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Cetaceans

What's the difference between Michael Phelps and a dolphin...?

What's the difference between Michael Phelps and a dolphin...?

Posted 15 August 2012   by Anthony         Permalink | 6 Comments

Tags: dolphins, orcas, Seaworld, cetaceans, entertainment

... one of them actually enjoys being in a pool.

With the Olympics done and dusted for another four years (good job, London) I was interested to read this story about half-man, half-fish Michael Phelps.

Yeah, ok - it's not a real story, but it's a pretty funny read. What isn't so funny is the fact that around the world, 1000s of whales and dolphins ("cetaceans" if you wanna impress your friends) are captured from the wild and delivered to oceanariums. There they'll live out their days in tiny tanks, sometimes being trained to perform tricks for human entertainment.

Everyone knows dolphins are amongst the smartest animals on Earth. They play with each other and body-surf at the beach; they've been observed wrapping their "noses" in sponge when searching for food to prevent grazes (c'mon, we've all been there!); and this is what blows me away: dolphins in a pod will stay with sick or injured friends, even pushing them up to the surface to breathe if they can't do it themselves!!

Locking cetaceans into tanks at SeaWorlds around the globe is pretty much like giving them a life sentence in prison. Just think of how huge the oceans are, and how far dolphins and whales would swim in a day. Imagine all the things they'd see and experience in a lifetime! Now think of how desperately bored and cooped up they must feel spending day and night in tanks not even a fraction the size of their natural habitat. Sucks, doesn't it?

As long as dolphins and whales are kept locked up in tanks for human entertainment and their best interests aren't taken into account, we're going to keep seeing stories like the one where two dolphins died after a rave was allowed right next to their pool. (Whaaat?!) Or despite the fact that there has not been a single recorded instance of a wild orca ever seriously injuring or killing a human, a captive orca in the US has now killed three people in separate incidents. There is also the sad story of Kuru the dolphin who jumped out of her tank during a show.

Like rodeos and circuses that still use animals, the easiest way you can make a difference is simply to not visit marine parks that feature animal performances.

There must be a hundred different ways you can see and interact with animals that aren't harmful. Volunteer at a native wildlife rescue and rehab centre or animal refuge. How about snorkelling or scuba diving? You're not going to see a man standing on a dolphins back ... but really, who would wanna see that anyway??

Got any stories of seeing dolphins or whales in the wild? We'd love to hear them in the comments.

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