Swim with wild dolphins” attractions draws tourists and locals alike to the magic of the Red Sea and these beautiful marine mammals.
The Nature of Dolphins
Dolphins by nature are unsuited to confinement. In the wild, they live in large groups (pods), often in tight family units. Their social bonds often last for many years – in some dolphin species, they last for a lifetime.
Dolphins travel long distances every day, sometime swimming in a straight line for a hundred miles; other times remaining in a certain area for several hours a day, moving miles along a coastline and then turning to retrace their trail.
These marine mammals can dive up to several hundred feet, and can stay underwater for 15 minutes or more. They spend only 10 to 2 percent of their time at the surface.
Dolphins never stop to perch, nor do they ever come to shore. They’re always swimming: even when they “sleep”.
Swim with Wild Dolphins
Swim With The Dolphins (SWTD) attractions typically range from natural environments (sea pens) to unnatural environments(concrete tanks). In the Sinai, these programs are offered as part of a package holiday for families and individuals who want to swim with “Wild and Free” dolphins. They are advertised as “ideal for families, small groups and individuals”.
In one program (www.dolphinswims.co.uk
), a coral reef where 200 Spinner Dolphins raise their young and protect them from the dangers of the sea (as explained on the website) is the main attraction. Over the 7 day trip, guests are promised 3 days of swims with dolphins, as well as other swims with the dolphins should they choose later on. They are transported via boat to the reef, where they are left at marker buoys (beyond which the boats can’t go) to begin their swims with the dolphins.
The tour company states that the dolphins live in that reef to raise and protect their young. Meaning this area is a prime feeding area, or a protected resting area. Therefore, a foreign entity should not be introduced into this sheltered and secluded place.
Furthermore, it is unnatural for dolphins to have humans regularly introduced into their environment. Though the humans probably wouldn’t purposely harm the dolphins, it is an intrusive exploitation, and is disruptive and stressful for the dolphins. The noise and disruption caused by the boats and the people is disruptive at best.
This practice is also dangerous and unsafe for humans: dolphins might injure the swimmers by mistake: physical injury ranges from lacerations, tooth rakes, internal injuries, broken bones and shock.
Dolphins in Captivity
There are quite a few dolphins kept in captivity in Egypt. Many of the dolphins are illegally imported from all over the world from countries such as Russia and Syria.
Organization such as The Marine Connection have been campaigning for several years against this cruel and unnecessary form of entertainment. They aim to stop existing facilities and other facilities from being opened.