The other day I went to see a dolphin show. The show was fantastic to say the least; one has to see the synchronised, high-spirited frolic and performance of these wonderful sea creatures to realise that Nature is full of intelligent, talented animals.
The dolphins, six of them (or was it eight?), passed balls, danced and waved their tails, somersaulted in the air and presented breathtaking acrobatics in the tank. The spectators, including myself, watched them mesmerised, bursting into applause and hoots of joy every now and then.
But, on the sideline, I couldn’t help notice that throughout the show the dolphins were being fed fish by the conductors. One trick over and here goes the fish, tossed right into the eager mouths of the dolphins. I couldn’t figure out why they should be fed during the show, and not before or after. I was then told that dolphins were starved until the show during which they were fed as a reward for their performance.
That little bit if information was enough to needle me for the rest of the show, even though I kept enjoying it and missed my daughter. I also thought fleetingly whether the pool, with its chlorinated water, was where the huge sea mammals should be in. And the music, loud and foot-tapping—what about that? I for one hate loud noise of any kind. Dolphins are said to be extremely sensitive; were they enjoying the music?
Later I did some research on the Internet and here is what I found:
1. Dolphins perform not because they enjoy, but because they are starved.
2. They injure themselves during the performances, and the chlorinated water worsens their wounds and also makes them slowly lose their sight.
3. The loud noise is extremely harmful to the Dolphins which stresses them out. Dolphins are “echolocators”, that is they locate objects by emitting sounds and detecting the reflections given back. When they are confined in a small pool they can’t use echo-location. “It's like putting a person in a small drum and shouting loudly,” says an expert.
4. The pool is too small for the dolphins, whose physiology are built for the wide open seas. Think of having to stay cooped up in a tiny room day in and day out.
Having said that, am I asking you to boycott dolphin shows? Not exactly. It’s a choice every individual has to make for themselves, you know, much like giving up non-veg or dairy products or fur.
But will I bring my daughter to the show? Well, no. There are many ways to amuse ourselves other than seeing these lovely creatures performing in captivity, out of fear and hunger.