Empty the Tanks Mexico

There is No Beauty in Stolen Freedom - No hay Belleza en la Libertad Robada

Mexico is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, with over 38 million international tourists in 2022. There are over 40 dolphinariums throughout the entire country, largely catering to tourists. Dolphins living in these facilities face a number of concerning animal welfare issues.

Our Empty the Tanks campaign is committed to exposing the cruelty of dolphin captivity in Mexico. Our team of local volunteers works to educate tourists and locals about the truth behind these swim-with-dolphins businesses, and to advocate for change at government levels. They are also working with local hotels, dive shops, and other ecotourism businesses to help create a dolphin captivity-free community.

Dolphinarium Investigations

As part of the Empty the Tanks campaign, volunteers in Mexico documented the captive dolphin facilities within the state of Quintana Roo. With popular destinations along the Riviera Maya coastline – Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Cozumel – the state of Quintana Roo is a tourism hot spot. Also in the 34,000 square kilometer state of Quintana Roo are 19 captive dolphin facilities – almost half the dolphinariums in the country.

Our volunteers visited all 19 swim-with-dolphins facilities in the state in order to obtain information about the health of the dolphins there, as well as to document the activities taking place. What they discovered were astonishingly small tanks (some of which are only a few feet from the ocean), dolphin injuries, stereotypic behaviors, abnormal causes of dolphin deaths and a number of other concerning findings.

Three companies run the 19 captive facilities in Quinata Roo – Dolphinaris, Delphinus, and Dolphin Discovery. The information we gathered from each company has been compiled in the following articles:

Dolphinaris: The Truth Behind Mexico’s Swim with Dolphins Industry

Delphinus: Dolphins Exploited at Delphinus in Mexico

Dolphin Discovery: Dolphin Exploitation at Dolphin Discovery

Dolphin Welfare Issues

Throughout our investigations, our team has photographed numerous injuries on captive dolphins. We have also learned disturbing information, including allegations from people within Mexico’s captive dolphin industry. Day after day these captive dolphins must earn their meals by doing tricks and entertaining paying tourists. We have been told by those working at these facilities that dolphins have extreme lung and eye issues due to the harsh sun and chemicals they are exposed to in their tanks. We have also been told many dolphins have problems with their internal organs because of the medications they are given on a daily basis.

One item of grave concern we have discovered is the number of dolphins dying in tanks throughout the country, as well as the causes of those deaths, which include: pneumonia, septic shock, fungal infections, choking, heart attacks, chronic stress, cancer, organ failure, drowning, bladder ruptures, toxicity to medicine, and blunt force trauma.

We have submitted appeals and filed complaints to the PROFEPA and SEMARANT, the departments within Mexico’s government charged with overseeing the dolphinariums.

Take Action for Mexico's Dolphins

What is the government in Mexico doing to improve the conditions of captive marine mammals, and to stop the cycle exploitation? Please tag the following senators on social media:

Senators on Instagram

Environmental Commission

Presidente y secretarios:

@raulbccue @senadorBcsRicardo @victorfuentesnl


@BeatrizParedesmx  @marybelvillegascanche @lupitasaldana_ @DrJLPech @alejandralagunes_ @susana.harp.oaxaca @luciatrasvinawbcs @XochitlGalvez @patriciamercadocastro @Juanzepedahdz @alejandraleongastelum @mmarthamarquez @sasildeleon

Second Legislative Studies Commission

Presidente y Secretarios: @rafaelespinocuentaoficial @jose_narro_cespedes @nadia_navarroa

Integrantes: @reyesfloreshurtado @mariamercedgonzalez @nancysanchez_bc @griceldavalenciadelamora @damianzepedavid @noecastanonr @nuvia_mayorga @ManceraMiguelMX @cruizmassieu

Senators on X

Environmental and Natural Resources Commission:

@RaulBCCue @BcsRicardo @VictorFuentesNL @mariamercedg @SusanaHarp @ChenyJimenez @JWaldenrath @MarybelVillegas @MayuliMtzSimon @LupitaSaldana_  @sylbeltrones @BeatrizParedes @alelagunes @mmarquezags @sasildeleon @ManceraMiguelMX

Second Legislative Studies Commission:

@Nadia_NavarroA @ReyesFloresHur1 @NarroJose @mariamercedg @FelixSalMac @nancysanchez_bc @SenGriceldaVal @damianzepeda @MarioZamoraG @Nuvia_Mayorga @Sen_JoelPadilla @ManceraMiguelMX @ruizmassieu


Traveling to Mexico? Find a list of dolphin-friendly hotels, eco-tours and other activities listed here. Our Ally for Dolphins pledge campaign allows businesses to show their customers that they consider the welfare of dolphins to be a priority.


You can help us continue our important work on behalf of the dolphins in Mexico by making a donation today.


Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and all donations are tax-deductible as authorized by law. IRS 990s: 2022 2021 2020

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