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By Gary Stokes - Sea Shepherd Global

Dolphin Bay Resort, Phuket. Photo: Sea ShepherdDolphin Bay Resort, Phuket. Photo: Sea ShepherdThe Nemo / Dolphin Bay Phuket dolphinarium opened in November 2015 amidst public outcry, both locally and internationally. This popular Thai holiday destination sent itself backwards in a world that is rejecting captive dolphin “entertainment”, otherwise known as the enslavement of sentient beings.

Countries such as India, which recently recognised that cetaceans should never belong in captivity and outlawed all dolphinariums and then went one step further to declare them as “non-human beings” as opposed to just “animals,” are paving the way forward.

Back in 2014 Sea Shepherd broke the news of the proposed Phuket dolphinarium, highlighting that the dolphins selected for importation to the facility originated from the infamous killing “Cove” in Taiji, Japan. The CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species) records clearly showed that the Ukraine company Nemo had imported large quantities of Tursiops truncatus gilli (Pacific Bottlenose) dolphins from Taiji; 16 animals in 2010 and 20 animals in 2013. Several of the original females destined for Phuket were wild, caught in Taiji.

As images of the dolphinarium under construction circulated, the facility came under pressure for not being up to regulation. The dolphinarium had just one single tank with no way of separating any sick or troubled animals, among other issues, which caused a costly delay in construction and opening.

CAREAt the same time, local environmentalists on the ground in Phuket raised public awareness about the facility. A local poll run by one of Phuket’s leading newspapers showed that the overwhelming majority of people were against the opening of the dolphinarium. Results found that Thai nationals were 92% against, local resident expats 95% against, and tourists 98% against the opening of a dolphinarium in Phuket, Thailand.

Due to the delay, the CITES import/export permits expired, so new permits had to be applied for. In an effort to silence the opposition, Dolphin Bay Phuket chose to import dolphins that were captive bred in Ukraine, “claiming” they have no links to Taiji.

Nemo Ukraine imported Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins from Taiji

  • 16 Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins in June 2010
  • 20 Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins in May 2013

Animal Inventory at the Phuket Dolphinarium

  1. Male - Tursiops truncatus gilli (Pacific Bottlenose) - Born:  4/5/2012 - Chip No. 804098100052302
  2. Female - Tursiops truncatus gilli (Pacific Bottlenose) - Born:  28/4/2012 - Chip No. 804098100045758
  3. Female - Tursiops Truncatus Ponticus (Black Sea Bottlenose) - Born: 1/5/2012 - Chip No. 900118000366102
  4. Female - Tursiops Truncatus Ponticus (Black Sea Bottlenose) - Born: 23/9/2012 - Chip No. 900118000366103
  5. Female - Tursiops Truncatus Ponticus (Black Sea Bottlenose) - Born: 18/5/2012 - Chip No. 804098100051724
  6. Male - Arctocephalus Australis (South American Fur Seal) - Born: 13/6/2013 - Chip No. 900118000366105
  7. Female - Arctocephalus Australis   (South American Fur Seal) - Born: 5/6/2012 - Chip No. 900118000366104

The above statistics are confirmed by CITES.(Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species)

Bottlenose dolphins struggle during the selection process in Taiji, where wild animals are chosen for captivity. Photo: Sea ShepherdBottlenose dolphins struggle during the selection process in Taiji, where wild animals are chosen for captivity. Photo: Sea Shepherd
The bloody “Cove” of Taiji, Japan. Photo: Sea ShepherdThe bloody “Cove” of Taiji, Japan. Photo: Sea Shepherd

Two of the dolphins that were finally imported to Dolphin Bay Phuket are (1) a son and (2) daughter of the Taiji dolphins that were brutally caught and transferred to a Nemo facility in Ukraine in June 2010. This information has been confirmed by CITES. Taking these dolphins from Taiji to become breeding stock, and then exporting their offspring claiming “no links to Taiji” is ridiculous. In reality, having any links to the Nemo company itself confirms a very direct connection to the dolphin slaughter of Taiji. Having Taiji offspring makes them undeniably connected.

Anyone buying a ticket to the dolphin show in Phuket is ultimately supporting Nemo, a company that profits from the drive and slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan.

To add insult to the people of Thailand, Dolphin Bay Phuket is also promoting their dolphin swim activities as the “Royal Swim” or “Royal Dive” even though this has nothing to do with the Thai Royal family. The Thai people revere their King, so linking these blood dolphins with their King is the biggest insult that Dolphin Bay Phuket could make.

Mr Supreecha, General Manager of Phuket Aqua Project Co Ltd who operated the facility previously, responded to The Phuket News, stating, “I understand the concern from conservationists, but all of these animals were born in captivity. They are not from the wild and they need training and care.

“Our dolphin specialists will take very good care of them,” he said.

Standing on the dolphins’ rostrums and using them as surfboards is not “taking very good care of them.” Like many other captive marine parks, Phuket Dolphinarium claims that the show is “educational”. Displaying dolphins in an artificial environment as they are forced to behave in ways that are not natural, is neither educational nor taking good care of the dolphins. Animal exploitation for human greed is all that this facility offers.

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