A barren pool in a hotel complex? Or the deep blue sea? Help 5 dolphins get back home

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“When you look into their eyes, you know somebody is home…you build a bond”- John Jett, former Sea World trainer

 Did you know that cetaceans such as dolphins have a whole part of their brain dedicated to emotions?  Imagine the deepest love you’ve ever felt, your most elevated high, and the darkest low… now magnify that onto a scale that we can’t even begin to comprehend. Their love, their fear, their heartbreak, their loss; it’s more complex than you can imagine. 

 What I am about to describe is the exact life of so many captive dolphins around the world. But more specifically of five depressed dolphins, who originate from the Solomon Islands and who are now trapped in a chemically treated, concrete, barren tank, smaller than your average fitness pool and just 10ft deep, constantly exposed to sunlight, in the hustle and bustle of one of Mexico’s most popular hotels. The Grand Bahia Principe, Riviera Maya. Treated as nothing more than a side show and little publicised by the hotel, in fact gaining any information about the dolphins is tricky, it isn’t until you have checked into your room, you see the ‘dolphinarium’ approximately the same size as the jacuzzi’s on this 3090 room hotel map and just a 20metre walk from the open ocean, which is exactly where these beautiful, intelligent creatures belong.

“We need to realize that these are beings that suffer the same as we suffer, they want freedom the way we want freedom.” - Russell Simmons

 Now imagine you’re one of these dolphins. So how did you get here? Were you captured from the freedom of the ocean you’ve always know, or bred in barren tank, spending every day in confinement with your small family pod? Either way you’ll be torn from your mother while she screams, shipped or flown in a stretcher across the country away from your family and friends, to be imprisoned in a claustrophobically small, concrete pen. Just to stare, at that same white wall for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

 ‘I’d rather watch paint dry’…it’s a commonly used expression, but have you ever actually sat in front of a crisp white wall for an hour? For a day? For 25 years? I doubt it. Imagine the mind numbing boredom, how long just an hour would feel. That’s all there is now, that white wall, your barren tank. That’s it. Until your premature death of 25. If you had stayed with your family you could have made it to 100 years of age, diving through the endless ocean and swimming 40-80 miles a day playing with your friends and family. The equivalent of a human being cramped in a bath tub for their entire life.

“Can you imagine being in a small concrete enclosure for your life when you’re used to swimming 100 miles a day?” Blackfish, 2013

Your only breaks from staring at this wall are the five shows a day, with up 30 deafening two legged visitors invading your already cramped pen, groping you, clambering over you, attempting to ride you and forcing you to perform. Just so you are allowed to eat. The meal you can look forward to? Already dead, low quality fish that is rationed to ensure your good behaviour and accompanied by unnatural medications to treat your unnatural ailments such as stomach ulcers brought on by the stress of your new life, or how about contracting human illnesses and infections?  

 And what about communicating with your new friends? In the wild dolphins use echolocation and sonar to communicate as they are acoustic creatures, each pod having a unique language. They are highly social and emotional creatures. In captivity using echolocation will drive them insane as the soundwaves no longer travel miles through the ocean, they bounce off around the walls around them. So their heads are filled with voices, voices they may not fully understand, causing them to be in permanent state of stressful confusion. 

''There is about as much educational benefit to be gained from observing dolphins in captivity as there would be studying mankind by only observing an innocent prisoner held in foreign solitary confinement'' Unknown

Imagine it. How long before you succumb to clinical insanity? Deprived of your freedom, deprived of your choice. Nothing to live for, no hunting, no socializing. Just staring at your wall. Suffering. 

This is exactly what I was greeted with when I discovered the ‘dolphinarium’ at the Grand Bahia, and it broke my heart. 

 It seems impossible to think that you can help change these barbaric practices, but it’s true. One person starting a petition, supported by tens of thousands of individual voices helped Born Free rescue and release two captive dolphins. Banding together and combining our support can help get these highly intelligent creatures back home where they belong. Every email you send, every tweet you RT, every friend you speak to, every time you complain is one step closer to these cruel dolphin parks becoming a thing of a past and dolphin freedom becoming a thing of the future. 

Be a part of the change. Be proud.



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Emily Elgar needs your help with “A barren pool in a hotel complex? Or the deep blue sea? Help get 5 dolphins back home #CaptivityKills #BoycottTheBahia”. Join Emily and 5,538 supporters today.