Dolphins are highly intelligent creatures, but there’s still so much we don’t know about them.
Take, for instance, their fascination with music. They seem to love Radiohead and hate Jazz.
Why? We have no idea.
What we do know, however, is that they have a keen sense of hearing, up to 7 times more sensitive than a human’s.
And researchers who have tried playing music to gauge dolphins’ responses in the wild have found that they will follow the sounds of everything from Mozart to Bob Marley (but they REALLY like Mozart).
Now, there are millions of people around the world that believe that keeping dolphins captive and forcing them to perform is a deeply troubling thing to do to such intelligent creatures.
That’s probably why many of the 53,000+ comments on a video of a woman playing the violin at an Italian aquarium in 2017 were negative.
It’s often been written as a feel-good story about the intelligence of dolphins – that they love the sound of the violin so much that they flock to the glass to hear more.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to see that their movement is choreographed – meaning they were trained to be part of the performance held at the Acquario di Genova in Genoa, Italy.
And while people were angry, the video has been viewed over 33 million times.
Putting aside the talents of the violinist, who is simply performing at a fundraiser and certainly doesn’t deserve the insults thrown her way, thousands more people were irate that the Italia Facebook page was trying to pass off the video as something else.
What they called a combination of music and nature, commenters called “torture.”
This is partly because dolphins have such sensitive hearing and viewers felt that the animals might be harmed by the music.
And while that’s pushing the envelope (they wouldn’t be so easily trained on a torturous sound), it is fair to say that the best place for animals is in the wild and not as a backdrop for a nice cocktail party.
One commenter summed up the issue quite well:
“I thought at first it was a nice thing to see but once I realised they were in captivity I have quickly changed my mind. It’s just sad entertainment. Bread and circus. Hope they get freedom some day.”
Still, it’s all more complicated than that.
Overfishing and other environmental degradation have made certain parts of the oceans uninhabitable for dolphins, some of which are critically endangered.
The only places they thrive are in captivity where conservationists hope to boost their numbers with the idea of getting them back into the wild.
If seeing these majestic creatures react to human music allows an aquarium the funds to protect the animals, is it entirely bad?
Sometimes, yes. But perhaps not always.
Certainly, the ideal response is to stop polluting their environment – and many facilities (but not all!) do raise funds for projects that improve their habitats.
There’s no one correct conclusion here about whether partaking in the video (or the event it was filmed at) is right or wrong (though it should be clear by now that the more we click on things the more people are encouraged to produce them).
But it is best to have all of the information and to know that what you’re seeing in this video is more complex than mere human entertainment (or flat-out animal abuse).
If you want to see what all the fuss is about, scroll down below to find the video in question.
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