Imagine that all your life you were free to run to any place that you wanted, and nothing could stop you. But wait, there was one thing. Stop! There is a person taking you by the arm and dragging you back home against your will. From that day on, you were locked in your house, never to be let out again. This is what is happening to Bottlenose dolphins, who are being taken out of the wild and brought into captivity around the world. Many people say this should absolutely not be happening and that is much better for Bottlenose dolphins to be free in the ocean (“Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project”). But, there are other people who think that putting them in aquariums actually might help some of their population.
On one hand, these aquariums give captured dolphins the attention that they need to survive. But, would you want to have to swim around with people for hours just to get food? (“Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project”). Is it better for Bottlenose dolphins to live in captivity or in the wild? What are Bottlenose dolphins? Bottlenose dolphins are a part of the Delphinidae family (“American Cetacean Society”). Delphinidae dolphins are classified as oceanic dolphins (“Dolphin”) According to AnimalSake, a website containing Bottlenose dolphin facts, Bottlenose dolphins live in a tropical climate. They are able to jump as high as twenty feet in the air. All dolphins do this because they aren’t able to breathe underwater.
Generally, dolphins are at the top of the food chain and therefore are highly appreciated in their ecosystem ( “Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project”). The American Cetacean Society, an organization that protects whales, dolphins, and porpoises, mentions that some Bottlenose dolphins eat a wide variety of food but each dolphin is different. For example, “An adult bottlenose dolphin may consume 15-30 pounds (8-15 kg) of food each day”(“American Cetacean Society “). In captivity, Bottlenose dolphins are fed after doing tricks which doesn’t give them a lot of food. Many dolphins by the end of the day are very hungry and are not treated well (“Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin project”). This had made many people question their decisions on where they stand in this controversy. Many people have started to talk about the problems with animals in captivity.
Although there are many reasons why, the one that is most frequently used is that they need dolphins to swim with people. There are so many bright and colorful posters that say ‘come swim with the dolphins’ (Johnson 16). These posters appear in aquariums and normally have children smiling and the dolphins that appear to be having fun.
This is not always the case. Ric O’barry’s Dolphin Project mentiones that Bottlenose dolphins do not kiss or carry people because it is something they like to do. This is how they are given food.
According to WDC, an organization that protects dolphins and whales, the “methods used to capture and transport dolphins can be shockingly cruel and many animals die during capture operations or in transit.” According to Johnson, author of the book Dolphin Rescue True Life Stories, when dolphins are captured, they are separating from their groups which have as many as several hundred dolphins (22). Bottlenose dolphins are not born to be put in small pools and have limited food each day.
Bottlenose dolphins are born to live in the wild. But, still there are some problems that these Bottlenose dolphins face. Bottlenose dolphins may be captured by predators, or by humans (Johnson 84). Dolphins may get tangled in fishnets and disturbed by boats and pollution. This can cause Bottlenose dolphins to get all types of diseases and even killed by boats (84). In general, dolphins are having a hard time finding cooler waters due to global warming (“Defenders of Wildlife”). The Defenders of Wildlife hope that since they are very intelligent, they will be able to find cooler waters soon and that people will help them. Another reason why the wild is harmful to Bottlenose dolphins is that they might be attacked by their predators.
One dolphin was rescued after a shark attack. “The cetacean is now being cared for by vets at SeaWorld Orlando as they try and nurse it back to full health” explains James Tennent, a writer for Newsweek. He continues by saying that these veterinarians are able to give their full attention to this Bottlenose dolphin. They put her in a rehabilitation center and realized that she was able to swim. This organization has worked with over 31,000 animals and are hoping to nurse her back to health (Tennent).
Bottlenose dolphin’s are not always the safe out in the ocean. Although the word captivity may be perceived in a negative way, it can have a positive outcome on Bottlenose dolphins. Many dolphins die in the ocean due to predators and diseases. According to Seaworld Parks and Entertainment, “dolphins may suffer from viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. In addition, they may develop stomach ulcers, skin diseases, tumors, heart disease, urogenital disorders, and respiratory disorders.” In captivity, dolphins are kept under the care of humans and placed in tanks that are seperate from these predators. The dangers in the ocean are not the only elements that are harmful to Bottlenose dolphins. Human are too.
Humans play an enormous role in polluting the water and contributing to air pollution. In aquariums or other potential places, the Bottlenose dolphins are taken away from all of these situations. They are fed everyday and placed in pools where they are cared for. The Texas State Aquarium did research on the Bottlenose dolphins in their facilities.
They wanted to further their understanding of dolphins under professional care and help other Bottlenose dolphins if they are in this horrible condition. Christi Corpus, a writer for Newsday, said a “male bottlenose dolphins have allowed visiting scientists and animal care staff at the aquarium to collect a trove of data which will increase the understanding of cetaceans in professional care.” The dolphins also had DTAG tags. These track their movements The dolphins were allowed to take these off whenever they wanted.
This information gives the Aquariums staff more knowledge on how they can help these dolphins in the best way possible (Corpus). Bottlenose dolphins can be safer in captivity than in the ocean. Even though captivity may be helpful, the wild is the ideal habitat to be for Bottlenose dolphins. Bottlenose dolphins are able to communicate with a “unique ‘signature whistle’ which they often use when communicating with others” (“Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project “).
When taken out of the wild, Bottlenose dolphins are removed from their groups and are no longer able to use their “signature whistle”. This gives them an easy way to communicate with other Bottlenose dolphins when there is food or prey (Johnson 24). In the book, Dolphin Rescue True-Life Stories, the Bottlenose dolphins, Tom and Misha would get excited about a school of fish nearby or warn each other about boats that are approaching by using these “whistles”. Bottlenose dolphins love to swim around and dive. They are as fast as three miles an hour (Johnson 70).
Bottlenose dolphins are very energetic and active and are born to be able to swim around in the wild. These dolphins have the best life in the wild. Overall, many people have different views on Bottlenose dolphins in wild and captivity. There are many distinctions between the wild and captivity. When people go to aquariums this thought isn’t always going through their mind. They think “oh look at those cute animals”.
It never occurs to them that these conditions may be hurting the Bottlenose dolphins. When you walk into an aquarium is the first thought in your mind, “would these dolphins be better than the wild?” Many people would say yes because the wild is perceived as a place where dolphins are “suppose” to be. But, captivity can keep Bottlenose dolphins away from diseases and pollution (“SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment”).
Would you want to be held back from reaching your full potential? For Bottlenose dolphins this could be either living in the wild or living in captivity under the care of humans.