The Center of our
is the 100' diameter round tank where our
Top Deck dolphins are contained.
Top Deck and "Flipper" shows generate
a real stage to highlight the plight of marine
mammals in oceans all over the world."
~Raymond Michael Hunt, former Seaquarium trainer
told USDA agents under oath.
There is just one thing wrong with this statement:
Hunt obviously meant to say "captivity"
rather than "oceans." The Top Deck Dolphin
Show is the perfect example of what is wrong with
I navigate the crowd of impatient tourists I manage
to get a glimpse of the whole arena. Much like
the Roman Coliseum the bleachers run all the way
around the circular pool. Inside the pool are
5 dolphins swimming in circles, over, and over.
Two of these dolphins are mothers in their late
30s. This pool is the only world they have ever
known. And it is the only world their one-year-old
offspring will know.
are no trees, no plants, no wildlife whatsoever.
Just a stark round concrete 2 story pool with
a few tiny windows opening up to the first floor.
From the windows the tank appears bleak and sterile
like some eerie underwater prison. The dolphins
stare at me through the windows. They look so
bored. You can see it in their eyes. They know...
They know the bay is just a hundred yards away.
So close yet so far from freedom.
surf music blares through the stadium as the "educational"
show begins. All focus is directed towards a young
woman in a Hawaiian shirt and lei who steps out
on the platform. She announces herself, introduces
her assistant (crouching on a side platform with
dead fish ready for the flinging), and then the
five performers. The dolphins are suddenly excited.
This is obviously the most attention they have
received all day.
introduces the dolphins by name. They each give
a big splash and rush to the platform for their
herring reward. Patron heads whip back and forth
trying to catch a glimpse of the dolphins launching
in syncronicity. Echoing cheers rip through the
stands. Everyone is smiling. Children stand on
their toes pointing this way and that. I think
to myself, You people have been duped.
"trainer" makes a few hand signals and
the cetaceans are off performing flips, twists,
and belly-flops for the hypnotized crowd. Again
the animals rush back to the platform for their
reward. (This form of manipulation is called 'conditioned
response,' or 'food depravation.' And it's illegal
according to the Animal
Welfare Act.) In other words the dolphins
are controlled by food and are kept hungry until
"A dolphin that isn't hungry is a dolphin
that won't perform."
~Former dolphin trainer Russ Rector.
watch the show and am stunned by the mentality
of the crowd. Are they watching the same show
I am witnessing: a pathetic display of dominance.
show lasts about twenty minutes and is completely
anticlimactic. The grand finale consists of the
five dolphins high-jumping and splashing unsuspecting
tourists. The crowd is in an uproar laughing at
the unlucky soaked patrons. This show is educational
all right. It teaches children domination over
others is perfectly acceptable. After the show,
the crowd files down the stair and off to the
Lolita show. People
walk way learning it's okay to dump a dolphin
in a tank and exploit it until it dies. That,
or they are simply not thinking at all.
must have been the only person leaving that
show feeling sorry for those animals. That's
the only life they will ever know, the only
home they will ever know. The older ones
may remember what it was like swimming free
in Biscayne Bay, just 100 yards away. But
those days are long gone. The Seaquarium
captured most of the dolphins from Biscayne
Bay and sold them to parks around the world
for $300 a piece back in the 60's."
The bay is empty now. ~Tim Gorski, college
professor and recent patron of the Seaquarium.
we took them from their lactating mothers because
the young females were the easiest to manipulate
and domesticate." ~Ric
O'Barry former Seaquarium "Flipper"
The truth of the matter is, whales and dolphins
kept in captivity live in cramped, stressful conditions,
are more prone to infection, and generally die
young. It's true. When dolphins are constantly
being exposed to dirty hands, human diseases,
and our desire to touch and be near them, they
experience very high levels of stress, sickness,
and even death. But what's one dolphin more or
less? The important thing is that you will be
having fun, and we will be making money. <Miami
Seaquairum Death Chart>