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Can You Buy A Dolphin As A Pet

The United States is often considered to have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and yet, when it comes to captive marine mammals, even the U.S. fails to provide the necessary safeguards and standards to protect one of our favorite creatures. Whether talking about dolphin shows at aquariums, or swim-with-dolphin (SWTD) attractions or wading programs at marine parks, U.S. regulations just don't measure up.

can you buy a dolphin as a pet

There is no law in the United States that is specifically designed to protect the welfare of dolphins. Rather, the laws in the U.S. seek only to regulate the captivity industry and set up certain guidelines for capturing and confining wild dolphins. Clearly, as there is a world of difference between animal protection and animal regulation, this leaves a gaping loophole through which dolphins can be abused and exploited.

No. There is a widespread belief that it is illegal to capture wild dolphins in the U.S. However, even though no permits have been granted for captures since 1989, it is still legal to capture dolphins. There are two main reasons why no wild dolphins have been caught in U.S. waters for the past 20 years:

Wrong! The MMPA only stipulates that the capture of wild dolphins and other marine mammals is acceptable as long as the individual applies for and receives a permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

Yes. The Marine Mammal Protection Act has three requirements that facilities must meet before a capture permit can be granted. These requirements are in place to ensure that dolphins are not captured by individuals and maintained as part of a private collection. The requirements are as follows:

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA), enacted in 1979, sets the standards for the care of captive marine mammals. While NMFS is responsible for administering the Marine Mammal Protection Act, once a dolphin is captured, their jurisdiction ends. After a dolphin is captured, the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has the authority to enforce the AWA. The AWA establishes the criteria for keeping marine mammals in captivity and specifies guidelines for the following:

According to the space requirements under AWA, a bottlenose dolphin can be legally confined to a space that measure no more than 24 x 24 feet -- just 6 feet deep! For an energetic, inquisitive marine mammal that can swim up to 40 miles a day in the wild, this requirement is shockingly inadequate.

While the AWA does establish space requirements for the dolphins, qualifications for personnel (managers, behaviorists, trainers and veterinarians), ratio of human participants to facility personnel, interaction time, and veterinary schedules, the guidelines were clearly designed to protect and benefit the tourist industry not the dolphins.

The USDA took over the responsibility for setting standards and enforcing regulations for captive marine mammal facilities in 1994, including swim-with-the-dolphins (SWTD) and interaction programs. Between 1994 and 1998, dolphin interaction programs operated without any regulation from the U.S. government. On Oct. 5, 1998, the USDA was forced to create guidelines for these programs due to the rapid growth of this industry. Unfortunately, the rules were quickly suspended on Apr. 1, 1999, due to overwhelming pressure from the captive dolphin industry. Consequently, the USDA only issues permits to operate facilities that offer SWTD programs but does not regulate them. Since the USDA took over the responsibility of overseeing dolphin interaction programs in 1994, operators have not been required to report injuries to staff or visitors. Although APHIS inspectors are responsible for monitoring compliance at marine mammal facilities, the understaffed office does not have the resources to visit each park more than once per year which means that the captive dolphin industry is called upon to police itself.

Whether swimming or wading with dolphins, these programs are inherently dangerous for both humans and dolphins. Trevor Spradlin, who conducted a 1992-94 study of SWTD programs for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), wrote, "Dolphins have not been domesticated. They are wild animals, even if they are in captivity and have been trained to be around people. Therefore, great caution should be taken when interacting with them. Dolphins are large, powerful animals that can inflict serious harm on people. NMFS has injury reports on file that illustrate the potential risks to swimmers and dolphins in SWTD programs are real, and should not be overlooked or disregarded."

Trying to tame an apex predator that roams the seas is a tall task, especially when you consider that they are capable of killing sharks. Dolphins can be very aggressive to people. As you can imagine, this is not a good thing for the person trying to own it as a pet. Even though most dolphins in the USA are bred while in captivity, they are still not considered tamed or domesticated.

Behaviors such as head jerking, biting and breaking bones, pushing people deeper underwater, and other harmful behaviors have been reported from people who have come in direct contact with dolphins. Note that there are more injuries caused by captive-bred dolphins in interactive programs than what actually gets reported.

A bottlenose dolphin needs anywhere from 22 lbs to 55 lbs of fish each day to survive in the wild. This would be an enormous task to take on. The typical person would soon run out of money just trying to nourish the animal. Similar to how a seal eats, it would be hard to give dolphins the variety they are accustomed to. They enjoy shrimp, fish, squid, and other aquatic delicacies that individuals simply cannot provide.

You can find dolphins in freshwater and saltwater sources, and in every ocean also. The majority of dolphins are ten feet or less, but you have some that are extremely small, like the Maui dolphin, all the way to the Orca. The most common dolphin that most people know is the bottlenose. It can grow to be 13 ft long and weigh 1,300 lbs.

Pat is one of the first dolphins identified by Oceanic Society researchers in 1992. Her sickle-shaped fin has a thin white strip along its trailing edge (the rear edge of the fin). From data collected over a 22-year period, we know that Pat has a large home range; we find her in many locations, from near the front dock of the field station to the southernmost tip of Turneffe Atoll.

Sawfin is a long-term resident of Turneffe Atoll and one of our most commonly sighted dolphins. She is often seen raising a calf. On average, adult female dolphins give birth to a single calf once every four years. We often find Sawfin foraging and resting in the lush seagrass meadows of Harry Jones Cut to the west of Blackbird Caye, typically in the company of her daughter, Chance.

Often found traveling through the Grand Bogue and the Central Lagoon like many adult females, Jules is frequently seen in maternal groups composed of mother-calf pairs. Her calf, Pixie, is about 3 years old, but Jules still swims close to her side and will often place herself between Pixie and other dolphins, a way to protect her dependent calf from potential harm by other animals.

One of the friendliest dolphins we encounter, Chance is a 4-6 year old juvenile female named for her "chancy" behavior, frequently approaching our research boat, Miss Callie, and bow riding during behavior observations. With our underwater camera propped off the side of the boat, we often see Chance present her belly to the boat, offering a surefire way to identify her gender when we get a look at her genital slits.

Buster is a juvenile male dolphin that we observed swimming right by his mother's side (Pat) for nearly seven years! These days, he tends to travel across patches of the stony coral communities and seagrass meadows in Grand Bogue. Buster is sometimes found alone, emitting interesting sequences of whistles (a type of dolphin acoustic call) when approaching the boat. Similar whistles are recorded during his interactions with other members of the coastal dolphin population at Turneffe.

Cleo is a vigilant mother, keeping her calf, Clem, close to her side when making her way across her typical resting habitat near Grand Bogue. Like several other female dolphins in the region, the trailing edge of her dorsal fin has some white coloration and is scarred with rake marks, evidence of bites from other dolphins.

Indus river dolphins are found in Pakistan and River Beas, a tributary of Indus River in Punjab, India. The dolphin is the state aquatic animal of Punjab and WWF-India is working towards its conservation. River Beas is the only habitat of Indus River Dolphin in India. Like other freshwater dolphins, the Indus river dolphin is an important indicator of the health of a river.

The main reason for the initial decline of the Indus river dolphin population was the construction of numerous dams and barrages that began in the 1930s. This construction split the population into small groups, degraded their habitat and impeded migration. Now the major threats include accidental capture in fishing nets, plus they are hunted for their meat, oil and for use in traditional medicines.

The construction of barrages has resulted in habitat fragmentation. Dolphins are no longer found in the lower parts of the Indus River due to water extraction which dries up downstream channels for several months each year. Some dolphins that have moved downstream are unable to swim back upstream because of strong currents and barrages.

Over 37,000 miles of irrigation canals lead to dolphins becoming stranded in the irrigation canals and because these instances usually go unreported and many Indus river dolphins die without being rescued.

WWF monitors the Indus river dolphin populations and tracks their movements with radio tags. These tags revealed for the first time that the dolphins can cross the barrage gates in both upstream and downstream directions. In 2001, WWF coordinated the largest Indus river dolphin survey ever conducted. 041b061a72


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