Throngs of Americans are heading south to the Caribbean right now, for the balmy sunshine, intoxicating evening breeze, turquoise waters … and the opportunity to swim with dolphins. But despite their popularity, swim-with-the-dolphin programs have a dark underbelly, and those on the inside are starting to speak out against them.
By Christina M. Russo|The Dodo
Swim-with-the-dolphin (SWTD) programs can be found all over the world, but they’ve become exceptionally popular in the Caribbean in the past decade or so. A former dolphin trainer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Dodo that these programs are inherently problematic — and cetaceans simply do not belong in captivity.
„Dolphins are beautiful and amazing creatures in their natural habitat,“ says the former trainer, who requested anonymity because he still works in the Caribbean hotel industry. „But stick them in a cage, and you watch them change.“
One trainer’s story
Born and raised in the Bahamas, the trainer says he was employed at two swim-with-the-dolphin facilities in the Caribbean, and his concerns grew over his tenure. The dolphins‘ holding pens were not only excessively shallow, but also far too small. At one facility, he says, more than 40 dolphins were caged in three compact cells.