Dec 5, 2008
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Captive Dolphin Industry: The market for cruelty
With a growing demand from the captive dolphin display industry, the Solomon Islands have found a very lucrative business in the live capture of wild dolphins. Each wild dolphin caught and sold can eventually bring in tens of thousands of dollars when adapted to captivity and trained to perform “tricks” for human audiences.
In 2003 the government of the Solomon Islands permitted wild dolphin captures, and as a result over 100 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins were violently removed from the waters around the islands. At least 28 of these dolphins were exported across the world to marine theme parks in Mexico while many others died due to the stress of capture and confinement. After a massive public outcry following the event the government outlawed live dolphin exports. However when a new government took office last year they revoked the ban and nearly 30 dolphins were transported from the Solomon Islands to the Atlantis Palm resort in Dubai.
Now Singapore is looking to buy into this appalling industry for a theme park set to open in 2010. By giving the Solomon Islands a market for dolphin trade Singapore will directly contribute to the abuse of these intelligent, sentient animals.
No scientific studies on the status of the populations of dolphins around the Solomon Islands have been conducted to date. Despite this, the Solomon Islands government continues to grant permission for these potentially unsustainable captures.
Sharanya Prasad, WSPA Marine Mammal Program Officer, explains: “For every wild dolphin taken captive, at least one other is injured or killed during the capture process. Studies also suggest that mortality rates of dolphins caught from the wild increase six-fold after capture and that life expectancy is severely reduced. People should seriously consider what their money may be supporting before visiting a marine park that holds dolphins.”
Those animals that do survive the inherently cruel capture from the wild are subjected to a lifetime of confinement, unable to express normal behaviors or interact socially, and subject to diseases and illnesses brought on by their unnatural surroundings. Life in a tank is no life for creatures that have evolved to exist in the vast and complex ocean.