No magic in the hidden cruelty at Dolphin Marine Magic

10/04/2017

Dolphins are suffering for entertainment at Dolphin Marine Magic in Coffs Harbour.

We are calling on NRMA to stop providing this direct incentive to visit Dolphin Marine Magic.

These highly intelligent animals – who swim hundreds of kilometres across the open ocean and form complex social groups – are kept in tiny chlorinated pools and forced to perform in demeaning shows.

As far back as 1985, the Australian Senate found dolphins in captivity suffer stress and behavioural abnormalities.

It recommended all venues keeping dolphins be phased out – and yet, more than 30 years later, Dolphin Marine Magic is still forcing captive dolphins and sea lions to perform shows and give ‘kisses’ to visitors. It is the only venue of its kind in NSW.

No life for ocean roamers

In the wild, dolphins swim up to 100km in a day and deep dive hundreds of metres, while sea lions can make journeys of hundreds or thousands of kilometres through the ocean each year as they migrate with the seasons.

But at Dolphin Marine Magic five dolphins and eleven sea lions are kept in tiny chlorinated pools, which make their natural movements impossible. The venue also keeps little penguins and sea turtles in in environments that bear little resemblance to their wild homes.

The pools do not meet the NSW standard for exhibiting bottle-nosed dolphins, but Dolphin Marine Magic has been granted a licence variation by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Dolphin Marine Magic claims the two daily shows, in which dolphins ride a large swiss ball around the pool and swim around the edge on their backs so visitors can touch their bellies, showcase the animals’ natural abilities. It heavily promotes dolphin and sea lion ‘kisses’, as well as offering other ‘premium’ close encounters between visitors and animals – such as swimming with the animals or being a trainer for the day.

These behaviours are not natural, and the performances and close human interactions are demeaning and stressful.

Concerns about safety and health standards at Dolphin Marine Magic were heightened when baby dolphin Ji-Ling died after ingesting leaves and a metallic object that had fallen into his pool in 2015.

Stop the demand, end the illusion

Together, we can put an end to the cruelty and exploitation of wild sea animals at Dolphin Marine Magic.

Currently the venue is in a precarious financial position, with demand for dolphin shows already declining. It is being helped by promotional offers, such as a 10% discount on tickets offered by NRMA to its 2.4 million members.

World Animal Protection has already had success asking travel companies to stop promoting attractions that profit from animal cruelty.

Now, we are calling on NRMA to stop providing this direct incentive to visit Dolphin Marine Magic. Read the letter we wrote to NRMA Group CEO Rohan Lund – asking NRMA to stop offering member discounts to Dolphin Marine Magic and develop a comprehensive animal welfare policy to guide which venues it promotes.