18 December 2010

Dolphins bought by Resorts World Sentosa die

Two of the seven bottlenose dolphins have died in a holding area at Langkawi. They were destined for Resorts World Sentosa's (RWS) Marine Life Park, reported Esther Ng in Today.
Photo of dolphin in the Langkawi pen, from Natura Gig.

According to the Today article: The dolphins were caught from the wild in the Solomon Islands in January. Two females - one aged between four and five years and the other, around 10 - died from an acute bacterial infection of Melioidosis in October, said RWS spokesman Robin Goh on Friday. They were in "perfect health" previously, he noted. The remaining five have no signs of infection.

I first heard of the dolphins in Langkawi when WChinner posted on Natura Gig about cages being set up at Awana Porto Malai, a resort there. I later learnt that one of the Langkawi dolphins may have escaped from the pen, thanks again to WChinner on her Natura Gig. She has updated her blog with this latest sad news.

Further details of the report include responses by NGOs:

Marine conservationist Paul Watson told MediaCorp the "incarceration of dolphins lowers life expectancy of the animals".

"It's a trade based on blood and misery and has no place in the 21st century," said the founder and president of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals executive director Deirdre Moss agreed: "This is a tragedy. The animals were obviously under tremendous stress ... If RWS could change its stand on whale sharks, why couldn't they on dolphins?"

Last year, RWS scrapped its original plan to exhibit whale sharks. Animal Concerns Research and Education Society founder Louis Ng hopes RWS will also "re-think" its decision to keep dolphins in captivity.

Marine Life Park is still under construction. Said RWS' Mr Goh: "We currently do not have a definite date for its opening, and likewise, details like animal configuration are also being finalised."

As for the 18 dolphins being trained at Ocean Adventure Park in the Philippines for the Marine Life Park, RWS said they were in "good health".

"We're continuing with the development and establishment of the medical, behavioural, husbandry and training programmes that include the preventive medicine programme to ensure the well-being and health of the dolphins," said Mr Goh, who added that the Marine Life Park was "part of the bid" when RWS was awarded the integrated resort licence.

"We're committed to delivering the bid and the Marine Life Park that will not only boost tourism but research, conservation and education in marine mammals in this part of the region."

However, Ms Moss reiterated: "It's cruel to capture these animals from the wild with a view to entertain the public. We should promote tourism but not at the expense of these animals."

Bottlenose dolphins are listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which entail strict regulations in the trade of these mammals.

RWS has said previously it would comply with CITES.

Full report on wildsingapore news.

Recent media articles following the dolphin deaths

The revamped Resorts World Sentosa website on the Marine Life Park indicates the Park will be "opening after 2010" and the description of the Park starts off with: "Dive into the aquatic world and get a chance to interact with dolphins, snorkel with rays and come face to face with some of the ocean’s most fascinating creatures." As of today, there is no mention of the dolphin deaths in their press room page.

By the way, Resorts World Sentosa has a facebook page.

Meanwhile in other recent dolphin news: concerns were expressed that Sentosa's Underwater World Singapore dolphin pool was too small, while a study has recently been launched on Singapore's wild dolphins.

Related posts

Recent media articles on dolphins and aquariums
More related media articles
More about dolphins in captivity

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