I was extremely disappointed to read Tourism Minister Charles Clifford’s comments regarding the development of captive dolphin facilities in the Cayman Islands and felt compelled to respond.
The Cayman Islands are marketed heavily as an area that has a thriving marine environment and rightly so. The area is a haven for divers, snorkelers and anyone who is keen to see sea life in beautiful clear waters in a warm climate. However, captive dolphin facilities pose a stark contradiction to this and absolutely oppose the natural diversity of marine life offered by the sea which surrounds the Cayman Islands.
One set of people who are whole-heartedly against the development of dolphinariums in the Cayman Islands is the diving community, which I am sure contribute a large amount of tourist revenue to the area. As people who enjoy viewing marine life in its natural habitat, divers are dismayed by the idea of keeping wild marine life in an artificial tank for amusement and profit.
To lose this educational, forward-thinking sector of ever-popular eco-tourism to artificial captive dolphin facilities, which are based solely on gaining revenue and entertainment from trained and distorted dolphins a shadow of their wild counterparts, would be devastating.
Public knowledge of the negative impacts of dolphinariums on dolphins and humans is growing.
Today, tourists are keen to visit areas which have ethical, sustainable and environmentally friendly roots and dolphinariums are a stark contradiction to this.
Developing dolphinariums in the Caymans will be jeopardising the Islands’ reputation as a haven for wild and diverse marine life and therefore the likelihood it will be recognized as an area for the fastest growing sector of tourism – eco-tourism.
Rather than creating artificial dolphin facilities and importing dolphins, which provides absolutely nothing for the local community, culture or environment, the Cayman Islands have the unique opportunity to utilise its natural resources.
Ethical dolphin watching is growing rapidly in popularity around the world and the Cayman Islands could be involved in this industry which is now worth more than US$10million worldwide and where education about dolphins’ natural skills and habits can be carried out via genuine research and observation of their natural, wide-ranging abilities and conservation can be done in situ.
I am shocked that as a Minister for Tourism and Environment that Mr. Clifford is not more concerned about the impact of these facilities on the environment or the Islands’ diving industry but also on the local community which do not want these facilities on their Island.
It appears that the Minister has been blinded by profit and that his responsibility towards tourism and environment in the Caymans has been forgotten.