Well folks, I keep coming in here to try and get a post written but nothing happens. Seriously, I sign in, open the page and stare gormlessly at it. Lordy, it’s harder than you think, picking up after a long break. It’s like starting from new.
Well I have to start somewhere so I’ll fill you in a little on what I’ve been up to. The best part was when I spent two weeks on a lovely, sunny beach. It seems like a lifetime ago now but while I was there I read lots of books, I snorkeled and saw lots of lovely fishes, I ate and drank lots and generally had a relaxed and enjoyable holiday with the family.
One thing I will tell you I did. Well it’s kind of a confession really, a shameful admittance of an unethical activity I partook of. I swam with dolphins folks. You see, call me naive but I presumed that we’d be swimming with wild dolphins, in the sea, on their terms, with ethical, experienced and authorised guides supervising us and adhering to strict guidelines. I imagined that we’d be taken off in a boat to where they were known to hang out and were used to humans splashing around. I expected to simply pop into the water, swim at a respectful distance and wait for them to come to us. By choice. Their choice. But the dolphins we were to interact with were captive, trained dolphins and they were kept in enclosures.
So, did I stop right there, stomp my foot down and refuse to go any further? You’d think so, wouldn’t you. I mean I refuse to visit zoos and aquariums. I would never go to a circus that involved the use of wild animals. I won’t even let my kids keep goldfish. But no, regardless of what I’d come to realise, I still went ahead with it. It was mostly due to the dismayed cries of my children and the justified objections from my husband who’d forked out the huge amount of money to pay for the activity. But if I’m to be truly honest, I still really did want to get up close to them. If I’d known the situation before we booked I would have said no. Absolutely not. I would never have agreed to it. Trust me, all the time that I was in the water with them, I was plotting a Free Willy type rescue plan. But as things were . . .
So, quickly moving on, I was surprised at how structured the sessions with these wonderful creatures were. It was clearly a well rehearsed and repetitive routine of petting, hugging and pulling along. The dolphins themselves were truly amazing. They were unbelievably clever, superbly well trained, endearingly gentle and quite utterly charming and friendly. But they were being bribed with food. Basically they performed for us at feeding times. It’s wrong people. On many levels.
My kids said they looked very happy and for sure they did look very well cared for. Indeed they even appeared to be enjoying themselves but they do have a genetically permanent smile on their face so I guess they will always look happy, even when they’re utterly miserable. But top and bottom is, they were in captivity and I inexcusably condoned their plight by taking part.
There you go. I’m not proud of myself. Friends tell me to shut up. They tell me that I’ve had the experience of a lifetime and I should stop whinging. Well it might have been a lifetime experience for me but not for those poor captive dolphins who have to perform those same routines day in, day out in order to be fed. Anyway, it can hardly be described as swimming with dolphins because we didn’t really get to swim them as such at all. It certainly wasn’t the freestyle swimming experience we were expecting, with wild dolphins. But heck, thinking about it, it’s even questionable as to whether it’s ethical to swim with free dolphins in the wild when we consider how popular and commercial it’s becoming. The implications there are obvious.
I fully understand why many people dream of doing this kind of thing. It’s well known that swimming with dolphins can be therapeutic and there’s little doubt that it has a positive effect on humans. But you just have to ask, just how beneficial is it for dolphins, particularly those in captivity? There’s enough evidence to say that dolphins actually do enjoy interacting with humans. They’re naturally curious and playful. But surely no-one can believe that it’s ok to snatch them from their natural habitats and imprison them in order for them to play with us. Or indeed for us to be entertained. In captivity they are deprived of a natural, instinctive lifestyle. They are unable to wander the seas, hunt for food, mate, socialise, play with their own kind.
Dolphins are serene, lovable and playful creatures with an amazing sense of loyalty and protectiveness. It’s on record that they’ve rescued humans on many occasions and they’ve even been known to help stranded whales by communicating with them and guiding them back to the water. We should respect them and allow them the freedom and dignity they deserve.
To the dolphin alone, beyond all others, nature has granted what the best philosophers seek: friendship for no advantage. Though it has no need at all for man, yet it is a genial friend to all and has helped many. Plutarch