The dilemma with dolphins



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The captivity of animals for human spectacle has always been troubling to me.

As a child, after a trip to the zoo or aquarium. I always felt sad. I got to go home after a long day, be with my family and get into my own bed.

However these animals in captivity are trapped in these man-made facilities… ALL THEIR LIVES!!


Yes, they look like they’re constantly happy with that gorgeous smile… But, if they could speak, would they be raving about their captivity?

According to Richard O’Barry, dolphins have large extended families and swim over 64km per day!! No concrete tank or artificial lake can ever replicate this freedom and interaction.

O’Barry feels responsible for the commercialism of dolphins in captivity as he trained the 5 dolphins in the television show Flipper.

Keeping animals in captivity causes mental, emotional and physical stress that could otherwise be avoided. The unnatural activity of “swimming with dolphins” adds to this stress.

Furthermore, the process of capturing these animals is highly crude; targeting pods and then only selecting the young and fit.

The dolphin’s smile is natures greatest deception- it creates the illusion that they’re always happy – Richard O’Barry

There are many ethical dilemmas involved that I have not covered. As for any debate, there are two sides to the argument.

Having animals in captivity fosters awareness and education in future generations. It also has the capacity to protect precious species.










However, when dolphins are being so crudely captured for humans to swim with, we need to show the industry that we do not support it!

Thus, the role of documentaries, such as The Cove, in opening the arena for discussion is really important.

The future looks rather bleak for dolphins in captivity, however if less visitors demand such activities this will tell the industry that their actions are not supported.

As smarter travellers, we have the choice of activities and encounters we experience. Places and spaces are continually changing and we will face different ethical dilemmas wherever we travel to.

Research to find alternative options may require looking elsewhere, but at least your conscience will be clear! ūüôā

[Travelling smarter tip #3 Respect the environment by opting for more animal-friendly activities in their natural habitat e.g. licensed and chartered dolphin-watching tours.]


Preparing for a not-so-sunshine state



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Florida has been long-known as the USA’s playground.

The Sunshine State promises families a fun-filled holiday. Whether it be soaking in the rays by the beach, searching for seashells at Sanibel Island or visiting one of the many theme parks, this is a holiday destination for the whole family!

Florida has been essentialised as a place for tourism. As mentioned in a previous post, tourism began when Henry Flagler built the coastal railroad.

These are novelty souvenirs now! Perhaps from the time of the “tin can tourists” ūüôā

Middle class ‘tin can tourists’ and¬†retirees from the East Coast made up the majority of visitors prior to the opening of Walt Disney World.

In 2013, 94.7 million visitors flocked to Florida!! hehee

Yes, tourism is an essential part of the state’s identity; it is Florida’s number-one industry.

But what happens when a state relies so heavily on tourists? What are the consequences of this?

In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had a huge impact on Florida’s economy. Although the spill only affected the Panhandle beaches, visitors kept away from Florida’s entire Gulf Coast.

Bottle coated with oil from the spill in Penascola beach, Florida. GROSS. Technically, the bottle shouldn’t even be here i.e. it belongs in the bin. Respect the environment people!!

It has been estimated that the spill contributed to US$3 billion lost in tourism-related spending. This had a large impact on small and big businesses within the state.

Florida is expected to be the state most likely hit by a hurricane. Florida also needs to prepare for impacts of sea level rise. Hence, having an economy so heavily focused on tourism may be problematic when unexpected environmental issues arise.

Don’t think people will be visiting amidst a hurricane









Furthermore, Florida should focus on supporting its immigrant community. A large proportion are undocumented immigrants and thus cannot work legally nor earn a higher education degree.


Florida’s essence is a happy holiday destination¬†brimming with sunshine. It is expected that environmental issues will arise and deter tourism.

The state needs to ensure the immigrant population are¬†properly educated and have jobs.¬†This will mean that the state’s economy is more secure,¬†in case the tourism industries’ sun, sets.

Essentialising places, clouds the multiple identities and underlying issues that are not visible to the average tourist.

Travelling smarter means questioning the representations and marketing of the places we visit.

[Travelling smarter tip #2: Respect the environment and think about your environmental impact. Try to reduce your carbon footprint e.g. perhaps if you have some time, volunteer to plant some trees or opt for walking instead of catching a taxi. This will help prevent further damage to places like Florida due to climate change.]

Who sells seashells on the sea floor?



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No one sells seashells on the Sanibel Island sea floor!

You get them for FREE

The island lies on the east coast of Florida and is said to have one of the heaviest concentrations of shells in the world!!


Why so?

As a child we would visit the beach and collect sea snails to bring home and eat. I had always been more intrigued by the delicate seashells lying along the coast- the unique patterns and edgings were just so captivating. These trips ended up with my bucket full of seashells rather than sea snails hehee

So back to the Sanibel Island in Florida…


The abundance of sea shells on this island is due to its unique east-west orientation (unlike most islands which are north-south). This means large quantities of sea shells wash up there all year round! YAY!!

Apparently,¬†those who find a brown polka-dot¬†seashell of a Junonia, get their picture in the local newspapers… Challenge accepted ūüėÄ

The prized Junonia seashell!

… well, challenge accepted for future Cindy.

One day when I get the chance to visit this island, I am going to find¬†this delicate and rare seashell.¬†You‚Äôll find¬†me¬†asian-squatting¬†along the coast, amongst all¬†the other visitors who are bent over in the classic ‚ÄúSanibel stoop‚ÄĚ hahaa

How cute!! Shells used to create a person in the Sanibel stoop ūüėõ

Shelling (i.e. searching for seashells) is fun for both children and adults! Not only do you get to spend the day by the beach, you get to explore the coastline AND collect shells to take home.

Sanibel Island is a place to get into some serious shelling. The best part about it, is that, the types of shells will always be different.

Spaces and places are continually changing and will never be the same.

[Travelling smarter¬†tip #1 Respect the environment! Don’t take live shells¬†home- not only is this inhumane, it is also illegal here!]

“Leave No Trace”

Exploring the wilderness can be innate for some, whilst completely alien to others.

I am somewhere in between. I’ve been on too many fishing and camping trips as a child that I think it’ll last a lifetime. Mix that with all the Man VS Wild I’ve watched, I’m really set for life.

Surely all the different ways to maintain hydration will be helpful one day … *cough cough*

Yet, even though it may not be exactly my cup of tea to spend my holiday in the middle of the forest, I understand how important it is to Floridians that visitors minimise their impact on the wilderness.

Florida¬†offers a number of activities for locals and visitors. These include biking, hiking, paddling, snorkelling, canoeing, surfing, fishing and sailing. Of course, you can camp as well so there’s plenty of opportunity to truly get in touch with nature!

YES there are so many outdoor activities that are on offer. However, it is important to make sure we¬†‘Leave No Trace’. For example, cleaning up after ourselves and taking our rubbish with us. We should also aim to observe and absorb our surroundings, rather than pluck or take things. We should also not feed animals either. These small things that we can do to reduce our impact on mother nature will ensure that the environment stays this way for many generations to come.

Everyone has their own preferences as to what they like to do. This is what makes us individuals, but it is also what brings us together. Sharing common tastes in activities such as wilderness exploring, allows like-minded people to interact and communicate. No matter what our tastes are though, we must ensure that we leave the place in the same (or even better) state, then when we first arrived.