UPDATE 3/6 | A dolphin at Barcelo Maya Beach resort, Plata, has now reportedly died according to watch group Dolphin Freedom MX. Read the report here.
Thousands of fans are gathered in Riviera Maya, Mexico this week to celebrate the inaugural Deja Voom festival thrown by Bassnectar. With a beautiful ocean backdrop and 5-star resort as the festival setting, it seems like paradise. However, there’s a darker side to the story.
The resort the festival is held at, Barceló Maya Beach, also features an attraction wherein guests can view dolphins in captivity for free, or pay to ride them and interact with them within the enclosure. Although the company that runs the attraction, Dolphinaris, claims to have achieved certification through the global American Humane Conservation program for “the welfare and humane treatment of the animals under its care,” animal rights activists and resort attendees have condemned the facility for their treatment of the animals.
Dolphinaris has five locations on the Yucatan peninsula, all within 114 miles of each other: Cancún, Cozumel, Riviera Maya, Tulum, and Barceló. Though no explicit information is publicly available about the size of the Barceló enclosure, it stands to reason that it is similar in size to the others.
This blog post describing the conditions at the Tulum site puts the depth of the enclosure anywhere between 3-5 meters deep. The familiar bottlenose dolphin grows to approximately 2.5 meters long, which if the minimum depth is true is akin to explicit animal torture. Even at the maximum depth estimated, it’s still clearly animal cruelty with hardly enough space to move. Photos from Trip Advisor for the Barceló location appear that the enclosure is perhaps even smaller than the one at Tulum.
Note: the size of enclosures does vary from location to location.
Furthermore, dolphins held in shallow enclosures like this with very little protection from the sun can actually become sunburnt, and appear a darker color because of it.
A sixth Dolphinaris location was open in Arizona until just last month, when it closed after its fourth dolphin died in a span of two years. ANIMALS 24-7, a nonprofit online newspaper and information service covering the humane community worldwide, alleges that as many as nine dolphins have died at Dolphinaris locations altogether in the same time span (May 22, 2018 thru January 31, 2019).
“We recognize losing four dolphins over the last year and a half is abnormal,” Dolphinaris general manager Christian Schaeffer said in a statement. “We will be taking proactive measures to increase our collaborative efforts to further ensure our dolphins’ well-being and high quality of life.”
ANIMALS 24-7 reports Dolphinaris Arizona was closed “temporarily,” ostensibly for an expert review of the facilities, on February 8, 2019. Signage identifying the buildings was taken down on February 15, 2019.
Dolphinaris likes to use promotional materials claiming they are helping the environment, like this blog post about cleaning beaches in Cancun and Riviera Maya from 2017.
“Dolphinaris has always been committed to the conservation of marine environments,” the post reads.
However, the continued confinement of such intelligent creatures is entirely at adds with that commitment.
This outrage isn’t just coming from animal rights activists, but also from those within the Bassnectar fandom and EDM in general, as well.
The Barcelo Hotel keeps dolphin in captivity. Please dont support businesses that do cruel shit. You will be facing them at the other end of the resort from the stage
— mark c (@Livemusicstyle1) February 13, 2019
I honestly can’t believe that #DejaVoom is held at a resort that supports animal cruelty. Dolphins should not be kept in small tanks for entertainment. @bassnectar pretty disappointed here. pic.twitter.com/D5lHLT8QvW
— lauren elizabeth (@okbiiiitch) March 1, 2019
ODESZA will host their own festival, Sundara, at the same Barceló Maya Beach resort in just two weeks, March 13-16, 2019.
Your EDM has reached out to both ODESZA’s and Bassnectar’s teams and will update with their responses.