Reconnect with the Living World

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Issue 262
September/October 2010
Embodied Wisdom

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Reconnect with the Living World

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Cover: Small Yellow Bird by Craigie Aitchinson. Courtesy: Bridgeman Art Library

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Realization. Responsibility. Reconnection. Restoration. Rekindling The Waters: The Truth About Swimming with Dolphins by Leah Lemieux. Matador 2009. ISBN: 9781848760578

Photograph courtesy: Leah Lemieux

Photograph courtesy: Leah Lemieux

Every year millions of people visit captive dolphin attractions, unaware that by doing so, they are actually supporting terrible suffering - and even the outright killing of dolphins - all purposely kept hidden and secret.

Rekindling’s main narrative is based on a period of 11 years that I spent intimately documenting the lives of a family of dolphins held captive at a popular tourist resort in the Caribbean. This unique view brings the individual dolphins to life as distinct personalities, while presenting readers with the reality of sentient lives that have been stripped of their freedom and dignity.

It also offers tantalizing glimpses into the tribal societies of wild dolphins engaged amid the ocean’s natural splendor - which stands in sharp contrast to those trapped behind human barriers, devastated by the loss of family, community and liberty. Concurrently readers follow my own transformation from ignorant bystander to tireless advocate working to raise awareness on these issues.

We see how these marine attractions exploit our natural desire to reconnect with Nature - and how millions of people are learning the wrong kinds of things from these places: That “habitat” is not unspoiled wilderness, but concrete and glass enclosures and that dolphins and whales exist for our pleasure and entertainment.

We learn that whilst we come and go, their freedom doesn’t matter. Kept carefully hidden from the public is the reality that captivity destroys the lives of those we cage. Charmed by close contact, people are encouraged to indulge their own pleasure and amusement and ignore the harsh reality these captives endure, rather than engage their empathy for the suffering of others.

The final third of the book gathers the latest science from the world’s leading experts, firmly revealing the indisputably detrimental effects of captivity upon these fleet oceanic beings, their incredible intelligence and the associated ethical challenges we face. Thus, the fallacies of “Education, Conservation and Research” commonly employed by these captive attractions are exposed as well as the popular myth that swimming with dolphins has lasting therapeutic effects.

Captive dolphins, like vanishing rain forests and poverty-stricken human beings, are victims of greed and ignorance. Injustices and atrocities need to be recognized, addressed and rectified in all quarters. Compassion, respect and responsibility towards wildlife, the environment and our fellows are inexorably linked. The raison d’être of Rekindling The Waters is to help people make the Realization that this cruelty and oppression will not cease until the flow of money from tourists stops; that each of us carries a Responsibility to discover ways to become part of positive solutions; Encourages each of us to develop responsible, respectful ways to Reconnect with our fellows and the living world around us, and thus inspired, to bend our efforts toward local and global Restoration—in short, to Rekindle.

Leah Lemieux has been lecturing, writing and working on dolphin protection, education and conservation initiatives for twenty years, collaborating with individuals and NGOs, including The Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots Environmental and Humanitarian program.

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