General Information on the Bottlenose Dolphin CAPTIVITY FACTS Over half (53%) of the dolphins that survive their violent capture will die within 90 days. Indeed, dolphins possess a very sensitive and fragile skin. Any bruise or cut can become infected very quickly. During capture, dolphins are submitted to a strong physical and psychological shock. Some of them can become paralysed and drown. The death rate of capture is very high. After capture certain dolphins refused to eat, or ate foreign material, which caused their death. Certain dolphins have committed suicide by swimming at full speed against the wall of their tank, breaking their skull. Transport also makes these animals very vulnerable. For example, in November 1999, four bottlenose dolphins and one beluga were transferred from Russia to Argentina for display at the Mar dolphinarium. Two of the four dolphins died on the way. The average lifespan of a dolphin in the wild is 45 years; yet half of all captured dolphins die within their first two years of captivity. The survivors last an average of only five years in captivity. Every seven years, half of all dolphins in captivity die from capture shock, pneumonia, intestinal disease, ulcers, chlorine poisoning, and other stress-related illnesses. To the captive dolphin industry, these facts are accepted as routine operating expenses. Although marine mammals do breed in captivity, the birth rate is not nearly as successful as in the wild. CAPTIVITY Many marine parks subject their mammals to hunger so they will perform for food. Jumping through hoops, tail-walking and playing ball are trained behaviours that do not occur in the wild. Dolphins use a highly sophisticated “echolocation” system. Confinement in a small tank may limit the use of this system and generate disorders for the animal. Therefore it is essential that the tank they are living in, is big enough. Wild dolphins swim 40 to 100 miles per day. In captivity they repeatedly swim in the same small circles. Dolphins in captivity tend to develop stereotypical behaviours (swimming in a repetitive circle pattern, with eyes closed in silence) because of boredom and confinement. This is equivalent to the swaying and pacing of primates, lions, tigers and bears confined in cages. Certain aquatic parks keep dolphins in horrible conditions. For example, in Mexico, a bar called “Paradise” imported four Cuban dolphins, but two of them did not survive the journey. Throughout the day and during the night, screaming buggy jumpers descended from the tower above the dolphin tank on the two dolphins that remained. Noisy bars and discos surround the pool and bungee jumpers could choose to dunk their heads into the pool on descent, thus endangering the lives of both humans and dolphins. Dolphins are predators of fish and spend up to half of their time in the wild hunting for food. Supplying dead fish results in less exercise and lack of mental stimulation, thus causing boredom. INTERACTION WITH MAN Bottlenose dolphins show attachment to other species, especially humans. Indeed, all around the world (USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain) some dolphins have entered into spontaneous relationships with humans. For example, in 1971, in Florida, the Asburry family who lived near a canal, started feeding a bottlenose dolphin. They named her “Dolly”, taught her some tricks and built her a shelter she liked to use. The dolphin had a very strong relationship with the mother of the family and behaved like a child requiring a lot of attention. The Asburry children became Dolly’s favourite swimming companions. Dolphins show a particular attachment to children. For example, in New Zealand, in 1955, a young female called “Opo”, liked to swim with the children and gave them a ride on her back. She became a star, performing some tricks she had invented herself for the pleasure of the tourists. A similar story occurred in Spain, near La Corogna. Niña, a female bottlenose dolphin liked to swim with people, especially the ones wearing diving suits. She was so famous that she attracted people from all around Spain, becoming the main source of income for the village near La Corogna. The inhabitants by recognition have built a monument of Niña. During World War II, a dolphin pushed a raft, containing six American airmen shot down by the Japanese, to a small island. Dolphins can have very altruistic behaviour towards mankind. However, the interaction between man and dolphins are not always spontaneous. For example, the U.S. Naval Center, at Point Mugu in California undertake to train dolphins to accomplish certain tasks. “Tuffy” a male bottlenose dolphin was used as a liaison agent between the undersea houses and the surface. He carried messages, tools and sometimes he guided lost divers back to the undersea house. In South Africa and Florida dolphins are trained as “shark watchers”. This program is not designed to teach dolphins to attack sharks on sight, but to train them to patrol and give the alarm when sharks are sighted. Dolphin therapy More and more people are becoming interested in the effect of dolphins on human beings, particularly in areas such as “dolphin therapy” or “healing people by dolphin encounters”. The first research using dolphins with handicapped children took place at the Ocean World, Fort Lauderlade, Florida, in 1978. Dr. Nathanson developed a series of language experiments using dolphins as teachers for children with Down’s syndrome. Since that time, many more programmes using dolphins to help disabled children have been developed. Some special institutes, using the type of treatment, have been created, such as the Human Dolphin Institute or AquaThough Foundation; a Dolphin Assisted Therapy Symposium occurred every year, summarising all the progress in that domain. The emotional therapy An Encounter with a dolphin is believed to have a positive psychological impact on humans. The generation of positive emotions triggers the release of endorphins (the hormones of well being) in the brain. This hormone boosts the immune system and generates a whole set of self-healing mechanisms in the human body. Echolocation/brain theory Certain scientists study the link Ultrasound Transducer Probe between dolphin echolocation and 2 W/ cm2 modifications in human brain activity. Indeed, dolphins are able to produce echolocation sound intensities of 8.3 W /cm2. In comparison, the manBottlenose Dolphin made source of ultrasound, such as 8 W/cm2 diagnostic and therapeutic transducers instruments are only 2 W /cm2. The theory is that these echolocation sounds would influence the ionic concentration of nerve cells, thus inducing variation of brain Diagnostic Therapeutic activity.Dolphin acoustic emission Imaging Ultrasound increases the left/right hemispheric synchronisation (the brain wave emitted from both the left and right 80m W/ cm2 2W/cm2 8.3W/cm2 Maximum hemisphere of the brain are in phase Typical maximum observed and of similar frequency). In other words, it calms you down. Close interactions between humans and dolphins have been shown to reduce stress and depression significantly. For children suffering from down’s syndrome, the encounters have improved their cognitive abilities and their co-ordination. Their concentration is also much better. Autistic children have shown more social interaction following a close dolphin encounter.