Will Carnival stop exploiting dolphins? We're making progress.

A massive thank you to everyone who has joined our campaign urging cruise giant, Carnival to stop exploiting dolphins. If you haven’t signed yet, please add your name now.

Many swim-with-dolphins facilities in Mexico and the Caribbean exisit primarily to service cruise passengers and we are asking Carnival, as the world's largest cruise company, to sail the cruise industry out of the dark ages and stop exploiting dophins.

Many captive dolphin 'attractions' in Mexico and the Caribbean exist to service cruise ship passengers
Many captive dolphin 'attractions' in Mexico and the Caribbean exist to service cruise ship passengers

Whales and dolphins should not be imprisoned to amuse humans and I'm glad we have your support, because public pressure changes things.

In the days since we launched our petition we have had productive talks with Carnival. Elaine Heldewier, Carnival Corporation’s sustainability director, promised, ‘starting in 2018, we will commence audits on all dolphins in captivity tour encounters used by our brands.’

She went on to say, we appreciate WDC’s focus on dialogue and engagement and support their efforts for eliminating capturing any dolphins from the wild.’

This is encouraging news and we’re pleased that Carnival appears to be acknowledging that this is an important issue and one that people care about. However, we need Carnival to recognise the part that it plays in perpetuating the cruel dolphin captivity industry in Mexico and the Caribbean.

Elaine talked about Carnival’s position, explaining that they believe that ‘animal attractions and experiences can provide the opportunity to learn and appreciate different animal species and can support conservation efforts.  However, when such animal attractions and experiences are not well managed there is potential to harm the wellbeing of the animals involved, the wellbeing of the local community or the safety of those involved.’

It’s hard to see how any of the swim-with-dolphins facilities that Carnival supports in Mexico and the Caribbean can possibly offer any educational opportunities or support conservation. The encounters offered on these shore excursions are all about cruise passengers getting in the water and hugging and kissing the dolphins.

This is an excerpt from an itinerary from a Princess Cruises (one of Carnival’s brands) Tour Listing:

‘…You will have a chance to pet the dolphins, perhaps receive a kiss or two, and even go for an exciting belly ride!’  Does that sound educational to you?

Carnival offers customers the chance to kiss dolphins. This is exploitation.
Carnival offers customers the chance to kiss dolphins. This is exploitation.

So, we are delighted that Carnival has committed to auditing the facilities it supports, as surely they will no longer be able to justify offering these kinds of encounters.

We also asked Elaine what steps Carnival plans to take to address the part it plays in perpetuating dolphin exploitation in Mexico and the Caribbean, and Elaine explained that Carnival is committed to work with excursion providers that follow recognised animal welfare practices such as ABTA’s.’  This is good news and we will continue to work with Carnival to help them implement this.

However, ABTA recommends that ‘environments should be stimulating and enriching, encouraging natural behaviour’

that ‘animals should be able to escape other individuals, public view and interaction at all times’

and that whales and dolphins ‘should be housed in social structures similar to those in the wild’.

I’m doubtful that the exploitative dolphin ‘attractions’ that serve the cruise industry in Mexico and the Caribbean will be able to fulfil ABTA’s recommendations and so hope that Carnival will stay true to their word and end their support for them. We’ll keep talking to Carnival and will let you know how their policy evolves and progresses.

There is no educational value in these dolphin encounters
There is no educational value in these dolphin encounters

This petition is part of a bigger campaign and we have a clear goal. With your help, we want to stop all UK holiday companies supporting captive whale and dolphin 'attractions'. Because people like you have got behind this campaign, we've already had success:

Days after we asked Sir Richard Branson to end Virgin Holidays' support for places like SeaWorld, he announced that they would no longer support 'attractions' that take whales and dolphins from the wild. Virgin has also promised not to add any new dolphin theme parks to its books. Virgin has even pledged financial support for sanctuaries for ex-captive dolphins.

We’ve come a long way together.

We are advising Thomas Cook as they audit all the whale and dolphin 'attractions' they promote. We're also talking With TripAdvisor as they consider the part they play in promoting these cruel circuses.

But we've a long way to go.

Companies like Virgin and Thomas Cook are willing to listen to you and have made steps in the right direction and so we are happy to help them do the right thing. Other companies, such as British Airways are stuck in the dark ages. We hoped British Airways would listen to their customers, but they've shown nothing but contempt for your concerns. Let's hope Carnival is more forward thinking and will step up and help save dolphins from a life of misery.

Thank you for your support. Together we are strong. Together we will open people's eyes to the cruelty of whale and dolphin captivity and change things for the better.

If you haven't yet signed the petition, it's not too late - please sign now.