Myth № 1: Dolphins smile which means they are happy.
Myth № 2: The animals are friendly and they squint because they are happy.
Myth № 3: Dolphins are calm and not aggressive.
Myth № 4: Animals swim in big pools.
In the wild, dolphins and orcas swim about 160 kilometers per day and dive very deep. No matter how big artificial swimming pools look are, animals get access to less than 1% of the room they really need to have a normal life.
As a result, animals are forced to swim circles in the pool, which may result in so-called abnormal behavior. These repetitive movements and rituals lead to different psychological problems in dolphins. There have been cases (quite a lot, in fact) where dolphins hurt themselves.
Myth № 5: They are smart mammals so they perform the tricks easily.
Long scientific studies have proven that dolphins’ brains are very complex. They are self-aware, and they have amazing cognitive abilities. It is not a myth that dolphins are smart and they have complex behavior.
However, the fact that they do tricks in swimming pools doesn’t mean anything. It’s actually because they are motivated with food. Usually, their meals are separated into several portions depending on the number of shows or practice sessions they have and the animals are always kept a little hungry and they soon realize that if they don’t follow their orders, they will be kept hungry. By the way, the food they are given is often very bad. They may be fed with frozen or dead fish that they wouldn’t normally eat in their natural habitat.
Myth № 6: They feel at home in the places where they’re kept.
Myth № 7: Traveling dolphinariums make it possible for people to learn more about life in the wild.
As we’ve already mentioned, not even the biggest swimming pool can recreate a natural habitat for these animals. When it comes to moving dolphinariums, this becomes even more true, which means that animals have to deal with exponentially more stress. Every time they are moved to a new place, they have to spend 5 to 8 days in small dark barrels. The size of these barrels is just a little bigger than the size of the animals. And there are usually 2-3 animals in one barrel.
Interestingly, the risk for people’s health also increases with traveling dolphinariums. The microflora of these animals becomes more dangerous for people. Bacteria can be easily transmitted by touch, for example, when taking a picture with an animal, or even in splashing water (and the quality of water is much worse than in an ordinary pool).
Myth № 8: Dolphins are real healers.
Often, dolphin therapy includes swimming with animals and some other exercises and this program usually requires that you visit a few times. Dolphinariums actively promote this service, especially to children who need treatment.
The studies that claim that dolphin therapy is useful, usually don’t consider the fact that the effect it has (if it has any effect at all) is short-term and placebo-like. Most of the time, people are just excited because they went somewhere new, they got a lot of attention, people smiled at them, and they felt happy. One of the counterarguments is that people are also often attacked during these sessions.
There are several documentaries that have revealed the secrets of this business, like the Oscar-winning movie The Cove. However, even after watching movies like this, some people say that if you let all these animals back into the ocean, they would die.
This is exactly why nothing will change if people keep visiting dolphinariums. Despite all the risks, it is possible that the animals will be able to adapt to their natural habitat, even though it will take a lot of work and time. So instead, maybe we should look for excuses when considering buying tickets for these shows.