Worldwide Transport Trade of Living Dolphins on The Rise

Are there really global transport possibilities for living dolphins, and if so, who participates in it? Because of this reason the German dolphin and whale protection organisation ProWal concerned itself with this question and now, after one year of research there is an amazing result for the animal welfarists.

Andreas Morlok, CEO of ProWal: “In consequence of the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove,” the public was aware of a small fishing village in Japan where every year up to 2,000 dolphins should be killed. Some dolphins would be allowed to be alive in order to sell them for exorbitant sums to the dolphinaria-industry, according to the message of the film. We wanted to get a picture of the situation on the ground and traveled to Japan in December 2010.

Dolphin Hunts, Shocking Reality

We were shocked when we were actually confronted with this reality. We were eye witnesses of dolphin drive hunts and brutal killings of these intelligent marine mammals on several days. And exactly as the film described it, separating took place before the massacres begun. Dolphin trainers and traders picked out the most beautiful dolphins from the dolphin pot, herded into a cove, mostly bottlenose dolphins. These animals were kept in sea pens and in the Whale-Museum in Taiji in preparation for their following life in dolphinariums.

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After the dolphins were trained, their value increases dramatically and they are sold for sums of more than 100,000 USD to dolphinariums. Certainly living dolphins are transported by ship from Osaka into Asian countries, but over longer distances, as in the Ukraine, Turkey, Egypt or other countries, these animals can surely only be transported by air.

Even in the Solomon Islands, in many countries of the Caribbean, the Black Sea and elsewhere in the world, dolphins are captured and transported to dolphinariums. Exactly these transports interested us. We wanted to know whether there are special air cargo companies that carry out such transport of animals and whether these are isolated cases or whether we are here on the scent of a very big deal.

ProWal Dolphin Sting Operation

Using the pretext of wanting to transport two wild dolphins, ProWal contacted all airlines and air cargo companies in the world in the beginning of 2011. 132 companies responded to the request, and many of them were happy to submit an offer immediately or after several months.”

Andreas Morlok: “We were more than surprised. Not only in our e-mail inbox every day, we found offers, we were also schmoozed day and night from people and companies by telephone, which wanted to receive an order, sometimes very intrusive. 61 air freight companies or airlines have already transported dolphins or were not averse to do this again. 71 companies have no chance or don’t want to be associated with dolphin transportation and refused such an order. Nevertheless, some of them already have transported dolphins in the past.

After dolphins are trained, their value increases dramatically

We were surprised that the fewest companies who wanted to do a dolphin transport have demanded, whether we have any papers for the dolphins. Also, scarcely anybody was interested in whether we have a specialized person, like a veterinarian who would accompany the dolphins transport. Only a few have made us aware that such a flight would be stressful for the animals and no one told us about the risk that the dolphins could die in such a transport.

Mainly focused on the transport route, the size of the packaging and their own references, which said, how often dolphins were transported to zoos and aquariums. A British airline had concerns with the air pressure in its machine and, however, believed that it already could work with a flight altitude of 1,000 meters. A company from Portugal advised us that a tutor should always cover the animals with water during the flight.

The tutor could fly in the cabin of the cargo plane, but must regularly descend into the cargo hold to check the welfare of animals. A company from the United States gloated about as a reference that they already transported dolphins along with a variety of other marine animals such as whale sharks, beluga whales and a large number of fish in a single flight. We were pleased about an answer of a company from China. They rejected the transport of living dolphins, because this is a too big risk for the animals.

Nevertheless, the overall result surprised us very much. We never thought that so many companies are ready and more or less also are able to transport dolphins. This allows the opinion that the worldwide trade with living dolphins is a booming business and the transport of these animals is no exception.”

ProWal survey of airlines or air cargo companies worldwide

61 airlines or air cargo companies already transport dolphins or at least were not unwilling

Abaco Air Ltd.

Act Airlines

ADC Airways

Air Malta plc

Air Transport World Freight Ltd, Auckland

Air Urga

Alliance Air Charter

Amerijet Inl

Animals First, Bogner OG

Apex Air Ltd.

Arkia Israeli Airlines

Atlantic Airlines


Avient Charters

Caglar Cag

Cargolux Airlines International S.A.

Caribean Airlines

Cathay Pacific Cargo/Tokyo

Cioyne Air

CX Cargo

Danish Air Transport A/S

DHL Hub GmbHLeipzig


EuroGsa B.V.


Evergreen International Airlines

FLY 540

Gradlyn Kennels

G.K. Airfreight Service GmbH

Hainan Airlines

Jade Cargo International Co. Ltd

Japan Airlines International Co., Ltd

Kales Airline Services GmbH


Lufthansa Cargo Charter

Martinair Cargo


Maximus Aero

Northern Air Cargo

Polet Airlines, Europe

Pradeep Thakore

Procargo LTG

PT Cardig Air


SAS Cargo

Sefofane Air Charters

Sky KG Airlines

SkyLink Air & Logistic Support (USA)

Solomon Airlines

Srilankan Aero

Sunnyairways, Bangkok

TAM Linhas Aereas S/A

Thai Airways

TNT Airways s.a

Ukraine International Airlines

ULS Airlines Cargo

United Airlines Cargo

UPS Airlines

Volga-Dnepr Airlines

Wallace Air Cargo Group, Inc

XGL – Expeditionary Global Logistics

71 airlines or air cargo companies refused to transport dolphins

(some have transported dolphins in the past.)

ABS Jets, a.s

ACG Air Cargo Germany GmbH

Action Airlines

Adria Airways

Aer Arann


AeroLogic GmbH


Air PLC & Co. Luftverkehrs KG Berlin

Air Bucharest

Air China

Air Logistics GmbH

Airmark Aviation (S) Pte Ltd


Air Serv International

Air Transat

AMC Airlines

Ameriflight, LLC

ANTONOV Airlines

Atlasjet Airlines: Cagri AKCAY

Aviareps AG, GSA fur MALEV Hungarian Airlines

Bader Media GmbH

Bangkok Airways Co. Ltd

Berry Aviation Aircraft Charter Service

Bluebird Cargo

Cargo Sales & Service EMEA

China Airline

China Eastern Airlines

Cirrus Airlines Luftfahrtgesellschaft mbH

City Airline Schweden

Condor Flugdienst GmbH

Cyprus Airways Public Ltd

Direct Aero Services DSV/Bucharest


EasyJet Airline Company PLC

Finnair cargo

Gestair Commercial Aviation

Globe Air Cargo GmbH

Gulf Air

Harbourair Seaplanes

Hong Kong Airlines / Hong Kong Express


JALCARGO Frankfurt

LAUDA AIR Luftfahrt GmbH

LOT Polish Airlines

Lufthansa Cargo AG

Malaysia Airlines

MALEV Air Cargo

Mondial Airline Services (Austria) GmbH – Air Cargo Center



Pegasus Airlines

Qatar Airways Cargo

S7 Airlines and Cargo

Servicios Aereos Profesionales, S.A.

Spirit Airlines

Spring airline



TAP Portugal

TAROM – Romanian Air Transport


TransAsia Airways

USA 3000 Airlines

Vildanden AS

VISTAJET, Luftfahrtunternehmen GmbH


White Airways, S.A.

Wideroe Internet AS

Woodgate Aviation

Xtra Airways

Contradictory statement:

Lufthansa Cargo AG rejected the transport. Lufthansa Cargo Charter wanted to check at least the possibilities of loading and the costs.

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