1. The life of free young males
A pod of dolphins is having fun while racing with a boat in the Gulf of Florida.
These dolphins are Tursiops truncatus with large fins, or Atlantic Bottlenose, perfectly adapted to coastal life, shallow waters and warm climate. And this is also the reason why our European dolphinaria likes them so much : they are incredibly resilient and able to survive in absurdly small pools disinfected with chlorine.
Here, we see a Trio. An alliance at the first degree, a gang of 3 happy friends who are swimming kilometers and kilometers every day to seduce pretty females of the neighborood. They will stick together for a while, sometimes for their whole life.
Watch the video. First, one dolphin is taking the initiative and jumps out of the water in a very powerful and harmonious way. Quickly, his friends will join him and challenge him : « I bet we can catch up with that boat there ! ». Their jumps are full of joy, innocence, friendship and laughter.
« The relationship between these “male alliance partners” — bromances, if you will — could last decades or even a lifetime: the friends will spend almost 100 percent of their time together and will often surface side by side in synchronicity. Most of the dolphins leaping and rolling and showing off in front of the boat were playful males, about 9 to 10 years old, just about the age of sexual maturity. Their play, which sometimes includes sex with each other, helps them determine who they’ll choose to be their useful, dependable ally for the next few decades. “It’s a big decision on their part,” Gibson said. “They want to make sure they choose wisely.” UNF’s researchers have identified 14 alliances among male dolphins in the St. Johns. Twelve are pairs, one is a trio, the other is a quartet: Osceola, Choctaw, Timucuan and Geronimo, who are almost always together. A few more alliances could be forming among the youngsters who played around the UNF boat (…) .
Different types of alliances are created amongst the males as they compete to attract the females. These alliances are not confined to one given territory, as it is the case with other social mammals, but, at the contrary, they move over large areas that overlap ».
University of Florida research
2 or 3 dolphins will form a first alliance, very strong over the long term.
These pairs or trios will in turn form a second alliance with other similar groups of 2 or 3 males within a larger group of 4 to 14 individuals, who have no family bounds between them.
This second level group will cooperate to defend its own females or to attack other groups and steal their women. Such alliances can last more than 15 years.
Finally, this « super-group » will be able to form a coalition of several groups of the same type, always to face their rivals organised like them. So we will have an alliance « A » combined with an alliance « B » to attack an alliance « C » on certain occasions, but that will be able to ally also to C to attack an alliance « D » at another moment. And then, it really becomes very complicated. (Richard Connor)
Florida dolphins also have a « fission-fusion » social structure, characterised by temporary associations, lasting a few minutes to several hours. These models of flexible grouping, in which dolphins are constantly associating differently, imply that they must be able to find each other, when they are separated by long distances. However, these distances must be within reach of communications – they must still be able to communicate.The decision of a dolphin to join or leave a group is linked to various social considerations, such as the class of the individuals in the group (mothers with their babies, single adult females, adult males and young ones). Every dolphin evolves in different social environments.
The decision is also influenced by the ecological characteristics of their habitat. For example, mothers with children prefer to reside regularly in deep waters. They develop relationships with other females in the same situation and associate with them. The same mothers, when they come to swim in shallow waters, will meet young males with whom they will have little contact.
2. The life of a captive young male
In Bruges, Beachie is sleeping on the bottom of the pool. He’s not healthy. He feels alone.
Born free in 1982, « saved » from a stranding in April 1984, he was sent to SeaWorld Orlando on the 27th of April 1984. He left this place on the 8th of June 1997 to be deported to the Harderwijk Dolphinarium, in the Netherlands.
On the 18th of September 2009, he was finally sent to Bruges. Beachie had been a good stallion before the Boudewijn Seapark. In SeaWorld and Harderwijk, he gave birth to Marble (1997), Sal’ka (1998), T’lisala (2001), Amtan (2001), Palawas (2004), Spetter (2005) and Kite (2005). But once in Belgium, he only gave a stillborn child to the young Yotta in 2010, twins (also stillborn) to the older Roxanne in 2011, and another baby who died after 4 days to Roxanne again. His largely degraded life environment probably explains these events.
Roxanne and her baby, who died after 4 days
So, in 2009, Beachie was brought to the Boudewijn Seapark in Bruges, in the context of an international breeding program (EEP – European Endangered Species Program). Please note that these programs are supposed to ensure the safeguard of an endangered species « ex situ », like for example the golden lion tamarins, the love panthers, the Sumatran elephants, or the okapis, not to mention local but less spectacular endangered species.
According to the IUCN, Tursiops truncatus is not a highly endangered species. Tursiops are never rehabilitated by the dolphinaria. So dolphinaria do betray the spirit of these European programs. Inadequate education and unnecessary researches couldn’t legally justify the breeding of captive dolphins, since they do not contribute at all to the conservation of the species.
Only females and young dolphins had lived in Bruges since Tex died. That made the arrival of a male necessary for this breeding program for what we can call « circus animals ». Note that neither Beachie nor the residents of the Flemish aquatic circus had chosen to meet. The group would have to, once again, be reshaped by the hand of man.
One week before Beachie arrived, expert trainers of the Boudewijn Seapark went to Harderwijk to see how Beachie was working, what tricks he could be asked and how he had been prepared to take part to the medical tests. In the morning of the 19th of September 2009, the dolphin was moved to Bruges in the company of 5 employees of Harderwijk and his new masters. Beachie was carried in a hammock, suspended in a box. He arrived in Bruges in the afternoon, to be immediately put in a tank behind the dolphinarium. For the entire first week after his moving, a trainer from Harderwijk stayed in Bruges to help with Beachie’s integration within the group and to advise the team of Bruges.
The residents. Flo died in 2010, at 13 y.0
Photo Adriaan van Rijswijk
For the first 4 days, Beachie stayed in the tank at the bottom, separated from the group by a simple net. This enabled him to hear and see his new cellmates. Then the male was introduced to the 5 residents. At first, he came into contact with Roxanne, one of the three adult females, while the others stayed separated from him in the pool used for the show.
Today, Beachie is getting along with the senior females (the « high-ranking » females), Roxanne, Yotta and Puck. Young Indy and Ocean – 10 years already ! – are afraid of him. The dominance in a tank is complete, as there is no means of escape, and no possibility to create alliances.Compared to what Beachie has known in his open-air lagoon in Harderwijk, the tank in Bruges is not very big. It is 3-6 meters deep and 40 meters long. On the right and on the left of the tank, there are 2 isolation pens. And behind the scene, there is another pool, larger, but 4 meters deep. This pool was originally intended to sea lions. They go back there during the winter. During the summer, they stay at the « Sea lions Theater ».
Beachie also had to learn to obey a different way.
In Harderwijk, all the dolphins were getting the attention of the trainers at the same time. In Bruges, they must remain calm in front of the trainer until they receive, one at a time, instructions. For Beachie, at the start, it was hard to wait his turn. He was often jumping out of the water, very excited, and had trouble staying calm. He’s been tamed.For the show, he has been asked first to show all the tricks he had learnt in Harderwijk. Then, he has learnt to throw balls at children and to do somersaults. This training had already begun in Harderwijk, but it couldn’t be completed there. One wonders what he has learnt in SeaWorld, during all that time after his « rescue »…
For Beachie, many things have changed. He has long lived in the Dolfijndomijn, in Harderwijk, among a group of other males. They had not chosen to be together either, but at least they were all males. At the Boudewijn Seapark, our stallion is now sharing a really small space with 3 young dolphins – including a skinny male – and 2 females older than him. In addition, Beachie no longer has the possibility to go out in the open air, or to feel the sun on his skin, in a sea where fish can survive. The dolphinarium in Bruges is completely covered by a dome. Its waters are entirely artificial.
Beachie is not healthy. Like so many captive dolphins, he sleeps on the bottom of his basin during hours. He is so alone ! No alliances, no friends, no travels. Nothing to do, nowhere to go. Just shows and sleep, sleep and shows.
That’s not a male dolphin life.
Is it even necessary to conclude ? Is the simple detail of these two life styles not enough to condemn a business that should no longer exist in Europe or anywhere in the world : exhibition of captive dolphins ?
To know more :
Thanks to Christelle Bornauw Waiengnier for the translation.
– Information about Beachie’s was taken from an interview of the chief trainer of Bruges, Sander van der Heul, published on a now securised (after my first visit !) professional website ruled by Harderwijk Dolphinarium.
– Please note the swimming Trio shown on the top of this page are part of the family of the 2 golden geese of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Winter and Hope. These new inmates are claimed to have been saved from stranding. It’s the new way to get captive dolphins in the USA. All stranded dolphins are supposed to be deaf.
Let’s remind that for more than 2 decades, Gulf of Mexico was the focus of a live-capture fishery for Bottlenose dolphins which supplied dolphins to the U.S. Navy and European dolphinaria. « During the period between 1972-89, 490 bottlenose dolphins, an average of 29 dolphins annually, were removed from a few locations in the Gulf of Mexico, including the Florida Keys. Mississippi Sound sustained the highest level of removals and 202 dolphins were removed from this stock during this period, representing 41% of the total and an annual average of 12 dolphins. It may be biologically significant that 73% of the dolphins removed during 1982-88 were females. The impact of those removals on the stocks is unknown ». (NOAA)
On July 6th 2013, a dolphin was born in Harderwijk Dolfinarium, Netherlands.
His father’s name is unknown. His mother, nicknamed Maaike, was « acquired » in 1985 at the holding pen of Gulfport, Texas, USA.
It means that she has been captured by Mobi Solangi in the Gulf of Mexico, as many other dolphins of Boudewijn Seapark Bruges or elswhere in Europe.
Maaike’s estimated age is 30 years. She is a good “breeding cow” : she already gave birth to Yola, Nalu and Luna and she’s the grandmother of Makai, the Nalu’s daughter. So little Makai is a third generation captive dolphin, whose father is unknown too. Everything suggests that Hardewijck Dolfinarium actively practices artificial insemination, with the help of SeaWorld.
Frozen semen exchanges are very discreet, as opposed to deportations of living individuals, much more difficult to hide. Let’s remind there is NO European official register of captive dolphins opened to the public, similar to the American MMIR.
This birth proves once again that most of captive born dolphins are born from a « founder » (mother or father), directly captured in the ocean. Children born from 2 captive-born dolphins are much more rare, or totally absent as in Bruges dolphinarium.
Ocean at Bruges. His (now dead) father was Tex
and his mother, Roxanne, both captured.
This raises the problem of restocking.
When captured individuals will die or become too old for breeding, how will European Captivity Industry provide itself with new circus animals ? By following the example of Georgia Aquarium, which sponsored belugas captures by Russian specialists ?
Dolphins are self-aware beings.
They bear a name, they reflect, they invent, they talk, they love, they play, they like to live with family and friends in large pods. Dolphins love travelling, splitting the waves, diving deep and hunting together.
Endowed with a powerful brain and living a long time, they educate their children during years, mourn their dead and transmit knowledge and dialect across generations. They use tools and invent new hunting techniques. Their intelligence is not comparable to that of humans but probably equivalent. Their emotions are same than ours, ranging from the most terrible grief of death, to the greatest joy of freedom. Their social bonds are even much intense than human ones.
We do not have the right to condemn these marine mammals shaped for the ocean to a life of captivity !
We do not have the right to starve them into obedience !
We do not have the right to force them into a life of boredom in chlorinated water dungeons to be fed dead fish !
We do not have the right to force them to perform tricks an antics for our amusement and entertainment !
No pool, no lagoon can replace the prodigious wealth of the natural habitat of the cetacean world. No dolphins, captive born or caught from the wild, can thrive in dignity in a concrete chlorinated pit.
Brazil, India, Croatia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Switzerland and other countries understood the cruelty of cetacean captivity and have prohibited it in their countries. In contrast, 15 European countries still exhibit dolphins, killer whales, orcas, porpoises and one river dolphin. 15 EU governments support the economic development of these entertainment parks under the guise of wildlife parks, where children are taught that whales are our slaves.
As conscious human beings, respectful of Earth and all its inhabitants, we cannot allow such aquatic circuses to exist in the 21st century.
This is why we ask the EU to organize the closure of all the dolphinaria in all its member states.
This is why we are asking the EU to prohibit any further opening of such institutions.
This is why we ask that the 307 small whales currently held by 34 dolphinaria in Europe, are moved to enclosed marine bays and rehabilitated and returned to sea, if possible.
We are tired of hearing lies.
We do not want more of these innocent beings imprisoned.
Europe : close dolphinaria and protect whales in the wild !
Copy, paste, sign and send !
Dear European deputee,
Dolphins possess the sophisticated cognitive and emotional abilities characteristic of the type of consciousness that is the foundation of humans’ claim for moral standing. They are sef-aware persons, endowed with cultures, languages and emotions.
We don’t have the right to keep these creatures in captivity to satisfy some economic needs.
Their detention violates the Directive 1999/22/EC of the Council of Europe. http://www.wdcs.org/stop/captivity/eu_campaign/introduction.php
No chlorinated pool, no lagoon, no matter how large they are, could replace the ocean nor reproduce the complex social life of wild cetaceans. Captive cetacean don’t have freedom to express normal behaviour, a main principle for animal welfare.
We urge the European Authorities to ban any breeding program or importation of cetaceans into the EU.
We demand all existing dolphinaria to be closed down and that the cetaceans – born free or captive- join rehabilitating programs in marine sanctuaries.
Thanks to support us in Brussels on June 28Th for a Captive Dolphins Free Europe
Je suis très choqué d’apprendre que plus de 300 dauphins, marsouins orques, bélougas et autres petits cétacés sont maintenus en captivité dans l’espace de l’Union Européenne, et ceci essentiellement afin d’amuser les visiteurs par leurs shows.
Une telle situation est en contradiction flagrante avec la législation CITES de l’Union Européenne qui interdit le commerce de dauphins capturés en mer ainsi qu’avec la Directive UE sur les Zoos exigeant que les dauphins et autres cétacés soient détenus dans des conditions conformes à leur besoins biologiques sociaux et intellectuels, une chose bien évidemment impossible à réaliser pour ces mammifères marins migrateurs dotés d’une haute intelligence et d’une vie sociale élaborée.
Merci d’agir dès aujourd’hui pour protéger la santé et le bien-être de ces animaux en appliquant de manière stricte et correcte la Directive EC 1999/22 relative à la détention d’animaux sauvages dans les zoos, c’est-à-dire en soutenant l’élimination des delphinariums sur tout le territoire européen. http://www.dauphinlibre.be/pour-une-europe-sans-delphinarium-appel-wdcs.htm
Merci également d’aider les dauphins sauvages en mettant fin à l’importation au sein de l’Union Européenne de tout dauphin capture en milieu naturel.
Merci enfin de nous rejoindre à Bruxelles le 28 juin prochain pour marquer votre solidarité avec notre action en faveur des cétacés libres. https://freedolphinsbelgium.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/fermons-tous-les-delphinariums-deurope-manifestation-a-bruxelles-le-28-juin-2013/
Votre signature ….
Ce 27 avril, une manifestation pacifique s’est tenue devant le Dolfinarium de Hardewijk, le «toutou de SeaWorld en Europe».
Sous ses dehors vétustes, le vieux Dolfinarium n’en reste pas moins une plaque tournante importante du business des cétacés esclaves. On sait qu’il mena jusqu’il y a peu de nombreuses captures d’orques en Islande aux côtés de la compagnie américaine désormais cotée en bourse et qu’il fit transiter par ses bassins bien des dauphins capturés au Japon.
Aujourd’hui, grâce à sa « ferme à dauphins » située dans un lagon crasseux, le Dolfinarium de Hardewijck alimente en esclaves frais et en sperme congelé le Boudewijn Sea Park de Bruges, Planète Sauvage à Nantes, le Parc Astérix à Paris et sans doute bien d’autres prisons aquatiques en Europe.
Ce n’était donc pas là un delphinarium ordinaire devant lequel nous manifestions !
Une délégation belge, menée par Annelies Muellens, était présente sur les lieux. Etrange démonstration que celle-ci ! Car les choses ne se passent pas vraiment de la même manière aux Pays-Bas qu’en France ou en Belgique.
Ici, pas d’autorisation préalable, presque aucun policier, aucune barrière, aucune rue privatisée comme à Bruges pour empêcher les manifestants de s’approcher de la prison aquatique, mais au contraire, une ambiance bon enfant et citoyenne typiquement hollandaise. Autre étrangeté : l’indifférence absolue des visiteurs. Ailleurs, ils parlent aux manifestants, ils acceptent les tracts.
Ici, les familles avec enfants, les groupes scolaires, les personnes âgés n’acceptaient aucun dialogue et passaient leur chemin sans nous voir, bien décidés à profiter du spectacle de dauphins esclaves pour lequel ils avaient payé si cher.
En revanche, dans les rangs des protestataires, installés là pour une journée entière sous un soleil frisquet, les échanges et les conversations allaient bon train. Nous avons ainsi eu le privilège de discuter stratégie avec Katrien Vandevelde (Sea First), mais aussi avec Hester Bartels (Orka Coalitie) et même ce cher vieux Geoffrey, (EDEV) qui intervint il y a longtemps déjà dans la défense d’Iris et d’Ivo au Zoo d’Anvers.
Une dame nous expliqua qu’elle avait bien connu l’orque Gudrun, enfermée pendant 11 ans dans un bocal à poissons rouges, avant que Morgan ne lui succède. Elle avait vu également ces malheureux pseudorques capturés lors d’une pêche sanglante à Iki et qui ne survécurent que peu d’années dans les bassins bouffés aux mites du delphinarium hollandais.
Il nous revint aussi que les scientifiques de SOS Dolfijn, qui très régulièrement, sauvent, soignent et relâchent des marsouins de la Mer du Nord, vivaient de plus en plus mal d’être associés pour des raisons financières à un parc d’attractions exhibant en spectacle des mammifères marins mais surtout expédiant une orque à Loro Parque alors qu’elle aurait du être remise en mer.
Bref, une manifestation, encore une, qui sera sans nul doute fort peu relayée par la presse locale…
Mais qui indique aux hommes d’affaires de l’Industrie de la Captivité que, partout en Europe, de l’Allemagne à l’Espagne, ainsi que dans le monde entier, des centaines de milliers de gens honnêtes et bien informés en ont plus qu’assez des tortures qu’on impose à nos amis cétacés !
A noter donc d’ores et déjà dans vos agendas :
Bruxelles, 28 juin, Pour une Europe sans delphinarium
Duisburg, 29 juin, Non à la candidature du Japon pour les Jeux Olympiques
A call from Ric O’Barry
« Dear Dolphin Defenders,
The Times are Changing!
Finally, as people all over the world are learning the truth they are turning their backs on captive dolphin shows.
Together we stand stronger to oppose the multinational entertainment captive dolphin theme-park industry.
Our goal is to give the dolphins a voice and help abolish the concept of « dolphinariums’ in the European Union.
Won’t you join us ?
On the 28th of June we will all meet up in Brussels and demand a dolphin free Europe.
I ask you to please join us in the largest demonstration against dolphinariums in Europe.
Go to our Facebook page ‘Demonstration against captivity of Cetaceans’ and let us know you will join us in Brussels, Belgium.
Sign and share our Avaaz petition and ask friends to join you.
Check out about transportation to Brussels, buses will and can be arranged from several cities in Europe, just ask!
I hope to see you on Friday, June 28 in Brussels.
Come on folks, we can do this!
Campaign Director Dolphin
Project Earth Island Institute