rants

The world’s saddest dolphins

I take a break from all the Moon entries to bring you an entry about dolphins. Specifically, the world’s saddest dolphins.


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In a nutshell, Resorts World Sentosa is bringing in these captured-from-the-wild bottlenose dolphins as the star attraction at their Marine Life Park. Two of these dolphins (out of 7) have already died in captivity. ACRES (Animal Concerns Research and Education Society) is now urging RWS to re-think their plans and to abort their plans of bringing in these dolphins into a world of captivity.

I am hardly one to be called an ‘animal activist’. Yes, I get horribly upset when I read about animal cruelty cases and cry when animals die in films (and not shedding a tear when the human dies). However, I won’t go as far as to call myself an activist because I think of them as brave humans who stand up and go against the big and strong organisations on behalf of voiceless animals by doing ‘big things’ like fund-raising, writing to the media, etc.

I’m far from that.

I do, however, get upset when I read about how these dolphins were caught from the wild, kept in less-than-stellar surroundings and then, to top it all off, will be brought to RWS – one of our major tourist attractions – to generate profit and tourism arrivals for the organisation and country. You can read the various news articles here.

This makes me mad. Very very mad.

I lecture students in Hospitality & Tourism. One of the topics we discuss are the impacts of tourism on a destination, i.e. political impacts, economic impacts, social/cultural impacts and environmental impacts. And this RWS vs ACRES case is a perfect case study to discuss.

Yes, I read that our government states clearly that RWS needs to ‘comply with global regulations, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), and the requirements of the AVA, to safeguard animal health.’ Isn’t that a motherhood statement? Who’s going to check that this is adhered to?

Dolphins appeal to many people and I am guilty of that as well. I love watching dolphins when visiting theme parks such as SeaWorld at San Diego. I never knew the story behind these dolphins and would simply enjoy the performances ‘as it is’. After reading more about their social behaviour and natural instincts, I am less inclined to want to visit such theme parks anymore.

Of course, having the mega huge a$$ Marine Life Park with the dolphins would be a huge draw for both locals and tourists but at what price? Specifically, at what price, tourism dollars? We already have RWS and MBS with the casinos raking in millions. It’s great for the economy, creates jobs, blah blah blah but what about the negative social/cultural impacts on us? I’ve heard personal stories of gamblers who spend days and nights at the casino, churning up huge debts and turning to loan sharks. I’ve also heard of people who won big at the jackpot machines. Tourism dollars are awesome, no doubt about that but are these benefits outweighing the ills to society and the family unit? I guess one will never know for sure.

But let’s get back to the dolphins.


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Whenever we have class discussions about environmental impacts of tourism, students would be up in arms and they’d always bring up the topic of how precious land and resources is taken up and over by tourism developments, i.e. hotels, resorts, attractions, etc. They’d always be two sides to the story: It brings in positive economic benefits, creates jobs, etc etc but on the downside, precious resources are used.

Are we willing to overlook the fact that these wild dolphins are dying and captured for the sake of tourism dollars and tourism arrivals? How would you like being taken away from your family and taken to a foreign land (or sea) to provide amusement and profit for the masses?

I am all for tourism, don’t get me wrong. I think tourism’s great and offers great benefits if carried out responsibly and decently. Just because these dolphins look like they’re smiling and happy doesn’t mean that they are:

(Quote) Did you know that dolphins don’t smile? They can’t express emotions with their facial muscles. Their mouth is just shaped in a way that we humans misinterpret as a smile. So even when a dolphin is suffering from high stress, visitors to marine parks often come away thinking that the dolphin is having a good time. This is usually far from the truth.

So what can I do, I hear you ask?

You can start off by ‘liking’ this Facebook page. If you are a blogger, you can spread the word by writing about it, like what Kirsten and Bookjunkie has done. There are also a few other things you can do.


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We saw how social media impacted the recent Elections so don’t believe for a minute that you can’t do anything. SAVE THE DOLPHINS!

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8 thoughts on “The world’s saddest dolphins

  1. I was so appalled to read about the dolphins. I loved Flipper and I always wanted to see dolphins in Sea World. I always thought that they were smiling and happy and loved showing off to us. Learning that they can’t actually smile… the thought that these dolphins could be suffering and dying while we are cheering at their flips really kills me.

    1. Yes, same here. The sad thing is, many Singaporeans are rather apathetic towards it because it doesn’t really concern them and they think that nothing can be done.

  2. Learnt about the dolphins from Facebook and from Kirsten. Heartbreaking 😦

    It’s good to know the word is spreading about this and other issues.

    The situation reminds me of the movie the Cove which truly horrified me. If not for the documentary most people would not have any awareness of the plight of these poor beautiful creatures.

    1. I didn’t dare to watch Cove because I was afraid that my heart would break. Heard about it though. Hopefully more people will know about this.

  3. Seaworld at San Diego was totally memorable for me as a kid too (who can forget Shamu?) I didn’t know back then what plight those amazing dolphins and orcas were in while in captivity. I probably wouldn’t revisit the park now that I do. But if I hadn’t had such a delightful close encounter with these creatures back then, I probably wouldn’t have learnt to start loving them so early on in life. So would I bring my kids to a marine park next time? I don’t know… Dilemma huh?

    I have a guilty love-hate r/ship with aquariums too. Some aquariums really portray the underwater world and marine creatures so beautifully and create such an enjoyable experience for visitors. But I do feel immensely sorry for the bigger animals like sharks and rays circling incessantly within their prison. Not so much the little reef fish – since they really do just hang around a bunch of corals, even in the open sea, and so don’t require very much space.

    I realise now that these marine parks and animal shows portray dolphins and orcas as lovable friendly creatures – and not as how they truly behave in the wild. I watched a documentary on how male dolphins gang-rape female dolphins, how orcas toss around baby sunfish like frisbees (just for fun!) and how they snatch baby penguins and seals off the beach in their jaws for a midday snack! 😀 But of course, they deserve to be protected and saved from a life of captivity, nevertheless!

    1. I think most of us grew up watching ‘Free Willy’ and thinking that these sea creatures are oh so cute. Also, the Jaws series made us all hate sharks. Media is powerful indeed! I am the same – not sure whether or not to like/hate aquariums. Sigh. And what you wrote about male dolphins gang-raping female dolphins? Oh maaaaan!

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