Swimming with dolphins
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The popularity of swimming with dolphins and other interactions with dolphins greatly increased in the 1980s and 1990s due to the satisfaction and learning that human beings experience while swimming with dolphins. This activity may help to treat depression in humans.
There has been a proliferation of privately owned, for-profit dolphinariums around the world despite the controversy around this activity, which has yet to be circumscribed by the law. The renewed popularity of dolphins in the 1960s resulted in the appearance of many dolphinariums around the world. Though criticism and more strict animal welfare laws have forced many dolphinariums to close their doors, hundreds still exist around the world attracting a large number of visitors. These institutions are frequently the object of severe opposition from animal rights groups, particularly when poor conditions lead to the loss of animals, and when the dolphins are sourced from wild-caught populations such as the dolphin fishery of Taiji, Japan. The risks associated with interaction with dolphins include injury for humans and injury, stress and death for dolphins.
There are three types of environments where people can swim with dolphins: artificial pools, natural demarcated areas and at the sea. The natural demarcated areas are places adjacent to the sea that share the sea's pure water and seabed, Riviera Maya, and Cozumel in Mexico. Some (though certainly not all) sea swim programs are done at certain points where wild dolphins are accustomed to getting food. Some researchers are against feeding wild dolphins because of the risks of changing their eating habits. This practice costs somewhere in the range of $100 to $400+.
Swimming with dolphins is an activity offered by many dolphinariums around the world, and there is a large and varied array of interactive programs and activities. Each dolphinarium usually has their specific supply and particular way to present their activities. Most programs include direct contact with dolphins; in some places it is allowed to take the dolphin fin and be dragged by the animal. Other dolphinariums do not allow this because it could be harmful to the animal. In recent years a program that allows customers to have the experience of being coaches has become popular. Some programs offer guests additional interaction by allowing them to act as trainers for the day. Most programs offer pictures and video memories of the experience.
Countries with swimming with dolphin programs include Mexico, United States, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and Israel as well as most caribbean nations like Bahamas, Cuba & Dominican Republic.
Most dolphinariums charge between $75 to up to $200 per person per session.
- Swirl: several dolphins swim in concentric circles around swimmers, generating a lot of energy and movement.
- Kiss: with delicate movements, the dolphin poses its snout on the cheek or mouth of the swimmer.
- Hug: upright and with more than half of the body out of the water, the dolphin hugs with their pectoral fins.
- Footpush: two dolphins push the swimmer from the feet.
- Jump: dolphins are masters in jumping out of the water. During the swim they perform tricks in the air.
- Dance: into the beat, they move their body while the swimmer hold the pectoral fins.
- Singing: with order and as in a chorus, dolphins emit their characteristic sounds.
- Signaling: the swimmer learns some details needed to handle the dolphins.
- Free interaction time: the swimmer has the opportunity to establish free and open contact with dolphins.
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