Sunday, March 26, 2006

Dolphin's dilemma needs attention!

It was encouraging to hear Government say at the most recent press briefing, last Friday, that in light of the Cayman Islands Tourist Association’s (CITA) opposition to the introduction of Dolphinariums here, they will be talking to the tourist body.It was extremely disappointing however that the administration said it will not be halting those projects which already have planning permission.

As noted by CITA’s President Karie Bergstom, in Cayman Net News’ Business Monday 20 March, the operation of these attractions will present the Cayman Islands’ tourist body with a serious public relations challenge.It won’t be the developers of these so called ‘attractions’ that will have to deal with the negative and adverse publicity bound to be generated when they open — it will be the rest of the tourist sector.

As the owners of these reportedly, three, possibly even four marine attractions make money from the cruise tourists and others that may well be drawn to such attractions, the rest of the tourist sector here will be battling the negative side.Such attractions are circus like and unwelcome at best, at worst they are environmental disasters that will impact on the delicate eco-systems that have contributed to the outstanding beauty of Cayman’s natural marine environment, and as a result our successful dive sector is bound to suffer.

As the rest of the world begins to move away from the development of such unsophisticated tourist attractions and towards more eco-friendly tourist products it is a crying shame that the Cayman Islands is moving towards developing not just one dolphin ‘attraction’ but possibly four.Even Mexico, the country supposedly supplying one of the proposed dolphinariums, with the marine mammals, has banned the attractions.

This, together with Government’s sudden realization that the main tourist body here is fundamentally apposed, illustrates that the original proposals for these attractions were not properly discussed or thought out.Applications were made and granted with virtually no discussion of what such sites would mean to the rest of this country’s tourist product and above all the animals themselves.

Encouraging tourists to ride on the back of some of nature’s most incredible animals, or have them jumping through hopes for a few fish, is in complete contrast to all of the other environmental protection measures the country has taken to preserve Cayman’s exquisite natural environment.In contrast to this dumbed down end of peer animal abuse entertainment, the real Cayman Islands tourist product is about the bluff, on Cayman Brac, the mastic trail in North Side, the blue iguana programme at the botanical Gardens in Frank Sound, the development of marine protection zones and the internationally applauded Little Cayman Marine Research Institute and some of the best diving in the world.

Everywhere else throughout the tourist sector in this country, all of those involved are working hard to preserve our naturally beautiful environment and help the indigenous species of these Islands survive.Dolphins are not indigenous to the Cayman Islands and even if they were, they do not give human’s ‘lifts’ or balance balls on their noses and jump up for fish tossed at them, in their natural ocean habitat.

Moreover, as well as offering a miserable life for the creatures in captivity, the dolphin’s excrement will present a serious threat to Cayman’s reefs and marine eco-system.The only people who will benefit from these proposed ‘attractions’ will be the developers and owners of the parks, who are bound to do well from the sheer number of cruise passengers coming here — some of whom will be willing to visit such attractions.

It is essential that the Government takes the opposition, from not just CITA but many other people here to these planned eco-disasters, seriously.The Cayman Islands should not under any circumstances, sacrifice its reputation and its environment for the profit the handful of businesspeople involved are set to gain from these unsophisticated and outdated modes of tourist entertainment.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"