Government to Approve Dolphinarium at Blowing Point on Thursday. We would all have heard by now that the Ministers have agreed to give the “swim with the dolphins” company a licence or lease of part of the proposed national park at Blowing Point for as their new facility. Its approval by ExCo on Thursday is expected to be a mere formality.
In the past, concerns have been expressed over a number of issues. These have included on the “pro” side such matters as the need to provide visitors to Anguilla with more amusements, and the need to keep those Anguillians employed by the old facility at
Silently lying in the background has been the unspoken issue of the impact of this type of circus activity on the values of the multi-million dollar homes built in recent years along that coast.
Now, comes word of another factor that should be thrown into the equation. Are the visitors and participants safe when swimming with the dolphins? Are these really tame animals that love to hug and to be hugged? Marine Connection is a
Dr Naomi Rose is a marine mammal scientist with Humane Society International [link here] . She has expressed interest in the dolphin activity in
It was almost certainly not an accident either, no matter what the facility called it. Dolphins are very aware of their position in the water and when they "porpoise" or jump out of the water, even more so when they are in a confined, completely familiar space such as a tank. We must remember that the water is their element - we are the awkward, tentative, clumsy ones in it. Annie, the dolphin who did this, did it on purpose - I can say that with very high confidence, even without viewing the video clip but certainly after doing so! Why she did it is another question - she might have meant absolutely no harm by it, because to another dolphin, such a body slam wouldn't have caused any permanent damage, but could have made a point within the dolphin social hierarchy of this facility. She might have even been playing. But my guess is that she meant to make a dominance point. She was no doubt quite surprised when the people she hit didn't respond as dolphins would.
Captive swim-with encounters are at least as dangerous as some recreational sports, like skate-boarding. Generally speaking you don't get injured, but you might end up with bumps or cuts. When you do get injured, it could be serious. Some people might think that's a reasonable risk and so it may be - but the difference with swim-withs is 1) with its rhetoric, the industry misleads the public into thinking it's completely safe (just go to any facility's web site - there may be fine print somewhere about the risks of injury, but the big print is all about how lovely and gentle and happy dolphins are); and 2) the industry is not transparent when injuries do occur.
For what it's worth, some former customers who got injured by dolphins have filed lawsuits - I think most are settled out of court, precisely to keep the information confidential. The industry is *not* transparent - any authority permitting this activity needs to recognize that."
Members of the public are entitled to ask some questions about the proposed approval of the dolphin facility at Blowing Point. One is, do these people carry insurance against incidents such as this? How common are incidents such as this? Is there any liability on the part of government and the public purse if such an incident should occur at Blowing Point? Are our health and emergency agencies ready to deal with this sort of incident if and when it occurs?