As I stand shoulder-to-shoulder both literally and figuratively with people around the planet in order to end the captivity of dolphins and whales, I am often rebuffed by those who are walking into an aquarium with the question, “Why dolphins and whales? Why not some other creature?”
While there are many responses, here is what I’m thinking this morning:
I work to end the captivity of dolphins and whales, because it is there where we take animals not only out of their habitat, but we do this at a most fundamental level: we take away their water.
What we give them in return is some artificial, manufactured approximation of sea water. What I am focusing on is sea water versus land. While it is also true that land animals who are held in zoos are not kept in their natural habitats, only the worst hell-hole-of-a-zoo does not give them dirt. In most cases, it is clean dirt. Is some bad zoos, it is filthy, putrid dirt, with animals living in their own waste. There may be some places where they are kept in buildings, in the dark with no proper air circulation (think certain carriage horses in the city of Atlanta, and likely elsewhere), but there, even air they get, however, putrid and high in ammonia. I am not saying that this kind of treatment of land animals is acceptable; I am suggesting, however, that we are taking away something more fundamental than location when we strip away the freedom of dolphins and whales and place them in tanks.
For marine animals, we have taken away their water. The very medium of their existence. Aquariums, by and large, take chlorinated, city water, and add salts and whatever else the aquariums need to add in order to not kill the animals, and call it done. Now, granted, they do this everyday, with expensive filtration systems, and test kits, and are proud to tell how frequently the entire water volume is circulated through a filter or filters. But really, how is that a good thing? Other than to not kill outright, on the first day, the “asset” that they purchased and are holding in a small, artificial tank.
The fact that we also put these creatures – who use echo-location to not only survive, but also thrive – into sound-bouncing chambers, adds to the body of evidence that the aquarium industry has as an imperative the disregard of the true nature of these animals. The aquariums MUST ignore the true nature of dolphins and whales in order for the aquarium industry to survive. And for their banks accounts to thrive.
The time has come for us to recognize that we are not the boss of marine mammals. We are the boss of us. And the helper of everything else.
- If we can help clean their water, then we should.
- If we can help stop the extinctions we are causing and contributing to, then we should.
- If we can help stay out of their calving grounds, then we should.
- If we can help by not using gill nets and long-lines, then we should.
- If we can help by stopping overfishing, then we should.
- If we can help by leaving them alone, to live free and wild in the oceans, in their water, then we should.
End Captivity Now. Take a pledge to never again go to a dolphin show.
And if you are feeling appreciative of your freedom and want to ensure that no more dolphins have their freedom taken away, and their families killed, off the coast of Taiji, Japan, on August 31/September 1, join a demonstration near you at one of 90 cities worldwide.
Leave them free and wild in their beautiful, blue water and all the quanta therein.