For over 20 years the tranquil waters of Grand Turk, one of the many islands that make up the Turks and Caicos Islands, has been a safe refuge for wild dolphins with strong laws forbidding the captivity of marine mammals. However, this all changed when the government of the small Caribbean nation recently reversed these laws. Succumbing to the pressures of the tourist industry, Turks and Caicos has shamelessly allowed the importation and captivity of dolphins to make way for the construction of a “swim with the dolphins” facility or dolphinarium proposed by the Jamaican-based company Dolphin Cove Ltd.
The vast majority of tourists that go to Grand Turk are cruise line customers. Please join us in asking Carnival Cruise Lines, the main cruise line serving the Turks and Caicos Islands, to not operate tours which involve interaction with captive dolphins.
A GROWING THREAT TO DOLPHINS WORLDWIDE
Unfortunately, the story of The Turks and Caicos Islands is all too familiar. Every year thousands of dolphins are caught under the most horrifying circumstances and taken away from their ocean home only to be placed in a cramped, enclosed cove. Here the dolphins are then sorted through with some being taken away from their pod or family (dolphins are extremely social animals that form deep emotional life-long bonds with each other) and sent to aquatic centers (such as the proposed one in TCI) all over the world, while the rest are brutally slaughtered for their meat. Unfortunately, there is an overall lack of training, regulation and care for the welfare of these animals in the slaughter process with countless dolphins suffering for 10 or more minutes before they finally bleed to death.
CAPTIVITY SHORTENS LIVES
Life does not get much better for those selected to be shipped off for our entertainment. Dolphins face a six-fold increase in risk of mortality immediately after capture from the wild and immediately after they are transferred from one facility to another. But swimming freely in the wilds of the ocean, dolphins can enjoy an average 45-year lifespan. The main cause of death for the captured animals is bacterial infections such as pneumonia made worse by their limited diet, frozen fish loose much of their nutritional value, increased contact with humans and stress. Captive dolphins also suffer from a myriad of health issues including ulcers, blindness, and skin problems due to excessive UV rays. In addition, many experts, including the famous activist Ric O’Barry, believe that some dolphins will ram their heads against their tank or consciously stop breathing, opting for suicide rather than face life in their underwater prison.
Even if they do survive captivity the dolphins are conscripted to a life of stress and boredom. Wild dolphins can swim over 40 miles a day. In facilities like those managed by Dolphin Cove Ltd., these magnificent mammals are confined to small tanks of chemical-laced water where they are forced—out of boredom—to swim listlessly in circles all day.
Dolphins born into captivity do not fare much better. They suffer from the same high mortality rate and health problems as wild caught dolphins. According to the US Marine Mammal Inventory Report, between 1960 and 1993, more than 50-percent of captive-bred dolphins died within the first four months of their lives. Some die from a lack of maternal nurturing, others from birth defects due to insufficient diets, while others have succumbed to aggression from other captive dolphins. These factors, in addition to low fertility rates among captive dolphins, make it impossible for dolphinariums around the world to sustain themselves solely through captive-bred dolphins. This means that the hunting and capturing of dolphins and all the evils associated with it will continue as long as these institutions exist.
DANGER TO HUMANS
While living freely in the wild, humans and dolphins have long enjoyed a peaceful relationship with countless reports of dolphins saving peoples lives by warding off sharks or carrying them safely to shore. However, the stress of captivity can lead to an increase in aggressive behavior towards humans among captive dolphins. This has resulted in numerous broken bones, bruised and ruptured internal organs, bites and even a few mortalities.
Another major concern is that diseases can be transmitted from dolphins to humans and vice versa.On average, dolphins produce five times more waste than humans. With several dolphins swimming around a confined tank all day imagine the amount of waste that is floating around in there. Most dolphinariums fail to inform their customers of these potential health risks. With children, the elderly, and others with fragile immune systems at greatest risk, tourists and their families should think carefully before participating in “swim with the dolphins” programs.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
SIGN THE PETITION
Numerous cruise lines have already elected not to support captive dolphin facilities. Carnival Cruise Lines is the largest cruise line serving Grand Turk. Without their continued support, the proposed dolphinarium will not have a large enough customer base and surely crumble. Sign this petition and become a part of the movement to eradicate this evil from the world.
WRITE A LETTER
Join us by letting the president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, Gerry Cahill, know that the international community will not support an organization that supports captive dolphin facilities. Below is a letter and Mr. Cahill’s contact information. Please take a few minutes to show your support by sending Mr. Cahill this letter. Also, feel free to craft one of your own.
You can adress your letter and send it through your regular mail service to:
Carnival Cruise Lines
3655 NW 87th Avenue
Miami, FL 33178
SPREAD THE WORD
A few people can’t do this alone. Send this petition to your friends and loved ones and tell them to speak out against dolphin captivity. If we work together we can end this horrendous practice!
Over the past several years, it has been well established that keeping dolphins in captivity is detrimental to these sensitive sentient beings of the sea. Dolphins live an average of 45 years in the wild. However, Dolphins face a six-fold increase in risk of mortality immediately after capture from the wild and immediately after they are transferred from one facility to another. Captured dolphins suffer from a myriad of health issues including pneumonia, depression, self-inflicted injures, ulcers, blindness and skin problems due to UV rays.
Dolphins born into captivity do not fare much better, suffering from the same high mortality rate and health problems as wild caught dolphins. According to the US Marine Mammal Inventory Report, between 1960 and 1993, more than 50-percent of captive-bred dolphins died within the first four months of their lives. Many of these deaths were attributed to the stress dolphins faced while being in an unnatural environment, including lack of maternal skills, abnormal fertile development due to diet and aggression from other captive dolphins. These factors on top of low fertility rates among captive dolphins make it impossible for dolphinariums around the world to sustain themselves solely through captive-bred dolphins. This means that the hunting and capturing of dolphins and all the evils associated with it will continue as long as these institutions exist.
Numerous cruise lines, including Carnival UK, have elected “not to operate tours which involve interaction with captive dolphins.” As an industry leader, we ask you to join Carnival UK and adopt the same policy for Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. As the major cruise line serving the Turks and Caicos Islands, you are in a unique position to protect and respect the natural integrity of the dolphins of Grand Turk. With the plight of the dolphin gaining more attention internationally, the refusal to support such an outdated tourist attraction will only enforce the reputation of Carnival Cruise Lines as being a true global environmental steward.