24 February 2010

Underwaterworld Sentosa 'improves' dolphin show

Just announced: "The existing Dolphin Lagoon, once situated across the road, has now been incorporated into the Underwater World Singapore's premises, making it a lot more convenient than before. To be officially launched sometime later this quarter, the area even boasts a Dolphin Suite, where you can watch the performances in air-conditioned comfort."

Included in the article is a video clip with shots of performing dolphins and seals.

From the Underwaterworld Singapore (UWS) website there are programmes to swim with sharks, the dugong and dolphins.

From the UWS website, the dolphin dives currently cost $150 per person and take place once a day every day except Wednesdays.

Recently, an article suggests there are no therapeutic benefits from swimming with dolphins. The person who started the practice discontinued it because "it boils down to the exploitation of vulnerable people and vulnerable dolphins." The article quotes The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society as citing reports of serious injuries to people who swim with dolphins, including bites and broken ribs, and the potential for disease transmission and stress for captive dolphins that are obliged to interact with a continuous stream of strangers and may be scratched by fingernails and jewelry.

A recent study has found dolphins to be "sophisticated, self-aware, highly intelligent beings with individual personalities, autonomy and an inner life. They are vulnerable to tremendous suffering and psychological trauma." The authors of the study say the growing industry of capturing and confining dolphins to perform in marine parks or to swim with tourists at resorts needs to be reconsidered.

In Singapore, ACRES' programme Suffering, Not Smiling: The Truth About Captive Dolphins started in 2003 calls for Underwater World Singapore to:
  • End the use of dolphins in animal shows at Dolphin Lagoon.
  • End the petting and Swim-with-Dolphin sessions at Dolphin Lagoon.
  • Stop the further imports of dolphins to the Dolphin Lagoon.
  • Begin research on the rehabilitation of the Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins and eventually release the Indo- Pacific humpbacked dolphins from the Dolphin Lagoon back into the wild.

From the UWS website, the shark dives cost $120 per person and there are 8 time slots in a day, while the dugong dives cost $90 per person and there are 3 time slots in a day.

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  1. I'm not at all happy with the direction the Dolphin Lagoon has taken.

    I don't know if the holding enclosures for the dolphins have been changed or not, but if they end up spending all their time in that huge barren tank, then I think they'll end up extremely bored.

    The old Dolphin Lagoon had a series of pens, at least allowing the dolphins to interact with the seabed and whatever marine creatures entered the pens. I do remember seeing small fish in the lagoon, so these might have provided some form of engagement as well as a supplementary food source.

    And the sealion performance section was just disgusting. I don't see why people have to make sealions perform silly tricks for entertainment. The Singapore Zoo does at least incorporate information and education on sealions, with a social message as well. I wonder if Underwater World does the same.

    I concede that this is just based on what was shown in the RazorTV clip, and that this is obviously an incomplete picture. But this does not paint a pretty picture of UWS' commitment to the welfare of its captive dolphins, and its rationale for marine mammal shows.

    Overall, I'm not impressed at all.

    P.S. Speaking of which, the horror soundtrack and image of the great white shark during the segment on the baby shark pool was really in bad taste. Especially when there is still so much to be done in correcting misconceptions about sharks. Overly sensationalistic journalist tripe.

  2. hey Ivan, go to Underwater World and see the shows for yourself. They are not harming the marine animals at all and in fact, the shows at Dolphin Lagoon do incorporate facts and educate the visitors about Fur Seals and Pink Dolphins.

  3. Anonymous: Perhaps they are not openly abusing the dolphins, and they try to incorporate facts about the animals during the performances, but I fail to understand the rationale behind moving the dolphins from an open naturalistic lagoon (albeit one that was quite small) into what amount to a giant goldfish bowl.

    How is an empty sterile pool better than the lagoon? I admit that the dolphins will be safe from pollution from the open sea, but at the cost of stimulation and engagement from a more natural environment.

    It's tantamount to taking our free-ranging orangutans from the Zoo with trees and vines to climb around, and sticking them in an empty room.

  4. Hi, I heard that the lease period for the original natural lagoon was up, and that's why the dolphins were moved to the Underwater World premises.



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