Saturday, February 25, 2006

Dolphin Center proved more than expected!

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries V. Alfred Gray said on Monday that Kerzner International’s new dolphin facility at Atlantis has exceeded the government’s expectations.Following Hurricane Katrina, the dolphins were temporarily housed in various marine facilities throughout the eastern United States and last month arrived safety at their new home at Atlantis.

Minister responsible for fisheries, V. Alfred Gray, paid the dolphins a visit on Monday and noted that the temporary mammal facility, located on the site of the old Club Med, exceeds the government’s expectations.

Minister Gray explained that the visit was necessary to ensure that the government’s expectations were met.

"The government had a certain standard which it set by legislation and by regulations and those were put out to Sol Kerzner to ensure that against the background of the criticisms, which were being levied against the government allowing the import…that whatever the requirements were, Sol Kerzner was willing to meet them and in whatever circumstance could exceed them," he said.

"I am delighted to have taken this opportunity to see for myself what is going on here because it is important that The Bahamas, particularly those people who were against the importation of these dolphins, get to see the high standards that are being enforced here at the facility," he said.

"Having seen what I have already – the medical facility, the feeding facility and indeed the habitat where the animals are kept – I am satisfied that this definitely meets and certainly in certain aspects exceeds the expectations that we had for the facility here."

Teri Corbett, vice president of Marine Mammal Operations at Kerzner International, said that given the trauma the Atlantic Bottleneck dolphins experienced during Hurricane Katrina, the goal is to now provide them with a stable environment.

"We hope to become a beach animal and rehabilitation network for The Bahamas," Ms. Corbett said.

"It will be the first of its kind for the country and it will allow us to go out and rescue animals that might be in medical need to examine, rehabilitate and release them back into the wild."

Ms. Corbett, a veteran marine mammal trainer and water and team parks specialist with more than 18 years’ experience, said there is a possibility that more dolphins could be secured for the new mammal facility when it opens next year as part of the Atlantis Phase III expansion.

"Our facility is made to house many animals so we hope to get more," she said.

Chief Marine Officer Frank Muru said that the transport of the Katrina dolphins to Atlantis completes the rescue operation that had been underway for several months.

"We realize that these animals have become a symbol of hope and recovery in the coastal Mississippi area," Mr. Muru said.

The permanent habitat, an 11- acre lagoon currently under construction, will contain three interactive coves in a tropical setting, complete with sandy beaches.

Kerzner officials say 250,000 gallons of crystal clear seawater, more than 10 times the amount required under U.S regulations, will fill the interconnected resident pools. A permanent medical pool and six additional pools will be available for examinations and quarantine, should the need arise.


The Atlantis Dolphin Acclimation Habitat is located along Nassau Harbour. It contains over 1.5 million gallons of natural crystal clear seawater. The entire acclimation habitat is larger than a football field.

The habitat contains three large lagoons, six holding pools and two medical pools that have lifting floors that assist the marine mammal specialists and veterinarians to better care of the dolphins.
The habitat measures 9 feet deep and also features gradual slopes that level off into sandy beaches.

Natural currents flow through the habitat continuously, thus supplying the dolphins with clean, fresh water all the time.

Over 45 marine mammal specialists care for the animals and interact with the dolphins around the clock.

The water temperature is ideal for the dolphins – ranging from 72 to 83 degrees.

Over 80 percent of the marine mammal staff are Bahamian. This will ensure the dolphins get plenty Bahamian love and care.

Over 45 marine mammal specialists care for the animals and interact with them around the clock.
The dolphins are fed a nutritious diet of herring and caplan, enriched with multi-vitamins. Together the dolphins will eat over 400 pounds of high quality fish per day.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"