Six Myths about Dolphins

Myth 1:

We can tell from a dolphin’s smile that they are happy?

  • What looks like a smile in a dolphin is not a smile
  • Dolphins look like that because of the shape of their jaws
  • They appear to "smile" even if they feel sad and want to cry
  • Captive dolphins swim with their eyes closed to protect them from chemicals in the water

Dolphins that bring you happiness are NOT happy. Their "smile" is a great deception.

Myth 2:

Captive dolphins live freely in a spacious pool?

  • In the wild, dolphins swim 40 to 100 miles a day and dive to depths of hundreds of feet
  • No matter how large the pool or tank, it is minute compared with the vast ocean
  • Dolphins like to associate with companions to hunt and interact
  • Dolphins process culture. Different groups have distinctly different behaviours
  • Captive dolphins have no choice but to live with other “foreign” dolphins

Captive dolphins live within walls and they cannot behave naturally. This results in psychological and behavioural problems like chewing on gates, self-mutilation and attacks on other dolphins.

Myth 3:

Captive dolphins enjoy the “showtime” atmosphere?

  • Dolphins in the wild send soundwaves into their surrounding environment to find food and contact partners
  • When in captivity, these sounds simply bounce off the aquarium walls

Loud music and audience applause stress captive dolphins.

Myth 4:

Captive dolphins can live a long life in a safe environment?

  • Captive dolphins live in chemically treated water tanks – not natural sea water
  • Poisonous additives damage their immune systems and lead to illness
  • Captive dolphins are susceptible to infection, a common cause of death
  • Other causes of death are stress-related illnesses such as pneumonia and sepsis

Captivity causes stress to dolphins. They die more easily than wild dolphins.

Myth 5:

Dolphins are intelligent and can easily learn to perform tricks?

  • Dolphins have a very complex brain structure
  • Dolphins are as intelligent as other primates
  • Dolphins perform tricks to be rewarded with food

Dolphin trainers generally work with hungry animals. Dolphins do tricks in shows just to get food.

Myth 6:

Dolphin shows teach us about wildlife?

  • Captive dolphins do not behave naturally in a captive environment
  • The captive space lacks mental stimulation
  • What you see in an aquarium is not the real dolphin life
  • Some organisations use conservation as a reason to breed and keep dolphins in a captive environment
  • Being involved in dolphin activities encourages the spread of bacteria

The life of a captive dolphin has nothing in common with dolphins living in the wild