Dolphin Captivity (Primary)

DOLPHIN CAPTIVITY
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Slide 1: Slide
Social StudiesHistory+34-6 Grade6th,7th Grade

This lesson contains 31 slides, with interactive quizzes, text slides and 2 videos.

time-iconLesson duration is: 45 min

Introduction

This lesson focuses on dolphins in captivity and discusses the captivity / amusement industry.

Instructions

This lesson will focus on the dolphin captivity industry and how it impacts on a dolphin’s life.

Time: 45 minutes

Contact: education@seashepherdglobal.org
© Sea Shepherd 2021

Items in this lesson

DOLPHIN CAPTIVITY

Slide 1 - Slide

This lesson is provided by Sea Shepherd. Sea Shepherd is a marine conservation organisation with a mission to protect the ocean and marine wildlife.  Sea Shepherd works globally on a range of issues impacting the ocean, running numerous direct action campaigns each year.  Dolphins are one species Sea Shepherd is helping to protect.
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Watch  the video

Slide 2 - Slide

During the lesson we will use these icons to identify the learning actions.
Introduction to IUU fishing and the impact of overfishing.
Dolphin captivity and how it impacts them.

Slide 3 - Slide

This lesson will focus on the dolphin captivity industry and how it impacts on a dolphin’s life.

INTERACTIVE JOIN – ask students to go to www.LessonUp.app


Slide 4 - Video

Empty ocean by 2050
Scientists estimate that by 2050 the ocean ecosystem will be on the verge of collapse, empty of fish and marine wildlife, unless urgent action is taken on the issues impacting on the oceans and marine wildlife.

Show this video (2.53min), which explains how important all species are to our planet.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLcA31VRlRU

Discuss the video with the class and what it means.

Over 100 million tons of fish caught each year.
Dolphins in captivity.

Slide 5 - Slide

Dolphins in captivity
Since the 1800’s dolphins, and beluga whales, have been taken from the wild for captivity. The first bottlenose dolphins were brought into captivity in 1938.  

Dolphinariums or marine parks showing captive marine wildlife became even more popular after the TV show Flipper aired in the 1960’s. Dolphins are even kept in hotel pools to entertain guests.

At these facilities the dolphins are trained to perform circus acts to entertain visitors.


Do you think captivity is a
good or bad experience for
dolphins, why?

Slide 6 - Mind map

Dolphin captivity
Ask students to answer via www.LessonUp.app or discuss in classroom.

 “Do you think captivity is a good or bad experience for the dolphins, and why?”

Discuss the responses.

Over 100 million tons of fish caught each year.
Are dolphins happy in captivity?

Slide 7 - Slide

Are dolphins happy in captivity?
Many people mistakenly believe that dolphins are always smiling, so they must be happy and content.

In reality it is just an anatomical characteristic and doesn’t reflect how they are feeling.  Anatomical means it is a feature of their face. They have a permanent smile on their face, whether they are happy or sad.

Option: Discuss with the class how facial appearance can hide what people and wildlife are really experiencing.

Over 100 million tons of fish caught each year.
Life in the ocean vs life in a pool.

Slide 8 - Slide

Life in the ocean vs life in a pool
To better understand captivity let’s compare a dolphin’s life in the wild to life in captivity, by looking at each aspect of its life.  

To do this we will focus on bottlenose dolphins and orcas.

Illegal Fishing
Illegal fishing means that the fishermen enter the territorial waters of a country or regulated marine zone without permission or without a license for the fish they intend to catch.

They are stealing from these waters.
WILD CAPTURE OF DOLPHINS

Dolphin drives in
Taiji, Japan.

Slide 9 - Slide

Capturing dolphins
Let us start by looking at how dolphins end up in dolphinariums.

There are two ways they end up in captivity:
  • Taken from the wild, or
  • Breed in captivity.

Wild capture
There are a number of places around the world that still hunt dolphins for captivity.  One of those is Taiji, Japan where dolphins are caught for both captivity as well as for their meat. Apart from bottlenosed dolphins, they also take striped, spotted, risso’s, pacific white-sided dolphins as well as pilot whales.

To hunt the dolphins a small fleet of fishing vessels heads out to sea to find a pod of dolphins.  Once located the boats form a line and drive the dolphins into a cove.  This is done by banging metal poles to create a wall of sound that scares the dolphins and drives them away from the noise.  Once driven into this cove it is netted off to trap the pod.

Dolphin trainers then enter the water and select the dolphins most suitable to perform in their dolphinariums. The rest of the pod usually are killed for meat.

Image as a dolphin how this experience might impact you:
  • The noise from the boats.
  • The fear of being trapped.
  • Being taken from the pod or having a baby removed from its mother.
  • Hearing the rest of your pod being killed.
  • Being placed in a confined pool by themselves.
  • Then being transported in a box.

A very frightening experience.

Illegal Fishing
Illegal fishing means that the fishermen enter the territorial waters of a country or regulated marine zone without permission or without a license for the fish they intend to catch.

They are stealing from these waters.
BRED IN CAPTIVITY


Slide 10 - Slide

Bred in captivity
Most dolphinariums have breeding programs, focusing on dolphin species most suited for keeping in captivity, and never the endangered species.

Dolphins bred in captivity are never released back into the wild. It is purely to supply the marine park with new dolphins to perform in their shows. Only one breeding program has attempted to help save an endangered species, the Baiji dolphin. They were unsuccessful in producing any young, and no dolphins have been released.

Over 100 million tons of fish caught each year.
Family bonds.

Slide 11 - Slide

Family bonds
Dolphins being mammals give birth to live young. A calf will stay with its mum for 18 months to 8 years depending on the species.  

There is a strong bond between the mum and the baby. So you can image the distress for the mum and calf when they are separated.  

In captivity dolphins and calves are separated long before they would be in the wild.


Illegal Fishing
Illegal fishing means that the fishermen enter the territorial waters of a country or regulated marine zone without permission or without a license for the fish they intend to catch.

They are stealing from these waters.
SOCIAL STRUCTURES
IN PODS

Captivity forces them into artificial pods.


What do you think could happen when mixed species are confined in a pool?

Slide 12 - Slide

Social structures in pods
Within pods there are social structures or hierarchies in place.

In captivity dolphins are forced into artificial pods. These are pods that are made up of captured dolphins from different places and from different families.  Adding new members to a captive group, such as young animals reaching maturity, or 'incompatible' animals, can upset the social structure and hierarchy, as can isolating individual animals or separating them from their family.

Imagine you are put into a confined space with people you have never met before, that may not even speak the same language as you, and you now have to live together for the rest of your lives.  Remembering there is no way to escape your new ‘family’ members.

In the wild is when a dolphin gives birth, the aunties help the newborn calf to breathe by pushing it to the surface of the water. In captivity this support is not always provided.

Discuss with the class: ‘What do you think might happen in these circumstances?’

This could lead to:
  • Aggression between dolphins if they don’t get along.
  • Stress and illness in dolphins who are traumatised by being removed from families or can’t cope with the social pressure within the new pod.
  • Death due to fighting or they take their own lives

Over 100 million tons of fish caught each year.
Captive environment.

Slide 13 - Slide

Captive environment
There are a number of features of the captive environment that differ to the wild that dolphins are not use to:
  • Chemically treated water vs salt water in the ocean.
  • Exposure to sun due to the depth of the pool vs the ocean.
  • Exposure to new environment and diseases – pool in a tropical climate with mosquitoes vs the open ocean.
Discuss with the class the impacts of these changes.

Over 100 million tons of fish caught each year.
Hunting for food.

Slide 14 - Slide

Hunting for food
In the wild dolphins are a predator, they have to hunt for their food, like fish, crustaceans and squid.  They are not scavengers looking for an easy meal.

Dolphins are an intelligent species, they can work together as a team to hunt fish. If they find a school of fish they slowly encircle them, to group the fish together. If they are hunting close to shore they use their tails to kick up dirt from the ocean floor to make a circle of murky water around the fish. Then as the fish try to jump out of the water over the dirty water they catch them.

Dolphins have also been seen using tools to help them fish like using sea sponges on their rostrum (nose) to protect it while they dig around on the seabed looking for food. This protects them from pieces of rock or broken coral.   


Over 100 million tons of fish caught each year.
Feeding in captivity.

Slide 15 - Slide

Feeding in captivity
Dolphins new to captivity have to learn to eat dead fish rather than live fish they are use to. If they refuse they will be force fed by the trainers.

The dolphins receive regular vitamin and mineral pills in their ration of fish. This implies that their diet of a limited variety of frozen fish is deficient in some manner and the nutritional quality of frozen fish is, in fact, markedly lower than that of living fish. The constant administration of pills is often referred to as a benefit of captivity; the fact that wild animals do not require such supplements is never mentioned.  

The lack of behavioral and physical stimulation (when foraging) is eliminated from the behavioral repertoire and the lack of dietary variety may contribute to behavioral disturbances and health problems.


Over 100 million tons of fish caught each year.
Training dolphins.

Slide 16 - Slide

Training dolphins
Captive dolphins not only have to learn how to eat dead fish, but they also have to learn that if they want to eat they need to perform.

Show dolphins are often not fed much in the morning so that they will perform tricks for food.  If they perform properly during the show they receive a fish, if they don’t do it properly they don’t get the fish. They are only fed a properly meal at the end of the day once the shows are over.


What behaviors would
you start to show?

Slide 17 - Mind map

Hunting for food
Ask students to answer via www.LessonUp.app or discuss in classroom.

All dolphins are predators and in captivity none are allowed to exercise that part of their behaviour that is related to hunting and foraging.

“Imagine you are a dolphin and you can no longer hunt for food when you are hungry, and have to perform tricks to receive some fish.  What behaviours do you think you would start to show?”

Examples might:
  • Become upset / aggressive if you are hungry and can’t hunt.
  • Boredom if you have nothing to do during the day, when you would normally be hunting for food.  Leading to behavioral changes.
  • Health problems without the right diet.

Slide 18 - Video

Confined to a pool
Another aspect of captivity that adds to boredom is the size of the enclosure.

Even in the largest facilities, a captive dolphin’s room to move is decreased enormously, allowing the animals access to less than one ten-thousandth of one percent of their normal habitat size!  The reduction in their horizon represented by a tank, even a large one, is extreme. Neither their physical nor their social environment can be simulated or re-created.

Bottlenose dolphins and orcas, are wide-ranging, fast-moving, deep-diving predators. In the wild they may travel as many as 150 kilometers in a day, reach speeds as high as 50 kilometers an hour, and dive several hundred meters deep.

Show this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcb-V-a_1Tg

Discuss with students:
“What are the differences in the features of a pool enclosure compared to the ocean environment?”

Variations to discuss:
  • Distance dolphins would travel in a day.
  • How deep they can dive and the speed they can travel at.
  • Seafloor features.
  • Other marine wildlife.
  • Riding ocean waves.
  • Walls of a captivity pool / tank.
  • Sounds

Over 100 million tons of fish caught each year.
Sounds and echolocation.

Slide 19 - Slide

Sounds / Echolocation
Echolocation is where animals emit a noise and they listen to the echoes that return. These echoes help them determine what objects are around them.

Discuss with the class what they think the impact of being confined to a small pool with concrete or glass walls would be?

Over 100 million tons of fish caught each year.
Mirrored space.

Slide 20 - Slide

Mirrored space
This image shows what it might look like for dolphins kept in glass tanks, where they see their reflection all day.

Discuss how being confined to a small mirrored space would make students feel.

Photo - Actress Pamela Anderson in a mirrored display created by Sea Shepherd France to show how captivity feels.
Do you think captivity is a good or
bad experience for dolphins? Did you
change your mind from the start of the lesson?

Slide 21 - Open question

Captivity – good or bad for dolphins?
Ask students to answer via www.LessonUp.app or discuss in classroom.

 “Do you think captivity is a good or bad experience for the dolphins, and why?”

Ask who changed their mind and why?


Why do you think we keep
marine wildlife in captivity?

Slide 22 - Mind map

Ask students to answer via www.LessonUp.app or discuss in classroom.

 “Why do you think we keep marine wildlife in captivity?”

Why are dolphins in captivity:
  • Entertainment – people enjoy watching dolphins perform.
  • Businesses make money from capturing and showing dolphins.
  • Research dolphin behaviours.
  • Educating the public on marine wildlife.

Over 100 million tons of fish caught each year.
Researching dolphins.

Slide 23 - Slide

Researching dolphins
Two reasons given for keeping dolphins in captivity are research and educational purposes. Research on dolphins can only be justified in circumstances where it is necessary to resolve critical questions that benefit the animals in captivity or in the wild.

Discuss with students:
  • Which would be better: conducting research in an artificial environment or in the ocean?
  • Which would be better for educational purposes: teaching the public dolphin behaviour in captivity or natural behaviour in the wild?
  • With the ability to conduct research in the ocean, dolphinariums are not essential to continue research on marine mammals.

Over 100 million tons of fish caught each year.
Conservation

Slide 24 - Slide

Conservation
Another argument used by dolphinariums to support the benefits of captivity is Conservation.  They use a number of features of the natural world to highlight their ‘conservation’ work in protecting marine mammals.

Dangers: The first claim is that the wild is dangerous and imply that the natural environment is an evil to be avoided.  Which infers that a captive environment, free from dangers is the preferred state for marine animals. This justification for the conditions of captivity is misleading and removes animals from their natural environment.

This misrepresentation of the natural environment as threatening to the health of these animals will not encourage people to protect, respect, or understand the animals’ natural habitat.

The public receives a distorted picture, in which an animal’s natural environment is hostile and captivity is a benign alternative, a picture that is implicitly contrary to both conservation and welfare principles.

The claim that conservation is a primary purpose of the captivity industry is misleading. Fewer than 10 percent of zoos, dolphinaria, and aquaria are involved in substantial conservation programs, either in natural habitat or in captive setting.  The amount spent on these programs is a mere fraction of the income generated by these facilities.

Many dolphinaria and aquaria state that they are actively involved in conservation and use this as a marketing tool or as a way to justify imports of animals.


Illegal Fishing
Illegal fishing means that the fishermen enter the territorial waters of a country or regulated marine zone without permission or without a license for the fish they intend to catch.

They are stealing from these waters.
IMPACTS OF CAPTIVITY

➢  Mental health issues from capture, confinement and boredom, which can result in the dolphins becoming ill or showing destructive behaviors, like hitting their heads on concrete.

➢   The life span of dolphins in captivity is much, shorter. They don’t live to normal life expectancy.

Slide 25 - Slide

Impacts of captivity
There are two main impacts of captivity on dolphins we should be concerned about:
  • Mental health issues from capture, confinement and boredom, which can result in the dolphins becoming ill or showing destructive behaviours, like hitting their heads on concrete.
  • The life span of dolphins in captivity is much, shorter. They don’t live to normal life expectancy.


What are four reasons why captivity might be harmful to the well being of dolphins?

Slide 26 - Open question

Why captivity might be harmful to dolphins
Ask students to answer the following question using www.LessonUp.app or discuss in the classroom.  

What are 4 reasons why captivity might be harmful to the wellbeing of dolphins?”


Do you think we should support or
close dolphinarums? What should be done to
help dolphins in captivity?

Slide 27 - Open question

Should we support captivity?
Ask students to answer the following question using www.LessonUp.app or discuss in the classroom.  

 “Do you think we should support dolphinariums or should they be closed?”

“What do you think should be done to help dolphins in captivity?”



Write down three things you have learned?

Slide 28 - Open question

What did you learn?
Ask students to answer the following question using www.LessonUp.app or discuss in the classroom.  

“Write down three things you have learned?”



Write down one thing you didn't understand?

Slide 29 - Open question

What don’t you understand?
Ask students to answer the following question using www.LessonUp.app or discuss in the classroom.  

“Write down one thing you didn’t understand?”


Slide 30 - Slide

Sea Shepherd Case Studies cover a number of Sea Shepherd campaigns and show video of some of our work to protect dolphins.  These can be used to enhance the learning experience from these lessons

www.seashepherdglobal.org

Slide 31 - Slide

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