Don’t Break the Bank: Alternatives to Visiting Marine Parks and Aquariums

At a cost of $80.00, on average, for a single-day ticket to SeaWorld, this March Break destination can literally break the bank! That – and the unseen costs of supporting an industry which is inherently connected to the dolphin drive hunts taking place annually in Taiji – should make one think twice before visiting a marine park or aquarium. There is nothing educational about observing captive dolphins, whose entire lives have been stripped in the name of profit. Dolphins once capable of swimming 100 miles a day in the open ocean are forced to circle in artificial environments, devoid of the natural rhythms of the sea. Dolphins who use a complex system of echolocation to hunt prey are fed dead fish, often “fortified” with medications and supplements, in order to keep their stress levels in check. Dolphins who enjoy the company of other chosen dolphins (and who may very well name one another via “signature” whistles) are put in tanks with oft-incompatible animals. In other words, each and every choice a dolphin would instinctively make in their wild environment is taken away from them by force.

Dolphins in captivity are surviving, not thriving. Even then, this is clearly an issue of quality, not quantity. There is no quality of life to be gained in forcible confinement, where 15 million years of evolution has been reduced to ‘tricks for treats.’ ~ Ric O’Barry

Here are some truly educational and entertaining alternatives to supporting the captivity industry:

Spotted & Bottlenose dolphins together in the Bahamas Photo: DolphinProject.net

Spotted & Bottlenose dolphins together in the Bahamas
Photo: DolphinProject.net

  • Hold a Cetacean Celebration – Rent educational movies about dolphins and observe the beauty of these sentient beings as well as learn how to act as their advocates.
  • Enjoy the world’s first wild dolphin immersive virtual reality experience – Talk about future present! Click here and prepare to “virtually” swim with dolphins from the comfort of your own couch!

Test your knowledge: Do freshwater dolphins exist?

There are a total of six species of freshwater dolphins and one species of freshwater porpoise, including the Yangtze river dolphin, the Amazon river dolphin, the Tucuxi, the Ganges river dolphin, the Irrawaddy dolphin, the Indus river dolphin and the finless porpoise. Sadly, all of these cetaceans are now endangered, with the exception of the Yangtze, which is classified as “functionally extinct.”

  • Calling all Clean Up Crews! – Earth Day is every day! Organize a spring clean-up of your local river, pond or shoreline. Remember, all water on earth is connected.

Test your knowledge: When was The Dolphin Project officially launched? Official Gear Dolphin Project

Ric O’Barry founded the first and original Dolphin Project on Earth Day, April 22, 1970. Its mandate then is the same as it is today, to protect dolphins worldwide. In 2014, our name officially changed to Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project but in our storefront, we are selling cool t-shirts with our original logos and artwork from the 1970’s!

  • Happiness is a Wild Dolphin – There is something truly magical about witnessing the awe and power of a wild dolphin – or an entire pod of dolphins! From observing orcas in the Pacific Northwest to watching bottlenose dolphins play in the Atlantic surf to being treated to a rare sighting of a baby nestled close to its mother – there is something in nature to fit everyone’s tastes. Please remember: marine mammals are federally protected in the United States. Never attempt to feed, touch or otherwise harass a wild dolphin.

Test your knowledge: Have previously captive dolphins ever been successfully re-released back into the wild?

You bet! In fact, Ric O’Barry has pioneered this work over the past 40 years. Here are some examples of projects we have worked on.

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About Cara Sands

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It might be true that we don't recall many moments from our early years. However, Cara's first memory of a dolphin had her begging her parents to ask the trainer to let the dolphin go! The problem with captivity was evident to her, even as a 4 year-old child.

A writer by trade, Cara has researched, investigated and documented dolphins suffering in captivity. From documenting dolphins incarcerated in buildings, cut-off from fresh air, sunlight and normal socialization to researching cases of animals imprisoned in solitary confinement, Cara is a dedicated dolphin welfare advocate.

It is her belief that education equals empowerment. The more information shared, the better our choices and knowledge of how to act as a positive and respectful voice for dolphins across the world.

Cara is based out of Canada and makes time whenever possible to observe dolphins in their natural environments. She is writing her first fiction novel but knowing her, the marine world will play a prominent role in her book!

"The use of animals for entertainment is nothing more than an abuse of dominance. Some of the most sentient species on the planet have been exploited to incomprehensible levels, all due to their inherent benevolence. Ironic, considering that we turn to the abused themselves for displays of humanity."
~ Cara Sands

Author: Cara Sands
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