In Indonesia there are a number of places where tourists can swim with dolphins. For many people that sounds like a pleasant activity. Dolphins are beautiful and cheerful and always have a smile on their face. A purely anatomical feature that tells nothing about their emotions. Yet people often think that the animals are having a good time.
But dolphins should not live in captivity. After being taken away from their families, they live with non-familiar dolphins in pools that are way too small and in which they cannot hunt, play or communicate with other dolphin groups via sonar. They put their sonar off in captivity .The walls of the cage defy the sound: for dolphins, this is maddening. Without sonar it is not possible to catch fish themselves, which is why they perform every trick just to be rewarded with food.
Back to the sea
In August, Wildlife Watchdogs was able to rescue 2 dolphins from a hotel in Bali, where they entertained tourists for years. One of the dolphins turned blind because of the chlorinated water in which they were kept. The other one no longer has teeth. For more than 2 months they were looked after by their regular supervisors. When they were strong enough for transportation, they were transported to the coast of Bali.
On Bali, the animals are rehabilitating in a special sea cage from Wildlife Watchdogs. The cage is open so that they can get used to their natural environment. They practice hunting for fish, learn to use their sonar again and slowly become aware of natural enemies. When the dolphins are ready, they leave the cage to rediscover the ocean.
The transport, maintenance and construction of the sea enclosures is extremely expensive. The project is fully funded by Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin project. O'Barry became world famous in the 1960s for his work as a dolphin trainer for the popular TV show Flipper. After a few years, he changed his course radically. He has been campaigning for 50 years to fight against keeping dolphins and orcas in captivity. Learn more about the celebrated animal activist here and read in an interview with Vice why O’Barry argues for closing all Dolfinaria.