Stevenson says close Dolphin Quest

  • Andrew Stevenson

    Andrew Stevenson

A whale researcher last night said the Island’s Dolphin Quest should close.

And Andrew Stevenson, founder of the Humpback Whales Research Project, added keeping dolphins in captivity could no longer be justified.

Mr Stevenson said: “I feel pretty strongly personally about this.

“I have sat on the fence about this for a while because we do have Dolphin Quest and I have friends who work there.”

Mr Stevenson explained he had changed his mind over captive dolphins after spotting a pod of around 60 bottlenose dolphins off Bermuda last summer and filming them underwater with a Go Pro camera.

He said: “I had a real insight into how they live in the wild, swimming around in defined groups of two, three or four.

“It was a revelation as to how these animals are designed and built to live in the middle of the ocean. It was at that point I saw I really couldn’t turn a blind eye to it.

“It’s not natural for these animals to be in small enclosures.”

Mr Stevenson said he had spoken to Dolphin Quest, who told him their dolphins were of a different type to those found out in the Atlantic and would have spent their lives in shallow water close to shore.

But he added: “Nevertheless, these animals are built for speed and built to cover long distances.”

And he said: “These dolphins don’t deserve to live in captivity and to be born into captivity. I don’t think personally that makes it any better.”

Mr Stevenson threw his weight behind animal lovers who feared the Dockyard tourist attraction was becoming overcrowded following the birth of two calves within a week of each other.

Hamilton mayor Graeme Outerbridge said it was “cruel” to keep animals in the Dockyard pools and that it was “a confined area, hardly an ideal place for a dolphinarium.”

But Dolphin Quest said the attraction had — including the two new arrivals — a total of nine bottlenose dolphins, below the maximum number of 12 agreed with the Bermuda Government.

And she dismissed a reader’s claim that the pool area was too small.

A spokeswoman for Dolphin Quest said: “A survey by the Bermuda-Caribbean Engineering Consultants in 2000 and later revised in 2005 of the Dolphin Quest Bermuda facility indicates the area at the ‘Keep’ is 8,624 square feet.

“The spatial requirements have also been audited by an international inspector, Mr Louis Garibaldi, contracted by the SPCA in 2004 and from representatives of the regulative body of the Alliance Marine Mammal Parks and Aquarium in 2013.”

Dolphin Quest opened in Bermuda in 1997 at its original home off the South Shore, which was destroyed by Hurricane Gert in 1999.

The organisation said it had plans to extend the pool area to take in an area of sea in 2005 and were granted permission by the Department of Planning — but were asked to hold off while the new Dockyard cruise ship terminal was under construction.

The Dolphin Quest spokeswoman added: “Following the construction of the dock further options have been researched and we also waited for the completion of the modifications of the dock in 2013.”

And she said: “As stated and shared with our stakeholders such as the SPCA, we are always interested in exploring ways to enhance our environment. We are and continue to be extremely interested in exploring these opportunities to provide an even more enriching environment for our dolphins.”

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Published Apr 11, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 11, 2014 at 8:14 am)

Stevenson says close Dolphin Quest

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