Celebrating dolphins on World Wildlife Day

02/03/2021

World Wildlife Day is a time to celebrate and reflect on the wild animals that call our oceans home.

Sea World likes to create the impression that its dolphins have been rescued and rehabilitated. But most of them were bred into a lifetime of captivity to provide entertainment.

One animal has long captured the human imagination with their intelligence, friendliness and physical grace in the water. We’re talking about the dolphin. But, unfortunately not all dolphins get to live in the wild where they belong.

Some dolphins are condemned to a life of utter boredom in the confines of a man-made concrete tank or artificial lagoon. Like the 30+ captive dolphins at one of Australia’s last two remaining dolphin venues: Sea World Gold Coast.

Sea World likes to create the impression that its dolphins have been rescued and rehabilitated. But most of them were bred into a lifetime of captivity to provide entertainment.

The Problem: dolphins are wildlife not entertainers

So-called “Swimming with the dolphins” programs allow visitors to pet captive dolphins in shallow pools or interact with them in deeper water by swimming beside them or being towed around by holding onto the dolphin's dorsal fin.

Wild dolphins can swim more than 100km a day – they engage in mating, foraging, fighting and play behaviour with their pod members: and they use their echolocation to explore their diverse ocean environment.

In contrast, captive dolphins are forced to swim in endless circles in artificial habitats, interact with unfamiliar dolphins and other species and perform behaviours that are unnatural and in some cases painful. 

Image thanks to Dean Sewell

The Solution: See dolphins in the wild

Don’t fuel the demand for animal cruelty at Sea World. Here are some of the locations where you can see dolphins in the wild exhibiting their natural behaviours, rather than unnatural circus tricks. In the wild, they’re free to come and go as they please;

  • Bay of Islands 
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Kaikoura
  • Marlborough Sounds

Or if you're visiting Australia;

  • Nelson Bay, NSW
  • Julian Rocks, Byron Bay
  • Noosa, QLD 
  • Airlie Beach, and throughout the Whitsundays
  • Rainbow Beach and Hervey Bay 

Dolphins can live for over 50 years – which amounts to a life sentence in a small, barren pool.

We want Sea World’s 30+ dolphins to be the last generation of dolphins held captive for visitors in Australia. Only a ban on captive breeding will help bring this about.

To New Zealanders keen to see dolphins our advice is simple, see them in the wild – where they belong.

Wild Dolphins

Top image thanks to Rachel Ceretto

hectors and maui dolphins