Don’t allow dolphin parks

I recently spent a week on your lovely Island and had a great time.

While there, it came to my attention that businesses that promote the use of Dolphins for the entertainment of people are being considered.

I do not like to see this type of attraction spreading. These are not fish; these are animals with the same cranial capacity as humans.

I have had the good fortune to have been sailing and have them just pop up right next to my boat and look right at me and make their noises. When you look them in the eye you know you are not looking at a fish – you are looking at an intelligence not seen in most other animals.

The first time they did this with me (Gulf of Mexico, off the west coast of Florida) I asked someone who was familiar with the area about this behavior, because they had been obviously trying to keep pace with my boat and watch me at the same time.

He said that it was the way that they played, and that what they were doing was actually racing with me.

Is that the kind of life that should be kept in a pen for tourists who are too pampered and lazy to experience them in any natural environment?

I really believe that this kind of attraction is caused by the desires of the cruise industry to add value to their stops, and by the desires of local governments to appease the cruise industry.

We have spent past vacations in Cozumel and became involved with their Humane Society, both in donations and sending them supplies for their spay programs – because I sell medical equipment, etc., I am able to send what they use for those programs.

Cozumel is very third world in this area – their veterinarian lived in one small room in back of the building.

What I learned about the Cozumel dolphin businesses came from those folks as well as the media.

The first dolphin experience was at Chankanob Park – a supposed ecological park with fake Mayan ruins that was really just a depot for the tourists to spend a day.

When there were tropical storms and hurricanes around guess where the dolphins were sent to protect them? To a local hotel swimming pool! Gee, imagine the fun they had there!

Perhaps they could order drinks! Bet they just loved those pool chemicals, doesn’t everyone? And, no, I am not making this up.

Then the local government decided that perhaps the trip to the park was just too far for some so they allowed yet another dolphin experience to be put in closer to the cruise piers.

This one was not even as reputable as the one at Chankanob. I may be off base but I think these animals came either via Cuba or an African country. Several of them died in transit – perhaps they did not care for their accommodations.

No doubt they didn’t have an ocean view.

And then Wilma wasted Cozumel – Chankanob Park wasn’t just damaged – it was no longer there. Dolphins? Who knows. But congrats to the Mexican government for their recent stand on this issue.

To me the sad thing is that your Island seems to have prided itself on – and done a great job of – promoting its efforts in saving an endangered species – the Blue Iguana, as well as efforts to preserve the reef systems.

What kind of message does it send to an increasingly environmentally conscience public to offer this type of attraction? Is that the image that Grand Cayman wants to promote? Will local industries gain business or lose it?

Chris Haight-Broken Arrow,Oklahoma USA

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