Forty local and international activist groups have joined forces to oppose the creation of dolphin enclosures at Blackbeard’s Cay off Cable Beach and East End, Grand Bahama.
Expressing their “complete and utter rejection” of the projects, the organisations said they also want legislators to amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act to prohibit all new dolphin facilities and breeding programmes.
According to a statement issued by the environmental group reEarth, an online petition opposing the two dolphinariums attracted 1,450 signatures in just seven days.
They intend to present the document to government and insist the projects be stopped.
The statement said: “Research has shown how the natural behaviours of dolphins in the wild atrophy in captive facilities. Sonar abilities, natural feeding and mating behaviours are seriously affected and there is speculation over the affect that captivity has on dolphins’ complex communication skills.
“Despite a dolphin’s physical appearance to be ‘smiling’ and the general perception of these animals as ‘happy’, in their captive environment performing shows, it is important to consider the fact that they are fed only during shows and therefore are forced into submission by their owners.
“These show-time behaviours are not natural to them and they are unable to perform their natural behaviours as they would in the wild.”
In terms of the Cable Beach project, reEarth added: “With so much of the Blackbeard’s Cay venture banking on Carnival Cruise Line customers, we have to wonder how sustainable this model of revenue is. With dissention already visible in the Carnival group on captive dolphin facilities, it is wise of the Bahamas to allow a fourth facility based on their support into the future?”
The statement said that in 1995, the Ingraham administration promised there would be no further captures or exports of dolphins.
“Subsequent to this promise, the Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed in 2005. While this was a baby step in the right direction, the legislation and regulations remain disappointing and do little to protect dolphins from ill treatment or safeguard the species in its biologically wild state afterwards.”
Re-earth criticised officials in the Bahamas for doing nothing to ban such facilities.
“Whilst other countries are moving towards a more enlightened treatment of animals, the Bahamas appears to be stuck in the past.
“Costa Rica, Australia, Hungary, Chile and India have all completely banned dolphinariums from their shores. In a landmark move just recently, India announced its decision to ban dolphinariums under the premise that dolphins should not be treated as ‘non-human persons’.”
The petition can be found at: www.the petitionsite.com/703/523/691/oppose-new-dolphin-swim-facilities-in-the-bahamas/
So far, the petition is supported by:
The Bahamas Humane Society
The Grand Bahamas Humane Society
Young Marine Explorers
Save Guana Cay
Andros Conservancy and Trust
Cetacean Society International
NY Whale and Dolphin Action League
Earth Island Institute
California Gray Whale Coalition
Elsa Nature Conservancy
Whale and Dolphin Conservation (International)
No Whales in Captivity
Captive Dolphin Awareness Foundation
Grupo de los Cien
Marine Mammal Connection Society
Animal Welfare Institute
Ente Nazionale Protezione Animali
OrcaLab/Pacific Orca Society
Australians for Animals
Born Free Foundation
Fins and Flukes