top of page

Hurricanes and Captive Dolphins; A recurring disaster.

Hurricanes like Irma, the one we’ve just seen decimate The Caribbean and Florida are a disaster for captive animals who are vulnerable and abandoned in the eye of the storm.

Pictures and footage of dolphins being flown to safety in Cuba may appear reassuring but being transported is a hugely distressing process for cetaceans that they would never experience in the wild. In the stressed and confused situation of an emergency evacuation the experience must be even more terrifying for them.

Captive animals die in hurricanes and dolphins are big money makers, whilst at first it may seem that the dolphinaria industry have the welfare of the animals at heart by moving them out of the path of the storm, the truth is they are actually protecting their profits and the animals are valuable commodities that are the source of that profit. They couldn’t give a damn about their welfare. They couldn’t give a damn about their lives! Where are they taking these dolphins? Where are they being evacuated to? If they are being taken to another facility then this could lead to overcrowding, fighting, stress and in turn to illness and injury and other welfare concerns. The truth may be worse in fact, as there are known cases of the industry just dumping dolphins in hotel swimming pools during hurricanes, as there is no where else to evacuate them to, and waiting for it to pass before returning to check on them.

Transportation has its own health risks besides stress. Removing a dolphin from the water and maintaining them on a hard surface goes against their physiology, it increases pressure on their internal organs and has health implications.

Those dolphins who weren’t evacuated, when are we to learn their fate, will we ever learn fully what happened to those who were abandoned, unable to escape the storm. The trauma these emotional animals suffer trapped in a hurricane is immeasurable but in the wild they would swim to escape such an event surrounded by their family pod. In captivity, they just have to endure the storm at a hugely increased risk of death. They could be hit by flying debris, the tank could even be damaged. Those captives held in sea pens face an even more uncertain experience. Sea pens can be badly damaged leading to serious injury. Dolphins can get caught in nets and hit by floating and flying debris such boats and walls.

The truth is the captivity industry in hurricane prone areas continue to build dolphinaria and house and exhibit dolphins in these places despite knowing the significant risk to their lives. This is a huge failure of their duty of care to these animals. Most dolphins do not get evacuated, there are no evacuation plans in place at most facilities. They abandon the animals knowing the risks and knowing they can import more dolphins from various hunts (albeit at a cost.) The captivity industry do not care for the dolphins as animals at all they care for the public image of the dolphinaria industry and profit.

No animal should be in captivity but to keep them in captivity in hurricane zones is irresponsible cruelty.

Tell your friends and family not to swim with dolphins on their holidays!


bottom of page