This third and final volume in The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy skilfully knits together all the pieces from the previous two volumes, providing an ending to those stories started in them. This volume is quite dark - necessarily so - as there is little by way of humour or light-heartedness to be found in the ultimate demise of some of the planet's most beautiful and wonderful creatures.
Here, we witness our hero, David Capello, once again locking horns with those charged with managing the enterprise and maximising revenue. His nemesis, Backhouse - excelling in the role of bad guy, demon and all round shyster - is at the heart of all the ills that plague David and his waterborne charges, his actions and decisions having far-reaching and devastating consequences for all concerned.
It is not before time that the truth was revealed about how whales and dolphins are exploited in pursuit of money, their welfare coming a very poor second where profits are concerned. All costs cut to the bone, everything down to a price rather than up to a quality; the two sides of this particular coin being mutually exclusive. The animals and their trainers pay the ultimate cost of entertaining Joe Public – the trainer in this case being David Capello, whose anguish is palpable as his journey approaches its climax.
Although the events described in this story happened more than forty years ago, the problems that beset the authors from day one demonstrate the ongoing power of those responsible for these enterprises: opportunities to publish via mainstream agents and publishing houses closed, obstacles placed at every turn and - most surprising of all - lack of support from globally-recognised animal welfare charities. The captive industry does not want the public to know how these animals - blessed with a permanent smile - are treated in order to provide the paying public with twenty or thirty minutes of entertainment up to ten times a day.
Permanent dolphinariums are bad enough, with the lifespan of their captives severely curtailed due to lives spent swimming in a chemical soup. (Imagine the impact on your lifespan if all you had to drink was the water from your local swimming baths.) However, conditions in travelling shows are much, much worse, with a massive mortality rate amongst the performers - dolphins rarely lasting more than one season … if they’re lucky.
I am particularly saddened to see major tour operators touting whale and dolphin shows as part of the ‘entertainment’ purchased with package holidays, and I would implore each and every one of you, dear readers, to never set foot in any arena where cetaceans are being exploited in this way - for without your attendance, they could not exist.
I, for one, never will.
Vincent Meehan, CMIOSH, GIFE