Hector’s and Māui dolphin populations are dwindling. Help us tell New Zealand to ban mining operations in the critical habitat these mammals need to survive.
Hector’s dolphins are the smallest dolphin species in the world1 and only around 10,000 them remain alive in the wild, off the shores of the South Island of New Zealand2.
These dolphins stick to a territorial range of just over 32 miles, rarely venturing away from home3.
Within the population of Hector’s dolphins, Māui dolphins are an even more rare subspecies with larger skulls and a longer, wider rostrum. There are only about 55 Māui dolphins left today4.
While Hector’s dolphins are endangered and the the Māui dolphins critically endangered, not enough is being done to save these animals from extinction.
Gillnets used in fishing pose the biggest threat to the Hector’s and Māui dolphins. These nets float vertically through the water to catch large quantities of fish, but also trap seabirds and other marine life as “bycatch5.”
Close to 100,000 cetaceans – mainly dolphins – were caught in commercial gill nets as by-catch in 2018, a number that has since only decreased due to the depleted fish population.
New Zealand, as one of just two countries to reject the IUCN World Conservation Congress‘ motion to stop the extinction of rare dolphins and porpoises6, may have sealed the fate for these dolphins by opening up the Māui dolphin sanctuary to mining exploration, a decision that the Department of Conservation slammed for its potentially devastating effects on marine life in the area7.
Sign the petition and help us tell New Zealand’s Prime Minister to protect Hector’s and Māui dolphins before it’s too late!
To the Government and Department of Conservation of New Zealand,
There are only around 10,000 Hector’s dolphins yet alive around the coasts of New Zealand’s south island, and the population is dwindling fast. Further, there are only a few dozen Māui dolphins, a rare subspecies of the Hector’s dolphin.
These species are threatened primarily by gillnets left behind by the fishing industry. However, mining operations, which New Zealand previously opened up in the Māui dolphin sanctuary, are pushing the dolphins even closer toward extinction.
It is a sad fact that New Zealand was one of just two countries to reject the IUCN World Conservation Congress‘ motion to stop the extinction of rare dolphins and porpoises.
If action is not taken soon, the Hector’s and Māui dolphins may be lost forever.
I implore you to take a stand for these species and ban mining operations around the coasts of New Zealand’s south island where the Hector’s and Māui dolphins make their homes. Only with your leadership and greater protections will these species have a chance to survive and thrive.
Target: Joseph R. Biden, President of the United States
Goal: Demand an end to programs that allow guests to swim with captive dolphins.
Dolphins are extremely social animals. In the wild, dolphins live in pods that might contain hundreds of members, with complex social hierarchies and bonds between individuals. These animals can travel upwards of 100 miles a day, feeding on fish and other invertebrates they find along the way. However, in captivity, dolphins are forced to live in insufficiently sized tanks—sometimes 200,000 times smaller than their natural range—with only a few additional individuals. They are denied their natural instincts to hunt, and are instead fed dead frozen fish that lack the nutritional value of those they typically eat in the wild. The constant noise and activity around them is highly disruptive, since they rely mainly on echolocation and sound to communicate.
As if simply being held in captivity is not worse enough, these animals are also subjected to stressful situations in which they are forced to interact with humans on command. In the United States alone, there are between 14 and 18 swimming with the dolphin attractions, where people can actually get in the water with these captive animals. Enthusiastic individuals often partake in this seemingly harmless wildlife encounter without understanding the physical and psychological abuse that dolphins endure as a result. Dolphins in captivity often display behaviors unusual to dolphins in the wild, and have been known to repeatedly gnaw on or smash their heads against the sides of their tanks in an apparent display of frustration. Others have even been observed to voluntarily stop breathing altogether, drowning themselves in the process. Many of these captive dolphins are actually placed on ulcer medications or antidepressants to help alleviate some of the side-effects of the depressive episodes they seem to experience.
Even dolphins that are bred into captivity and not cruelly captured from the wild aren’t fully domesticated, and direct interactions with people can often cause them to lash out aggressively, harming humans or themselves in the process. In fact, swimming with the dolphin programs have reported a series of human injuries, including lacerations, broken bones, tooth rakes, and other internal injuries.
Swimming with dolphins and related activities push dangerous boundaries in allowing humans to directly interact with wild animals. Sign this petition to demand an end to these programs in the United States.
Dear President Biden,
Dolphins kept in captivity for human entertainment suffer immensely. These intelligent and curious animals are confined to tanks that may be up to 200,000 times smaller than their natural range, and are deprived of natural social inclinations. In turn, these animals become extremely depressed and exhibit extremely unusual, self-harm behaviors. Many dolphins in captivity are actually given ulcer and antidepressant medications in an attempt to curb the display of such behaviors, such as smashing their heads against the sides of their tanks and apparent suicide by way of voluntarily stopping their breathing altogether.
In the United States alone, there are still upwards of 14-18 locations that allow guests to partake in swimming with the dolphins programs. These programs are dangerous–not only to the emotional and physical health of the dolphins involved–but also the humans who participate. Dolphins, whether held in captivity or not, are wild animals and will always have the potential to harm humans. When forced into direct interactions with people, many dolphins tend to act aggressively and lash out. Among the injuries reported from such programs include lacerations, broken bones, tooth rakes, and internal injuries.
We are asking you, Mr. Biden, to please end these cruel swimming with the dolphins programs. You will be protecting both humans and dolphins in the process.
The diets of nine dolphins at Miami Seaquarium’s Dolphin Harbor were severely cut for the purposes of ensuring the animals performed better for guest interactions. What they got instead were multiple aggressive incidents against trainers, and even members of the public. These are the findings documented in an inspection report on the Miami Seaquarium by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) dated July 6, 2022. According to the report:
diets for nine out of 12 dolphins at Dolphin Harbor were cut by a staggering 60%,
Star, a 23 year-old female dolphin went from being fed approximately 12 pounds of food daily to four pounds daily. Aries, a 20 year-old male dolphin went from being fed 13 pounds of food daily to three pounds daily,
the dolphins became emaciated, with prominent muscle wasting and palpable scapula and ribs,
gastrointestinal abnormalities amongst the dolphins began taking place, including multiple instances of excessive regurgitation.
Despite these concerning medical events, the Miami Seaquarium allegedly failed to provide direct and frequent communications regarding their animal health and well-being to the attending veterinarian.
The problems didn’t end there.
The USDA report identified multiple aggressive incidents involving the dolphins at Dolphin Harbor, when a dolphin “mouthed” a member of the public during an in-water interaction. Records show that the animals exhibited warning behaviors prior to mouthing such as sinking after performing behaviors, swimming over the ledge of the pools without specific direction to do so, fast swimming, terminating control (refusing to participate) during sessions, ignoring signals for behaviors and splitting from the session. Facility staff elected to continue guest interactions with animals that were exhibiting aggressive warning behaviors.
Some of these include:
Calypso, an 8 year-old female dolphin, mouthed a guest on six different occasions during the months of April 2022 – July 2022, yet, during the first incident, trainer records note that trainers “worked through” the inappropriate behaviors during that incident instead of stopping the session,
Cobalt, a 12 year-old male dolphin, mouthed a guest on six different occasions during the months of April 2022 – July 2022. On June 6, his fluke hit a guest during an encounter. On June 30, Cobalt mouthed a guest twice on the hand during the third encounter of the day and yet, was used in another encounter later that day. Before all mouthing incidents, Cobalt exhibited warning behaviors such as splitting from control and swimming towards guests in deep water. Since early April, his level of aggression during encounters has steadily increased, to the point where almost every day he terminates control from sessions.
The facility allegedly failed to handle their animals in a manner that minimized the risk of harm to the public and continued guest interactions even when dolphins were demonstrating aggressive behaviors earlier in training sessions. Mouthing any portion of an individual’s body (hand or foot) can be considered a precursor to more aggressive behaviors that ultimately may lead to serious injuries to the public.
In another inspection report dated June 2021, the USDA cited additional serious problems at the facility. Some of these include:
potentially placing incompatible animals together resulting in the injuries and/or deaths of cetaceans and pinnipeds,
poor water flow leading to an increase in bacteria and algae in several tanks and pools,
poor-quality fish fed to marine mammals which could result in illness and/or death,
reduction in food quantity, leading to possible malnutrition and dehydration,
insufficient shelter to protect the mammals from direct sunlight,
inappropriate and potentially dangerous routines demanded of Lolita, the solitary orca held at the facility since 1970.
Dr. Jenna Wallace, DVM, was a veterinarian at the Miami Seaquarium, briefly employed until July 2021. She was present at the time of a June 2021 inspection of the facility and has since been cooperating with the USDA in its subsequent months-long investigation. Since July 2021, Dr. Shelby Loos, DVM has been the facility’s attending veterinarian.
“Aggression, weight loss, regurgitation, and sinking can be abnormal in many scenarios. Each of these abnormalities warrant a prompt evaluation by a veterinarian. With this being said, In my professional opinion, I find it VERY difficult to believe that the “Attending Veterinarian” was not informed that some of the dolphins were only eating 3 or 4 pounds of fish per day. Significant weight loss, such as Cobalt who lost 104 lbs and Aries who lost 63 lbs, should be readily apparent on a visual exam and continually assessed by the “Attending Veterinarian.” If an animal regurgitated 137 times over 88 days, one would hope the veterinarian would have noticed at some point over a 3 month span! As veterinarians, we should be conducting regular visual and physical exams of the animals under our care on a routine basis.” ~ Dr. Jenna Wallace, DVM
Decades of dolphin exploitation
Despite there being a federal investigation of the Miami Seaquarium, Miami-Dade Mayor, Daniella Levine Cava allowed the lease transfer to proceed. From a tweet dated March 3, 2022:
…to a statement issued on October 21, clearly, the mayor had a change of heart:
Miami-Dade Mayor, Daniella Levine Cava released a statement on October 21: “I am deeply disturbed by the findings of the USDA report. Under the terms of the lease, the Dolphin Company is obligated to comply with federal regulations including the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Animal Welfare Act, and we will be swiftly reviewing the report to determine whether the Dolphin Company is in violation of the lease.”
Miami Seaquarium, located in Miami, Florida, opened in 1955. Over the decades of operation, the dolphinarium has been cited for numerous animal welfare issues relating to their captive dolphins. At least 117 dolphins and whales have died under the facility’s care.
Lolita (also known as Tokitae) is the last surviving orca of the infamous Penn Cove captures of 1970. After capture, she was shipped to the Miami Seaquarium where she still remains to this day. Lolita has remained captive at the facility in the smallest orca tank in North America for over 52 years, and has not seen another orca in 42 years after her companion Hugo died in 1980. Miami Seaquarium has been promising to build Lolita a new tank since 1978. Despite Lolita being 20 feet long, her tank is only 80 feet across. Her exposure to the sun and weather violates Section 3.103(3)(b) of the Animal Welfare Act. Her tank is also 13 feet shorter than what is required by the Animal Welfare Act (Section 3.104).
Dolphin Project, for decades, has vigorously campaigned against the facility. While aquariums and marine parks will have you believe there is much to be learned from captive dolphin shows, the real education doesn’t begin until after the show’s over. Forced to perform and interact with other mammals day after day, held in small, sterile enclosures and lacking the ability to escape from the public eye creates an escalating cycle of stress and exploitation for captive dolphins. Depriving them of the vast open spaces and social bonds that they would normally have in the wild, and confining them to small concrete tanks to perform tricks for dead fish is highly unethical and inherently cruel for these complex marine mammals.
Cancel Miami Seaquarium’s Lease
Target: Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, and Miami-Dade County Commissioners
Dolphin Project is asking the Mayor of Miami-Dade County and Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners to cancel Miami Seaquarium’s lease.
Please join us by signing and sharing this petition.
To: Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, and Miami-Dade County Commissioners From: [Your Name]
On March 4, 2022, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) formally approved the licensing requirements and facility improvements at the Miami Seaquarium necessary to facilitate the transfer of the Seaquarium’s lease from Palace Entertainment Holdings to The Dolphin Company.
The understanding was that this transition to The Dolphin Company, which brands itself as the largest park operator in Latin America and the number one dolphin company in the world would represent a critical and long-overdue opportunity for greater accountability, oversight, and scrutiny of the Seaquarium, including an emphasis on the health and welfare of all the Seaquarium’s marine inhabitants, along with a commitment to physical and operational improvements.
However, two inspection reports on the Miami Seaquarium by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) — one from June 2021 and the other, from July 2022 cited serious problems at the facility. These allegedly include:
– severely cutting the diets of nine dolphins at Miami Seaquarium’s Dolphin Harbor for the purposes of ensuring the animals performed better for guest interactions, – visibly emaciated dolphins, with prominent muscle wasting and palpable scapula and ribs, – gastrointestinal abnormalities amongst the dolphins, including multiple instances of excessive regurgitation, – multiple aggressive incidents against trainers, and even members of the public, – potentially placing incompatible animals together resulting in the injuries and/or deaths of cetaceans and pinnipeds, – poor water flow leading to an increase in bacteria and algae in several tanks and pools, – poor-quality fish fed to marine mammals which could result in illness and/or death, – insufficient shelter to protect the mammals from direct sunlight
Despite these concerning events, the Miami Seaquarium allegedly failed to provide direct and frequent communications regarding their animal health and well-being to the attending veterinarian. The facility also apparently failed to handle their animals in a manner that minimized the risk of harm to the public and continued guest interactions even when dolphins were demonstrating aggressive behaviors earlier in training sessions. Mouthing any portion of an individual’s body (hand or foot) can be considered a precursor to more aggressive behaviors that ultimately may lead to serious injuries to the public.
As The Dolphin Company would appear to be in violation of the lease terms, we ask the Mayor of Miami-Dade County and Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners to cancel Miami Seaquarium’s lease. In this day and age, Miami doesn’t need captive dolphins. Resources would be better spent protecting the wild dolphins that reside a mere 50 feet away, along with their habitats.
Indonesia’s Bali Forestry Department and Ministry of Forestry are the two nature conservation agencies that started the rehab center, according to Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, a Santa Monica-based nonprofit that partnered with the initiative.
Umah lumba is the Balinese word for dolphin, according to the Dolphin Project.
In this photo released by Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, rescued bottlenose dolphin Rocky — equipped with a GPS tag — swam through the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center in Banyuwedang Bay, West Bali, Indonesia. (DolphinProject.com via AP)
The Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center takes in dolphins that have been retired from performances.
Johnny, Rocky and Rambo were set free in Banyuwedang Bay on Saturday, Sept. 3, after three years of care by the rehab center — which receives labor from the Jakarta Animal Aid Network as well as financial support and supervision from the Dolphin Project.
“It was an incredibly emotional experience to see them go,” said Lincoln O’Barry, an animal rights activist and campaigns coordinator at the Dolphin Project, in an interview with the Associated Press.
Animal rights activists and filmmakers Lincoln O’Barry (left) and Ric O’Barry (right) work to protect dolphins around the globe through Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, a nonprofit focused on dolphin welfare. (Barry King/WireImage)
O’Barry, 50, is the son of Ric O’Barry, 82, who started the Dolphin Project in 1970 after seeing the toll that show business took on dolphins.
In the 1960s, Ric O’Barry trained dolphins on the set of “Flipper,” a TV show that lasted for three seasons.
Ric O’Barry then shifted his career from dolphin trainer to “dolphin defender” after the show dolphin named Kathy, “who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms,” according to the Dolphin Project.
The father-and-son O’Barry pair were both in attendance during Johnny, Rocky and Rambo’s release.
The three dolphins were captured in Indonesia and spent years performing in traveling circuses until they ended up in a small, chlorinated swimming pool at a resort hotel in North Bali, according to the Dolphin Project.
“Day after day, [they were] forced to perform for paying tourists during loud theatrical shows,” the Dolphin Project wrote in a press announcement for the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center in 2020.
During their captivity, the three dolphins sustained injuries, the Dolphin Project reported.
Johnny, the eldest of the group, experienced skin damage, a pectoral fin injury, a cornea injury, malnourishment and worn-down teeth that went below his gum line.
This summer, Johnny received dental crowns that allow him to catch his own fish.
Rocky and Rambo reportedly gained weight and strength during their rehabilitation, according to the Dolphin Project.
When the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center opened their underwater gates to free the three dolphins, Johnny, Rocky and Rambo did not immediately leave, the Associated Press reported.
It reportedly took about an hour for the dolphins to venture out into Banyuwedang Bay.
Johnny was the first to leave, according to the Associated Press.
On Sat., Sept. 3, 2022, Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar (center) opened the gates to release three rescued dolphins — Rocky, Rambo and Johnny — from a dolphin sanctuary. The dolphins were freed in Banyuwedang Bay, located in West Bali, Indonesia. (DolphinProject.com via AP)
The three dolphins reportedly circled the sanctuary that freed them before they departed the area.
“They turned back around and came back to us one more time, almost to say thank you and goodbye,” said Lincoln O’Barry, in a statement. “And then they headed straight out to open ocean and disappeared.”
The Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center will monitor Johnny, Rocky and Rambo through GPS tracking, the news agency reported.
“Where they head next, we don’t know,” O’Barry told the AP. “But we wish them a good long life.”
In this photo released by Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, rescued bottlenose dolphin Johnny swam to the surface of Banyuwedang Bay after he was released from the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center in West Bali, Indonesia. (DolphinProject.com via AP)
The World Wildlife Fund estimates that the global bottlenose dolphin population is around 600,000.
“Dolphins live off fish, and they work cooperatively to herd their prey to the surface for easier feeding,” the WWF wrote in a common bottlenose dolphin profile.
“Because they live so close to the shore, they are threatened by bycatch, coastal development and environmental degradation.”
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.
Cortney Moore is an associate lifestyle writer/producer for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent on Twitter at @CortneyMoore716.
A pod of wild dolphins can travel up to 100 kilometers a day in the open ocean. Family members teach each other skills to survive in the wild and frequently remain together for life. Dolphins are known to have signature whistles much like how humans have names, and social communication and interaction among the pod is a key component of their daily lives. These mammals have perfectly evolved to thrive in the ocean, where they deserve to live freely. Captivity simply cannot provide an adequate environment for these wild species.
Life In Captivity
Dolphins living in captive conditions face circumstances vastly different than those of the ocean. The surroundings are bare and sterile, with little mental stimulation or diversion. Many captive dolphins are regularly treated with ulcer medication or antidepressant medication to alleviate the frustration of captivity.
Physical Detriments of Captivity
Because tanks lack the depth or size of the open ocean, captive dolphins experience a range conditions not commonly seen in their wild counterparts.
A Lifetime of Training
Wild-captured dolphins must endure significant training to adapt to captivity. They must learn to accept a new diet of dead fish, as well as to undergo a variety of invasive operations, such as tube-feeding and medical examinations.
Even captive-born dolphins must become accustomed to the human interactions required of them. This is accomplished, without exception, through food deprivation training. Labeled as “positive reinforcement” or “operant conditioning”, dolphins are kept hungry enough so that they will comply with instructions from trainers, whether to learn new behaviors or to execute them during a performance or tourist encounter.
Understanding the intelligence and complexity of these species, as well as how they behave in the wild helps us understand that their natural ranges in the open ocean are where they thrive. It is vital that we continue to spread awareness about dolphins to help end exploitation in captivity, and to help wild dolphin populations stay healthy!
Four dolphins were released back into the wild last week in Provincetown, MA, following 24-hours of tracking along the coast and eventual stranding in Wellfleet Harbor. They were rescued in a highly coordinated response effort and released back to deeper waters, thanks to expert staff and volunteers with IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare).
IFAW received the first report of several animals close to shore off Provincetown last Wednesday afternoon. One dolphin stranded but was unfortunately pushed off by bystanders. Further human interference on land and by boat led to increased stress for the animals before responders could arrive. The team spotted the dolphins swimming farther offshore in Truro later the same day, but the tide was incoming and IFAW staff and volunteers monitored them from a distance until sunset.
“By morning light on Thursday, volunteer responders identified four common dolphins swimming near the Wellfleet Pier, and we knew something had to be done,” said Brian Sharp, IFAW’s Director of Marine Mammal Rescue & Research. “We were concerned by the animals’ behavior, the dropping tide, and given our previous experience with summer boat traffic and heat. In consultation with NOAA, we made the decision to herd the dolphins closer to shore for the best chance of a successful rescue.”
The dolphins were carefully coaxed toward shallow water and away from a dangerous stranding area known as Chipman’s Cove so that they could be stretchered. An expert-only endeavor, herding of the dolphins took place quickly and with minimal stress to the animals. This resulted in a successful rescue, calling on the skilled maneuvers of IFAW’s boat, a Wellfleet Harbormaster vessel, and additional staff in kayaks.
All four dolphins were transported to a deeper water release site off Provincetown, traveling in IFAW’s mobile dolphin rescue clinic. This one-of-a-kind vehicle was custom designed to meet the needs of what is considered a global stranding hotspot on Cape Cod. The vehicle enables IFAW veterinarians and experts to perform health assessments and stabilize the dolphins while quickly reaching the best site for release.
Thankfully, the dolphins were successfully released as a pod and swam off closely together.
As anti-war activists in the 1960s warned us, war is bad for all living things. And these days, that apparently includes trained dolphins, who are being used by the Russian Navy to counter Ukrainian divers attempting to enter the port and sabotage Russian warships. We cannot allow Putin’s criminal invasion of Ukraine to include the exploitation of innocent animals!
Sign now to demand the Russian Navy immediately halt the use of marine mammals in their acts of war!
Dolphins are remarkably intelligent and highly social creatures. The charismatic marine mammals lead vibrant lives in which they develop complex relationships with one another. Each dolphin has its own name, one which other dolphins refer to it by. Dolphins are also self-aware, and famously known as one of the smartest animals on the planet. They deserve a life of autonomy and respect – not to be dragged into Putin’s brutal war games as puppets of violence and destruction.
New satellite photos show that the Russian military has placed trained dolphins at the entrance to a port in the Black Sea, and naval analysts believe that this is part of a careful strategy to protect the base. Given that dolphins have some of the most sophisticated sonar abilities in the world, they are quick to detect mines, sometimes better than even the most sophisticated technology. The U.S. has trained dolphins and other sea creatures to do this same thing in the past.
This is just another egregious example of Putin’s illegal invasion being even more inhumane than we had previously imagined. No marine mammals – or any animals at all -– should be part of acts of war or wartime strategy. We must stop the exploitation of these dolphins now! Sign the petition to tell the Russian navy to end their use of innocent animals in war!
Based on inquiries we have received, it appears there is some amount of confusion about facilities that list themselves as “sanctuaries” yet keep dolphins for display and interactive programs. We’ve compiled some tips here to help potential customers research before they support a captive dolphin facility.
Selfie or photo opportunities, or any form of guaranteed petting/kisses/etc. In order for a visitor to be guaranteed that they get to touch a dolphin, that dolphin has been trained and is actively receiving reinforcement to perform.
Facility descriptions can be misleading
Names and labels can be misleading. Just because a facility calls itself a “Wildlife Sanctuary” does not make it so– do your research before visiting any park with wildlife. Also beware that some facilities use their charitable status or scientific labels to mislead.
Captive dolphin in Florida sea pen
Many marine parks claim their dolphins can “leave any time”. This may be technically true, but most dolphins will not jump a barrier or swim out of a pen because they cannot tell what is on the other side. Captive dolphin facilities would never take the risk of losing their investments. They know very well that their dolphins would not venture into the open sea, even if given the chance: Many captive dolphins have spent so much time in captivity, they have become dependent on people for food and other basic needs. Many of them were born into this unnatural existence, and they cannot simply “go home,” as they have no family pod to connect with.
A natural sea pen may also be a captive environment. It does not equate with being free in the wild.
Captive sea pen in the Caribbean
Wild dolphins can be exploited for profit too! If booking a swim with wild dolphins tour or whale watching tour, pursuit should never be allowed. A boat should never chase a pod of dolphins to get closer to them, or guarantee that you will see dolphins or be able to swim with them. Responsible tours do not permit touching wild dolphins or whales! A responsible tour operator will always abide by and endorse local dolphin/whale watching laws.
Activities and programs
Paid interactions or scheduled activities such as shows, exhibits, or demonstrations should be a warning– it means that the dolphins are expected to be in place and remain for a certain period of time, or perform, which are indications of active training.
Breeding or Calf Births
Breeding or the birth of calves: Staff may make it seem that dolphins are bred in captivity to help wild populations. In reality, these dolphins will not be contributing to wild populations as they will never be released. Dolphins are bred in captivity for the sole purpose of having more captive dolphins to profit from. Facilities that promote or celebrate calf births should be treated with caution.
Where did the animals come from?
If a facility buys, trades, or breeds dolphins, they are likely not a sanctuary. Real sanctuaries prefer to have as few animals as possible to ensure the most amount of space, attention and freedom. Businesses want more dolphins so they can sell more interactions. Sanctuaries have release as their top priority, rather than trying to keep as many rescues as they can.
Munjawa was released to her home range by Dolphin Project’s Indonesian team after assessment.
Many captive dolphin facilities also serve as rehabilitation centers. While it is true that some rescued dolphins cannot safely return to the wild, they should not be forced to perform and entertain in order to earn their keep. Sanctuaries would not require participation of rescued dolphins in shows or force human interactions, which can cause stress.
Captive bottlenose with basketball
A real dolphin sanctuary is a place where non-releasable dolphins that were exploited by the dolphinarium industry can live out their lives with peace and dignity.
It is place where the dolphins’ needs are met with no strings attached.
There are no dolphin shows and no interactions programs.
The dolphins receive food without having to perform any trained behaviors.
No commercial photo ops are offered to visitors.
The dolphins live in a sea pen or a floating sea enclosure away from crowds of people, traffic, and human noise.
Every attempt is made to make the dolphins’ lives as natural and independent as possible.
The dolphins receive the food and medical attention that they need.
Whenever possible, live fish are introduced to the sea pen.
Dolphins in a true sanctuary are identified properly as victims, rather than ambassadors.
No visitors are allowed to touch or in any way handle the dolphins.
A true sanctuary makes educational material available to the public about the wrongs of capturing, confining, breeding, and exploiting dolphins in shows and various interaction programs.
A true sanctuary has a fundamental policy of opposing the use of dolphins as tourist attractions that aim to entertain.
A true sanctuary may allow visitors in order to educate them about the reasons why dolphins do not belong in captivity.
A true sanctuary acknowledges that dolphins belong in nature, wild and free.
A true sanctuary is for dolphins that cannot safely be released back into the wild.
A true sanctuary never tells visitors that the dolphins are free to leave whenever they want, as this ignores the fact that non-releasable dolphins depend on their caregivers to survive.
Captive breeding is not allowed in a real sanctuary. There is no reason for a dolphin to be born in captivity.
A real sanctuary does not accept donations from the captivity industry or the tuna industry.
Hopefully, the public will leave the sanctuary with enough knowledge to tell others not to buy a ticket for a dolphin show or captive dolphin swim program.
A true sanctuary will have clear rules in place about appropriate behavior for visitors, so that the comfort and safety of the animals remains the highest priority. A true sanctuary recognizes that visitors are guests, but the animals are the residents. They deserve dignity and respect in their home.
Zippy, Bella, and Jet – the last three remaining dolphins in captivity in NSW – could live happy and healthy lives in a dolphin sanctuary in Coffs Harbour.
Ask NSW Minister for Environment, Matt Kean, to support completion of the feasibility study to build this sanctuary.
The sanctuary would retire Zippy, Bella, and Jet and could help rescue and rehabilitate stranded cetaceans on the east coast of Australia.
It would see Dolphin Marine Conservation Park transition to a venue based on education, rescue and rehabilitation, and protect the jobs and income the Park brings to the Coffs region.
The NSW Upper House recommended support for completing the feasibility study in the recent Parliamentary Inquiry into the exhibition of cetaceans. The decision is now in the hands of the Minister for Environment – The Hon. Matt Kean.
Can you help convince the government to support the retirement of captive dolphins to a sanctuary?Please sign the petition calling on Environment Minister Hon. Matt Kean to support this project.
Multiple feasibility tests have already been completed, including wave and tidal analysis and animal welfare assessments.
Your signature will help apply the necessary pressure on the Minister in charge of this decision and could lead to the building of Australia’s first-of-it’s-kind dolphin sanctuary.
Goal: Label the Atlantic humpback dolphin as an endangered species to ensure their survival.
You have likely never heard of the Atlantic humpback dolphin, and unfortunately, it’s for a horrible reason. This little-known dolphin is on the brink of extinction, with less than 3,000 left in the wild. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is considering listing them as protected under the Endangered Species Act, but for now, they are still in the midst of a status review, meaning they still don’t get any federal safeguards. We must apply pressure until these dolphins are officially protected.
It’s no secret among conservation groups that this species is struggling – the NMFS status review stems from a petition by the Animal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, and VIVA Vaquita asking for help for the Atlantic humpback dolphin. In fact, these marine mammals are listed as critically endangered internationally, just not protected under the U.S ESA.
We need your help to get them there. A big part of conservation is achieving a higher profile, and name recognition for species in peril. Without public knowledge, it’s wildly difficult to get the financial, legal, and political assistance that conservation efforts need. Because global awareness of the Atlantic humpback dolphin’s fate has been lacking while human activity has been threatening them, their numbers have gotten incredibly low.
One of the largest issues affecting these dolphins is a phenomenon called “bycatch”. Fisheries use massive nets to catch the fish species they can sell, but often other species get trapped and killed, too; including the Atlantic humpback dolphin. Dying as bycatch is horrible – since they are mammals, these dolphins drown when they become tangled in nets and cannot surface to breathe. The netting can also cut into their flesh, causing wounds and infection.
In addition to the threat of bycatch, other human activities threaten the Atlantic humpback dolphin, which lives exclusively in shallow, coastal waters, at risk of human interaction. Coastal development depletes their habitat and noise pollution inhibits their ability to communicate, travel, and can cause injury and death.
The good news is that because these threats are all human-related, regulations and policies will make a major difference in the fight for these dolphins’ survival. But that’s only if we can get the right protections for these vulnerable creatures.
Please, sign the petition telling the NMFS to protect Atlantic humpback dolphins before it’s too late.
Dear Mrs. Coit,
The NMFS is currently reviewing the status of the Atlantic humpback dolphins under the Endangered Species Act based on petitions from the Animal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, and VIVA Vaquita. There are less than 3,000 of these animals left in the wild, due mainly to human influence.
This letter is to let you know that I support the petitions put forward by the aforementioned groups, and urge you to include these dolphins in the ESA. Because these creatures are being hurt by human influence, regulations and policy changes will make a major difference in their survival.
Please, follow through on these petitions and ensure the Atlantic humpback dolphins’ survival.
Marineland has been charged under the Criminal Code with using dolphins and whales to perform as entertainment without Ontario government authorization, according to Niagara police.
Marineland has been charged under the Criminal Code with using dolphins and whales to perform and entertain customers without Ontario government authorization, Niagara police say.
Police said they began an investigation into allegations captive cetaceans (marine mammals including whales, dolphins and porpoises) were being used at the theme park in Niagara Falls in October.
Mario Lagrotteria, the police service’s Niagara Falls district commander, said there was video evidence throughout August. He also said it’s the first time Niagara police have laid this charge.
“The information [investigators] received substantiated the allegation that this did happen within the month of August,” he said.
Police previously confirmed their investigation was launched following a complaint received in October.
Marineland said in a statement to CBC News the park is following the law and “we look forward to the opportunity to defend ourselves in a court of law.”
Law changed regarding cetaceans
Miranda Desa, Canadian counsel for the U.S.-based non-profit Last Chance for Animals, said the group filed a complaint on Sept. 30 and a followup complaint in late October based on the use of dolphins and beluga whales for entertainment.
A member of Last Chance for Animals visited Marineland on Aug. 3 and Aug. 16, according to Desa. She said they recorded videos of dolphin and beluga whale shows, and sent them to police with their complaint.
Desa said the complaint focused on the use of belugas that were instructed to do tricks for food in front of park attendees.
The video, viewed by CBC News, appears to show dolphins doing flips and tricks for an audience with music playing in the background.
Under a section of the Criminal Code that was introduced in 2019, captive cetaceans cannot be used “for performance for entertainment purposes” unless the performance is authorized with a licence from the province.
After years of debate, the new law, part of Bill S-203, banned the captivity of cetaceans. It included a grandfather clause, however, for animals already in captivity.
Niagara police said the charge against Marineland was for the alleged use of captive cetacean for performance for entertainment purposes without authorization.
Marineland says show is educational
Marineland said in a statement the routine was an “educational presentation.”
“Our animal presentation contains marine mammals undertaking behaviours they exhibit in ocean environments. These behaviours are combined with an educational script delivered by Marineland staff, providing a foundation in understanding of these important marine species.
“Marineland continues to be committed to our mission of research, education and conservation and will continue to provide world-class care for the animals who call Marineland home,” the theme park said.
Lagrotteria said police found the evidence it gathered “met the threshold to lay the charge,” but couldn’t say much else as the case is before the courts.
He said any other concerns about the welfare of animals at the park should be directed to Provincial Animal Welfare Services.
Criminal charge precedent setting, expert says
Kendra Coulter, an associate professor at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., who’s an analyst of labour involving animals, expressed skepticism over the idea such performances are educational.
“Any marine animals who are being kept in tiny tanks are not behaving normally,” Coulter said in a phone interview.
“But the bigger question here is around the ethics of captivity and whether these large, complex, intellectually robust animals can in any way have healthy and positive lives in such tiny tanks and conditions … the consensus is increasingly no.”
Winter the dolphin, known for her usage of a prosthetic tail, has died.
According to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where she had been held in captivity for close to 16 years, Winter had been suffering from intestinal abnormalities. Despite the facility’s efforts, on the evening of November 11, during preparation for a procedure, Winter’s behavior and vital signs began to decline, resulting in her passing.
“We are saddened to learn of Winter’s passing. She could have greatly benefitted from the construction of a seaside sanctuary in the Florida sunshine instead of living in a concrete tank, inside a building. Winter could have retired in peace and dignity, and enjoyed a more normal environment – the great outdoors, the changing tides, and the sounds and rhythms of the sea. From my experience, this is where the healing process begins. While Winter will never get this opportunity, we encourage facilities such as the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to build ocean water sanctuaries for their rescued dolphins and other whales.” ~ Ric O’Barry, Founder/Director of Dolphin Project
In December 2005, the three-month-old bottlenose dolphin, after being freed from a crab pot in the waters near Cape Canaveral, Florida, was brought to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The dolphin’s resilience prevailed – while her grievous injuries resulted in the loss of her tail – she regained her strength and survived.
One year later, in 2006, the Hanger Clinic began work to create a prosthetic tail. After eighteen months, she was fitted with the device. In a blog post written by the clinic, the technology used to fit the prosthetic on Winter resulted in the development of a gel liner, called WintersGel, which is now benefitting human patients.
A necropsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of Winter’s death. A heart attack is suspected.
Featured image: Winter the dolphin, Clearwater Aquarium. Credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license; Flickr; Author: Paul
To: Sponsors of Captive Dolphins Shows & Politicians From: [Your Name]
I have taken the pledge NOT to buy a ticket to a dolphin show.
No Dolphin Parks. No Swim With Dolphin Programs. No Hotels and Lodges that feature captive dolphins on the property. No Dolphin “Trainer For A Day” programs. No Dolphin “Research” facilities that charge to interact with dolphins. No Cruise lines that feature stops at Swim With Dolphin Parks.
NO HAPPY ENDING FOR HOLLYWOOD ANIMAL STARS. Kathy the bottlenose #dolphin featured in the 60s TV series Flipper, was retired to a tank at an aquarium. Her trainer visited her & noticed she looked anxious. She swam to his arms & ceased to breathe. #AnimalsAreNotEntertainment (1/4) pic.twitter.com/sagGXTgEmU
A swimmer who was stranded at sea for over 12 hours is alive today, thanks to a pod of dolphins who helped save his life.
Ruairí McSorley, 24, believed to be from Londonderry, Ireland, was rescued 4 kilometers from shore by Fenit Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) at 8:15 p.m. Given the condition he was found in, the group called it a “miracle” rescue.
McSorley was conscious but “hypothermic and exhausted” when found. He was wearing only a pair of swimming trunks when he was plucked out of the waters of Tralee Bay.Facebook
The swimmer told rescuers he had planned to swim out to Mucklaghmore Rock, 9 km out from where he set off at Castlegregory beach, where his clothes had been found. His abandoned belongings are what led to the search.
12 hours later, RNLI coxswain Finbarr O’Connell calculated where he could have ended up after analyzing tides in the area.
Fenit RNLI volunteer Jackie Murphy said it was a miracle how McSorley survived the ordeal and credited O’Connell with locating him at sea.
O’Connell said the man was surrounded by many dolphins when he was found. They were later identified as bottlenose dolphins living in Moray Firth in Scotland. Since 2019, the sea creatures have been seen off the Irish coast.
“Maybe they helped him in some way or another: who knows?” he said.
The Fenit RNLI and R118 coastguard performed an intensive search across Tralee Bay before finding McSorley.
Despite being the key to finding him, O’Connell refused to take all the credit, noting that the crew they have are “all excellent.”
“It’s good to get a positive result. Normally we go out, and it mightn’t be that positive. We are all just elated,” he said.
O’Connell added that the situation could have ended worse if McSorley was left there for 30 minutes longer. None of them—including the medics—could believe he survived it, but they’re relieved that he did.
McSorley has since been brought to the University of Hospital Kerry, where he is recovering.
“It is literally beyond us all (how he survived),” he said. “He was only wearing a pair of trunks. He had no wetsuit. Nothing. He must have been a good swimmer because he was just over two and a half miles (4km) from the beach.”
McSorley’s body temperature had also dropped to dangerously low levels. The swimmer said he went in around 8 a.m., and rescuers picked him up at 8:15.
“He did spend that amount of time in the water, and I don’t know how he did it,” O’Connell said. “It’s incredible, really.”
They first saw his head in the water and initially thought it was a seal. But then he put up his hand.Facebook
“The elation of seeing somebody floating alive in the water, rather than the other way, is so great,” O’Connell recalled. “We have had too many bad outcomes, so it was absolutely fantastic to pick him up.”
When asked how he had determined the trajectory of McSorley across Tralee Bay, O’Connell explained that they had been trained to handle scenarios like that.
They have a mannequin they throw in the water, which behaves like a person would in water. They leave it there and do an exercise for a few hours. Upon their return, they would see how far it has drifted. They pick it up and note in the chart the direction the tide is going. That’s the knowledge they applied during the rescue.
In light of this incident, Murphy advised swimmers to exercise caution when venturing into the water for a swim.
“Always please tell somebody what time you are due back and where you are going,” she said.
In September 2019, BKSDA Bali Forestry Department in Bali, Indonesia and the Ministry of Forestry initiated the idea for a first ever permanent dolphin rehabilitation, release and retirement facility for formerly performing dolphins. Working with local partners Jakarta Animal Aid Network to supply the manpower and Dolphin Project to provide the financial support and supervision, the team built the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center in Banyuwedang Bay, West Bali (“Umah Lumba” means “dolphins” in Balinese.)
The Umah Lumba Center is a purpose-built facility for recently confiscated dolphins from captive facilities, and for stranded or injured dolphins. The facility is designed to stabilize the mammals, return them back to health and to assess whether they are candidates for readaptation and release.
For dolphins deemed releasable, they will be taken to Camp Lumba Lumba Readaptation and Release Center in Karimun Jawa, the world’s first permanent facility dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of dolphins. The mammals will then be prepared for return into their home range. The location was specifically chosen because the majority of dolphins were captured from the Karimunjawa National Park, and releasing them here would offer a good chance for the mammals to reunite with their family pods.
For dolphins deemed unreleasable, they can retire at the Umah Lumba Center in a safe and healing seapen, and live out the rest of their lives in peace and dignity.
Presently we have three dolphins in our care: Rocky, Rambo and Johnny. Captured in the Java Sea, the dolphins, for several years, were incarcerated in a shallow, heavily chlorinated swimming pool in North Bali. Since their relocation to the Umah Lumba Center, they have benefited from a robust rehabilitation program and continue to undergo regular evaluation towards a possible release.
The dolphins receive 24/7 round-the-clock care. We have a full-time staff veterinarian, security guards and caregivers. The center is a true rehabilitation, release and retirement facility, where our team is committed to making the dolphins’ lives as natural and independent as possible. In March 2020, Dolphin Project, in anticipation of the arrival of additional confiscated dolphins (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) tripled the size of our facility.
As the world’s first permanent dolphin rehabilitation, release and retirement facility in the world, the Umah Lumba Center must be a model of success. Ideally, it will act as a prototype for others to be built globally, as demand for captive dolphins wane.
Captured in the Java Sea, Indonesia, Johnny is an older dolphin who lived several years in isolation inside a shallow swimming pool at the Melka Excelsior Hotel in North Bali. Crowds of people bought tickets to swim with him, and those were the only times he had any company. To make the water appear clean to paying customers, hotel staff added chlorine and other harmful chemicals. This hurt Johnny’s eyes so badly, he went blind. In addition, Johnny has no teeth left, and his right pectoral fin has been permanently damaged. When we first found him, he was also critically underweight. Johnny was destined to spend the rest of his life trapped in the tank, performing for tourists and other guests.
On October 8, 2019, we rescued Johnny from the hotel and transported him to our facility. Under our 24/7 expert care, he has since gained weight and strength, and spends his days exploring the large sea pen, where he experiences the natural rhythms and sounds of the sea. Johnny’s diet consists of high-quality fresh fish, and he is gaining weight and strength. The healing properties of a diet consisting of high-quality fresh fish, along with real ocean water are having a positive effect: Johnny often expresses his joy with energetic jumps, and he spends much time swimming, diving, and playing. We are continuing to evaluate Johnny for potential release, and are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure the rest of his life is filled with peace and dignity. Adopt Johnny today to help provide for his care!
WHAT YOU’LL GET
With a recommended minimum donation of $25, you’ll get a personalized adoption certificate for Johnny (its beautiful artwork suitable for framing), gorgeous underwater photos which are perfect for adorning all your electronic devices, Johnny’s biography, Dolphin Facts, a Dolphin Warrior booklet and quarterly updates about Johnny!
Rocky at the Umah Lumba Center, Bali, Indonesia
When Rocky was violently captured in the Java Sea several years ago, he lost everything that makes life worth living for a dolphin: his family, his world of sound, and the ability to swim freely in a vast ocean world. Rocky spent several years incarcerated in a shallow, heavily chlorinated swimming pool at the Melka Excelsior Hotel in North Bali. He was trained to obey commands and perform in theatrical shows that attract crowds of fun-seeking holiday makers. In between repetitive, rowdy shows, Rocky spent much time logging on the surface, and could only swim a few feet before a wall stopped him. Confinement in such barren, unnatural surroundings took a heavy toll on Rocky’s well-being, and his future looked bleak and hopeless.
Thankfully, we were able to rescue Rocky on August 5, 2019, and transported him to a temporary floating sea enclosure in Sanur. In December 2019 Rocky was transported from Sanur to our facility. Here, in the crystal-clear waters of our spacious sea pen, he is once again enjoying the natural rhythms and sounds of the sea. Rocky is benefitting from the healing properties of natural sea water and is gaining weight and strength. Rocky loves to participate in boisterous, energetic play, and he especially loves to swim fast. Never again will he have to perform tricks for food or experience confinement in a minuscule concrete tank. Our 24/7 expert team of veterinarians and caregivers are currently evaluating Rocky for possible release. Adopt Rocky today to help provide for his care!
WHAT YOU’LL GET
With a recommended minimum donation of $25, you’ll get a personalized adoption certificate for Rocky (its beautiful artwork suitable for framing), gorgeous underwater photos which are perfect for adorning all your electronic devices, Rocky’s biography, Dolphin Facts, a Dolphin Warrior booklet and quarterly updates about Rocky!
Rambo at the Umah Lumba Center, Bali, Indonesia
Rambo was torn from his family and pod members in the Java Sea during a violent capture several years ago. He was confined to a shallow chlorinated swimming pool at the Melka Excelsior Hotel in North Bali for the purposes of entertaining crowds of tourists during loud theatrical performances. Rambo shared a tank with a dolphin named Gombloh, and the two dolphins formed a close friendship. Sadly, Gombloh took his last breath on August 3, 2019, just two days before we were able to rescue and relocate Rambo. Hotel staff found Gombloh’s lifeless body in the same tank where Rambo was confined.
We rescued Rambo on August 5, 2019 and transported him to a temporary floating sea enclosure in Sanur. In the following weeks, Rambo gained weight and strength, and in December 2019 Rambo was transported to our facility. There will be no more languishing in a small, barren concrete world, and no more theatrical dolphin shows to perform. All of that is behind him. Rambo is a younger dolphin who appears to be in good health, highly energetic and full of life. He is enjoying the healing benefits of natural sea water and the ability to dive and swim. Our 24/7 expert team of veterinarians and caregivers are currently evaluating Rocky for possible release. Adopt Rambo today to help provide for his care!
WHAT YOU’LL GET
With a recommended minimum donation of $25, you’ll get a personalized adoption certificate for Rambo (its beautiful artwork suitable for framing), gorgeous underwater photos which are perfect for adorning all your electronic devices, Rambo’s biography, Dolphin Facts, a Dolphin Warrior booklet and quarterly updates about Rambo!
Captured in the Java Sea, Dewa was an older dolphin who was severely affected by the trauma he suffered during his confinement at the Melka Excelsior Hotel in North Bali. There, he spent years confined in the hotel’s shallow, heavily chlorinated swimming pool, exploited in a commercial dolphin-assisted therapy program for people with paralysis and other disabilities. Our rescue team transferred Dewa from the swimming pool to our facility on October 8, 2019. Since we introduced Dewa to natural sea water, his condition improved but he was still plagued with several health problems including chronic pneumonia., Dewa succumbed to his longstanding illness and took his last breath on March 11, 2020.
Gombloh was captured in the Java Sea and, sadly, did not survive his encounter with humans. Gombloh died at the Melka Excelsior Hotel in North Bali on August 3, 2019, just two days before our team was able to rescue Gombloh’s beloved companion Rambo. We are happy we arrived at the hotel in time to rescue Rambo, Rocky, Dewa, and Johnny from the shallow and heavily chlorinated swimming pools, but at the same time heartbroken that we got there too late to get Gombloh out of there. We will always remember Gombloh, who is one of countless dolphins to have fallen victim to consumers’ demand to watch dolphins perform and to swim with them.
The Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center and Camp Lumba Lumba Readaptation and Release Center form an incredible partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia, BKSDA Bali, Dolphin Project, Jakarta Animal Aid Network, Karimunjawa National Park and the West Bali National Park. Together, we built Umah Lumba, the world’s only permanent dolphin rehabilitation, release and retirement facility for previously captive dolphins and Camp Lumba Lumba, the world’s first permanent facility dedicated to the readaptation and release of dolphins in Kemujan, Karimun Jawa. Ric O’Barry, Founder/Director of Dolphin Project has pioneered readaptation for captive dolphins and has released a number of dolphins into the wild.
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and all donations are tax-deductible as authorized by law.
New Zealand’s Far Out Ocean Research Collective spotted a bottlenose dolphin caring for a young pilot whale, and this isn’t the first time the species has stepped in as a surrogate mom.
On May 17, the Far Out Ocean Research Collective, based in Paihia, New Zealand, shared that they observed a female bottlenose dolphin interacting with a pilot whale calf like the newborn was her own offspring. Researchers believe that the dolphin adopted the young whale over a month ago and has been caring for the little creature.
“An interesting observation of an adult oceanic bottlenose dolphin with a newborn long-finned pilot whale off north-eastern New Zealand. Earlier in the day, the dolphin was part of a mixed-species group of false killer whales, pilot whales, and oceanic bottlenose dolphins,” the organization announced on Facebook.
Far Out Ocean also noted that this is not the first time a bottlenose dolphin has been observed caring for the young of another ocean mammal. It is unclear why this species seems comfortable stepping in as a surrogate parent, but researchers have theories.
“It could be a misguided motherly instinct, or she lost her own calf,” said Far Out Ocean Jochen Zaeschmar, marine researcher, 1 News reports. “Pilot whales spend seven years with their calves. There is a good chance it will eventually join another pod of pilot whales as they often cross paths.”
Far Out Ocean has taken photos documenting the special relationship between the bottlenose dolphin and the young pilot whale they spotted this spring. The organization plans to continue watching the pair’s journey and sharing their findings with their social media followers.
“The individual is a well-known member of the north-eastern New Zealand offshore bottlenose dolphin population and regularly associates with pilot whales and false killer whales. We are hoping to re-encounter her to monitor this interesting phenomenon,” Far Out Ocean said on social media of the interspecies duo.
Marine scientists are calling on the EU to adopt a comprehensive plan to protect dolphins and porpoises from fisheries bycatch in European waters. To help address the bycatch issue, which is the primary global threat to dolphins and porpoises, the researchers put forward a framework to reduce bycatch levels.
The scientists have outlined a two-step approach that involves establishing a quantitative management objective for each population and implementing monitoring programs:
To ensure an accurate estimation of bycatch levels, the experts recommend using electronic monitoring systems that allow a more comprehensive and representative sampling of the fleets.
The scientists also recommend regular formal assessments of small cetacean populations, including generation of estimates of abundance and bycatch mortality. If total bycatch has been estimated to exceed the calculated biological reference point, then a mitigation strategy needs to be put in place while monitoring is continued until levels are below the reference points.
“Bycatch of small cetaceans in European fisheries is widespread, including very large numbers of common dolphins in trawl fisheries and bycatch of the critically endangered population of harbor porpoise in the Baltic Sea…The failure to effectively conserve Europe’s dolphins and porpoises is not a result of a lack of scientific knowledge or difficulties in monitoring fisheries and bycatch. Instead, it reflects a lack of political will to ensure that these iconic animals are protected from unsustainable mortality in commercial fisheries throughout European waters. We can and must do better.”
-Professor Andrew Read, Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment
Journal reference: Emer Rogan, Andrew J Read, Per Berggren. Empty promises: The European Union is failing to protect dolphins and porpoises from fisheries by‐catch. Fish and Fisheries, 2021; DOI: 10.1111/faf.12556
Following in the spirit of Britain's Queen Boudica, Queen of the Iceni. A boudica.us site. I am an opinionator, do your own research, verification. Reposts, reblogs do not neccessarily reflect our views.