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Lunchi's avatar

Height contest

By Lunchi
Honey, Smarty and Prince, 3 BNDs at Harderwijk dolfinarium, Netherlands. Taken August 2007. Please no comments against captivity/dolphinariums or about how cute dolphins are. Thank you.
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© 2007 - 2021 Lunchi
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SunStreakedSkies's avatar
If it helps, my honest critique of your photo on a scale of 1 to 10 would be a 7 and I think the water is a little over exposed. Other than that, great action shot. However, I don't think it's against the rules of DeviantArt to politely speak my mind. I don't mean to offend you at all, but I believe I have the right to respectfully speak out against dolphinariums and dolphins in captivity. They are self aware, highly intelligent, and deserve better than captivity. I don't think your intentions are bad at all, but I cannot be silent about this issue. My apologies if this upsets you.
Lunchi's avatar
My point is not that it is against the rules but this is an artside, so it should be about the photo itself, not someones opinion about a topic such as zoos or dolphinariums. So I thank you for the good critique about the photo itself.
I will answer your comment now, though because it was politely and not insulting.
I myself can only defend dolphinariums, since I go there at least once a week. Most of them (connected to scientific-lead zoos) are educational, they do not treat the animals bad, they keep them well, show them much love and they get best quality food and water and vet care.
If you are against keeping animals in a zoo who are self-aware and intelligent, you also have to be against keeping apes, most monkeys, elephants, some intelligent birds like crows and parrots who are self-aware as well... even pigs are very intelligent and social so they should not be kept in tiny stables to be eaten by us? (I am against people who are only wanting the best for dolphins but do not care the same about other species)

When keeping an animal it should not be about it being intelligent but all animals can feel pain and fear so it must be most important to keep them correctly with a lot of love and respect. My budgies may not be as intelligent or self-awared as a dolphin, still I strongly oppose people keeping parakeets in solitary confinement or in their cage all day long without free flight.
The dolphins in Zoo Duisburg have large pools (several connected) as well as one, where they can swim into where no people can see them to have it calm if they want to.
Touching or feeding them is not allowed so they cannot get sick from peoples bacteria. They get enough and best food. Keepers love and respect them and in the shows they teach people about anatomy of dolphins, where they live and that they face threats in the wild such as fishing nets and the mean slaughters in Japan or Faroer Islands. Duisburg has a petition running against the dolphin slaughters.

Duisburgs dolphins are 6. 4 are born there, one of them in second generation. 2 are from the wild but are over 30 years old now. (bottlenose dolphins rarely reach that age in the wild) They do not come from the slaughters in Japan but one was captured in Cuba and one in Mexico. Without having any dolphins killed in these captures. They cannot be returned to the wild, they would starve to death there or try to get close to humans again and die from boat collisions or other accidents.
These dolphins are ambassadors of their wild cousins and help people to create a bond with these wonderful creatures and to treat them with respect.
In Duisburg, dolphins are also never forced to perform, during the show they can always swim into another tank and choose to not take part.
Many opinions against dolphinariums are sadly build off lies or created by the false facts presented in films like "The Cove" by Ric O Barry where he says, dolphins would be still captured in most countries, and all of them would still import them from slaughters. Whereas dolphins of Japanese slaughters only end up in asian countries, not worldwide. I wish people would simply go and visit a good dolphinarium in America or the European Union and look for themselves, how healthy and happy the dolphins there are :)
SunStreakedSkies's avatar
Oh wow, lots of text! Thank you for responding. :)

I do agree that this is an site dedicated to art, but people can interpret art in many different ways. When I see photos of dolphins doing a show, I see how humans use animals for their own entertainment. I see the human obsession with capturing what they think is beautiful, even if those creatures wouldn't willingly let themselves be captures.

You're right though, a lot of those dolphins receive the best veterinary care and are kept in a clean environment with plenty of food. You're also right in that I am completely against keeping self-aware and intelligent animals in captivity. The difference is that I do care about all species, and have recently started a transition into becoming a vegetarian. I am against monkeys, pigs, elephants, (most animals) etc being in captivity.

A bird should be able to fly any time it wants, an elephant should be able to complete its natural migration patterns, pigs shouldn't have to be slaughtered. A tiger or a leopard should be able to freely roam a forest or a jungle.

I definitely agree that all animals feel pain and fear, but intelligence still needs to be taken into consideration. The more intelligent an animal is, the more mental damage can be done to the animal by the stress involved in captive confinement.

It doesn't matter how big the pools are or how well cared for the dolphins are - they are highly self aware and they know that they are in confinement, they know they have nowhere to go. In a lot of cases it does stress out the dolphin. The thing that bothers me most is that dolphins normally travel many miles a day and gather in massive pods.

Their captive lives are not ALWAYS horrible, but in many cases, because a dolphin is so highly, highly intelligent, they are at a much greater risk of becoming intensely stressed. Sometimes, a dolphin can have a pretty good life in a dolphinarium so I'll have to agree with you there. My point is that until we can learn to speak "dolphin" and ask their consent (I know it's a silly notion) it doesn't matter how good WE think they have it in captivity. No matter how much we think we can offer them, a free life in the ocean will always be, in my opinion, ten times better.

The Cove is a very biased film, BUT it makes a good general point. I don't listen to the statistics because I cannot prove them myself. When I do my own dolphin study, I can have my own honest statistics to believe. Can you prove, without any doubt, that the Japanese dolphin slaughters didn't sell some of their dolphins to other countries? Just as many activists provide statistics which are lies, many aquariums and lower quality zoos lie to gain profit from the people who pay to get in.

I do like that the Duisburg dolphins are allowed to leave the tank when they don't want to perform. This is a step in the right direction.

It is my personal opinion that people should not need to see an animal behind glass to care about it. I have never seen a clouded leopard or a wolf in captivity, but that doesn't make me care any less about their habitat or keeping them alive in the wild. The same should go for dolphins.

Maybe not all captive dolphins are suffering, but I believe they could have a better life in the wild, and no one should be taking any wild dolphins out of their natural environment. I don't need to see a dolphin jumping through a hoop to care about keeping the ocean clean. I already care about the environment without that sort of thing.

Again, thanks for responding. It's nice to have a conversation without people getting reeeaaally upset. I can see our opinions are a little bit different, but maybe we can agree to disagree. :)
Lunchi's avatar
You have some good points. About dolphins I have to say, the lie, activists often use is the one you mentioned here as well (because people like to believe in these activists, I did that , too in the past, before doing research myself): "Dolphins travel miles and miles in the open ocean" and "Dolphins gather in huge pods."
This is true for SOME species. Such as common dolphin, right whale dolphin, spotted dolphin, striped, clymene and several others. BUT most dolphinariums, about 90% of them keep bottlenose dolphins. Those dolphins mostly do not live in the open ocean, do not dive into deep waters, do not live in such huge groups. Bottlenose dolphins mostly prefer shallow water of 2-5 meters (most modern dolphinariums such as Duisburg have pools that are 4-6 meters deep).
They prefer to travel alone, in pairs or small groups. Most dolphinariums keep them in groups of 4-10 or more dolphins. So this is a lot like how they live in the wild.

If you see an animal in the wild, travelling or roaming the world, you can get fooled by that and think: "Wow that happy animal is free to go where it wants and is happy to travel the land or sea."
But animals just as humans are actually happy when save and comfortable. They do not travel for fun. They do it always to find food.
The big travel of gnus, zebras, antelopes in Africa? only because the dry season comes, their grass does not grow anymore and they have to find another place to eat.
The big travel of open-ocean dolphin species? Only to follow their food, the traveling fish swarms! Which also travel after their food, the plancton...
Not for fun just to not be hungry
In a zoo, travelling to find food and escape from predators is not necessary. The food is always there, and there are no dangers.
That is why the zoo provides some action for the animals. They teach the dolphins and elephants some tricks to keep them healthy, mentally alert and fit.
If they did not do so, the animals would become fat and sick.
lions and tigers for example get several smells into their exhibit they can discover.
Other animals get food on a line or hidden in tubes and have to try and get it out. This is the way to keep them entertained.
My budgies also get some of these tricks, like hanging a millet on a long line so they need to fly to get to it. If I did not do it, they also would fly out of their cage in the morning but then sit on a branch all day long and get fat and lazy.
They would even sit on their food dish all day long and only eat. So I get them to have to fly from one point to another, some of these food ideas I got from the zoos. Zoos provide great information for people who wanna learn. There are signs and brochures and books everywhere.

About the japanese dolphin slaughters: I know for sure, that american and European union dolphins do not come from the slaughters. I know all these animals by name, age, gender, capture date or birthdate and move dates. You can proove where they came from also by looking at their skin. Pacific dolphins captured in Japan have a special look and dark lines in the face.

Also North America and European Union forbid the capture and import of wild dolphins nowadays. It is forbidden for over 5 years now.
scientific-lead zoos strongly oppose these captures and especially slaughters. Countries who DO still capture dolphins are Japan, China, Russia, Turkey (import from Japan), Thailand and other asian. Of these, only Japan slaughters them, the others capture or import them.
Faroer Islands slaughter dolphins (pilot whales and false killer whales) but they do not capture alive ones, they always kill all of them.
Cuba captures dolphins alive, as far as I know without slaughters, to keep them in their own cuban parks.
Mexico/South America also still capture dolphins alive but they also recently started breeding them very successfully in their parks and if you saw these pools.. . they have the biggest most natural pools, which are right at the ocean, (fenced part of the ocean basically) and the dolphins there are used for swim-with-tourist programs.

If you visit a park in North America or Europe Union (Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, Greece, Finland, Sweden and so on) you can be sure that all their dolphins are born there or come from long ago captures in Mexico, Cuba or Florida where no dolphins were killed during the captures. :)
At least for the ones born there, even when self-aware and intelligent, they know no other life. They do not know that there is a life in an ocean, they only know their own pool which they regard as their own home. They were born and raised there, have the family around and loving trainers. So this is for them the only and best life possible.

if you think that dolphins have it better in the wild, think of all the threats they face there. There is the pollution, the garbage, the noise, fishing nets everywhere, less and less fish because of human overfishing. The boats and ships are a threat, too. These dolphins face oil catastrophes, slaughters, sharks, and so many other dangers. If I were a dolphin I would for sure choose a good dolphinarium to live in above the wild where I always have to live in fear and always have to hunt for my food. :nod: It also means I would get older (10-25 years in the wild for a bottlenose dolphin but up to 50 years and more in a good dolphinarium! Plus a vet that cares for me when I feel sick :) ) We humans also would not want to live like in the stoneage now. Without a house or home, without a doctor around, and always threatend by sabretooth tigers, bears, nature catastrophes.... We also live in our save homes in a city.
For zoo-animals, the zoo is their save home and city.

also imagine what would happen to the wild dolphins that are wounded or sick or full of parasites or polluted by oil and then beach themselves?
Only a dolphinarium can take care of them, treat them and set them back to the wild if possible or keep them permanently if they have problems like being deaf, blind or like the famous dolphin "Winter" having no more fluke/tail due to a crab trap set up by humans. They would die a horrible death without the help of dolphinariums with their trainers and vets.
SunStreakedSkies's avatar
Bottlenose dolphins do travel in smaller groups, but they only travel alone to find food or because they are solitary males. Even then some males will group up together in search of food and other females. Bottlenose dolphins DO live in huge groups sometimes. Their pod sizes can range from 1 to 1,000, especially when several pods join to make one huge pod. To say that they only travel in groups of roughly 4-10 is simply not true.

Again, bottlenose dolphins can travel at least 30 miles or so a day. The amount they travel varies depending on food sources, but you can't say that they never travel for miles and miles in the open ocean. It is very likely that they do this from time to time in search of either food or a mate.

Of course animals migrate to find food. Why does that mean that the animal is unhappy? Humans have this instinct to baby and pamper animals because they think that an animal living in the wild is suffering. A wild animal is doing what nature intended it to do - survive and procreate and take care of its young. Being hungry is a natural feeling, and their is nothing horrible or sad about a wild animal freely living the way it was supposed to.

Zoos, for the most part, are an attraction. They provide basic information and people shouldn't need to put animals in captivity to learn something about the animals. By this time I think we should be able to encourage future generations to learn and care about animals without having to keep animals behind glass or in a cage.

Dolphins shouldn't be kept or used for anything. There is no point to their captivity, to me it's absolutely silly. I don't think that all zoos or dolphinariums mistreat their animals, but the point still remains that their captivity is unnecessary. As for the dolphins born into captivity, I agree that nothing else can be done for them, and they are better off remaining with pod members they are familiar with.

The thing that bothers me is that we think we can make decisions for the dolphins. They never asked for this, they never wanted it. Wild dolphins do get sick, and they do suffer many consequences. Dolphins sometimes do die a horrible death because we think it's easier to just capture a dolphin and put it in a tank rather than cleaning up the oceans.

We spend all our time preserving living creatures in miniature exhibits and glass tanks when we should be putting twice as much effort into cleaning up our environment and preserving habitats. Wild animals are exposed to lots of diseases and dangers, but how else would only the strongest of the species survive?

Humans live in safe homes because we choose to, and to be honest I don't always agree with how desperately we try to keep ourselves in a glass bubble, so terrified of any little danger to our world. Exposure makes us tougher (as a whole species), it makes us stronger, and wild animals are used to that kind of life, unlike humans. The only reason dolphins and other species are ever having a really hard time is because humans are so overpopulated and are making their lives hell through habitat loss and pollution. These are the issues which I think are far more important, and we should not need to see a dolphin in captivity to care about these issues.

If a dolphin is already in captivity, that's okay. That is the life humans have chosen for it and it doesn't have a choice - most likely, it will be well taken care of. But I just don't think the cycle should continue.
Lunchi's avatar
The point is, you said, we should clean the oceans, we should teach people about animals in the wild and save them there. But unfortunately, most people do not care about the wild or what is happening far away in Africa or South-America for example.
A zoo is a place, people can reach locally, in short distance, where they see and connect to an animal more than they would by just reading a book or seeing a movie about it. They are confronted by the intelligence and beauty or cute look of the animal and thus become interested in it more than when seeing it on a small photo or tv screen. It is really there, they can smell, hear and touch it.
People here love for example to get splashed with water by the dolphins. It connects them to the animals, they sream, they laugh, they get excited, interested and start to laugh the animals. They watch the show maybe mostly to get entertained or see cool tricks but in the show, they are provided with information, hearing it over loudspeakers so they must listen to it, if they want to or not and are also asked to sign the petition against dolphin slaughter when leaving after the show. And countless people already did so!

Unfortunately, because of the ignorance of most people, zoos are strongly needed. To save species from extinction (wisent, oryx antelope, spix ara are only some examples of species that got extinct in the wild or almost extinct and had to be saved, breeded and reintroduced by zoos, without them there would be no more przewalksi horses and bearded eagles roaming the wild).
There are so much more things going on behind the scenes which the visitors do not get to see and which is not about "attraction" like a theme park maybe it.

The zoo does a lot of scientific projects to find out more about the animals, species and their wild life as well.
They do a lot of projects for the wild surroundings of these animals, taking water samples in gulf of mexico, to check how the dolphins there react to water pollution, they help create parks in Madagascar to protect lemurs and fossas from extinction, they give materials to schools to teach the children about their unique wildlife in Asia or Africa, they work together with WWF, Greenpeace, Yaqu Pacha and other serious groups to save and rescue river dolphins, manatees, birds... the rainforest.
Big projects are caring for the golden lion tamarin in rainforests to save this species as well. So a lot of ex-situ and in-situ programs are running to learn more about nature and animals and their needs. - most of these projects and tests can only be done at a zoo, in a controlled environment. In the wild you cannot tell a dolphin to stay and help in doing some tests. Or "hey wait we only want to take a blood sample of you!" Animals there would have to be captured, sedated or even killed to find out these info. While in the zoo, the dolphin can simply reach out its fluke and let the blood sample be taken without having stress during it.
Most stuff we know about animals today comes from zoos finding them out!

The other point is, that many people actually do not care about animals in the wild, no matter how beautiful a movie or book is about them.
In the past for example, people shot at and dropped bombs at killer whales. They thought they were human-killing monsters like great white sharks were thought to be. So they hated them. They even planned to completely whipe them off this planet.
Then the first orcas were caught and put in marine parks. People suddenly saw, wow these animals are very intelligent, social, loving and good to people. They can even be trained and you can ride them and pet them and swim with them.
That was when the government decided to protect dolphin species, even orcas. No longer shooting them or harming them was allowed.
SeaWorld may be hated by many activsts but they like to forget who got them the idea to love these animals :XD: Orcas are loved and protected and known as intelligent because of marine parks, simple fact.
Today we cannot understand this anymore but in 1960 and 1950, these animals were hated like hell.
SunStreakedSkies's avatar
Again, a lot of good points. There are definitely a lot of zoos that have done some good deeds, but there are also a lot of zoos that claim to do a lot for wild animals, but really aren't achieving much. There are two side to it, I guess.

Personally, I know for a fact that SeaWorld never gave me the idea to care about marine life. I always felt sad going there, and wished those animals could be free. I know now that isn't logically possible, but a lot of my passion for animals came from seeing them in the wild or watching documentaries about them.

And like I said before, I don't totally disagree with you. Zoos are not all bad, they sometimes take great care of their animals, and can be very effective in getting people to put money towards conservation. What I find the most saddening is that most people don't naturally care about protecting our natural environment, and we have to go to pretty ridiculous measures (capturing animals and putting them on display) to get people to care about them.

I will also say that I'm a fairly young person, and I'm sure my opinion will change as I have different experiences. I'm studying to become a veterinarian and it would be my absolute dream to be a wildlife photographer.

Mainly, I think the most disturbing thing is the lack of real concern for our environment and the strange methods we have to turn to force people to care. The actual zoos and aquariums are not evil or badly-intentioned, and I'm admittedly not a die-hard activist. Still, I feel like as we evolve as humans, we should be able to find better and more effective ways to raise awareness, and if we do continue to keep animals in captivity we should be more mindful of how we do so, and more stringent on allowing poorly run zoos to continue existing.
Lunchi's avatar
I agree with you on that.

Becoming a vet is a very important job BTW, I wish you luck in achieving this goal! I myself worked at a vet for over 6 months some years ago, and a good vet can really make a change, as in advicing people how to care for their pets appropriately, and educating them about illnesses next to treating and trying to heal the animals. The vet I worked for, was also very good in communication with the owners, who even came to talk to him. He always asked about their families and health, which probably made them like that vet and come back again and again :XD:
Wildlife photographer would be my prefered job right after animal keeper, because I love taking photos of animals. I just think, you have to be really good nowadays to lift yourself up from the huge mass of photographers and have something special about your photos, to get people into buying them.
I admire unique animalphotos and I love watching them online. I myself plan to buy a new camera this year to be able to take even better quality shots than my current camera can produce.
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kohanaluvr's avatar
Schön mit der Abstufung! Da hast du wirklich ein sehr gutes Gespür für den richtigen Moment gehabt :-) Klasse!
joyousorca's avatar
What a fantastic angle & great timing!
Lunchi's avatar
thank you so much :) I think I was very lucky to get this shot.
joyousorca's avatar
You're very welcome. Luck can be a very wonderful thing with photography, especially when dealing with animals as the subjects!
Lunchi's avatar
Indeed. they are so unpredictable. So wish me luck for my zoo trip tomorrow :D
RoxMad's avatar
Awesome capture! Love the height concept you have going here.
Lunchi's avatar
thank you :) it was really a coincidence.
Empa85's avatar
Wow! Thats one helluva neat shot! you should be soo proud of it!

I love it!
Lunchi's avatar
thank you so much :blush:
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