Plight of the Cetaceans

The website below has been created specifically for the media and new-comers to this issue.
Obviously the worldwide movement to end dolphin and whale hunts, and their captivity, is increasing at a rapid rate. The website is an ‘intro to the plight of cetaceans’ and includes links to important documentaries, campaigns and helpful links.
In the documentaries there are a few vids that have been made just for kids. You’ll also see a vid made by celebrities Jennifer Aniston, Woody Harrelson, Robin Williams (rip), Ben Stiller, Courtney Cox and others.
The ‘Warning: Graphic’ video shows how the dolphins are slaughtered: obviously not for kids.

Of course, the captive dolphin industry fuels these drives and slaughters – if no one were spending $150K on a dolphin, the drives would become pointless. Japan hides behind the lie of ‘tradition’, saying they need the meat. But, in fact, over 80% of Japan says they won’t eat the meat because it contains high volumes of Mercury which can result in child deformities, cancer and other life threatening diseases.

So, they slaughter the dolphins for ‘meat’ claiming this as their tradition (est 1969) – when in fact they are ‘on the side’ selling the pretty ones for captivity. Minimal funds come in from fresh meat sales, but most ends up as dog food (also a lucrative industry). ‘Killing for meat’ is the only loophole they have in the law. They would not be allowed to capture and sell dolphins otherwise.

As for the orcas at Seaworld and other Marine Parks, they were simply stolen from the sea in a drive. You will see all you need to know in the documentaries.

A flash of light came through two weeks ago (Nov 2014) when the CMS (Convention of Migratory Species), backed by the UN, agreed to a ban preventing cetaceans from being captured from the wild. However, this ban, even though agreed upon by the CMS, still needs to be enforced by its 120 member countries. Unfortunately Japan is not a member, neither is Russia, so cetacean import still occurs i.e. SeaWorld and Marine Parks may still ‘import’ cetaceans from these areas.

Here are some facts you may not know about Cetaceans in Marine Parks, ‘Swim with Dolphin’ facilities and Aquariums:

1. Dolphins and Orcas are taken from the sea and sold to Marine Parks, Aquariums and ‘Swim with Dolphin’ Facilities. This is contrary to what you have been told regarding their being ‘rescued’. Parks will pay as much as $150K for a single dolphin and more for Orcas.

2. Once taken from the sea they are transported in ‘slings’ and kept in ‘car-sized’ containers, then transported by air to their destination – a process which can take days.

3. Cetaceans are highly-evolved mammals with stronger family bonds than those of humans. They rely on their family and often ‘commit suicide’ (don’t come up for air) when torn or separated from their families/pod.

4. Dolphin facilities and Marine Parks have to drug their dolphins and orcas daily, with drugs similar to Valium, in order to ‘balance their temperament’. Captives experience frustration and depression toward their imprisonment which often results in thrashing movements, aggression or even suicide.

5. Cetaceans are sentient beings (highly emotional) and know full well that they are imprisoned. Once, and if, the frustration or depression subsides, and the drugging takes effect, they are trained through reinforcement methods, both positive and negative, meaning they learn to ‘work to eat’. If they fail to perform, their ‘food’ is withheld. This is enslavement and renders zero education for the public. One can learn as much about dolphins and orcas via shows as they can about humans via clowns in circuses. True education can only come from watching them in their natural environment, in the wild.

6. Parks, Aquariums and Dolphin Facilities rely on the profit they make through ticket sales, which is lucrative considering the public is often uninformed regarding captivity facts. Most captive cetaceans can be returned to the wild depending on their strength and age, or, if aged or weaker, to supervised bays/sanctuaries where they can be monitored and observed in their natural environment. These bays may be as large as Cape Town harbour, and the cetaceans would not be enslaved or forced to work to benefit the institutions that exploit them. There is seldom such a thing as an ‘unreleasable dolphin or orca’ – i.e. dolphins and orcas should only be held if they are unable to swim without assistance via flotation devices etc.

7. As far as conservation goes: facilities and parks may claim that they are trying to ‘conserve the species’. However, true conservation organisations spend all their efforts conserving the environment in which each species live, in the wild, whereas marine parks take them from the ocean which often interrupts an entire generation, hence they actually create/generate the need for conservation.

Please consider the above facts before taking your children to any Marine Park, Aquarium or ‘Swim with Dolphins’ facility. There are many options available for those who wish to be with them or view them in the wild, especially here in South Africa.

By Carly van Heerden

For further information, please visit

Share This Post