As the Cayman Islands Tourism Association carries out a survey among its members regarding the issue of bringing dolphins to the Cayman Islands, I feel I have to say something on the issue having researched the subject.
I have travelled the world over the years and every place I have visited, where you could expect to see dolphins in the wild, I have taken a boat trip in the hope of catching my first glimpse of a dolphin swimming in the ocean where they belong. After many years taking those boat trips, looking and hoping I did not see any.
My quest to see dolphins in their own natural environment was reinforced at an early age. When as a child, my parents took me to a local zoo to watch captive dolphins perform, on demand, for the audience.
It did nothing for me and I am sure it did nothing for the dolphins apart from being rewarded with the odd fish, classical conditioning and mistreatment I am sure coming into play.
Some years ago while standing on a pier in the Indian Ocean I looked down and spotted a family of dolphins playing and swimming together without a care in the world so it seems, It was a beautiful sight and worth the wait after so many years.
I have seen dolphins again in the wild in different locations around the world including the Caribbean so there are places for people to visit in order to watch dolphins.
Dolphins are not dumb. They are intelligent, social and are wide-ranging animals and to bring dolphins into Cayman where they will be forced to live in artificial, confined conditions, away from their natural family groups will be shameful. There is evidence that many dolphins die very young in their new unnatural enclosures.
Dolphins continue to be captured from the wild to supply the growing demand for swimming with dolphins and the methods used to capture and transport dolphins can be shockingly cruel and many die during capture operations or in transit.
In captivity dolphins have a lower survival rate than in the wild, they are unable to communicate, hunt, roam, mate and play as they would in the wild.
The stress of their confinement often results in behavioural abnormalities, illness, and lowered resistance to disease and death.
Hurricane Ivan has shown what can happen and will happen again at some stage so what of the serious consequences for the dolphins held in its enclosure by the oceans edge?
It is a shame that at a time when Cayman is attempting to introduce more Caymanian culture to visitors that we have businessmen attempting to use their own culture of getting their hands on to even more of the mighty dollar at any cost, so it seems.
No doubt they will be checking out the members of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association before they complete their surveys of which the results will be used to formulate the official CITA position.
What does the church have to say on the matter or have they used up all their energy protesting the recent visiting gay cruise?
Most visitors to the Cayman Islands come from the United States where there are plenty of Dolphin shows, petting pools and swim with the dolphin enclosures so what are we saying here, we are just jumping on the band wagon and Cayman has no culture of its own to attract visitors.
I say we do not need to bring dolphins in to the Cayman Islands, Cayman is not Disneyworld or indeed a circus, it’s a small Caribbean island with some moral values and it needs to be kept that way.