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Capture : a traumatizing experience that can end in death
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Whether in nets, with pincers or lassos, the capture of dolphins is invariably traumatic as much for the animals that are snatched from their natural environment as for the rest of their school.

Social structure

Dolphins live in extraordinarily well-organized groups. A complex communication system enables each member to interact with the rest of the group. As with all cetaceans, the relationship between a mother and her young is particularly intense, with the mother demonstrating huge affection and protectiveness. This relationship will last for at least five years, until the young animal is fully independent.


The capture of dolphins is invariably violent, as dolphins are wild animals that are intended to live in their natural environment. In a few brief moments, capture severs strong and established ties. Not only does it destroy the captured animal's life; it causes lasting damage to the group as a whole.


Different methods are used, mainly depending on which species of animal is to be captured (dolphin, orca or porpoise). Sadly for them, dolphins like to swim alongside boats, making their capture that much easier. Hunters pursue the dolphins until the animals are exhausted, then capture as many as possible in their nets. They are then presented to "recruiting agents" from marine parks who make their selection. Female dolphins appear to be most in demand. There are however no reliable statistics.

Inadequate data

Even though all cetaceans are listed at least under its appendix II, CITES is unable to produce reasonably precise figures on the population levels of each species, allegedly due to a lack of information.

There is a reason for this: the countries in which the animals live are tasked with providing data. And very often these same countries derive commercial benefit from the capture and trade of cetaceans. It is therefore not in their interests to indicate how many animals have been captured and what impact this has on the environment.

Awash with blood

In 2003, the world was horrified to discover another of the methods used to capture dolphins when Richard O'Barry filmed the slaughter of dolphins in Japan: dolphins are hacked to death in what can only be described as a blood bath. Meanwhile, "experts" select the dolphins that will be sent to marine parks. Captivity as the sole alternative to death.

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