Dolphins are incredibly intelligent and social animals who are beautiful and fond of displaying their agility. But the very characteristics that make us love dolphins also contribute to their terrible fate – captivity. The reality of their lives in aquariums are sometimes unbelievably far away from what we like to imagine – an appalling example of this is the situation of the dolphins kept at the Taiji Whale Museum.

The Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians team, who recently visited the museum to see in what conditions the dolphins have to live in, found the picture of abuse and ignorance.

The dolphins living there are being kept inside dirty tanks in water that is being over chlorinated. Because of the chlorine, the dolphins’ skin suffers, and so do their eyes – swollen and no doubt hurting. The dolphins have difficulty opening their eyes at all and cannot swim in a natural way – instead, they swim in circles and float on the surface without a trace of the liveliness a healthy dolphin would display. The smell of chlorine, as the team reported, is overwhelming even just upon entering the room. Two of the dolphins in the tank have lived there for the past two years, but even those that spent there less time are already severely affected by the terrible conditions.

It is unimaginable that the dolphins have to bear those conditions every day of their lives. The situation at the Taiji Whale Museum is unthinkable and appalling – and it has to change. It’s important to recognize the magnitude of our choices when it comes to watching wild animals out of their natural habitat, and rethink whether the price we pay for our ticket is going to support a cruel and profit-oriented establishment. If you want to help captive animals, boycott all aquariums and zoos. When the money stops coming in, captivity will end.

Click here to visit the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians’ website, learn more about their work, and donate.