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Dolphins Doomed?
By: Samantha S., St. Paul's Junior High, Mount Pearl, NF

What is life like for a dolphin in captivity? Well, just imagine yourself, swimming freely through the deep, blue waters of the ocean and then suddenly you are violently being netted, captured and dragged onto a boat. The next thing you know, you are back into water once again, but it is not your home. It is a small, enclosed tank where you most likely will spend the rest of your short, miserable life. This is the early stages of a dolphin's experience in captivity. In every well known aquarium, the dolphins are forced to live a life in an over chlorinated pool, being fed dead fish, and every day training to perform boring and frustrating tricks that the dolphins really only do for a treat afterwards.

This horrible action takes place every day, month and year in all the show parks of the world in places such as Marineland, Seaworld, and the Oklahoma City Zoo. Why do these things happen? Well, it has nothing to do with what is best for these mammals. The main reason is money. These show parks capture wild dolphins for captivity, sell tickets to eager viewers, and make millions of dollars off them every year.

There are major risks involved with keeping dolphins in captivity for a long period of time. First of all, these animals are so violently captured that the chances of them surviving the experience are not very high. Dolphins do not last long in captivity. According to Dolphin Project Europe, 53 percent of captive dolphins who survived the violent captures, died within 90 days, and half died within two years in captivity. Those that did survive longer, lasted an average of five years. The thing is, wild dolphins can live for 40 to 45 years of age! The difference is 35 or 40 years!

Another major risk involved with capturing dolphins is illnesses related to stress, lack of food, bacteria and lack of space. Wild dolphins swim 40 to 100 miles a day, yet, the required tank size for a captive dolphin is only 24 by 24 x six feet!! That is definitely not enough space! Most dolphins have died from capture shock, pneumonia, intestinal disease, ulcers, chlorine poisoning, and other stress-related diseases. This is mostly caused by the chemicals and bacteria that cause infections and disease in the mammals. Dolphins in chlorinated tanks often go blind and suffer from skin problems due to the chlorine.

When dolphins are taken from the wild, they are being taken away from their home and their baby or mother - tearing families apart. Also while in the wild, the dolphins use a special locating process for catching food and navigating. This is called echolocation. Due to the concrete walls of the tank, it is difficult for this to work, especially since there is no food to catch!

Some of the most well known public aquariums offer a program that allows visitors to swim with and encounter the dolphins. However, this kind of attention is not very good for the dolphins' health. Crowd pressure becomes a major issue. For example, Marineland allows up to 500 people each month to invade the habitat of its dolphins. This causes the dolphins to become ill because it confuses and frustrates the dolphin, as well as depriving him of the space he needs to survive.

Keeping dolphins and any other marine animal in captivity is a horrible and risky thing to do. Some countries have finally realized this and have stopped capturing wild dolphins. In Australia and several other countries, it is now illegal to catch or import dolphins for captivity.

So, have these countries tried to release their dolphins back into the wild? Yes, but sometimes it hasn't worked out as planned. For instance, some dolphins couldn't develop hunting skills again and so they starved. Others may not have been familiar with their new habitat and got caught in fishing nets or eaten by predators. To make things worse, tracking these animals is near impossible and finding them again is even more impossible!

Taking dolphins into captivity is an outragous and terrible idea! People who do this are killing the species, and it is just not right. Animals and humans were put on this Earth together to share it and live in freedom and peace, but these dolphins are living in stress and that's not the way it should be! The only reason dolphins are brought into captivity is to show off for an audience and make money for the companies that hold the shows.

You can help stop this dolphin exploition. It's easy: don't buy a ticket.

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