16 December, 2007


The Present State of the Dolphinarium. The Dolphin Discovery facility at Meads Bay is closed down. It appears to have been abandoned by the previous management. There seems to be only a handyman present on the site during the day. He tries valiently and without management guidance to keep up with basic maintenance. The dolphins are left to swim in their own waste. The water has become badly polluted. It is now in what must be a dangerous state for the health of the dolphins and anyone else, for that matter, venturing into the water.

The relevant authorities are in the process of deciding whether to permit Dolphin Discovery to move to a new site at the Sandy Spit at Blowing Point. They are said to be going to make an independent judgment. They will consider the track record of these people and they will study the Environment Impact Statement presented to them by Applied Technology and Management Inc of West Palm Beach, Florida, and dated November 2007 [link here]. I thought I would help you to see what the authorities will find when they consider the present facility in conjunction with what the EIS says. This is a sort of photo-essay. It is only a few of the photos that were sent to me. Each has as its caption a quote from the EIS.

EIS, page 22: Dolphin Discovery currently operates an existing facility on Anguilla at Meads Bay, an operation that has been a substantial contributor to the tourist-based Anguilla economy.”

EIS, page 1: The Developer has demonstrated that they will ensure the animals’ welfare and veterinarians will monitor the dolphins’ health and provide appropriate care.”

EIS, page 17: Ongoing observations will occur daily by both the behaviour and medical staff. . . . The Dolphin Discovery project will employ numerous highly qualified professionals with experience in the area of marine mammal care. . . . All relevant staff members will be trained on animal evaluation, including diseases, pathogens, and injuries that are known to occur in captive bottlenose dolphins.”

EIS, page 40: Fish and other aquatic organisms depend on dissolved oxygen (DO), which is the oxygen present in water, to live. . . Dissolved oxygen can drop to dangerously low concentrations in water bodies that are very warm and/or have an excess of organic matter. Organic matter can originate locally via large growths and subsequent deaths of living organisms (oftentimes phytoplankton responding to an enrichment of nutrients), or organic matter can originate elsewhere and enter the water body via waste water treatment plants, failing septic tanks, and agricultural and urban runoff.”

EIS, page 17: Cleaning, food preparation and personal hygiene procedures such as hand washing and the use of footpaths will be taught to each staff member.”

EIS, page 19: All food preparation equipment (including buckets, sinks, scales, etc) and facilities will be cleaned and disinfected daily or more often as needed. The project will follow the US Department of Agriculture’s regulations for preparation of food.”

EIS, page 20: The wastewater collection and transmission systems will transport the wastewater via gravity in order to minimize the use of pumps and mechanical equipment which require additional maintenance and power.”

EIS, page 20: The wastewater collection system will be designed to handle estimated peak hourly flow conditions such that even during peak conditions, the wastewater will be transported away from the event/entertainment areas in order to eliminate any potential nuisance from overflows and backups in the system.”

EIS, page 25: Legislation in Anguilla regarding environmental management and conservation is limited.”

EIS, page 27: Legislation pertaining to waste disposal and noise quality and pollution is very restricted and would not apply to the present development.”

EIS, page 27: There are no local standards for dolphins that are kept in captivity that apply to this project. The Developer will comply with accepted standards for other Caribbean nations as presented by the Government of Anguilla. Minimum suggested standards to use are the human swimming water quality criteria used in the state of Florida. Secondary guidance from similar facilities such as in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, include ensuring that the water quality criteria that are maintained are within human criteria as these are considerably more stringent than those established for dolphins.”

EIS, page 41: In marine waters, particularly those of the Caribbean, nutrients are present in low amounts. When they become available in large quantities in surface waters, they can cause excessive growth of algae and other plants.”

EIS, page 42: Total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) is the sum of organic nitrogen and ammonia in a water body. The measurement of TKN can indicate the origin of nitrogen loads. For example, high measurements of TKN typically result from sewage and manure discharges to water bodies.”

I don’t think it would be unfair to say that Dolphin Discovery has provided government with all the evidence it needs to determine the commitment of these people to maintaining the highest health and animal care standards at their Anguilla facility. Let us hope government will make their decision based on the evidence.


  1. "Dolphin Discovery is committed to provide high quality, educational, and entertaining interactive experiences to its guests." --EIS, page 2-8

  2. "With locations in Mexico, on Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and at Puerto Aventuras, as well as Tortola, BVI and Anguilla we are ranked among the top dolphinariums in the world. Also our locations in Hawaii (Sealife Park Hawaii) and Vallarta, Mexico(Sealife Park Vallarta)

    "We take our responsibilities seriously - Dolphin Discovery is an organizational member of the International Marine Animal Trainers Association, and our Cozumel facility is also a member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums."


  3. The Daily Herald
    St. Maarten
    Dolphins arrive at Dolphin Lagoon [excerpts]
    11 January 2001
    by Brenda Carty

    ANGUILLA--Six dolphins are now happily
    swimming around in the Dolphin Lagoon at Meads Bay. They arrived on Tuesday evening aboard a Russian charter plane from Cuba through St. Maarten, where they were transferred to a smaller aircraft.

    After having arrived, the dolphins were
    transported to Meads Bay and by 7:00pm were all in the pool, which holds 1.5 million gallons of sea water that is changed daily by means of 2,000-gallon per minute pumps.

    Two veterinarians are on site and a third is expected. They are Georgia and Mike Paul and Dr. Bossett. The vets are making sure that the dolphins are in good health and already are giving them vitamins and supplements to ensure this.

    The project conforms to international standards, including water quality, nutrition, social grouping, transport and medical treatment.

    Simpson told The Daily Herald he hopes to exceed the Animal Welfare Act standards and the health and wellbeing of the dolphins will hold absolute precedence over all other interests. "We will undertake no programmes or activities that compromise this basic
    commitment," he said.

    Simpson says the Dolphin Lagoon will be primarily educational and will teach respect for all living creatures and the natural environment in which we live. "We at Dolphin Lagoon believe that education is the key to conservation, because the better we know a species, the more responsive we can be to its need for food and habitat," Simpson said.

  4. An exclusive report for Corruption-Free Anguilla

    Today, 22 March 2001, is World Water Day. The Anguilla Water Quality Lab had an open house. We spoke of e. coli.

    And then I said, "Speaking of e. coli, I was out by Cocoloba last week, and those dolphins are swimming in their own shit. The pump that's supposed to change the water twice a day hasn't worked for weeks, you can't see more than a few inches below the surface, and they're talking about tourists swimming with the dolphins! If a lot of tourists go home and die after visiting Anguilla, is that good for tourism? Besides that, it's disgusting."

    A heavy silence befell us like the hand of God. Jaine looked at Kenroy, Kenroy looked at Jeremy Parr, and Parr said, as if quoting his Permnent Secretary, "There are complex issues surrounding that project, and a lot of people looking at it. Planning is looking to see if they conform to what they promised when they applied. You can be assured the project will receive close scrutiny from a number of departments when it is closer to being opened."

    I didn't ask him if the dolphins are happy.

  5. The Daily Herald
    24 March 2001

    Dear Sir,

    There has been and continues to be a lot of media and public attention on the Dolphin Lagoon project at Meads Bay in Anguilla. The unfortunate part of this is that the focus is from people thousands of miles away from Anguilla who are commenting on "reports and rumors" without bothering to research or confirm these prior to making public comment.

    We at Dolphin Lagoon (which is now doing business as Dolphin Fantaseas) feel that we must respond to these rumors in order to ensure that the public has accurate information about the project and are not making opinions based upon misinformation.

    First and foremost there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that any of the dolphins are sick or have died. In fact the opposite is true, all six animals are in excellent health and are interacting with the trainers daily in a positive manner.

    The equipment used by Dolphin Fantaseas to maintain water quality and store fish is amongst the best available in the industry, if this equipment fails, for whatever reason, we have numerous back up systems in place.

    As an organization managed by marine mammal experts, with more than one hundred combined years experience, it is our professional goal to provide a nurturing environment for the dolphins. To help achieve this we provide restaurant quality food to the dolphins and certainly would never give our animals anything that did not meet or exceed our high standards. For someone to insinuate that we would give "spoiled" food to the animals is absolutely ludicrous.

    We, through your newspaper, would like to assure the public that "Dolphin Fantaseas" is a professional organization run by professional marine mammal experts. There are and will be a few inexperienced trainers who are gaining the knowledge necessary to become professional trainers, this is similar to any new job or career. These persons are under the guidance of professionals with many years experience gained from a number of facilities throughout the United States and internationally. This organization has stated in the past that it is a priority to hire and train as many locals as possible; this continues to be a goal of Dolphin Fantaseas.

    Dolphin Fantaseas is in the process of developing comprehensive educational programs that will be available to the public focusing on school children in Anguilla who will be able to participate on a complementary basis. There will also be educational opportunities including lesson plans and accompanying materials to assist local teachers as they strive to educate children about marine mammals and the environment they live in.

    In closing we would encourage anyone who wishes to see the animals and or the facility to stop by. We have regularly scheduled times, (10:30 am and 2:30 pm daily), available to see the animals, talk to the trainers and ask questions. If unable to visit us personally we encourage email (info@dolphinfantaseas.com ) or calling (264-497-6760), and we will be happy to answer any questions.

    Chris Heslop
    Dolphin Fantaseas

    Company being scrutinized by U.S. government
    by James Osborne
    August 28, 2003

    Dolphin trainer turned animal rights activist Ric O'Barry remembers the scams he used to pull while working at Sea World in Florida.

    One time a newspaper reporter asked him about the death of a dolphin in his care. Mr. O'Barry replied that she was fine and pointed at another dolphin in the tank.

    The fact that the dolphin was dead and buried and Mr. O'Barry was simply exploiting the layman's inability to distinguish one dolphin from another. Mr. O'Barry, who worked as a trainer on the popular television programme Flipper before joining the World Society for the Protection of Animals, says that as there is little regulation concerning animal captivity, such deception is relatively common and almost never questioned.

    Recently though, the U.S. government has been cracking down on the industry's biggest suppliers of wild dolphins, Cuba. And while animal rights activists are ecstatic, it has nothing to do with the animals' health and welfare.

    The United States has maintained a trade embargo against Cuba since the early 1960s. Thus American citizens are forbidden from engaging in business or trade with Cuba, even through a third party, and face up to $1 million in fines and 10 years in prison if caught.


    And now the U.S. Treasury Department is investigating Dolphin Discovery, the Mexican-based company that opened a facility at Prospect Reef Resort in February, for possible violations of the embargo - the owners are alleged to be American. But while the department does not comment on investigations, in truth their role at this point is strictly playing catch up.

    The real investigation began in suburban Toronto not with Treasury agents wading through company paperwork but with a housewife on the internet. Dolphin activist Gwen McKenna began looking into Dolphin Discovery six months ago and with contacts in Cuba and Mexico has managed to amass some pretty damning evidence.

    A former government official in Mexico reported that as of 2000, Dolphin Discovery had at least 10 dolphins in its three Mexican facilities. As of yet, Ms. McKenna has been unable to obtain up to date records.

    But most compelling is the testimony of Dr. Guillermo Lopez, a Cuban national who once served as veterinarian with Dolphin Discovery and now works at the National Science Academy in the Dominican Republic. He says that from 1994 to 1995 representatives from Dolphin Discovery made two trips to Cuba and with his assistance purchased six wild dolphins.

    Leading that trip was General Manager Mike Wood and Dr. Lopez. When asked about the importation of Cuban dolphins, Dolphin Discovery Chief Executive Officer Eduardo Albor said he had no knowledge of this activity but said he would look into it. Subsequent attempts to reach Mr. Albor were unsuccessful.

    No matter how much evidence Ms. McKenna might gather that Dolphin Discovery is importing Cuban dolphins, it's unsubstantiated until the ownership of the company can be documented. Through her source in Mexico, she believes the owners to include Americans Donna Brewer Kassewitz, John Olson and Mr. Wood, but has been unable to obtain official documentation.


    A trip to the office of licensing didn't offer any answer. According to Trade and Investment Promotion Officer Alex Harrigan, Dolphin Discovery BVI Ltd, is a local subsidiary of the Mexican company, is owned by Mr. Albor and Cyril Romney.

    Ms. Kassewitz at one time listed herself as a founding partner of Dolphin Discovery on the web site for her current venture Peace Poles, a South Florida non-profit aimed at increasing human spirituality, she has since removed this information.

    This is not the first time Ms. McKenna has used the embargo to target a captive dolphin business. In 2002, U.S. authorities launched an investigation into Dolphin Fantaseas, an Anguillian dolphin encounter business owned by American entrepreneur Graham Simpson, also for illegally importing Cuban dolphins. While the investigation is still pending, Mr. Simpson faces likely conviction, which activists hope will discourage other Americans from buying wild dolphins from Cuba.

    Much of the information that prompted the investigation came from Mr. O'Barry and Ms. McKenna, who have formed a two-man army of sorts, dedicated to shutting down captive dolphin programmes - whatever that means.

    "I'm trying to stop the trade of dolphins, and Cuba happens to be one the largest exporters in the world," said Ms. McKenna. "It's not about the embargo, but if it will stop the export of dolphins we'll use it."


    The dolphin trade out of Cuba is expansive and supplies animals to facilities across Mexico and the Caribbean. Between 1995 and 2000 Cuba reported that it sold 82 dolphins, mostly out of the National Aquarium of Havana. At the ancient structure on the waterfront of Old Havana one can buy a dolphin to order, male or female, green or born in captivity, untrained or show ready said Mr. O'Barry. There's even a celebrity veterinarian on hand - Celia Guevara, the daughter of Mexican revolutionary Che Guevara.

    For poverty stricken Cuba, the $60,000 asking price for a wild dolphin is a major windfall that came about following a United States moratorium on the capture of wild dolphins in 1990. Countries such as Mexico also signed on to the agreement, leaving the business to the less developed countries of the world.

    While there are international authorities who monitor the trade of dolphins, there is little enforcement of rules.

    The body charged with overseeing the transport of dolphins between countries, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) doesn't have to be notified to almost a year after the fact. Furthermore, records don't indicate the business involved, but simply the countries.

    But the near fanatical efforts of activists like Ms. McKenna and Mr. O'Barry is steeped in dogma far beyond the mere trade of dolphins. If they had their way, places such as Sea World wouldn't exist at all.

    And that disfavour has even spread to the BVI. Ever since the first swim with the dolphin facility opened at Prospect Reef in 2001, there has been continued protest.

    It reached a boiling point last October when Dolphins Plus, a Florida based company, suddenly closed down and took their dolphins to Dominica, citing poor water quality at Prospect Reef. Officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources attested the water met with industry standards, but the facility's reputation was marred.

    And protest was renewed when Dolphin Discovery opened in February with petitions filed and angry letters printed in the pages of this newspaper. But go to any zoo in the world and you will find sleepy bears and morose turtles. What is it about dolphins that inspire such devotion?

    As described by Mr. O'Barry and Dr. Lopez, who himself has become an opponent of the captive dolphin business, the capture and training process causes the animals serious distress and in some cases even death. Procuring wild dolphins is described as something akin to a cattle round up with men on boats hurling nets and lassoes. The dolphins are often left bloodied, said Mr. O'Barry.

    Once sold, dolphins are generally transported to the new owners by cargo plane. According to Mr. O'Barry, the animal is place in a foam rubber box with a foot of water in it and covered in zinc oxide and other lotions to protect its sensitive skin. Ice and water are used to keep them cool, but the effect of being out of water, experiencing the effects of gravity for the first time, is traumatizing for the dolphins, said Mr. O'Barry.

    As to the actual danger posed to the animals, Mr. O'Barry admitted the transports are usually successful. After all, each dolphin represents a $60,000 investment for a show operator, so losing a dolphin becomes an expensive error.

    But once in their new homes, dolphins are performers and through flips and tricks are expected to draw in tourists willing to spend in excess of $100 for a hour-hour in the pool with the friendly mammals.

    How the dolphins are actually trained is a matter of contention. Activists claim that starvation is the method of choice, basically a dolphin is fed when it performs a trick and not until. When interviewing in February Renato Lenzi, vice president of animal management at Dolphin Discovery said that while food is used as a training tool the dolphins are never forced to go with fish.

    Looking at the dolphins, they appear healthy and happy as they balance tourists' feet on their noses, propelling them through the water. And the real issue is not the dolphins' welfare but the fact that they are in captivity in the first place.

    Part of the draw is the dolphin smile, as Mr. O'Barry calls it, an everpresent turn of the mouth that emanates an air of friendliness and whimsy. Perhaps more importantly there is the notion of dolphins as highly intelligent animals - scientists place them on the same level as some primates. They can learn tricks, communicate with each other and have even been known to open cages.

    And like any intelligent animal, say activists, when kept in a closed environment with little stimuli they become bored and unhappy.

    "The tanks are overcrowded, small and shallow with nothing for the dolphins to do", said Ms. McKenna. "When the music's not playing these animals just lay on the surface of the water looking bored."

    As no one has yet concocted a way to communicate with dolphins - one woman claimed to have in the 1980's but her results were largely dismissed. The notion of the unhappy dolphin is only conjecture. There are stories of dolphins committing suicide by ramming their heads against the walls of the tank or asphyxiating themselves, but the reasons for these actions have not been explained.


    In part the recent campaigns of unhappiness came about because activists have been unable to establish categorically that captive dolphins don't live as long as wild dolphins. Estimates for the average life span of a captive dolphins run as low as five years, but firm figures aren't available.

    "In order to calculate the average life span of captive dolphins one would have to know the exact number of dolphins that have been brought into captivity, their exact age at capture, and the exact time of their death," reads an article on Mr. O'Barry's web site. "It is simply not possible to gather this information, as it is not made available to us by the dolphin captivity industry."

    Thus much of the work is left to a long list of activists, which includes Jean-Michel Cousteau, marine spokesperson of the BVI and son of the famed oceanographer. But most prominent of late are Ms. McKenna and Mr. O'Barry, who are continuing to wage war on the industry - in part by using cold war policies of the U.S. government.

  7. South Florida Sun-Sentinel
    Dolphin mania changes face of tourism in Caribbean
    May 18 2004

    CANCUN, MEXICO -- Dolphins are everywhere in this resort mecca. Here and throughout the state of Quintana Roo, more than 100 are kept in sea pens, concrete pools, even a shopping mall, for the amusement of tourists.

    Eight new dolphin swim attractions have opened elsewhere in the Caribbean in the past two years with another eight proposed. Jamaica, Antigua, Anguilla, Curaçao, and Tortola have tapped into the lucrative business. Four facilities are proposed in the Cayman Islands alone.

    "It's like a cancer,'' said Martha Watkins-Gilkes, an American living in Antigua who opposes the dolphin attractions. "It just keeps spreading.''

    Island governments, eager to increase tourism and add jobs, have approved them with cursory scrutiny, a South Florida Sun-Sentinel investigation found. A small group of primarily foreign businessmen and investors, including several Americans, are behind the proliferation.

    Donna Brewer Kassewitz of Miami founded Dolphin Discovery, a Mexican company with four Caribbean dolphin swim attractions, according to her Web site in November 2002. The site promotes Global Heart Inc., a nonprofit peace organization that sponsors sweat lodges and drumming circles in South Florida.

    "Donna has also facilitated numerous spiritual retreats in the Yucatan, leading groups there to swim with dolphins and
    explore Mayan sacred sites,'' the Web site said. She has organized two international conferences on "dolphin-assisted therapy.''

    Kassewitz's ties to Dolphin Discovery have been removed from her Web site. Reached on her cell phone, she said she was busy but would call back with comments. She did not answer repeated messages after that.

    Dolphin Discovery stocked its swim attractions in part with more than 30 dolphins purchased from Cuba and is under investigation by the U.S. government for possible violations of the trade embargo prohibiting Americans from doing business with the communist government.

    Eduardo Albor, CEO of Dolphin Discovery, declined to say whether Kassewitz or other Americans were still involved in the company.

    "There has not been violations of the embargo, and no Americans have bought dolphins from Cuba for Dolphin Discovery,'' he said. "I'm 100 percent convinced I can prove that.''

    Graham Simpson, a Reno internist who helped found the American Holistic Medical Association, got into the dolphin business about five years ago. Simpson's Dolphin Fantaseas opened in Anguilla and Antigua and the company planned to expand to St. Lucia.

    John J. Mezzanotte, an accountant in Connecticut, invested because, he said, "I thought it was an interesting opportunity. I know nothing about dolphins.''

    The Antiguan government gave Mezzanotte a permit for Dolphin Fantaseas to capture up to 12 dolphins a year and import and export them "as may be required,'' records show. The permit came with no public input and in violation of an international treaty, according to a lawsuit environmentalists on the island filed last fall.

    Before the case went to trial, the Antiguan cabinet withdrew the permit.

    "It's quite a big victory,'' said John Fuller, the environmentalists' lawyer. "Dolphins were going to be captured in our waters and sold without any kind of study about whether it would be detrimental to the population [in the wild].''

    Dolphin Fantaseas bought six dolphins from Cuba and also is under investigation by the U.S. government.

    Simpson did not respond to repeated messages seeking comment.

    Dolphins Plus of Key Largo sent four dolphins to swim with guests at a resort in Tortola, British Virgin Islands in 2001. The water quality was so bad trainers canceled swim sessions, according to an account company officials later gave the federal government to explain why they abruptly moved the dolphins. The dispute with Prospect Reef Resort escalated to the point where police were involved and Dolphins Plus ended up flying the animals in October 2002 to Dominica, where the company is building a dolphin attraction. Less than a month later, dolphin Isla died.

    "Isla had been sick on and off for eight years,'' Rick Borguss, an owner of Dolphins Plus told the Sun-Sentinel. "The water
    quality [at Tortola], and I think the transport was the final [straw]. You live and learn.''

    Cyril Romney, chairman of the Prospect Reef Resort board, disputed Dolphins Plus' account but declined to comment further.

    Dolphins Plus takes credit for starting the swim-with-the-dolphins craze in 1984.

    "Sadly, a good idea sometimes gets into what I call the greedy factor,'' Borguss said. "Look at what's happened in the Caribbean. Some of these places have like eight dolphins and they run 450 people a day through ... If they lose a dolphin, who cares? They go to Cuba and buy another one. They're doing it purely as a business.''

    Solomon Islands government officials agreed to a business transaction last year when they gave Canadian Chris Porter permission to capture and sell up to 100 dolphins. A company headed by Porter wanted to build a resort in the civil-war-torn South Pacific chain with proceeds from the dolphin sales, said American Mike Schultz, a former dolphin trainer in Florida and a consultant on the project.

    Porter and Schultz "wanted to sell to anybody,'' said Adan Zurbia, head of Via Delphi, a Mexican company with dolphin
    attractions. "They wanted to charge $20,000 for each dolphin.''

    Zurbia said he declined. Three weeks later, a contact in Japan offered the Solomon Islands dolphins for $40,000 each, he said.

    Parque Nizuc, a swim attraction in Cancun on the grounds of a Wet `n Wild, bought 28 of the dolphins. A chartered DC-10 flew them to the park last July.

    Activists decried the Solomon Islands capture, but have been ineffective in slowing the Caribbean dolphin business.

    In the past decade, the Mexican government granted permits for dolphin attractions in an amusement park next to a roller coaster, under a bungee jump and in a mall.

    At La Isla Shopping Village on Cancun's main strip, shoppers can eat at Johnny Rockets diner, try on clothes in a T-Shirts
    Factory and pay to see dolphins in a concrete pool in the mall.

    Cars and buses whiz by just beyond their tank. Visitors pay $12 to watch the dolphins, obtained from Cuba, or $115 for a 45-minute swim.

    Government officials like dolphin businesses because they bring new jobs and tourist dollars.

    "Foreigners come in and take advantage of these islands by exploiting our natural resources,'' said Watkins-Gilkes, a native
    of Mississippi who has lived in Antigua for 20 years. "It seems to me the only people benefiting are the owners of the facility.''

    The Jamaican government allowed Dolphin Cove to expand an Ocho Rios attraction last year despite opposition from environmentalists.

    "At the public meetings here, there was a fair amount of concern for dolphins,'' said Diana McCaulay, head of the Jamaica Environment Trust. "But there were also a fair amount of people saying jobs, jobs, jobs.''

    The opponents brought in American scientists against keeping marine mammals in captivity.

    "What is it that these people in the U.S. have to come here and bug us?'' said Stafford Burrowes, co-owner of Dolphin Cove. "You have more than 100 facilities. They need to check their own situation at home.''

    Cruise ships from the United States provide a never-ending stream of customers. Many dolphin attractions have docks or ferry service to shuttle passengers directly from ship to dolphins.

    "The one thing you don't want to miss. Take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with a dolphin,'' says Royal Caribbean International's Web site on shore excursions in Nassau. "Have your picture taken while kissing these loving creatures.''

    The cruise lines get a cut from the dolphin bookings, though they won't say how much.

    "That's not usually something we would disclose,'' said Jaye Hilton, spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean. "We do realize some
    profits from the shore excursions.''

    Dolphins have become the top-draw at destinations such as Cancun, despite competition from boating, diving, fishing and some of the world's most beautiful beaches.

    A Cancun tourist magazine is filled with ads offering swimming, wading and watching dolphins, "starting at only $39 dollars.''

    "When our own dolphin friend finally agreed to meet with us, she allowed us to hold her in our arms,'' reads one testimonial in the magazine. "We could just imagine her preventing little balserito Elián Gonzalez from drowning in the shark-infested waters of the Florida Keys.''

    "All propaganda for tourists has to do with dolphins,'' said Vincente Vega, who books tourist excursions in Cancun. "They're
    everywhere. It's the most popular attraction.''

    During a recent visit to Manati Park in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, tourists paid $70 for 10 minutes with a dolphin. Eight at a time, they took turns petting three dolphins, riding across the pool on their dorsal fins and posing for pictures, one dolphin at each shoulder.

    In under an hour, the dolphins swam with 32 tourists.

    One of them, Michelle Gray, a honeymooner from Warren, Pa., said that she would not have done it had she known beforehand that the dolphins came from the wild in Cuba.

    She remembered that, "They told us the dolphins loved to be petted, but it sure didn't seem like it. They'd dart to the bottom or back to the trainer.''

    Manati Park was building a new tank and adding more dolphins, said sales manager Imar Alvarez. Ocean World on the island's
    northern coast bought land near Punta Cana and was considering a competing attraction.

    Attorney Fuller says that in Third World countries with little else to lure tourists, swim attractions are "a good bet." He sees plenty of opportunity still in the Caribbean dolphin business.

    "There's too much money involved,'' he said.

    Copyright © 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

  8. This is disgusting! Where is the Environmental Department? Where is the Water Quality Lab? Where is the government veterinarian? Where is AARF? Where is "Dr." Lana Hoyoung?

  9. Has this been brought to the attention of the Environment Department? If so what are they doing about it? Why has there been no public announcement of this situation?

  10. I suppose it fits in with the Tourist Board's slogan which is "The Anguilla Experience - Feeling is Believing".

    Try to tell that to any happy tourist who goes in that water, handles dolphin turd or picks up a bad infection

  11. How many of the Dolphins died in Anguilla? I remember one being reported. Does anyone know how many? And they said they live longer in captivity .. yeah right ...

  12. Looking at the pictures makes me sick. They are talking who ranked top in the world why have they mentioned that the location in Hawaii (Sealife Park Hawaii) is sold and the company does not have money to continue the operations? The dolphin park should not be relocated in Anguilla. There are no water testing carried out at the facility it has not been done for a very long time now. The health of those dolphins in that water will make them sick and then we will soon have another or 7 dead dolphins on our hands. Is that what we want to happen here in Anguilla? The Environmental Department, the Water Quality Lab, the government veterinarian and the AARF are all asleep as for "Dr." Lana Hoyoung she does not see that when se goes there all she sees is the US$$$$ infront of her nothing more.

  13. It's shameful! Are they trying to kill them by neglect? O proud Anguilla with dolphins on the nation's flag -- come to the rescue.

  14. Any captive dolphin suffers and dies in a cruel manner. This is a sample of what is behind the show and the SWTD programs. These dolphins must be rescued by the Government, and Dolphin Discovery cannot be alowed to open another faciltiy. Not after this mistreatment to the dolphins.

    Is anyone listening in Anguilla?

  15. The Daily Observer - Antigua
    Tuesday, November 30, 2004


    The owners of the Marina Bay property which housed Dolphin Discovery has claimed that the operators of the business ransacked and stole personal items from his property.

    Norman Wexelman said that after the dolphins were removed on Saturday, the operators of Dolphin Discovery agreed that they would clean up the property and work on getting the dolphins back to Antigua. Wexelman said that the manager, Carlos Moreno, assured him that the building, as well as the exterior of the property, would be properly cleaned. He said Moreno assured him that only a few items from the establishment such as the park's sale materials and other personal items would be removed to Moreno's home.

    However, Wexelman said on Sunday, he got a call from the security guard telling him that three trucks had removed a number of items from the Marina Bay property. When he went to investigate, Wexelman said he found his property in a mess.

    "When I came, I saw that generators were missing, the freezer room was ransacked and the building was left in a terrible state," he said. "They went into the freezer room where all the fish were kept and dumped all the frozen dead fish into the pond where the dolphins were. That water is now contaminated. It's disgusting," Wexelman said.

    The property owner said he immediately contacted the police and reported the incident.

    "I am definitely going to make sure these persons are held accountable for what they have done", he said. "They are irresponsible and they have acted very irresponsibly from the start".

    Wexelman noted that he had no idea they would have vandalized his property as he and Moreno have always been on friendly terms.

  16. WOW! GREAT blog and photos on the dolphins! ! ! ! Just fantastic. If this does not get the proper attention of the government then God only knows what will.

    I am amazed at how the water level has dropped since the last time I was out there. And the condition of the water....nasty. When I was out there last it was not that way as the water level was up to the top.

    Poor dolphins!

  17. Just want to thank you for alerting the public and hopefully government officials about the terrible living conditions the dolphins are being subjected to in Anguilla.

    Dolphin Discovery trashed the facility they were leasing when they left Antigua. There is no doubt in my mind they will do the same thing in Anguilla.

  18. "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." --Mahatma Gandhi

  19. I hope this company is never allowed to reopen in Anguilla at any location.

    Is there any where we can write or anyone we can write to in order to urge the governement not to allow them to continue?
    your pictures tell the tale about why this facility should not be open.

  20. Barbara, than you for asking, but our government knows everything about everything and seems not to wish to be bothered by you, me our our opinions.

    Sharing your views with us in these blog comments, however, will reach those who will decide these questions. Thank you again for your concern.

  21. A knowledgeable and long time visitor to Anguilla, who is from Iowa and who posts as "Caicos" on anguillaforum.com, posted this message there this morning:

    "It is criminal and beyond sickening the way those poor dolphins are being treated!!! The photos show appalling conditions and a total lack of disregard for those poor creatures. After seeing the squalor (feces build up, etc.) that they are being forced to exist in, it looks like the dolphins are left to die of suffocation. Isn't there something that can be done ASAP to save them from those horrific conditions before it is too late?!? Really shameful!Crying or Very sad."

  22. I hope that any tourist thinking about visiting Anguilla will cancel their plans and tell their friends not to visit the island. I hope they will write to the Government of Anguilla and to the Tourist Board demanding the dolphins be properly taken care of. I don't think the Government will be moved unless they foresee loss of income and maybe the tourist board will be moved by the bad PR.

  23. I am neutral on the dolphin issue (not wanting to get embroiled in the feces of human comment), but may I simply remind all readers that dolphins are mammals and breathe air like we do. They have no gills and do not obtain oxygen from that which is dissolved in water. The dolphins will not suffocate in the filthy, unfiltered water. Suffocation is not what they will die from.

  24. And ur point is?

  25. I it disgusting to take a living creature that belongs in the sea and ensalve just for the excitement of sick people. Let's enclose you in Chlorated water for some time nd see how you will like it. Cruel, Cruel. I am so glaqd that we in Sint Maarten stood up agaqinst Theo and the Mexican Group that wanted to bring one to Sint Maarten. Leave nature alon, we have fucked it up enough thru ecology, enviornment and Global Warming, the next thing is that we are going to hit the wrong button and blow ourselves to smitherines
    I am not prejudiced, but I've never met a Mexican Business man that was not corrupt and a thief. We have a few in Sint Maarten, hopefully it stays that way.

  26. Don… in relation to the last post’s profanity… I admired with enthusiasm your value-judgment and the fact that sound judgment is based on public policy, social and moral concerns… as well as the law.

  27. Tourism is said to be our main industry in Anguilla but it's really much more than that. Our secondary industries are construction, banking and insurance, but the funding for these trickles down from tourism.

    The big industry here in the old days used to be salt export. It is no longer a viable industry. We have nothing to fall back on if tourism goes.

    A tourism boycott would affect everyone on our island, starting with those who are living from week to week on their wages. Angering 13,000 Anguillians and residents is not the solution to the present dolphin crisis. It would, in fact, unite most of the 13,000 against those of us who care about the welfare of the dolphins, and it would be said that we care more about dolphins than people.

    Thank you for your understanding.

  28. "Angering 13,000 Anguillians and residents is not the solution to the present dolphin crisis."

    It's not the solution at all, but a way to make the Government act ASAP.

    Let Anguillians be angry -
    angry with their government. Boycotting this small island tourism market WILL work.

  29. I am weary of only listening to one side of the issue. When the lawyers protested the Physical Planning bill, those who thought the Bill was essential but needed a few changes were not heard. Now without a Physical Planning Bill in place, many persons are abusing Anguilla lack of environmental laws right, left and centre.

    And the investors know every law on Anguilla. Don't blame the Mexicans, this has Americans hands written all over it.

  30. If you want to protest Dolphin Discovery, write to all the international organisations it is a member of. Here is their website link. Just click on the certification tab.

    Dolphin Discovery

  31. Perhaps someone needs to write Richard Obarry to post an action alert update on Anguilla. The last time he was in Anguilla, he was verbal abused and ran out of the island.


    His most recent update on the dolphins were in 2002. I am sure he would love to see the pictures.

  32. A boycott will change the entire focus of this matter. People resent being threatened. They get angry. The issue will change. It will be the boycott, not the dolphins. Everyone here will turn against the boycotters. The government, being extremely sensitive to those who re-elect them every five years, will reflect the will of the people. Everyone, the people and the government, will be united. The dolphins will be forgotten in the confusion.

    Small governments react better to international embarrassment. If you want to help, please post a comment here:

    Thank you.

  33. If you would like to send a complaint to Dolphin Discovery directly, you can do so here:

    Dolphin Discovery


  34. This person has published a page on the Anguilla Dolphin scandal:


  35. This just breaks my heart. I used to live in Anguilla, so I contacted Peta. You may not like their tactics all the time, but they know how to get attention. They have forwarded information on to a marine mammal specialist who might know more on how to pressure these people. They said for now to please write to editors of local newspapers (or US and UK papers) and travel magazines (like Caribbean Traveller and Conde Nast Traveller) and to post on travel discussion forums to get attention on this. You might also be interested in this site about swim with dolphin facilities if you haven't seen it already. And if anyone knows how to contact any celebs who've visited the island that could make a public comment about this, well I'm sure the government would take action then.

  36. Boycott anguilla?What in hell are you people thinking of ?If that was to happen many of us will be financially crippled.Our very economic structure is based on tourism and any move that affects that will affect all Anguillians.
    We have to be careful of the things we propose or else they will come back to haunt us dearly.Petitions and protests are a more convienent way of getting the Gov't attention.It's the democratic way.Many of us wish the dolphins issues would disappear and along with them their owners,however ,it has become painfully clear Gov't has no intentions of sending them packing.Consequently,we must suggest an alternate location that would do less damage to our environment and tourisn industry.A location such as the western tip of the island where the waste and pollutants will drift out to sea by the currents and away from our beautiful beaches.Such remote loction would be a fitting compromise for everyone.BOT will have its attraction,the taxi drivers will have their fares and our beaches will be protected from excssive sewage and pollution,and the Dolphins?Well, we will have to continue working a little longer for their liberation(freedom).The Gov't should establish strict regulations and policies and work to enforce them through proper monitoring.
    I suspect that there will be many who will disagree with me on this and thats okay.We are all entitled to our opinions,however,what purpose do they serve if no one proposes or suggests solutions to our problems.

  37. Ashley Richards, who used to live in Anguilla, writes on her blog: http://tinyurl.com/2gdsxz :

    "Yes there are more atrocious things going on in the world than these little guys getting abused, but this is something that could easily be fixed. Unfortunately, it’s the tourists that are driving the market for a dolphin encounter in Anguilla and the local government doesn’t seem to be doing anything because it’s such a draw for tourists. I would love to swim with dolphins too, but I’d feel to guilty.

    "Other than posting to message boards, writing to travel magazines, newspapers, and Peta, (and creating as many keyword links to Don Mitchell’s site) there doesn’t seem much else that can be done from where I am. Unless someone knows a celebrity that would talk about it - because no one listens to anyone else these days."

  38. "Unfortunately, very few people listen, these days, to anything."

    --Hubert Hughes, House of Assembly, 22 August 2006

  39. Hi all
    Whether keeping Dolphins in captivity or not is a valid subject and can be looked at from many points of view.
    How to keep them is yet another issue.
    I don't know when and for what purpose these pictures have been taken, but whatever the intent was, they speak for themselves.
    Hopefully the intent was to point out a rusted, rotten, uncared for, sewer like environment, unfit for anything, anyone to touch, much less swim in it.
    Is the discussion about letting the operators continue in that place, under these conditions, serious??!!!
    I hope not.
    It's nearly Monty Python-ish!!
    I'm guessing that the facility never made enough money to keep it up, or else, the operator was just milking it.
    As it deteriorates,it's value as a destination deflates and the downward spiral begins.
    Maybe the merciful thing to do would be to close it.
    At least no-one will get poisened!
    Other than that, LOVE Anguilla!

  40. It should be noted that Dr. Naomi Rose, a marine biologist, has submitted extensive comments on what has come to be known locally as "The Hoyoung Report." Dr. Rose's response may be found near the bottom of the Comments section for the 4 December blog. Dr. Rose is a Marine Mammal Scientist with the Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society International.

  41. Dolphin Discovery sold their property to Viceroy Resorts. What have they done with the millions they made from the sale price. Now they want ANguillians to give them prime beachfront for nothing? Never again. Get these people out of Anguilla.

    No one made them sold their land to Vieroy Resorts. Viceroy resorts gave them enough time to relocate.

  42. Oh My Goodness..what a horrible tragedy for those poor dolphins. Dolphin Dicovery is quoted as saying "Dolphin Discovery is committed to provide high quality, educational, and entertaining interactive experiences to its guests." Well what about teh Dolphins you have taken responsibility for? Do they matter? who the hell is feeding them and caring for them since the establishment was abandoned? The very first time I was on the island, I fell in love with the dolphins on Mead's Bay and in particular a dolphin named Megara, she was sweet and loving even without being prompted. I did fall for the allure of swimming with the dolphins for the first time not giving a thought to the methodothology of it all such as the starvation-training factor. Today after seeing these pictures I don't care if any Dolphin Pleasure Palace stays open....as a matter of fact I wish they would all close and leave the poor dolphins alone. They are a disgrace and so are teh so called trainers who are supposed to care. They should be left behind to see what it feels like to live in such filth and disarray and hunger. I am getting very upset writing this and thinking about people who care so much about money that they would just leave these dolphins abandoned to live in a cesspool. Can someone please email me and let me know what happens and what the final decision of the establishment on Meads Bay will be and what will happen to the dolphins.
    Thank you
    Donna K.
    email address is: faireedreams@yahoo.com

  43. This is an abominable shame and a glaring example of the corruption that is rife in the government of Anguilla and so many of the Carribean islands. The owners of 'Dolphin Discovery' are obvioulsy known to certain politicians and they and their lackeys should be held accountable in criminal court for the health of these lovely creatures and the appalling condition of this facility. How could anyone decent live with the knowledge of such terrible living conditions for some of God's most noble and intelligent creatures?
    If the citizens of Anguilla don't stand up and put an end to this attrocity then they deserve to lose all tourist related income!
    Merry Christmas
    Las Vegas, NV.

  44. I do not see dolphins in that aprt of the dirty tanks. Are thsoe the abandon tanks? Where are the dolphisn now?

    The pictures do not show them in dirty water.

  45. The tanks are really all one tank, with steel netting separating the different areas. If there's filth in one there's filth in all.

  46. Someone above asked about celebrities who have visited Shedding light on the problem...well they are PART of the problem. Just about 2 years ago, Matt Lauer of the Today Show took his kids to this stink hole so they could swim with the dolphins. Apparently he paid extra for the 'up close' encounter.

    I wrote him at that time asking him to instead use his position in the media to expose these disgusting dolphin prisons....I got no response.

    You can tell alot about a civilization by the way they treat their animals.....this is a glaring beacon.

  47. Interestingly how this Dolphinarium debate has not encapsulate the debate of animal cruelty to the forefront on Anguilla. For too long, Anguillians without any sense of compassion for God’s creation, killed and/or tortured indiscriminately innocent animals e.g. dogs, cats, birds, goats, sheep, lizards, snakes, chickens etc. with cruelty that is heart-breaking to described.

    Animals are being killed with clubs, sticks and rocks; some are tortured - tied-up to trees while exposed to the raw elements without shelter. Some are injected with poison; food is laced to be picked up by strays. Animals hanging from trees seem to be a ritual or a form of animal death sentence. Some are bagged live before thrown into the ocean or a near-by cliff of over 50-100ft depths. Some are tied and held before a firing squad, sometimes by a licensed firearm user with permission… is also a nom.…

    This too is appalling and needed immediate attention, not only by our authorities, but by our divine instincts.

    So as a caring people as we make belief; let us not be bias in our reporting, but bring the full menace and dishononorable acts to the debate.

    Remember, Animal Welfare Acts in Europe affects us in Anguilla. By extension to the UK, we are obligated to Treaty Articles. We don’t have to wait on Government legislation. It’s a criminal offence not just for blatant acts of cruelty to animals, but also to fail to provide animals with legislatively specified standards of care.

  48. Let's not make blanket statements about all celebrities because of the conduct of Matt Lauer. He does not speak for all of them, any more than Hitler spoke for all white people or Idi Amin spoke for all blacks.

    Ignorant, insensitive people come in all colours.

  49. It remains true that those who care don't matter and those who matter don't care. But our leader says Jesus is coming soon.

    PS: Here's a picture of our Minister of Social Services (that means Health, Education and non-dolphin Prisons) with the famous Dr. Lana Hoyoung:.


  50. There is a new site on the dolphin scandal in Anguilla that is worth having a look at:

    A Plea to the Anguilla Government


  51. Jess in St Maarten has also taken up the plight of the dolphins. See

    An American in SXM


  52. Barbara in St Maarten has also taken up the cause of the dolphins. See

    Barbara Talks


  53. I emailed Ric O'Barry with the link, he responded to say he would come to help out, ifsomeone would cover his expenses.

    My wife and I went down to the DD, scaled the tank on the sea side for a look on Dec. 20. Looked nothing like the photos here. 8 dolphins swimming, jumping. Four people in wetsuits milling about. Wasapporached by one of them who told us they have a vet on premises adn the dolpjhins are fed 5 times a day. What to believe??!!

  54. I am beyond disgusted. Would caring people in AXA just go free those dolphins!! Let them out to sea in the dead of night... or they will be dead long before this government or any ageny at home or abroad can help them. All the talk about studies is just a delaying tactic, while the powers that be and their cronies figure out how to line their pockets some more or, conversely, how to cover their behinds for the collapse of the facility and death of the dolphins. Sorry my hard working Anguillians, whatever $$ you got out of the dolphins is all you're gonna get; you are never going to realize more financial benefits from 'dolphin tourism'. They will be long dead, and Anguillians may be too. It's sad that we are all so afraid (me too) of retaliation that few of us are even willing to use our name. FREE THEM NOW! Damn the conquesnces.

  55. If the dolphins were just freed, they would most likely die in the wild. They need to unlearn what the trainers have taught them. The dolphins get their meals thrown to them by humans. It's a totally different game in the wild. Only positive thing for them in the wild is no lawyers.

  56. While we rant and rave about the dolphins and their present condition, we are forgetting one obvious fact and that is that the facility is not open but in a transition period waiting on approval to be moved to a new location. These are not the usual condition that exists while the facility was operating and open to the public. Of course, there will be some neglect evident and while people are free to visit and explore the facility and its grounds, the taking of pictures for propaganda purposes does not do DD justice.

    It is true that the captivity of the dolphins, even though not accepted by everyone, is a means by which some Anguillians make their livelyhood. As such, until Gov't is made to correct and act on policy and regulations, we can raise holy hell to no avail. These mammals are here with us regardless of how we feel, thus it might be a more appropriate tactic to find an alternate location until we can settle this.

    I am not an advocate of DD but merely an Anguillian who believes that we have to reach a compromise for now but continue working to close down the operation in the future. As a previous poster suggested, a location on the western most tip of the island will benefit everyone for the time being since all the pollutants will flow out to the open ocean with the currents and away from our protected and prized beaches. It is actually quite normal for there to be compromises reached whenever there are a potential deadlocks or empasses over issues. It doesn’t mean that we have failed or have given up the fight, but that we have lived to fight another day and tackle the issues from another perspective.
    I believe that all Anguillians, and the Gov't included, are aware of the issues at hand but who is it among you are forthcoming with suggestions and or solutions to correct these problems? We are very adept at criticizing and pointing fingers but in the realm of finding solutions we are quite lacking.

    There has to be a way out or solutions proposed because it means that many people will be losing valuable income. Who will supplement that lost income? Is it not the Gov't who will be held responsible for any and all loses? If that is so, then solutions are what is needed before we can expect any changes in policy that will adversely affect our people and our financial structure. It is important to remember that Gov't relies on the people and elected officials of their constituencies to remain in office, hence they will be reluctant to act on anything that will negatively impact the majority. It is a sad state of affairs that we are experiencing with this DD issue and it is rapidly causing a division among our people that has to end if we are to continue our economic growth.

    It therefore behooves us to find solutions and find them fast.

  57. Anguilla has always be somewhat of a rebel state and the things that are going on now are a prime example of that rebel mentality. We feel that we can and will do as we please with no accountability. Well, times have changed but it appears as if no one has taken the time to inform most Anguillians. We are not foolish people by a long shot but we are swayed by impulses and our own inate desire to show and prove to the rest of the Region and the world that we are self-sufficient. This arrogance is often the root cause of our careless and reckless activities. While it is true that we have advanced a great deal from the 60's and 70's era we have yet to achieve the independence of self awareness and competent governance. Acting impulsively or doing things on a whim will always create problems for us in the future. This type of behaviour is what’s fueling the present crises we are experiencing. We may try to deny this but ultimately we have to face facts and see a spade as a spade.

    Changing our mentality is an arduous job but it has to be done in order to accomplish the goals and dreams of our forefathers and protect our children's future. We have to honor treaties and regulations that are embedded in our laws and the laws of the UK that pertains to us. If we look next door we will see this in effect in the US Virgin Islands. They have to comply with the legislation passed down by US mainland. These are things that are necessary to keep funding and protection going. If they were to act unilaterally and with disregard to US policy the consequences will be tremendous. We are in the same situation as they are but we seem to think that we can do what we chose with no accountibilty and consequences. So far, we have been fortunate that the UK has not pressured us into compliance but has chosen to give us some latitude. Yet still we bicker and moan. We are not equipped to function as an independent state and would be easily taken advantage of on the world stage. Our economy will collapse and our people will suffer greatly. Why can’t we understand this and act responsibly in this respect?

  58. I have tried for months to get a volunteer position at this facility only because I am concerned with the animals care. I hate this kind of facility but if they must exist the least I can do is try to lookout for any mistreatment and let someone know. This place is a joke.

  59. Dolphins belong in the ocean, not in captivity where people of means (aka vacation $$$) get to swim with them. If you're lucky as my husband and I have been, you'll get to see them diving in and out of the waves along each side of a boat we hired to go fishing in Anguilla years ago - a heavenly sight. At what price do humans want to jeopardize dolphin life and even their own health swimming in bacteria? This is very sad.

  60. My husband and I are going to be on St. Maarten in Feb. 2008. I thought it would be fun to swim with thi Dolphins on Anguilla, but after reading all the stuff that was written, there is no way I will help the island of Anguilla with my US dollars. JB.


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