If job losses and bank failures aren’t enough, marine biologists say a bad economy may also lead to increased incidents of dolphin abuse. This does not even include the secret military groups that train dolphins to carry explosives - the so called kamikazie dolphins.
Economic hardships and mental stress have caused many trainers at ocean parks around the world to lose patience with their dolphins which can lead to abuse, said Falcetta Crawfad, program coordinator for Keeping Dolphins Safe.
“It is on the increase. There’s a lot of trainers who are dealing with a lot of stress and with the economy getting worse, then the stress increases,” Crawfad said. “If the trainers don’t find an effective way to deal with their stress, then it impacts the dolphins.”
To cope, she suggest trainers take a little personal time each day to read, listen to soothing music or meditate. They should avoid watching CNN or checking their stock portfolios.
“If you can get away from the bad economy, maybe get someone to watch the dolphins, that would be better,” Crawfad said. “Dealing with dolphins and having all that stress, sometimes you need to get away from the situation for a while.”
If dolphin trainers do find themselves getting angry about the economy, they should take several deep breaths and count to 10 before reacting, she said.
“I don’t know if trainers realize that just taking deep breaths will calm them down a little bit,” Crawfad said. “We just overreact to things. If we just take a deep breath and calm ourselves down, we can get a better perspective on things. Sure, the economy is bad, and aquarium attendance is down recently, but life goes on.”
A short fuse isn’t always the problem that leads to a dolphin being harmed, she said. Life stressors such as unemployment, loss of savings, vehicle repossession and home foreclosure have left some trainers unable to properly do their jobs - that of caring for the dolphins.
“This bad economy has impacted a lot of dolphin trainers in rural (areas) or in the suburbs,” she said. “Income, race — it doesn’t matter — and they are expecting it to get worse.”