When searching for news about dolphins, Miami is always front and center. This visual about the Miami Dolphin’s release of football player Chris Porter underscores man’s current relationship with dolphins.
Many of us regard dolphins as human play toys.
The photo is not Chris Porter, who says he will free his last 17 dolphins.
Chris Porter trained Tilikum, the orca responsible for the death of Dawn Brancheau, 40, at SeaWorld in Orlando last month.
For the last nine years Porter has operated a lucrative business, capturing animals in the Solomon Islands and selling them to aquariums. Mr Porter said his friend Dawn’s death shook him and proved that trainers and aquariums can’t meet the needs of such intelligent animals.
Porter says that he still believes that some animals must be captive educational ambassadors, but performing tricks at SeaWorld is not providing much of an education on the consciousness and planetary needs of these gifted creatures.
Chris Porter initially set out to save dolphins, worth only $20 when captured. Last year dolphins were worth $140,000, not only for their value as Japanese sushi but as performing animals in places like SeaWorld.
These gorgeous photos of the Atlantis, the Palm-Resort on the Palm Jumeirah Dubai reflect the upscale price that people are willing to play to commune with dolphins. In my recent article about dolphin consciousness, I was surprised to discover all the spa-like, meditation-related vacations, and also therapy sessions, that now use dolphins in direct contact with humans.
Many people regard dolphins as beings with consciousness more elevated than humans’. I’m not clear about Porter’s views — or “The Cove’s” Ric O’Barry’s either — of just what nature of contact between dolphins and humans is acceptable. I have a strong hunch that the two men don’t approve of the Atlantis resort.
Frankly, the visual temptation of this experience exceeds any shopping tour I can image. Yet, such spiritual luxury must be questioned if it’s fundamentally bad for dolphins. I don’t have the knowledge base to comment further.
I’ve searched the AOC website to see if I wrote about The Atlantis previously. It’s the type of project I would have orgasmed over a year ago. I’m still orgasming but with a guilty conscience.
Visit Porter’s website Free the Pod, which will now bring him into an alliance with one of fiercest opponents, Earth Island Institute marine mammal specialist Ric O’Barry, who originally trained Flipper for the TV series.
O’Barry directed the Oscar-winning best documentary film ‘The Cove’, which Porter says was the second major factor, besides the death of Dawn Brancheau, in his decision to release the 17 dolphins.
Capture is a violent affair. Animals are herded toward shore into shallow water, or chased by catcher boats. When driving the animals to shore, capture operators ruthlessly separate juveniles (those still swimming with their mothers but no longer dependent on milk) from frantic females, truss them in a sling, and carry them from the water to a transport vehicle. When chasing animals, capture operators either encircle them with nets or use specially designed lassoes on bow-riding individuals, before dragging them on board. In Canada, men actually jump on the backs of belugas in shallow water and “ride” them to exhaustion in a traumatic “rodeo.” The trauma is real; in an analysis of a U.S. government-maintained database, researchers found that mortality rates for bottlenose dolphins shoot up six-fold immediately after a capture. The rate only drops back down after about 35 to 45 days.
Most disturbingly, this spike in mortality occurs every time dolphins are transported. Each time they are confined and shipped from one place to another, it is as traumatic as if they were being newly captured from the wild. The experience of being removed from water and restrained is apparently so stressful to dolphins that they never find it routine. This is in marked contrast to other wild mammals (including other marine mammals such as sea lions), who eventually acclimate to the transport process.
Mr. Porter’s Free the Pod project is focused on the safe release and reintegration of 40 dolphins currently based at a 40 acre tropical pacific island in the Solomon Islands. Free the Pod also seeks to followup with dolphins released in the program, insuring that they’re not floundering and at risk because of man’s influence.
This video was made in 2008 at Solomon Islands Dolphins Paradise, who supports Free the Pod. Anne
More Reading| Since writing this article I’ve become much more involved in conversations with Chris Porter and his intentions around freeing dolphins in the Solomon Islands. We released a new article today June 29, 2010 Dolphin Release Update | Chris Porter’s SavethePod.org.
My friend Dave and I are monitoring this situation. He is in New Zealand and has a long history of involvement in the dolphin issue. Our perspective on Chris Porter and the dolphin release has centered on the endorsement of ‘The Cove’ director Ric O’Barry.
Dave and I do believe that a person must be allowed to change his actions, especially in a values-driven debate like this one.
We are posting a link today that questions Mr. Porter’s intentions and strategy. After all, our concern is the dolphins and global dolphin policy, and to turn this even into another opportunity for all of us to become more involved in the movement to stop the needless slaughter of dolphins.
Letter from Ocean Embassy to Solomon Star
Dave is following the Chris Porter story for us and just posted this link on my FB wall. Apparently Chris Porter has many creditors in the Solomon Islands. This is an unflattering portrayal of the man — someone I don’t know and neither does Dave.
This Letter to the Editor challenges Chris Porter’s motives for his decision to release the dolphins:
Here is the punchline on the release. To have non-captive dolphins, which means nobody is responsible for looking after them, coming to visit for food and generally hanging around would be a very sweet temptation to a prospective island buyer.
They would probably add more value to the sale of the island than he would gain from exporting them.
The years of dealing with activists, managing dolphins, staff and the constant issues that arise, fending off creditors and the like must, understandably, have become very tiring for him.
Promises of returning and doing other things sound very hollow to me, and others.
Release the remaining dolphins, sell the island, collect the six million dollars compensation from the government and depart - easy.
For him to simply retire with his feet up in some foreign land, never to return, laughing at the people that he owes money to, can’t be such an unrealistic scenario.
Plenty of words could be used to describe Christopher Porter, with some particularly choice ones coming to mind, but fool generally isn’t one of them.
Want to know more? Watch this space.