I spent last week on Sanibel Island laying in the sun and walking on the beach. Life doesn’t really get much better. One day as I was surfing…facebook, someone had posted the latest PR nightmare for Sea World and opened up the dialogue to discuss the importance of shutting the place down and letting the dolphins and whales and everything else be free.
Crazy enough, that same afternoon, I was walking the beach with a friend and two dolphins swam only 10 feet from us. Of course, we walked further into the water to be closer to them, and they didn’t swim away. We were standing in the Gulf only ten feet from two wild dolphins!
I spent the remainder of the day pondering both how lucky I was and how much better it was to experience a dolphin in the wild than behind glass at Sea World. But, before I made any further assumptions, I did some research.
Sanibel can be thought of as a pricey place to visit. Perhaps out of the reach for some. However, I looked up ticket prices for Sea World and found them to be about $90 per person for one day. Of course that doesn’t include the food or the pictures or many of the other add-ons, so it is way above $100 per person to go to Sea World. To go to Sanibel, each car has to pay $6 and to park at a public access beach it is $3/hr. A family of 4 can spend an entire day on Sanibel, walking the beaches, standing in the water only feet away from wild dolphin for $30. Pictures are free. (Versus $360 for a family of 4 at Sea World)
Sanibel is definitely not more expensive. More importantly, the dolphin are FREE. They swim and play and put on shows all because they want to, not because someone starved them until they did it. The dolphin in Sea World will never have the massive square footage they need to swim endlessly. Dolphin at Sea World are stressed and unhappy. Dolphin are very social and active creatures and certainly do NOT belong in tanks or swimming pools.
Perhaps there would be a valid argument if Sea World actually made sea animals more accessible to the average child, but the truth is it far more accessible to go to the beach and see the animals frolic in freedom than to pay hundreds of dollars to watch them suffer behind glass.
*The feature picture was taken off of a boat riding along the coast of Sanibel. This dolphin and the MANY others we saw that day live FREE and HAPPY.