1. Restrictive space:
In the wild, bottlenose dolphins have home ranges as large as 300km2 and have been recorded travelling up to 1076km in 20 days4. Orcas are known to dive as deep as 400 metres5 and travel as far as 160km in a day. Almost always in motion, cetaceans spend only 20% or less of their time at the water's surface. Captive facilities cannot compare to the vast, complex natural environment of wild cetaceans and even the largest facilities offer just a tiny proportion of their natural home range3. When denied space, as in captive facilities, these wide-ranging carnivores commonly develop problems such as abnormal repetitive behaviour and aggression1.
2. Limited social environment:
In captivity, dolphins sharing a pool are often unrelated, from widely different locations or from different species, which can result in changes to the group's dynamics and dominance-related aggression, injuries, illness and even death3,6. In the wild, a majority of cetacean species live in interrelated family groups, or pods. Some species can be found in pods of more than 100 animals.
3. Provision of a suitable environment:
Captive facilities cannot provide an environment that simulates the natural environment of cetaceans. Some dolphinaria (i.e. Belgium, Lithuania, Bulgaria) only provide indoor facilities, lacking any natural light and possibly offering poor air circulation2. Good water quality, species-specific water temperature and appropriate salinity are all vital to the health and survival of the animals.