Dolphin Therapy and Autism Ranking: Mildly Hazardous Insufficient/Mixed evidence

Risks and Safety


According to Marino and Lilienfeld (2007), dolphin therapy poses many potential hazards to the human participants including:

  • Aggressive behaviour by dolphins, which can lead to injury
  • Transmission of diseases from dolphins.

If the therapy takes place in the open sea there may be additional hazards including adverse sea conditions, boat traffic and harmful sea creatures.

Dolphin therapy also poses many potential hazards to the dolphins including:

  • Stress in captive dolphins
  • Transmission of diseases from humans
  • Pressure on wild dolphin populations.

“There is abundant evidence for injuries sustained by participants in DAT programs. Moreover, interactions between dolphins and humans carry a significant risk of infections and parasitism for both humans and dolphins.” 


There are no known contraindications (something which makes a particular treatment or procedure potentially inadvisable) for dolphin therapy other than the hazards listed above.


18 Dec 2017
Last Review
01 Nov 2017
Next Review
01 Nov 2020