Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dolphins Pacific

The elementary teachers drive close to an hour a day to and from school to the apartments. This gives us plenty of time to have plenty of both meaningless chit chat and meaningful discussion. One day the issue of animal rights and captivity came up and it quickly turned to a debate on the controversial documentaries Black Fish  and The Cove. Black Fish is about the danger of killer whales in captivity specifically a whale at Sea World that has a long rap sheet of curious incidents. If you spend much time on Facebook you have probably seen a repost of a Japanese bay turned red with dolphin blood and a caption of how humans are the worst. The Cove  is about said bay/cove where Japanese fishing boats round up a pods of dolphins and funnel them into a cove where the most beautiful are selected to be purchased for entertainment purposes like Sea World parks and the like. I had previously seen both movies this past year and I recommend them as an interesting watch as long as you take everything with a grain of salt acknowledging that it is a very pointed, one-sided documentary.
Anyway we conversed about the ethical treatment of all animals, and while some believe that killing any animal is wrong and cruel we all agreed that it is cruel to keep animals of high intelligence (dolphins and orcas) in captivity. Low and behold, just a few days later we found ourselves at a dolphin park.

Our Palauan families/sponsors had paid to take us out to this island piece of tourism and entertainment and provided lunch for us in order to get to know us better, but I know at least I felt a bit hypocritical considering the conversation we had just had. However that all faded quickly when we sat down on the dock a meter away and the dolphins came out to say hi.

If you've seen me wear this shirt, you know the colors are even more vibrant than this picture shows.

After the demonstration/show whatever you’d like to call it, we reconvened and reevaluated our previous statements to make ourselves feel better. There is something to be said for keeping the dolphins in an actual native environment with a full reef, current, salt water and other fish as opposed to chlorinated concrete tanks. This made us feel a bit better until I talked to one of the locals, Joy who had seen The Cove and did a little research herself. Turns out, the dolphins at this park where actually from that very cove! Yikes. Conflict of emotions-so while I feel bad for supporting the park, I also got some sweet pictures of a turtle that was swimming just outside of the netted-off dolphin area. It certainly is unauthentic to stick your GoPro off a dock, but the turtle thought it was food and came so close  and looked soooo good!

My Palauan family got me a shirt as a souvenir in one of my favorite colors which was super thoughtful, but I had to laugh at the logo. It reads – “Share the Blue Planet with our marine friends. Be environmentally friendly. Keep our oceans clean.” I don’t think capturing live animals and putting them in captivity is environmentally friendly, BUT at least they’re keeping them close to a natural habitat. In the meantime if you struggle for interesting conversation, watch Blackfish and The Cove for some controversial fuel.


  1. Very interesting conflict of interest. I agree that keeping these types of animals in captivity unless they are seriously injured/disabled is not ideal, and yet what a cool experience you guys got to have. And fantastic photos! :)

  2. We just watched Blackfish and vowed to never talk our kids to Sea World. I'm sure that comes as no big surprise given our typical political viewpoint. However skewed that film may be, if you go to Sea World's website (which we did to see their response/standpoint) they came off as whiney belligerent idiots, no explanation or attempt to make things better for the animals. Mostly I think they are upset about their profits down 30% in the past year since that movie premiered.
    Great stuff Tyler! I miss you!

  3. Megan posted that above. Grr... This is irritating!!