In the aftermath of SeaWorld’s announcement to end its captive breeding program for orcas, a group called Whale and Dolphin Conservation has launched a new campaign calling on people not to swim with captive whales and dolphins.
‘Pledge Never to Plunge’’aims to raise public concern to what WDC calls the “forgotten whales and dolphins” involved in ‘Swim with the Dolphin’ or whale programs. Campaign supporters are asked to take a pledge to never participate in such a program and to share that pledge on social media.
There are more than a dozen facilities across the U.S. which offer members of the public an opportunity to swim, wade, feed or otherwise interact with captive whales and dolphins and countless in other regions of the world.
Cathy Williamson, Captivity Program Manager for WDC, states: “These programs are currently unregulated in the U.S. since the suspension of specific standards for Swim with the Dolphin programs in 1999. Unfortunately, the current proposed changes to the U.S. government’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulations for the care and handling of marine mammals in captivity would actually reduce protection for whales and dolphins in these programs.”
WDC says many people are unaware of the problems surrounding captive Swim with the Dolphin and Whale programs. SeaWorld recognized that orcas suffer from confinement with its recent announcement ending captive breeding and shows for them, yet whales and dolphins also face the same negative consequences as a result of their confinement, Williamson says,
“Pledge Never to Plunge will shine a spotlight on the forgotten whales and dolphins, and put public pressure on SeaWorld and the other facilities with captive swim-with programs to re-examine the ethical and long-term financial viability of these programs.”