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Saturday October 12 2002
She Caribbean Magazine OnlineTropical Traveller Magazine Online

What do you think about the setting up of a dolphin facility in St Lucia?

The fact is that the dolphin swim program is a commercial activity. Businesses thrive by keeping their costs low and working their product as much as possible. The product is the dolphin. I wouldnít care if it were some other, less sensitive, less sentient animal, but dolphins are well known to suffer the deleterious effects of stress and fear. In the wild, dolphins swim up to 40 miles per day. Under current US regulations, they only have to be provided with a 30ft x 30ft enclosure. How big would a room have to be for you to spend the rest of your life in it? But I guess the controversy exists because no one really knows how the dolphin feels about it all.
The fact remains that dolphins suffer from stress and these parks are no more than prisons, albeit friendly ones. Who knows? Maybe the dolphins enjoy their work. Maybe they hate it. Since opinion is so divided on this issue, and since, given the involvement of Michael Chastanet, this initiative will surely go through, the best we can hope for is that this facility will exceed regulations, perhaps even set a precedent. The beaches at Tapion used to be covered with garbage. Maybe it will finally attract some money. However, spare a thought for the dolphins. Engine driven ships are known to disorientate dolphins as the noise of machinery and propellers throws its sonar out of whack. Iím sure the project will be a success, and provide money for certain individuals. Everyone just loves dolphins, but remember that for them itís going to be like living in a closet with a heavy metal band for the rest of their lives.

I see nothing wrong in having a swim with dolphins programme if the dolphins are treated well and trained properly. This country needs a pick me up in tourism and this could be the answer. It is done all over the world, why not let Michael Chastanet and St Lucia cash in?
We need more money in this country and if a dolphin facility helps bring it in and the dolphins are not hurt I see no reason why the public and the government should veto this idea. What I do have a problem with is the idea of getting a dolphin out of the wild and out of its home. Maybe he could get dolphins which are already raised in captivity. In this case they will already be trained, tame and familiar with human contact. Adults, children and toddlers would love it!

I have always pictured dolphins as creatures that are very close to men because like whales and us they are mammals.
Then I think what would I feel like if I were captured and placed in some sort of facility to be on display. I do not think God intended for any creature to be kept captive. Animals need to be free and wild and live their life. It is especially malicious to take dolphins out of the wild and put them into a facility. That is cruel and tantamount to slavery.
I think a lot of people are tired of others exploiting animals for their own selfish purposes.

I have been out on whale watching tours and it was really a very exciting experience, seeing the whales but particularly the dolphins in their natural environment. They were all over the place and I was fascinated by their movements and choreography in the water as we followed them. It was almost as if they knew they were being watched and were performing for us. I believe in freedom and I think animals should be free in their natural environment, not unnaturally caged and locked up.
If they are captured, then their environment should be made as near to what they would be used to as possible. I think that man, sometimes in the desire to make money, has abused the earthís creatures. I donít think thatís right. Sometimes I even have to think twice about eating meat. Iíve heard that dolphins are really intelligent ocean mammals and I think they should remain in the wild. I would much prefer to get out on a boat and watch them swim around. I must admit it would be fun to swim around with them, however. But as I said, I believe animals should have their freedom.

From what I understand about dolphins they are very family oriented and they stay in a pack for most of their lives. So I cannot imagine that they would enjoy being taken out of open sea and brought into a facility.
On the other hand the benefits to St Lucia would be great, especially for tourism. I would not mind swimming with dolphins myself; it would be a new fun experience.
And think about how many jobs the facility would provide. I guess the question is which do St Lucians appreciate more: the people or the dolphins? My guess is that people will prevail and the facility will go ahead.

I do not know much about the topic but I think we as St Lucians have a tendency to blow things out of proportion. From what I understand, this matter is still in the thinking stage yet people are already making noise. I think we should wait to see what happens before we start jumping out and calling the facility a bad thing.