Dolphinarium developer defends decision

Owner of Dolphin Discovery (Cayman) Ltd. Dale Crighton has defended the proposed dolphinarium for Grand Cayman, saying it will not harm the environment.

‘I live here, I’ve lived here all my life and I wouldn’t do anything like this if I thought it was going to harm the environment and the place where my children live. I’m staying in Cayman and I don’t intend going anywhere else, so I would not do something if I thought it would cause harm,’ said Mr. Crighton, who, along with Mr. Gene Thompson is behind the setting up of a swim-with-dolphins facility proposed for West Bay.

‘I hope the Caymanians will give me the benefit of the doubt – that this will do nothing to destroy the economy or the environment,’ he said.

An animal import licence was issued to Dolphin Discovery (Cayman) Ltd. earlier this year. The licence, for eight bottlenose dolphins, is subject to certain health requirements at the time of importation and other requirements being in place prior to the importation of the animals.

Mr. Crighton, spoke to the Caymanian Compass this week in reaction to a meeting against the proposed facility held last week by campaign group Keep Dolphins Free in the Cayman Islands.

The group, led by Mr. Billy Adam, had guest speaker, diver and environmentalist Martha Watkins-Gilkes give a talk and the meeting focused on environmental, economic and humane reasons why the dolphin facility should not be set up.

According to Mr. Adam, one of the environmental problems with dolphins is that their faeces is detrimental to coral reefs, and this, in turn, damages coastal defences against hurricanes.

Mr. Crighton said it baffled him how people can say such an operation could destroy the environment when the dolphin excrement from the eight dolphins at the proposed facility will consist of eight gallons of liquid going through 10 million gallons of water in a 24 hour period. ‘I find it hard to believe that this will harm the environment,’ he said.

‘Fish living in the sea eat and excrete every minute of the day so if excrement is so damaging, how do coral reefs survive at all?’ he questioned.

The dolphin facility proposed for Cayman is to be built independently, but as part of the Boatswains Beach attraction and will be located in the abandoned turtle ponds at the Cayman Turtle Farm site in North West Point, West Bay.

However, Mr. Adam is concerned that the West Bay Beach is already suffering from Cayman Turtle Farm raw sewage outflow nutrients and bacteria and believes that this will get worse with the development of Boatswains Beach and the proposed dolphin facility.

Mr. Crighton said that lots of people make comments about damage that has been done to the island following the hurricane and its natural defences and how the natural environment needs to be protected.

‘Some of those need to look in their own back yards and realise that they are selling books and sell Christmas trees every year,’ he said.

Mr. Crighton said he does not see that captive dolphin facilities have damaged places such as Cancun, The Bahamas or Florida.

When questioned about his opinion on Dolphin Discovery (the same company planning to operate here) having to be sent away from Antigua because of environmental problems there, Mr. Crighton said he did not know too much about the situation, but he believed it was because Dolphin Discovery had taken over from another operation that had initially run the facility and had problems.

It is understood that Dolphin Fantaseas set up in 2001 in Antigua and in June 2004 Dolphin Discovery bought it out and took over the operation there.