Back in 1997 I fulfilled two little dreams that I had. First of all, I went to Mexico which was a place I was dying to see. I was in Cancun for a week and had a blast. Lately Mexico hasn’t been very Canadian-friendly but I would still love to go back one day.
The second dream I fulfilled was during a day trip from Cancun to Xcaret. The trip itself wasn’t particularly worthwhile. It cost the same thing as the day trip to the ruins in Chichen Itza but that trip included an air-conditioned double-decker bus with a bathroom on board, complementary continental breakfast on the bus, a tour guide for a couple of hours to see the ruins, a choice of four lunch venues at the hotel nearby, and mini Corona bottles and chips on the bus ride home. In comparison the trip to Xcaret was on a school bus and the access to the park. Every activity in the park cost extra and the food was outlandishly expensive (and not particularly good either). No matter though; aside from the spectacular night show I got to do one thing I had wanted to do for pretty much my whole life.
I swam with dolphins for 20 minutes. It cost me about $70 US but it was worth every penny to me. I got to take part in a dolphin trick (all of us stretched out in the water holding hands in a line and the dolphins swam under us and then jumped over us multiple times), and the best part of all was the 15 minutes of free swim time. The dolphins were like rubbery puppies, swimming around us, poking their noses at us to get us to pet them, and I was completely in love. I also got a photo taken with two of them.
It was one of the best things I had ever done and I had hoped that one day I’d get a chance to do it again since dolphins are my favorite wild animal.
Then I watched the documentary The Cove and I know that I will never do it ever again. Having watched what the dolphin industry costs the dolphins themselves, it doesn’t feel like I paid nearly enough money that day.
If you haven’t seen the movie I strongly urge you to do so. It had me bawling into tissues but it is so worth watching. The dolphin industry doesn’t give a crap about the dolphins they train for our enjoyment. A few of the many problems:
- The lifespan of dolphins in captivity is about half that of a dolphin in the wild.
- Dolphins in the wild will cover hundreds of kilometers in the ocean in a single day; there’s no such thing as a tank or outdoor captivity area large enough to fulfill their basic needs.
- Dolphins in places like Taiji, Japan are herded by the hundreds or thousands into a tiny cove, crowded in there in terror; dolphin programs (swim with the dolphins, dolphin shows, etc) bid on the dolphins they want and take them to their locations, separating these highly social and attached animals from their families.
- The dolphins that are not chosen are herded into a neighboring cove and slaughtered. SLAUGHTERED. The turquoise ocean water literally turns red with the blood of hundreds and hundreds of dolphins.
- The slaughtered dolphins are cut up, packaged under a generic (and inaccurate) label of “fish”, then sold to unsuspecting Japanese consumers as well as schools which then serve the dolphin to its students; this is highly problematic since dolphins have dangerously high mercury levels. In the film it was said that if a dolphin washed up on the shores of the United States it would technically be considered toxic waste because of the mercury levels. Mercury is long known to cause major health problems, but most people approached in Japan during filming had no idea they were eating dolphin to begin with.
I try not to preach too much but I love dolphins and this is something near and dear to my heart. I would love so much to hop in the water and swim around with a dolphin again but I can’t let myself do that because the cost of that joy is too high. Instead I’ll settle for helping to educate people about a problem they may not realize exists simply because dolphins always look so happy. They’re not smiling because they’re happy; they’re “smiling” because that’s just they way their faces are built.
There are a lot of things you can do, and aside from learning more or getting something cool from their shops which gives proceeds right back into the funding to save more dolphins (I have this awesome hat), you can also sign the pledge below. I did and I stand by it.
(This is not a sponsored post. This is just me donning my activist hat for a moment.)