"If this proposition is not true," she added, "then there is no basis for assuming humans suffer more than any other given animal."
She pointed out that during dolphin drives, when the animals are herded together by boats, some dolphins become so panicked that they die of heart attacks. Others die from exhaustion attempting to flee, while still others become entangled in nets and are killed or injured.
The dolphins that do survive are hoisted from the water, often by their tail flukes, and transported to the human-run parks and other facilities.
"The scientific evidence on dolphin sensitivities reveals that they are vulnerable to trauma and suffering when forced to live in the confined context of marine parks," Marino said.
Gay Bradshaw, director of The Kerulos Center, which provides sanctuary and support for animals suffering from human-caused trauma, agrees with Marino's determinations, saying, "What Dr. Marino states is congruent with theory and data."
At the AAAS meeting, Diana Reiss, a professor of psychology at Hunter College, plans to present findings from additional behavioral studies that support Marino's conclusions about dolphins.