Ric O’Barry to Maldives Islands: ‘Dolphin Lagoon’ Must Not Be Built

Maldives Islands SIZE.jpg

Ric O’Barry to Maldives Islands: ‘Dolphin Lagoon’ Must Not Be Built
A perfect day on Thilafushi, Maldives Islands: a 'dolphin lagoon' park is scheduled to open in its waters in late 2012. (Photo: pixelsandme/Flickr)

Let’s get right to it, folks. No point tap dancing around the severity of the situation: a recent decision by government officials from the Republic of Maldives to lease a picturesque lagoon to a dolphin habitation project is a devious scheme that will subject dolphins to forced labor in a cetacean slave camp.

The yet-unnamed project, spearheaded by tennis player Amir Mansoor, is expected to open in late 2012, reports Minivan News. The “dolphin lagoon and training centre” will be located between two tiny islands, Thilafushi and Baros.

“There is no reason why the Maldives needs to take on this headache of importing a few live dolphins for the benefit of international traffickers,” said Earth Island Institute’s Ric O’Barry, in a press release. “We hope the Fisheries and other Departments of the Maldives’ government reject permits for dolphin imports and reaffirm the Maldives’ strong support for the protection of wild dolphins.”

O’Barry starred in 2009’s The Cove, the Oscar-winning documentary that revealed the bloody, dolphin-killing secret hidden in Taiji, Japan.

Details of the Maldives project are few and far between. The few facts out there paint a familiar picture: a country allows a private entity to install what amounts to a cash-machine on its front lawn, and then gets to sleep guilt-free at night because it allows itself to believe that said park is “dolphin-friendly.”

For these five reasons—feel free to add your own in the comment section below—the proposed park needs to remain in the planning stage in perpetuity.

1) According to a November 3 Minivan News story, “the dolphin program includes two lagoons: a 1 kilometre living area surrounded by nets and allowing for free flow of water and fish, and a second, much larger area for excursions. The design is intended to simulate a natural habitat.” Utter hogwash. The lagoon won’t be as big as a dolphin’s real natural habitat: the open ocean. There, in limitless waters, a free, wild dolphin can live up to 50 years. Highly social creatures, dolphins often swim up to 100 miles per day in pods to hunt for food. A captive dolphin, on the other hand, often circles its tank without purpose. Even in the largest facilities, caged dolphins have access to less than 1/10,000 of 1% (0.000001) of the space available to them in their natural environment.

2) An unnamed source—always be wary of those, dear readers—in the Minivan News story said the project would create “an open water program during which the dolphins will accompany the caretakers on daily unstructured excursions,” and defined the role of caretaker as “taking a dog for a walk.” Last time I walked my dog—roughly six hours ago—I did so with my hand connected to a leash and said leash firmly attached to her neck. Does the park intend to literally leash dolphins? I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t put it past them, either.

3) Untold ecological damage. Similar lagoon projects in the Caribbean have resulted in dolphin excrement being so concentrated that it kills off all the neighboring coral and therefore drives away all other species. A 2003 report on dolphin enclosures and algae distributions published by Thomas Goreau, the President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, concluded that “dolphin enclosures, which are increasingly common in tropical tourist areas, are a significant local source of nutrient pollution and ecological damage to coral reefs. There appear to be only two ways of reducing their impact. The first is to close them down. The second is to enclose them with solid walls to prevent nutrients escaping into the coastal zone.”

4) Another unnamed source in the same Minivan News story said: “The proposed lagoon is the largest for the small number of dolphins that will inhabit it in the world.” No matter how large it is, folks, a cage is a cage is a cage.

5) “It’s so spacious that if the dolphins don’t want to participate in an activity or hang around divers, they can just swim off. The philosophy is, ‘we’ll reward what you like, but you ignore what you don’t like,’ ” said yet another unnamed source in the Minivan News story. Put yourself in the shoes of the brass operating this park. Would you really allow your prized attractions to simply swim out the front door? There are millions of dollars of gate receipts at stake if a dolphin park doesn’t have any dolphins. I have a hard time believing that the park doesn’t have a sinister backup plan lurking somewhere in its operating manifesto, like: If too many dolphins choose not to return to lagoon, trigger Operation Round-Up.

Incensed about the proposed park as we are?

Put your digitized John Hancock to this Care2 petition.


hehehe... sorry but ric's reasons are getting more and more preposterous and trying to play on the readers mind by saying.. ""do you really think??"" hehe.. thats a new low even for you. I'm still waiting for some concrete evidence to join your team on this project. And i'm afraid you've been disappointing me so far.