Caribbean,  Travel

Tips for Planning a Vacation That Involves Swimming With Dolphins

While planning your next vacation, you may want to add swimming with dolphins to the list. On cruises or many destinations near water, you may come across several swim-with-dolphin or dolphin encounter programs. It is very important that you take the time to learn about these programs before you spend money on excursions that are cruel.

Before booking an excursion or planning to visit a location, take the time to educate yourself about swim-with-dolphin and interaction programs before your next cruise or vacation. Here’s my quick guide for a dolphin vacation on what you should look out for, why you should care, and how you can help dolphins.

Dolphin shows are as educational about dolphins as Mickey Mouse is about real mice.”

~ Ric O’Barry, Founder/Director of Dolphin Project

Choose a Cruelty-Free Excursion Instead of Watching a Show

Many companies online promote attractions involving dolphins, so check to see if the program has captured marine mammals. Spend the money on a tour that involves getting on a boat to see wild dolphins, or find a real sanctuary that does not offer dolphin shows or interactions programs.

You may have seen a dolphin show and thought it was entertaining. But please bear in mind that this is merely a show and doesn’t show the truth of these entertainment programs. Most captive dolphins are confined in small tanks containing chemically treated artificial seawater. They deprive the dolphins of food so “trainers” may attempt to control the dolphins by having them jump through hoops and perform tricks.

Dolphins are highly intelligent marine mammals. They are playful, beautiful creatures that live in pods (groups of many other dolphins). Many people like dolphins because of their “smile,” but this is merely a human construct.

Now, a pod of wild dolphins can travel about 60 miles a day in the ocean, whereas captive dolphins are confined to small tanks. Avoid captive programs and instead support companies that show you wild dolphins from a distance. While these cruelty-free companies cannot guarantee that you will see a wild dolphin, they are the best way to experience the magic of dolphins. Yes, I say magic, because it really truly is an unforgettable experience. You will also have to actually swim, so if you spend all day on the couch, you may want to find a reputable boat tour that doesn’t drive over pods or trap dolphins.

If the sanctuary, show, or park offers photo ops, dolphin trainer for a day, kisses, breeding or performing tricks, it may have cruel practices mentioned above. Check out this list of red flags to look out for from the Dolphin Project.

Why You Should Care About Supporting Wild Dolphins Instead of Swimming With Them on Vacation

Now, you may be reading this and thinking, “why should I care about creatures in the ocean? The ones in shows are already captured.” But the reasons are simple: Dolphins are at the top of the food chain in the ocean and have a direct impact on the health of our oceans.

Because oceans create the majority of the air we breathe, ocean health should be something we care about. Supporting wild dolphin companies/organizations over marine parks that capture dolphins will help show the world what we care about through our money.

Check out the Dolphin Project to see their rescue of four dolphins from a hotel pool in Bali. Johnny is blind, most likely from chlorine toxicity in the pool & several of his teeth are missing. While you may think this is reserved for smaller countries, marine “parks” do not have the best interest of individual dolphins in mind, by feeding them frozen fish (not live, fresh fish), using food tubes when they refuse frozen fish, and dosing the dolphins with antidepressants.

Tank life sucks, would you want to be trapped in a boring, concrete, blank room instead of being free to explore the world around you? I didn’t think so.

How You Can Help Dolphins on Your Vacation

First, you can start supporting dolphins by refusing to attend or support dolphin shows on your next vacation (book a different excursion). Then you can support organizations that educate the public on dolphin treatment. Here are my easy tips for you to get more information on supporting dolphins:

  • Support cruelty-free dolphin activities on your vacation (make sure to do your research)
  • Visit The Dolphin Project, a non-profit charitable organization, dedicated to the welfare and protection of dolphins worldwide
  • Watch “The Cove” or “Blackfish” this weekend with friends or family
  • Tell companies you will not support them when they promote dolphin shows
  • Delete the metadata from your photos of wild dolphins before you post them online. Poachers use this information to track wild animals and hunt them down.

Finally, please think about what you support on your next vacation that involves dolphins. With your help, companies will soon realize that the demand for dolphin shows has gone down and will close these programs. Show them with your wallet and support real wild dolphin (or Whale!) excursions.

There are much better excursions to support on your cruise or vacation than visiting captive dolphins. Visit wild and free dolphins instead!

Have you seen wild dolphins or have plans to see them in the wild? Let me know in the comments below.

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