The Reality Behind a Smiling Dolphin
“Dolphins are such smiley creatures!” Ever heard that line before? I used to think and say that too, until I knew. They weren’t. They aren’t. Depression is not always evident in people, more so strongly in a dolphin’s case. Dolphins are not amusement objects for our sick entertainment; dolphins are not toys for our petting satisfaction; dolphins are not
FOOD for human beings. Have you ever thought that the dolphin at the lagoon was truly happy performing tricks for you or allowing you to pet it? Well, I once thought that too. The happiest creatures on earth. I could not be more wrong.
The dolphins faces are structured in such a way (in other words, they were born that way) that they always seem to be “smiling”. This is far from reality. More often than not, dolphins held in captivity are depressed and under a lot of pressure and stress. Kept in small pools, dolphins often cannot fulfill their natural behavioral and physiological needs. Isn’t this common sense? Dolphins were never meant to be in captivity, but diving freely in the oceans. If you are keen to know more about dolphins held in captivity and how they really can be depressed from all the stress, do check out the documentary “The Cove” in which Ric O’Barry, an ex-dolphin trainer talks about how his dolphin committed suicide and took her last breath in his arms. I cried so badly, but that’s besides the point.
Dolphins kept in parks often have to face high noise levels from external events or humans. They are highly sensitive creatures and very susceptible to noise. This causes enslaved dolphins to suffer from a lot of stress which could lead to depression and even death. ACRES intervened in the dolphins held in captivity by Resorts World Sentosa Singapore, because the fireworks were suspected to have caused the dolphins there a lot of stress due to the loud noise and close proximity to their enclosures. I would understand why governments would want to import dolphins because this is a source of tourism and revenue for the country. Nonetheless, I believe if more people come to know of the cruelty behind this dolphin slave trade and the price dolphins have to pay for their split second of pseudo happiness, this dolphin entertainment business will fold up.
Thirdly, why would people eat dolphin meat? I might sound hypocritical for saying this, as I am not yet a vegetarian. I consume fish, prawn and chicken on an occasional basis myself. But of all creatures, why dolphins? It just pains me so much to see a dolphin speared down its back for consumption.
After watching the Taji Cove documentary video on the brutality and reality of dolphin slaughter in Japan, I could not take what I was seeing. “Was it reality?” I questioned myself time and time again, whispered “who would do this” over and over as I hyperventilated from horror while watching the heart-wrenching massacre. (I have done a post on this in my blog as well!) I could not believe that my fellow human counterparts who also had hearts, feelings of their own would actually bear to spear a dolphin. Understandably, they rely on doing this for a living and it is their source of income, but this? I can’t judge, but I am not so certain.
Sometimes, there are so many conflicting factors in the world between nature and men, too much for me to handle because it carries with it too much emotional burden just to mull over it.
What can we then do to help?
Inspiring change is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day. I have always believed that change begins with you. At the age of 13, I made up my mind never to go for a dolphin show, step into Sea World or any of those Dolphin resorts ever again. If one less person decides not to support a dolphin show, if just one less family decides not to spend their holiday at a “Swim With the Dolphins” resort, imagine how much of the demand we could decrease, imagine how many dolphins we could all save.
All I aim to achieve is just for one person to read this article and be enlightened, in the sense that he or she says, “Oh, I have learnt something new”, stand up for this belief and decides not to bring his/her children to a dolphin resort/show. I personally believe that the key to instilling compassion in our future generation is not by shielding them from what the reality is. Bringing your kids to see a dolphin show and marvel at its tricks is only going to cultivate a skewed perception and attitude they have towards animals. Instead, educating them about the reality and teaching them to empathize will build a generation of compassionate, kind and empathetic children. After all, is that not what we need more of in this world?
Finally, one probable question that people may ask is what significant implications do dolphins, whales, these magnificent yet distant creatures have on mankind?
“To save the whales is to save the sea, to save the sea is to save humanity.” Let us all heal the world and make a small difference. We were not made without a purpose. You and I both are equally important to this world. Every littlest action counts.