Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Dolphins are not always as well treated as people think!

CruiseMates.com editor Anne Campbell's dolphin epiphany came during a cruise-ship stop in Cozumel, Mexico.

"I wandered from my beach spot to the Dolphin Encounter and stopped in my tracks," she recalled in a recent newsletter.

"These highly intelligent, beautiful mammals were in cages as they pulled tourists through a small area of water."

She returned as the park was closing: "Tears filled my eyes as I saw one dolphin, his head raised above water, staring out to sea, held back by a link fence."

The reaction of travellers like Campbell notwithstanding, human-Flipper interactions are popular at cruise ports in Mexico, the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean. Nearly 20 programs operate there and another dozen are being planned, says Susan Sherwin of the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

At least 18 U.S. facilities offer swim or wade programs with captive dolphins, up from four a decade ago.

And in a Harris opinion poll in March, 72 per cent of respondents said they would be interested in swimming with dolphins in a "safe and legal environment" at a park or zoo.

But now, some travel purveyors are cutting back on dolphin programs.

In July, citing a new campaign by the World Society for the Protection of Animals, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises announced it would no longer offer dolphin-encounter shore excursions.


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