Friday, May 1, 2015

Your Dolphin Outlook Weekly Updates

Porpoises are Dying in Fishing Nets and Need Help Now.
porpoise
Target: President Enrique Pena Nieto, President of Mexico
Goal: Uphold promise made to help protect a critically endangered species of porpoise.
Recently, the president of Mexico ordered the implementation of some protective measures for preserving a critically endangered species of porpoise: the vaquitas. Although this is promising for the porpoise species, more drastic measures must be taken to keep this endangered species from vanishing from this earth.
There are reportedly fewer than 100 vaquitas left in the world, and they are located only in the Sea of Cortez, or the Gulf of California. The main threat that this world’s smallest porpoise species faces is accidentally getting caught in fishing nets that target other species. Due to getting caught in these nets, around 40 to 80 vaquitas die yearly, which outnumbers the number of vaquitas born each year.
This is not the first time that the Mexican government attempted to aid the quickly diminishing vaquitas. Recently, the Mexican government created new measures such as implementing a reserve where gillnets for fishing are restricted. The government also pledged support for fishers who are willing to change their fishing activities and practices. These measures may help the vaquita species, but in order to make a difference, more measures must be implemented, such as also combating totoaba fishing. The totoaba is an endangered fish similar in size to the vaquita, and is targeted for its swim bladder. Fishermen trying to catch totoaba also often accidentally capture and kill vaquitas.
Please sign the petition below to urge the Mexican government to create more stringent measures than those that are present and to enforce these regulations to combat the problem of the diminishing vaquitas. The existence of the vaquitas relies heavily on these regulations.
PETITION LETTER:
Dear President Enrique Pena Nieto,
The vaquita species of porpoise is quickly diminishing, and if more conservation efforts are not vehemently put into action, they will disappear from the Earth forever. Although it is admirable that the Mexican government is working on some conservation measures to help preserve the vaquitas, more action is vital to make a difference. Past government actions have somewhat aided in the conservation effort, but ultimately did not make a big enough impact on preserving the vaquitas’ numbers.
Please work on increasing the conservation efforts to put an end to the senseless deaths of vaquitas that occur due to accidental entrapment in fishing nets. The vaquita species’ existence is in your hands.
Sincerely,
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: AVampireTear via Wikimedia Commons
How one captive-born dolphin escaped captivity and joined a wild pod

"Can dolphins who are captive-born be successfully released into the wild?"

I traveled 5 hours to hear his answer to my question. I would have traveled 5000.
I have always agreed with the notion that wild mammals cannot forget millions of years of instinct in just one generation of captivity. I have been searching for proof of a dolphin that would debunk Seaworld's myth.

Seaworld always claimed "A captive-born dolphin could never survive in the wild!"

You know what they say about " Never"
Ric O'Barry does.As the founder of The Dolphin Project, he never says never to saving a dolphin, any dolphin, anywhere...
This time he was in Las Vegas on Thursday to help Founder Shelly Rae of the The Mojave Dolphins screen The Cove, followed by a Q & A with the beloved dolphin warrior. More on that, the protest and my interview with him in my follow-up.
After a well-deserved standing ovation, the questions were read. O'Barry was dapper in his all-black suit and converse all-stars. His answers were informative, inspiring and direct.
Soon my question came up, and the information I had been searching for was within my grasp:
Cetacean News Network - "Can dolphins who are captive-born be released successfully into the wild?"
Ric O'Barry -
"There is a dolphin by the name of Annessa who is seen all of the time between Key Largo and Tavernier. She escaped from the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, Florida.

Anessa was born in captivity... Although they say it can't be done and I've never released one born into captivity, I think it's possible under the right circumstances"
I heard the gasps in the audience. Thank you Mr. O'Barry. Another myth busted.

This dolphin proved you don't have to be from the wild to know that's where you belong.

Without any prior training, Annessa went into the wild and never looked back...


In Ken Balcomb's report on Successful Cetacean Releases, he recounts Anessa's events:
"Annessa, a captive-born Atlantic bottle-nose dolphin held at the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys, disappeared and was feared lost during a hurricane in August, 1992. Annessa survived the hurricane, however, and was adopted by a pod of wild dolphins. She has been sighted numerous times - healthy and foraging on her own.
One dolphin; Captive since birth; followup successful."
According to Ceta-Base Annessa escaped on August 23 1992. The culprit was Hurricane Andrew.

But the incredible thing is that she survived through 2 more hurricanes that swept through that area following her escape.

Hurricane Andrew bearing down on Florida on August 23, 1992. ... Later, Hurricane Katrina (August 25) passed through South Florida and Hurricane Rita (September 20) swept through the Florida Keys . Source
During Annessa's time in captivity, according to her captives, this was her life and her dismal future:
"...when Rodriguez left with his bucket of fish, both Nat and Annessa swam back into their pens. We'd been standing in open water with the dolphins. They could have chosen to swim into the Gulf of Mexico, but apparently, they preferred their human friends and the place that has been home for many years." - Source
...until the opportunity to escape, that is.
Annessa was 11 when it happened. Before then she is described as being shy. As one reporter from The Pittsburg Press recounts during a visit in 1990:

Maybe she was plotting her escape instead of getting more dead fish for kisses?


That's the owner planting a wet one of his "stock" of dolphins.
The Dolphin Research Center is a dolphinarium under the guise of research on Grassy Key, Florida. The 90,000-square-foot series of saltwater lagoons carved out of the shoreline. They have 8 different dolphin encounters daily, none of which are educational or based on research.
Strangely enough, they also have cats.
Cats are known to be dangerous in transmitting disease to dolphins. Their presence is a risk to the dolphins health and welfare, but this isn't about science this is about entertainment, greed and animal abuse cloaked to promote conservation.Above caption is on their site: "Others have joined the family for a variety of reasons" some of which are hunting and capturing for greed-based businesses like this one.
DRC feature their dolphins on their site with only one mention of Annessa. They have a way of putting it that is biased and incorrect, except the first two sentences:

Unfortunately for the facility, Ric O'Barry just confirmed the opposite:
"Annessa is seen all the time between Key Largo and Tavernier."
And according to The United States Marine Mammal Inventory Annessa was a captive born dolphin who was successfully released. And if it's good enough proof for the US Government, then it's good enough for me.

The facility does share the stories of their other dolphins, some of which have also moved around on their own during rough weather conditions.

"MY STORY:
A.J. is quite a character. The explorer of DRC, he has boldly gone where few have gone before.

When a tornado came through Grassy Key in 1998, A.J. swam over the collapsed fences, around the causeway of land and moved into a new lagoon to live with his girlfriends, Santini and Aleta! A.J. is the proud daddy of Tanner and Luna. "
Maybe they were trying to escape too?

WILD DOLPHINS WHO ESCAPED THE PEN LIFE:

In digging deeper I find a few more dolphins who escaped during poor weather conditions and presumedly survived, although they were already from the wild.


This is testament that captivity does not effect their instincts to be in the wild and forage, even 20 years in captivity one dolphin named Gibbs managed to escape his pen during a hurricane.


Some dolphins escaped only to be trapped again.

On July 18, 1992 , in Key Biscayne, Florida, two escaped dolphins Molly and Lady enjoyed three weeks of freedom before it all ended on a Friday when they were netted by boaters who lured them near a dock using dead fish. The two marine mammals were then loaded into boats and taken back to the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. Bacall, a third dolphin who swam out of her pen with them, was captured two weeks later.
In Russia, it has been confirmed at least one dolphin (“Dicky") was successfully released back into the Black Sea.
Ric O'Barry said
"I have released lots of dolphins successfully, it's possible."

So why is Seaworld still holding onto the myth that captive-born (or even veteran wild-caught dolphins) cannot be released back into the wild?

We all know the answer.
Let's all hope some of the dolphins held captive in pens in Taiji are safe during the typhoon that is hitting that area right now. The Dolphin Project video reports from taiji showing swells and stressed out dolphins:


In 2011 when there was another typhoon that hit Taiji, most the dolphins in those pens died, some were "lost".
I hope this time they ESCAPE.
Via our partners in Mexico, Delfines En Libertad, comes this new investigative video.
The exclusive report from Delfines En Libertad:
Dolphins are one of the most intelligent species on the planet. They live in complex social pods and have a sophisticated level of communication. They exhibit behaviours which are passed on from generation to generation, have self-awareness, can understand basic human language, and show empathy towards other species in danger, such as humans.
Peer reviewed scientific evidence is consistently coming to light which goes to enlighten us further as to the cognitive ability of dolphins.
In 2011 a group of scientists, conservationists, and philosophers declared that dolphins were of such high intelligence they should be deemed "non-human persons". India then completely prohibited dolphin captivity.
In current times welfare issues concerning cetaceans (dolphins and whales) are never far from public discussion and awareness of the plight of cetacea in captivity is growing on a global scale.
The more we learn about these animals the more we become aware of the suffering they face when they are removed from their natural environment to a small artificial enclosure.
Sea World, one of the most notorious captors of cetaceans is coming under the most criticism it has ever faced and the world is up in arms about the annual massacre and capture of bottlenose dolphins in Taiji, Japan.
In spite of this growing awareness, and mass movement against whale and dolphin captivity, the captive dolphin industry in Mexico is still thriving.
Mexico has one of the largest dolphinaria industries in the world and by far the largest in Latin America. This one country alone accounts for 10% of all confined dolphins globally. In 2008 there were 18 dolphinaria: now there are 29. The industry is growing at an alarming speed.
Although dolphin capture and import/export for "commercial" reasons were banned in 2002 and 2006, a "scientific or educational" reasons clause gives dolphinaria a legal loophole.
Dolphinaria in Mexico is an extremely lucrative industry. The state of Quintana Roo which is situated on the Caribbean coast, near and around Cancun, is a hive for captive dolphin parks. Hundreds of tourists from all over the world visit the dolphinaria to swim with dolphins every day. Large cruise ships carrying thousands of tourists roll into popular tourist resorts like Isla Mujeres or Cozumel and no Mexican holiday would be complete without a "swim with dolphin" (SWD) activity.
Tourists lay out millions of dollars daily for the chance to get in the water with one or two dolphins which have been forced perform on command and have their bodies used as a fair ground ride. The dolphins will perform the same tricks up to 60 times every day, pulling the tourists along with their fins and pushing them out of the water with their heads. The marine parks are loud and busy, circus style establishments.
Dolphin Parks are open all day, every day of the year. They do not close for public holidays. Captive dolphins never get a day off.
We have been monitoring the dolphinaria of Quintana Roo since 2012. Our research documents the enormous suffering of the captive animals: chronic over work leads to lesions on their rostrums and pectoral fins through the continuous performance of the "foot push" and the "dorsal tow".
Slick marketing from the multi-million pound industry manages to convince tourists that dolphin captivity is ok. When we visit dolphinaria we are consistently being lied to by staff. Unfortunately the fairytale picture they paint is far from the truth.
Dolphin Discovery consistently misinforms the public about the origins of their dolphins. They tell people that the dolphins were "rescued" by the corporation. They were actually physically captured from the wild in Mexican or Cuban waters.
Dolphin Discovery has never rescued a bottlenose dolphin that we are aware of. The only exception is one which was unfortunate enough to end up stranded on a beach somewhere in Mexico. They "rescued" it and quickly put it to work in a dolphinarium. It died within two years.
No dolphinarium companies have ever released any bottlenose dolphins back into the wild. They only capture and breed them to expand their exploitative businesses, treating these wild animals as commodities.
The industry is steeped in a smoke screen of misinformation and secrecy. An official up-to-date inventory of dolphin numbers and origins is not available. We made a Freedom of Information request to attain an inventory of captive dolphins, death certificates, birth certificates and information regarding scientific captures, including licenses granted.
This request came back with nothing.
There are very few welfare laws protecting marine mammals in captivity and those which are in place were designed to favour the dolphinaria companies as opposed to the dolphins.
The popularity of these parks is increasing globally with Mexico leading the way. Ric O Barry recently coined Cancun "the Mcdonalds of dolphinaria". The Caribbean Islands are littered with SWD parks and new parks open each year. Port towns where cruise-ships stop off for a day or so are progressively flaunting SWD parks as something tourists can do whilst staying on the Island. If you missed the chance to swim with dolphins when you were in Tortola, you need not worry as you can do it on the next stop in Punta Cana.
Many of the Caribbean Islands have not outlawed capture and import/export of dolphins and do not have high animal welfare standards. Often companies will just catch dolphins locally to stock their facilities in these areas.
Cuba still captures and trades in live dolphins wand has been criticized for doing this without carrying out studies of wild numbers, threatening the sustainability of local populations. Little is known about the Cuban capture industry, yet this is the major supplier of dolphins to the whole Caribbean SWD industry.
Mexican owned company Dolphin Discovery is active across the Caribbean having recently opened a facility in Punta Cana in the Domincan Republic. The opening of this park caused a wave of controversy as the construction of the facility was deemed to be illegal. Dolphin Discovery had not acquired the correct papers and the import of the dolphins was declared illegal by the Dominican Republic Environmental Office. With little regard for this country's national laws Dolphin Discovery went ahead and opened the facility anyway. Reading between the lines it appears the company imported the dolphins and opened the facility before the government had chance to act.
Caribbean island governments are often small and are loathe to stand up a large corporation brining in tourist dollars.
Dolphin Discovery leaves a trail of scandal wherever it passes, and though it's inventive public marketing team are quick to patch over the cracks, inevitably the truth leaks out.
The origins of 6 of the 8 dolphins in the newly built Dolphin Discovery Dominican Republic facility are still unknown. Did Dolphin Discovery purchase these dolphins from Cuba? Did they capture them locally? Who knows? You could ask Dolphin Discovery, but given their track record, don't expect them to tell you the truth.
In 2004 Dolphin Discovery took over a dolphinarium in Antigua-Barbuda. The dolphinarium already had 3 dolphins which were captured from Cuba. Dolphin Discovery imported some more dolphins from Mexico, which were allegedly also Cuban captured.
The facility was inspected in September 2004 and the 9 dolphins held were found to be living in terrible conditions. Dolphin Discovery also obstructed some important drainage and when heavy rains occurred the obstruction caused flooding to the surrounding area. Dolphin Discovery was asked repeatedly by officials to remove the dolphins, however, the requests were ignored.
One local claimed 'What was really happening, that no one anticipated, was that the rightful authority of the Antiguan government was being ignored and rejected by Dolphin Discovery. The owner even reneged on agreements made directly to Prime Minister Baldwyn Spencer. No one was prepared as Dolphin Discovery treated the government of Antigua in an insulting, disdainful and defiant manner'
Civil unrest occurred due to this situation and the controversy made international news. Dolphin Discovery was forced to close the park in November 2004. Dolphin Discovery transported the dolphins to Tortola. Dolphin Discovery applied for a permit to return to the Island in 2005. The permit was denied.
This company claims to be against wild capture yet it is built on it. In 2008 Dolphin Discovery purchased and imported 9 dolphins which had previously been captured in Cuba. These dolphins are currently held in Dolphin Discovery's Caribbean facilities. Dolphin Discovery is a Mexican company, and although capture was prohibited in Mexico at this time, it was not illegal in the Caribbean. Therefore Dolphin Discovery was able to take advantage of the lax laws in the Caribbean to boost its stocks.
The Mexican Caribbean coast is intrinsically linked with the industry across the rest of the sea and the islands. Although Mexican dolphinaria companies try to wipe their hands of the Taiji drive hunts what they fail to admit is that all captivity is connected.
The Taiji drive hunts are so immensely lucrative due to the capture and sale of some of the dolphins driven into the cove. Demand for captive dolphins globally is so high because of parks such as the ones in Mexico and the Caribbean which are using dolphins as entertainment, marketing them as desirable products and masking the truth about where these dolphins are coming from and how they are treated.
If people in Mexico want to stop the drive hunts in Taiji, the best thing they can do is close the dolphinaria in Mexico.
Research
Delfines En Libertad is a grass roots organisation based in the heart of the SWD industry on the Mexican Caribbean coast. Our first report on animal suffering, misinformation and human safety exposes some of the horrors dolphins in SWD parks are going through on a daily basis.
The report highlights dolphins in all facilities being over worked and displaying abnormal behaviours such as begging for food, floating listlessly on top of swimming pool tanks and fighting amongst themselves. Procedures which are proven to threaten the immune systems of dolphins are common practices in Mexican dolphinaria, such as regular transports by air, land or sea.
Dolphins are animals which live in the ocean, therefore, being taken out of the water for prolonged periods of time is completely unnatural. This is obviously extremely unsettling and traumatic for the animals, naturally their bodies have evolved to have their weight displaced by water. Removing them from the water and putting them on hard surfaces can cause internal damage to their organs. In spite of this dolphins in Mexico are being switched between facilities all the time.
Although this article flags up controversial behaviour by the notorious company Dolphin Discovery we can say that all dolphins are suffering in all companies and not one company is better or worse than the other. We witnessed horrible suffering in all Mexican dolphinaria which we have highlighted in the report.
The company Delphinus which belongs to the Via Delphi Group promotes its facilities as being "bigger" than the average. When visited you see that the facilities are just as cramped and over exposed to humans as any other facility, their business was also built on capture, and the dolphins in their facilities are showing the same signs of trauma, anxiety and stress as all the other companies.
Unfortunately, we found that all dolphins in Mexico are suffering miserably.
Despite the hurdles we have faced in producing our research, such as extremely limited funds, a brazen lack of transparency within the industry and workers scared of speaking out, we have still managed to document and record what is really going on. The report (available at www.dolphinsfree.org) has been accumulated by grass roots activists working voluntarily and in their spare time. Thanks to the amazing help of the wonderful resource of Ceta Base we have managed to compile an approximate inventory and have learnt more about the stories and plights of the dolphins currently being held in confinement.
The report is reviewed and validated by an ex worker of Mexican dolphinaria and marine mammal expert Marisol Guerrero Martin. Marisol supports the report with a foreword documenting her experiences within the industry and why she has now completely turned her back on dolphin captivity.
In the foreword Marisol speaks about deaths in captivity, planned illegal captures and practices which are causing the animals physical stress and pain.
Delfines En Libertad will continue to work and campaign against the dolphinaria industry in Mexico and the Caribbean to expose the truth.
Cetaceans (dolphins and whales) are believed to be one of the most intelligent mammals on the planet. They live in complex social pods and have a sophisticated level of communication. They exhibit culture which is passed on from generation to generation, have self-awareness, can understand basic human language and show empathy towards other species in danger, such as humans.
In 2011 a group of scientists, conservationists and philosophers declared that dolphins were of such high intelligence they should be deemed "non-human persons". One and a half years later India completely prohibited dolphin captivity.
Sound peer reviewed scientific evidence is consistently coming to light which time and time again goes on to enlighten us further as to the cognitive ability of this water based mammal.
In current times issues concerning cetaceans are never far from public discussion. Awareness of the plight of cetacea in captivity is growing on a global scale.
The more we learn about the intelligence of these animals the more we become aware of the suffering they face when they are removed from their natural environment and put into a totally artificial and comparatively miniscule enclosure.
Sea World, one of the most well-known and notorious captors of cetaceans is coming under the most criticism it has ever faced. The world is up in arms about the annual massacre and capture of bottlenose dolphins in Taiji, Japan. Yet, despite the growing awareness and mass movement against dolphin captivity, the captive dolphin industry in Mexico is thriving.
Mexico has one of the biggest dolphinaria industries in the world and the biggest in Latin America. This one country alone accounts for 10% of all confined dolphins globally. In 2008 there were 18 dolphinaria now there are 29. The industry is growing at an alarming speed.
Although capture/import and export for "commercial" reasons were banned in 2002 and 2006, a clever loophole in the law still allows this practice to go ahead for "scientific or educational" reasons.
Dolphinaria in Mexico is an extremely lucrative industry. The state of Quintana Roo which is situated on the Caribbean coast, near and around Cancun, is a hive for captive dolphin parks. Hundreds of tourists from all over the world visit the dolphinaria to swim with dolphins daily. Large cruise ships carrying thousands of tourists roll into popular tourist resorts like Isla Mujeres or Cozumel and no Mexican holiday would be complete without a "swim with dolphin" (SWD) activity.
Tourists lay out millions of dollars daily for the chance to get in the water with one or two dolphins which have been forced to act like circus clowns and have their bodies utilized as a fair ground ride. The dolphins will perform the same tricks around 30- 60 times a day, day in and day out, pulling the tourists along with their fins and pushing them out of the water with their faces. The marine parks are loud, busy circus style establishments.
Swimming with dolphins in captivity in Mexico is very big business indeed. Dolphinaria are opened 7 days a week, from morning till early evening every single day of the year. Dolphinaria do not close for public holidays. Dolphins do not get a day off.
We have been working in the area of Quintana Roo since 2011 and monitoring the dolphinaria since 2012. Our research documents enormous suffering of the captive animals, over work, lesions on their rostrums and pectoral fins through the continuous performance of the" foot push" and the "dorsal tow".
Slick marketing from the multi million pound industry manages to dupe less informed tourists into believing dolphin captivity is ok. Whilst visiting dolphinaria we are consistently being lied to by staff. Unfortunately the fairytale picture they paint is far from the truth.
Dolphin Discovery consistently misinforms the public about the origins of their dolphins. They tell people that the dolphins which were brutally captured either in Mexican or Cuban waters were actually "rescued" by the corporation.
Dolphin Discovery has never rescued a bottlenose dolphin that we are aware of, except one which was unfortunate enough to end up stranded on a beach somewhere in Mexico. They "rescued" it and quickly put it to work in a dolphinarium. The poor dolphin died two years later.
No dolphinarium companies have ever released any bottlenose dolphins back into the wild. They only capture and breed them to expand their empire.
The industry is steeped in a smoke screen of misinformation and secrecy. A completed assessment of the industry is unfortunately hindered by a severe lack of transparency. An official up-to-date inventory of dolphin numbers and origins is not available. We carried out a Freedom of Information request to attain an inventory of captive dolphins, death certificates, birth certificates and information regarding scientific captures, including licenses granted.
This request came back with nothing.
The Mexican dolphinaria industry has been growing exponentially since it started in the 70s. Mexico has been accused of being a corrupt county with a poor record of human rights. Only recently 43 young student teachers were arrested by state police never to be seen again and officially declared dead. With such a brazen disregard for human life, it seems naiave to think that the Mexican government is going to care for dolphins if this is how it treats its citizens.
There are very few welfare laws protecting marine mammals in captivity and those which are in place were designed to favour the dolphinaria companies as opposed to the dolphins.
Swim with dolphin popularity increasing globally
The popularity of these parks is increasing globally with Mexico leading the way. Ric O Barry recently coined Cancun "the Mcdonalds of dolphinaria". The Caribbean Islands are littered with SWD parks and new parks keep popping up. Port towns where cruise-ships stop off for a day or so are progressively flaunting SWD parks as something one can do whilst stayin on the Island. For example, if you missed the chance to swim with dolphins when you were in Tortola you need not worry as you can do it on the next stop in Punta Cana.
Many of the Caribbean Islands have not developed laws regarding capture/import and export of dolphins and do not have high animal welfare standards. Often companies will just catch dolphins locally to stock their facilities.
Cuba is a country which still captures and trades dolphins. Cuba has come under criticism for not carrying out studies on numbers of wild dolphins before it captures, meaning that the sustainability of the wild populations could become threatened by this country's continued "dipping in" of wild pods.
Little is known about the Cuban capture industry and little research has been invested into this facet of the dolphinaria industry. Cuba is the prime supplier of dolphins to the Caribbean.
Mexican owned company Dolphin Discovery is active across the Caribbean having recently opened a facility in Punta Cana in the Domincan Republic. The opening of this company caused a wave of controversy as the construction of the facility was deemed to be illegal. Dolphin Discovery had not acquired the correct papers and the import of the dolphins was declared illegal by the Dominican Republic Environmental Office. With little regard for this country's national laws Dolphin Discovery went ahead and opened the facility anyway, reading between the lines it appears the company imported the dolphins and opened the facility before the government had chance to act.
Caribbean island governments are often small and poor, they do not have much clout when standing up to large corporations.
Dolphin Discovery leaves a trail of scandal wherever it passes, it's inventive public marketing team are quick to patch over the cracks but inevitably the truth leaks out.
The origins of 6 of the 8 dolphins in the newly built Dolphin Discovery Dominican Republic facility are still unknown. Did Dolphin Discovery purchase these dolphins from Cuba? Did they capture them locally? Who knows, one could ask Dolphin Discovery, but given their track record, don't expect them to tell you the truth.
In 2004 Dolphin Discovery took over a dolphinarium in Antigua-Barbuda. The dolphinarium already had 3 dolphins which were captured from Cuba. Dolphin Discovery imported some more dolphins from Mexico, which allegedly were also Cuban captured.
The facility was inspected in September 2004 and the 9 dolphins held were found to be living in terrible conditions. Dolphin Discovery also obstructed some important drainage and when heavy rains occurred the obstruction caused flooding to the surrounding area. Dolphin Discovery was asked repeatedly by officials to remove the dolphins, however, the requests were ignored.
One local claimed 'What was really happening, that no one anticipated, was that the rightful authority of the Antiguan government was being ignored and rejected by Dolphin Discovery. The owner even reneged on agreements made directly to Prime Minister Baldwyn Spencer. No one was prepared as Dolphin Discovery treated the government of Antigua in an insulting, disdainful and defiant manner'
Civil unrest occurred due to this situation and the controversy made international news. Dolphin Discovery was forced to close in November 2004. Dolphin Discovery transported the dolphins to Tortola and the dolphinarium was shut. Dolphin Discovery applied for a permit to return to the Island in 2005. The permit was denied.
This company claims to be against capture yet this company was built on capture. In 2008 Dolphin Discovery purchased and imported 9 dolphins which had previously been captured in Cuba. These dolphins are currently held in Dolphin Discovery's Caribbean facilities. Dolphin Discovery is a Mexican company, and although capture was prohibited in Mexico at this time, it was not illegal in the Caribbean. Therefore Dolphin Discovery was able to take advantage of the lax laws in the Caribbean. Dolphin Discovery was able to boost its dolphin stocks by this shipment of captured dolphins.
So the dolphinaria industry in the Caribbean is thriving. The Mexican Caribbean coast is intrinsically linked with the industry across the rest of the sea and the islands. Although Mexican dolphinaria companies try to wipe their hands of the Taiji drive hunts what they fail to admit is that all captivity is connected.
The Taiji drive hunts are so immensely lucrative due to the capture and sale of some of the dolphins driven into the cove. Demand for captive dolphins globally is so high because of parks such as the ones in Mexico and the Caribbean which are using dolphins as entertainment, marketing them as desirable products and masking the truth about what is really going on.
If people in Mexico want to stop the drive hunts in Taiji, the best thing they can do is close the dolphinaria in Mexico.
Research
Delfines En Libertad is a grass roots organisation based in the heart of SWD on the Mexican Caribbean coast. Our first report on animal suffering, misinformation and human safety exposes some of the horrors dolphins in SWD parks are going through on a daily basis.
The report highlights dolphins in all facilities being over worked and displaying abnormal behaviours such as begging for food, floating listlessly on top of swimming pool tanks and fighting amongst themselves. Procedures which are proven to threaten the immune systems of dolphins are common practices in Mexican dolphinaria, such as regular transports by air, land or sea.
Dolphins are animals which live in the ocean, therefore, being taken out of the water for prolonged periods of time is completely unnatural. This is obviously extremely unsettling and traumatic for the animals, naturally their bodies have evolved to have their weight displaced by water. Removing them from the water and putting them on hard surfaces can cause internal damage to their organs. In spite of this dolphins in Mexico are being switched between facilities all the time.
Although this article flags up controversial behaviour by the notorious company Dolphin Discovery we can say that all dolphins are suffering in all companies and not one company is better or worse than the other. We witnessed horrible suffering in all Mexican dolphinaria which we have highlighted in the report.
The company Delphinus which belongs to the Via Delphi Group promotes its facilities as being "bigger" than the average. When visited you see that the facilities are just as cramped and over exposed to humans as any other facility, their empire was also built on capture and dolphins in their facilities are showing the same signs of trauma, anxiety and stress as all the other companies.
Unfortunately, we found that all dolphins in Mexico are suffering miserably.
Despite the hurdles we have faced in producing our research, such as extremely limited funds, a brazen lack of transparency within the industry and workers scared of speaking out, we have still managed to document and record what is really going. The report (available at www.dolphinsfree.org) has been accumulated by grass roots activists working volunatarily and in their spare time. Thanks to the amazing help of the wonderful resource of Ceta Base we have managed to compile an approximate inventory and have learnt more about the stories and plights of the dolphins currently being held in confinement.
The report is reviewed and validated by an ex worker of Mexican dolphinaria and marine mammal expert Marisol Guerrero Martin. Marisol supports the report with a foreward documenting her experiences within the industry and why she has now completely turned her back on dolphin captivity.
In the Foreward Marisol speaks about deaths in captivity, planned illegal captures and practices which are causing the animals physical stress and pain.
Delfines En Libertad will continue to work and campaign against the dolphinaria industry in Mexico and the Caribbean to expose the truth.