On May 20, 2013, India banned dolphin shows declaring that exploitation of such animals was ‘morally unacceptable’.
“Confinement in captivity can seriously compromise the welfare and survival of all types of cetaceans by altering their behaviour and causing extreme distress.”
According to Ric O’Barry, a former dolphin trainer who now serves as director of the U.S.-based Earth Island Institute’s Dolphin Project, India’s new policy is a “huge win for dolphins. Not only has the Indian government spoken out against cruelty, they have contributed to an emerging and vital dialogue about the ways we think about dolphins – as thinking, feeling beings rather than pieces of property to make money off of.”
Update [Sept 2015]:
“During dolphin drive hunting season, hundreds of dolphins in the southern coastal town of Taiji, Japan, face capture and slaughter at the hands of local fishermen…some are ensnared to become marine park show toys, others are killed for their meat…Japan is one of the world’s biggest consumers of dolphin meat…”
In recent years, studies testing the mercury levels in dolphin meat have detected up to 5,000 times the recommended safety limit, which can result in various symptoms, including: memory loss, nerve tremors and desquamation [shedding of the skin].
From: SaveJapanDolphins.org — Susan Casey’s new book Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins has been called: “a tapestry of tales about how amazing dolphins are and why they must be protected.” According to a review from the Guardian:
“…captive dolphins beat themselves up – gnawing on cement enclosures, banging their heads against walls, eating stray bits of plastic litter purely out of mind-numbing boredom. Many are regularly dosed with Valium.
Yet more disturbing are Casey’s reports from Taiji, in Japan, and the Solomon Islands, the source of many of these captives. In Japan, the culls continue apace: 20,000 animals a year are driven into narrow rocky inlets and slaughtered…
Perhaps the butchered animals are the lucky ones. A dead dolphin is worth $500; a live one can be sold for $150,000, if it can be trained – 10% of the Taiji cull ends up in oceanaria in Asia, Russia and Ukraine, bought by dealers “untroubled by the process of plucking that dolphin out of a pool of blood that contains the dead bodies of its entire family”.