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Regional and Worldwide Press Articles

St. Maarten Herald
May 24th 2003
Dolphin "Indy" dies at Dolphin Fantaseas
In the year 2000, six dolphins were captured off the coast of Cuba for a newly built dolphin tank in Anguilla. Today, the facility is known as "Dolphin Fantaseas." Dolphin Fantaseas insists on calling their small facility a "lagoon," despite the fact that the barren concrete tank contains nothing that even remotely resembles the dolphins' natural habitat. One of the six wild-caught dolphins that were sent to Anguilla in January 2001 survived just a little over two years in captivity. In an article that appeared in the St. Maarten Daily Herald on May 24th, 2003, Dolphin Fantaseas reports that they are "saddened by the death of Indy, a 27 year old bottlenose dolphin that has been at the lagoon since it first opened."

The article continues:

"Indy became sick in January and died last month. He had remained in the care of the local veterinarian, the marine mammal veterinarian and trainers and received "the best medical attention possible to treat his symptoms and make him comfortable" (...) The staff at Dolphin Fantaseas said they had developed a special relationship with Indy that made it possible for them to be with him as a source of comfort in his final hours, but accepted that with all living creatures there is a natural cycle of life."

Several animal welfare organizations and individuals have sent letters to the St. Maarten Daily Herald, pointing out some disturbing factors regarding Indy's tragic death.
More information.

Cayman Free Press
April 21st 2003
Letter to The Editor
I would like to add my voice to those of many Caymanians concerned about the possible introduction of a swim-with-dolphins facility in the Cayman Islands.
The projectís supporters claim that it would be a financial gold mine, but in the long run, a captive dolphin facility would destroy the Cayman Islandsí outstanding eco-tourism credentials, and is certain to rebound to the detriment of the local economy. Already several thousand tourists, from over 30 countries, have signed petitions expressing their opposition to the proposed park.
Why? Because swim-with-dolphin programs are simply a disaster in the making, both for the dolphins and for the people who visit them. The Cayman facility, operated by a group called Living Sea, reportedly plans to house its dolphins in "natural enclosures." This is an oxymoron. For a dolphin accustomed to roaming free up to 40 miles per day, any enclosure is unnatural, and thus the Living Sea facility is in effect little more than a concrete jail. The dolphins, reputedly transferred from captivity in Honduras, were taken violently from their family and home range, and held in pools or pens. In the Caymans, their situation will not improve; they will still be fed dead fish and coerced (by the promise of food the imposition of hunger) to perform tricks and interact, whether they want to or not, with humans.
To counter the global outcry over what amounts to forced labor of a sentient, social and intelligent animal, the swim-with-dolphins industry has added a few new wrinkles to the now familiar justification of its own self-serving goals. Cayman citizens should not be surprised if they hear some of these specious claims.
For one, swim-with-dolphins programs like Living Sea purport to be educational. In fact, they are anti-educational, because they foster the false impression that dolphins are gentle, "warm and fuzzy" creatures, when they are far more complex and interesting, and capable of a range of behaviors, including violence. They are predators with a dominance hierarchy. The false impression leads to ignorance, not enlightenment. This ignorance hurts both dolphins, who are captured and sentenced to life terms for crimes that donít exist, and humans, who can be injured physically, cheated financially and short-changed intellectually.
Some of these businesses also infer that buying time with a captive dolphin helps nurture a greater respect for these animals, even a desire to protect them. This logic has always escaped me, since the chief threat to bottlenose dolphins is the captive dolphin industry.
Some operators claim that swimming with dolphins is therapeutic. Children suffering from Down's Syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other conditions are frequent visitors to swim-with-dolphins facilities. While I understand the feelings of reverence and awe that contact with these magnificent creatures inspires, it is critical that people everywhere understand that there is no scientific evidence to prove that swimming with dolphins provides a medical benefit for humans. Other programs, using domesticated animals and plant environments, have similar results and do not involve the cruelty inherent in dolphin captivity.
Far from universally beneficial, swimming with dolphins can actually be bad for you. Broken bones, lacerations, internal injuries, shock--these are just a few of the wounds reported by paying customers.
The effects on dolphins are even worse. After surviving a traumatic capture-and many donít--dolphins are confined in a space that does not allow them to exercise even their most basic natural functions. They suffer from enforced monotony, confinement stress, poor diet, disease, muscular atrophy. So the life span of a captive marine mammal is not only considerably shorter than that of a wild one, but considerably less worth living.
Australian researchers have found that the problems do not disappear when the operation is moved to open pens or bays, such as that proposed by Living Sea. Even wild dolphins habituated to human contact spend up to seven hours interacting with people, and literally forget to feed. In addition, tour boats routinely scare away the schools of fish that dolphin pods herd into feeding position.
Finally, some facilities claim they are engaged in research. But the fact is that captive dolphin husbandry is the only "science" they are capable of producing. And any "findings" that might emerge are more suited to profiles in understanding the human psyche than to peer-reviewed cetacean research.
Although swim-with-dolphins operators are adept at exploiting grey areas in the law, time is not on their side. Australia is considering legislation that would limit the hours and locations of interaction. In the Caribbean, the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife Protocol of the Cartagena Convention protects marine mammals, and in Mexico, a new law prohibits the capture of dolphins for display. It would be a shame if the Cayman Islands were to fall from what is the wave of the future in ecotourism into the host of environmental profiteers.
Over the past several years, I was privileged to be a consultant for the Ministry for Tourism. During that time, I took pride in helping to promote locales, like Stingray City and Tarpon Alley, that offered tourists the opportunity to experience the Cayman environment on its own terms.
Swim-with-dolphins operations are incompatible with this philosophy, and are an insult to those of us who view humanity as stewards of nature. They are bad for dolphins, bad for tourists, and in the end, bad for business.
I strongly urge the responsible authorities to preserve the Cayman Islandsí positive environmental image, and reject the proposed facility.
Jean-Michel Cousteau
Ocean Futures Society

Article from BBC Wildlife Magazine, March 2003
Dolphins swim their own way
Nicaragua: Release paves way for dolphin welfare law. By Tim Deere-Jones
Dolphins have been given full protection in Nicaraguan waters following the passing of legislation that prohibits their capture and display. The move follows the personal involvement of the environment minister Jorge Salazar in a dolphin rescue last year.

In August, two bottlenose dolphins, intended for use in a commercial 'dolphin swim programme' were captured in Nicaraguan waters. With the co-operation of the Nicaraguan authorities, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) was able to rescue the dolphins, rehabilitate and release them back into their home waters. A feature of the rescue was the support, and active participation, of Salazar.

Following the success of the rescue and with the support of WSPA and other campaign groups, Salazar was successful in pushing forward the new law, and its success has given a strong boost to similar work in Panama.

This is timely, because campaigners report the on-going development of captive-dolphin-based tourist attractions throughout the Caribbean. The region's two major ecotourist islands - St Lucia and Dominica - both have facilities in the planning stage (the one in Dominica is partially constructed), and the demand for stock for these facilities is driving the growth in the market for wild-caught dolphins.

BVI Beacon, Tortola
February 20th 2003
New dolphins here Dolphin Discovery : Water is clean. By James Osbourne
The dolphin swim programme at Prospect Reef Resort reopened Friday with the arrival of four new dolphins. Atlas, Icaro, Poseidon and Calypso touched down at T B Lettsome Airport a little after midnight Thursday after an all-day flight from Cancun, Mexico. They were transported via truck to the resort where they were given medical evaluation.
Read the full article.

BVI Standpoint, Tortola
February 18th 2003
"Dolphins are back 4 animals moved into Prospect Reef facility" by Susanna Henighan
Dolphins have returned to Prospect Reef Resort. Dolphin Discovery, one of the worlds largest marine mammal companies, has opened shop at Prospect Reef in Road Town. The Mexico-based company, which has 58 dolphins located among its four locations, move four male dolphins - Atlas, Icaro, Poseidon and Calypso - to Tortola last week.
Read the full article.

The Nicaraguan Minister of Environment, Jorge Salazar Cardenal, confirmed today, through a letter addressed to WSPA`s Regional Director Gerardo Huertas, that his Government has banned the use & exploitation of Bottlenose dolphins indefinitely.

In his communication, Salazar said that this new law guarantees that in Nicaragua, these animals will be fully protected.

WSPA was expecting this ban after the successful rescue, rehabilitation and liberation of Bluefield & Nica, two bottlenose dolphins captured last August in Corn Island, Nicaragua, and released by our organization just a month after.

During this operation, Minister Salazar himself participated and collaborated with the liberation of both animals and was touched by WSPAīs enormous efforts to heal and safe the dolphins.

As a result of a campaign promoted by WSPA Latin America and member society Amigos de los Animales in Panama, at present, a similar legislation is being considered at the Panamanian Congress as part of a new law on Animal Welfare that also includes a circus ban.

Bridgetown, Barbados, January 16th 2003
The Members of the Caribbean Conservation Association present at it's 36th Annual General Meeting held in Trinidad voted overwhelmingly in favour of promoting the benefits of non-whaling activities in the Caribbean and in other regions of the globe. However, it was also decided that where whaling is practised on cultural grounds that these activities should be given special consideration vis-a-vis the general principle of anti-whaling. Read the full article.

Caribbean Compass, Issue 87, December 2002
The second article in the series "The Case Against Captive Dolphins".

Caribbean Compass, Issue 86, November 2002
The first article published in Caribbean Compass, "Swim with Dolphins - Captivation or Captivity?".

November 5th, 2002
Maui Moves Closer to Banning Exhibit of Captive Whales and Dolphins
MAALAEA (MAUI), HI -- Maui, known for the humpback whales that reside near its shores in winter and the wild spinner and bottlenose dolphins that cavort in the sea year-round, may soon become recognized as a place where whales and dolphins are not allowed to be displayed in captivity. A proposed bill, HSED-16, which would ban the display of captive whales and dolphins on Maui, has been slowly moving towards becoming law since its introduction more than a year ago by Maui County Councilmember Jo Anne Johnson.

Last week (October 31), the bill was moved out of the Maui County Council Human Services and Economic Development Committee, meaning that soon -- likely in two weeks -- the proposed bill will be heard by the Maui County Council where it stands a good chance of passage. If it became law, this bill would prevent anyone -- such as Sea World, a new resort, an aquarium -- from keeping whales or dolphins in tanks for display purposes.

The bill has received significant support from the community and from Maui visitors, many of whom have been alarmed by plans to build a captive dolphin facility on Maui. More than 15,000 petition signatures and hundreds of letters, including those from country blues singer Bonnie Raitt, and the producers of the Free Willy movies, Lauren Shuler Donner and her husband Richard Donner (also of Lethal Weapon film fame), have poured into the offices of the Maui County Council, urging them to not allow the construction of the dolphinarium or the keeping of captive marine mammals on Maui. The Humane Society of the U.S. has also weighed in, to oppose the captive animal facility and support the bill.

At two previous hearings the testimony was overwhelmingly in favor of the ban. Only two people (both from neighbor islands) testified against it.

If the bill outlawing the exhibit of captive whales and dolphins becomes law, Maui will join the ranks of 17 cities/counties across the country and the state of South Carolina that have passed ordinances that prohibit the display of cetaceans, says the Animal Protection Institute. As of 1993, England has closed down all of its dolphinariums. Hungary, Turkey, Israel, India and Argentina have all closed their dolphinariums and/or denied further imports of dolphins into their countries.

Although proponents of captive whale and dolphin facilities like to emphasize the "educational" value of such exhibits, others point out that captive dolphins are very poor examples of dolphins in the wild. The late Jacques Cousteau believed that captive dolphins are conditioned and deformed and bear little resemblance to dolphins living in freedom in the sea. Researchers have pointed out that attempting to understanding wild dolphins by studying captive animals can be compared to attempting to understand humans by examining the psychology of prisoners.

"Here we are with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary around us, protecting the nation's primary mating and calving area for the endangered humpback whale," says Irene Bowie, Managing Director of Pacific Whale Foundation. "We are blessed with the presence of wild dolphins in the ocean around us; we don't need to keep these animals in tanks to introduce them to people."

The St. Maarten Daily Herald
October 16th, 2002
WILLEMSTAD - The dolphin which was born at the Curacao Seaquarium last week has died. It turned out the baby had not been strong enough. The at-first-optimist veterinarian Dolf van der Giessen became worried Monday morning, as the baby dolphin was not taking in any food. Administering artificial milk was not an option. Trying to extract milk from the mother to administer it to the baby would have meant catching both, which could cause major stress and risk the lives of both. Studies have shown that more than half the dolphins born in captivity of a mother less than 15 years old die before they are independent. In this case the baby showed signs of trying to get to the mother's nipples, but was unable to, despite the mother's doing her best to help.