 15 year old can easily see that this is wrong, but supposedly educated adults can not! Karam shows that there may be hope in our youths after all. Keep it up kiddo! It's because of people like you that will help stop this. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

  33. This letter is inspiring and I hope the government takes this seriously. It is well-written and very factual. Also the cove is an incredible movie! Watch it!

  34. Lets hope they listen; ALL animals belong in the wild. Seeing any animal in the wild is a privilege, to be in their presence and have them interact with you just with a look is amazing.

  35. oh little 15 year boy!

    why are you so worried about dolphins?
    now that some kaafir ppl have commented,

    will you also be against 'ulhiyaa kathilun' also?

    will you also oneday become a veggie? and refuse all meat and fish to spare living things some pain?

    all these pop issues like crusade against plastic bags, wet dreaming about caring for animals, these are the ways of shaithaan to mislead ppl from the real purpose in life. God gave us this earth to live and manage our life according to His laws, not our fancies.

    So lets not get carried away by these fads and fashions dho? there are more pressing and important things in life to waste our energies..

  36. Well said Karam. Thank you for taking the time to write your article. I surely hope the Maldivian Government will hear you and agree not to allow the captivity of dolphins. Keep up the good work on behalf the the Dolphins ~ it will be a ripple effect for the rest of the world to take note of, and change. for the love of Dolphins, we all must care just enough to make an impact that will give the freedom back to all whales, dolphins and porpoises.

  37. We are all very proud of you Karam. I hope this will will knock sense into people who use animals for their entertainment. Three years back,I went to an aquarium and I was all excited to see the dolphin show. I saw the frozen smile on one dolphin which was made to do stunts and allowed to pet.I decided I will never go to a dolphin show again. I wish people get aware of the danger these animals are in, and ban the dolphin industry. Cove was such an eye-opener.
    Koodos to Karam...way-to-go kid...

  38. Well said Karam. I am disappointed and shocked by the negative replies by some absolute twats in this column of comments. The major problem of this planet is over population of humans. The greed will destroy the fragile structure eventually. Its a pity I feel, that those who have no concern or respect for nature, were not just instantly annihilated to help in the cull of the human race whose entirety now stands at a very unhealthy 7billion. Dolphins are the most beautiful of creatures whose love to play. Let them be and give them the freedom of the seas along with all the other creatures that we murder and harm on a daily basis.... What do they do to us? Gross

  39. Nice piece for mammals. Protected and unprotected species are being held captive and experimented on in many resorts and marine centres. I wish such a piece could be published for them too.
    Even vegetarians ate killing for food. Plants cannot even run for their lives like some animals do, but that does not necessarily mean consent for being killed and eaten. If not for live fodder, we will have to go in search of decaying stuff.
    I believe being natural or nature loving or even environmental friendly is not limited to living species alone.

  40. A better idea, we leave dolphins to their wilderness and free. Instead we can lockup Umar Naseer and teach him to talk and fart properly.

  41. The damage that is done to many dolphins to capture a few for a life of captivity is horrifying - the dolphins are slaughtered in their thousands babies and all to capture the one they want to make money to sell to a dolphinarium - if you watch 'The Cove' and still go to swim with captive dolphins you need help as you are clearly inhuman. PLease Please do not swim with captive dolphins it is because of people paying that this murdering goes on every year for months at a time in Japan

  42. Dear all..i know Karam personally...for your information she is not a BOY! she is a GIRL! 😀

  43. i work in a resort and i see dolphin shows everyday.. they are in the wild, we see them when ever we want.. they folow you when you are in a sunset cruse!! they play around you happily.. how cool is that..

    and i don't find even a single reason why we have to capture it!! this is too much.. we have enough money to live with.. people wake up!! what happened o the new slogan "Maldives always natural" whats the use of it when we can't keep our words..
    i support Anni and respect his decisions but think about this once more!!

    good article karam.. she has stand up against this and i am standing with her..

  44. Enough said , why the hell is it st being allowed ! Well done on your article lets hope some good comes from it , we are the humans let behave that way and get these inhumans acts of blatant cruelty stopped forever !


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