The True Risk of Swimming with Captive Dolphins

by Joe Noonan on December 6, 2012

(Caveat: The following post is written while still upset after reading yet another report of people being attacked by captive dolphins)

Swimming with a captive dolphin is like hiring a private escort (aka hooker). For $100+ dollars, the dolphin does ‘tricks’ for you for 40 to 60 minutes. You get to touch, tow, command, be the boss of and kiss the captive dolphin in accordance with the water park’s show.

Yes, that’s a harsh point of view, and likely upsetting to parents who simply want to fulfill their child’s dream of swimming with a dolphin.

But the captive dolphin program has a very dark side, including the risk of injury to yourselves and your kids…

“Couple bitten in dolphin swim program said it was like ‘Jaws'”

As most any retired dolphin trainer of a large, high production dolphin swim program will tell you, there are many unreported incidents of trainers and customers being attacked and injured by captive dolphins. The multi-billion dollar water park industry has a very effective strategy to ensure that most of these incidents never reach the mainstream media.

Why are we surprised when someone is injured by a captive dolphin? These animals are confined, overworked, tightly controlled and manipulated, in an incredibly restrictive artificial environment. It is entirely natural and predicable that they ‘bite back’.

The ugly reality of this situation is under-reported. It is only fair that you know the risks of putting yourself or your loved ones in a pool with a captive dolphin who is forced to perform for food and is under intense control.

(ADDENDUM! While the large majority of dolphin swim programs are being run by multi-million and billion dollar corporations with a narrow focus on profit, there are also some mom and pop businesses that are running captive dolphin swim programs with great respect for the dolphins in their care)

Sending you love from the sea,


Joe Noonan is an author, speaker, dolphin whisperer and spiritual guide who leads retreats around the world and facilitates self awareness programs for those on the path of joyful awakening.

A guest on National Geographic, Fox TV and Oprah, Joe reflects back to people that this world is already a Heaven on Earth, and that the tools to find joy in the moment are around and within us. He offers workshops, internet programs and nature retreats that awaken us to our divine joy and connection with Nature.

Wild Dolphin Trips

Self Awareness Programs

Corporate Leadership Seminars

“Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God” Tielhard de Chardin

© Joe Noonan

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew Randrianasulu February 17, 2014 at 8:08 am

“there are also some mom and pop businesses that are running captive dolphin swim programs with great respect for the dolphins in their care” – this is very fake care. Why on Earth you need to keep dolphins _captive_?? Only for profit, big or smaller. Nothing about real care about dolphins! :/ Illusion – yes, but I really fed up by all those illusions!


Joebaby February 24, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Hi Andrew,
I understand your distaste for captivity, it is something that offends me as well. While i don’t recommend or condone it, i acknowledge that it is a current reality, and that there are dolphins who on a spiritual level choose an “incarnation of incarceration” to be of assistance to others. Difficult issue for sure!


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