Thanks to films like “The Cove” and “Blackfish,” marine animal captivity is finally being addressed on both the national and international levels. The U.S. has seen SeaWorld boycotts take off over the past few months, with musical artists cancelling their SeaWorld “Bands, Brew and BBQ” shows and members of the younger generations standing up to the entertainment giant.

Now, on the international scene, Romania may soon consider a draft law affording dolphins rights of personhood, which would include, among other stipulations, the right to free movement and protection in their natural environment (i.e. no captivity).

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All of this news is a sign of a new era unfolding before us — a time when perhaps dolphins and whales will finally be given the protection they so very much need, a time where we might just see these majestic creatures left to carry out their lives how they please instead of being forced into small, concrete pools.

Some in favor of captivity cite its educational benefits and state how “you can’t see these animals anywhere else and by seeing them here you learn to care for the ones out there in the wild.” Yet, this is a poor excuse, as there are real opportunities available to see both whales and dolphins living out their lives in peace right in the wild, their home.

One way is to check out a whale or dolphin watching adventure while another is to take a dive into the deep, blue sea. You may find yourself out of luck on some of these trips, but other times, you might just score the jackpot and have an encounter of a lifetime — an experience that cannot be replicated with captivity.

To inspire you to take the plunge, check out the five videos below featuring some of the most stunning wild dolphin and whale encounters captured on film — truly, breathtaking.

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1. Two divers get up close and personal with a giant sperm whale off Dominica

2. Divers swim with new dolphin pals in New Zealand

3. Humpback whales interact playfully with ocean visitors off the coast of British Colombia’s Great Bear Rainforest

4. Curious dolphins check out whale watching boat and chat with one another

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5. Humpback whales use boat to catch their food more easily, giving watchers an experience of a lifetime

Image source: eGuide Travel / Flickr

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