In dolphinariums, as well as the shows, the visitors are offered the chance to have their photos taken with the animals. They are made to come out of the water so that people can hug them or stand next to them. These activities are usually very successful, especially with youngsters, because the visiting public are generally unaware of the true picture and the problems of cetaceans in captivity.
Dolphin therapy in Spain has become very popular. Some centres are even offering more direct contact with cetaceans for a supplementary fee. In small groups visitors can get into the water up to their waist to watch some demonstrations on how to train the dolphins while having their photos taken. Those who pay the highest fee can even dive completely underwater and interact with the animals. With all of these activities there is a risk of physical harm for both the people and the dolphins (wild animals which are in a state of stress) and also the risk of transmission of zoonotic disease. Not surprisingly the centres offering these activities make you sign a document before entering the water to exempt themselves from any liability in case of accidents.
These interactions are especially popular in very touristic places such as Mexico, where they are regularly offered in package tours and even in hotels.
Dolphin therapy is a program that is promoted as treatment or cure for certain cognitive or emotional disorders. It is based on the theory that close contact with dolphins gives healing qualities. Although the scientific community has widely proved that dolphins are not magic and nor do they cure people there are centres which are still selling these programs to families who, searching for a cure, are prepared to try anything to help their loved ones. The results of these sessions are no better than any other type of therapy and in the effect is never either long term or final. Furthermore, these interactions carry the same risks as any interaction with wild animals and also helps perpetuate the problems that captivity brings to dolphins.
ACCOBAMS report on dolphin therapy
WDC report on dolphin therapy
At European level
We act via the foundation SOSdelfines, a campaign led by FAADA which advocates the end of cetaceans in captivity. It counts on the support of the organisations ANDA, Animanaturalis, Born Free Foundation, Ocean Care, One Voice, Mare Vivo and LAV.
Through Dolphinaria-Free Europe, a coalition made up of different organisations, professionals and European experts in marine mammals which is working towards ending their captivity.
At international level
We work with experts in cetaceans and other scientists with the aim of defining and creating solutions, like for example, the creation of marine sanctuaries where dolphins which are currently being exploited can go to die with dignity.