“Standard tactics” to win hearts for dolphin parks

| 17/02/2009

(CNS): Reacting to recent pressarticles that appeared to support the tourism and community benefits of the two captive dolphin parks that have recently opened on Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) has reiterated its long-held opposition to the facilities, and said the dolphin parks were using “standard tactics to convince the public that they are a humane and valuable asset to the community.”

In a statement released Monday, the association, which is made up of a cross-section of businesses and stakeholders from the tourism sector, said that its position had not changed: “CITA has been on record since 2002 as being opposed to these facilities and we have well researched and documented facts that support this position.”

On 8 January, The Caymanian Compass published an interview with Bob and Suzy Soto, both leading figures in Cayman’s tourism industry, who went on the record as supporting the dolphin facilities. The article, Dolphin facilities have tourism pioneers’ support, said the Sotos “believe that there are many advantages to having swim-with-dolphin facilities in the Cayman Islands, such as an outlet for children to interact with dolphins, a boost to Cayman’s tourism product and that it provides dolphins a secure setting compared to the harsh life of the open seas.”

On Sunday, 15 February, Cayman Net News published an article, He’s no fish, he’s my friend Nemo, about a field trip by students from Lighthouse School to Dolphin Cove, where five students and a teacher swam with one of the captive dolphins.

In response to these and other articles CITA stated, “Already both captive dolphin attractions have employed many of their standard tactics to convince the public that they are a humane and valuable asset to the community. Local tourism and marine pioneers have been used to spread their doctrine, the wonderful children of the Lighthouse School invited to play with the animals and small children and families pictured with the ‘smiling’ dolphins. And please don’t be misled about the employment opportunities for Caymanians and the economic value of new jobs; the majority of employees are foreign and that is not going to change any time soon.”

CITA’s statement continued, “There are no adequate facilities for captive dolphins. There are more elaborate and sophisticated ones, but no dolphin parks are suitable as wild dolphins swim hundreds of miles a day and have the whole ocean in which to live in. They have been recorded to dive to depths of hundreds of feet. They live in a social family pod and nurse, nurture, teach and protect their young. Statistics show that the average life of a dolphin in captivity is 7 years versus 50 years in the wild. Saying that the facilities in Cayman are world class or provide the best in care is very misleading. It is based on the underlying principal that some captive dolphin facilities are acceptable and it is the CITA’s position that they are not. These are highly intelligent mammals they do not deserve to be captured, taken from their families, stressed and forced to live the rest of their life in a swimming pool that is perhaps only 20 feet deep.”

Turning to the educational aspects promoted by the dolphin parks, CITA said they understood that both adults and children learn about dolphin behavior and biology when they swim with them. “People would probably love to ride a camel or see a wild cat too, however that does not make it right to capture and incarcerate them here in Cayman.”

The statement continued, “Of course dolphins are entertaining, but this is something that they are forced to do in order to obtain their food. Dolphins are clever, which is why they are a highly valued commodity; they will exercise their skills in order to survive. If doing tricks is what it takes then they will do them. They are a sentient creature, which means that they have self awareness similar to humans, surely we should not capture them for our own entertainment?”

CITA noted that the organisation opposed the captive dolphin facilities from long before any permits were granted, development started or animals imported, “but we were not listened to.”

In August 2008 the organisation asked the government to place a ban on any future imports of dolphins with a well documented paper on the impacts on capture to the wild dolphin populations, but said, “We have had no response to this request. The practice of herding, terrifying, wounding and killing is typical of all dolphin captures. The Cayman park owners could argue that they purchased their dolphins from other parks, however the other parks will now have to restock their own facilities from the wild, so there can truly be no distinction. If the developers are correct in their claim that these creatures breed successfully in captivity, there will be no need to import any more. We will stop being a party to the capture of wild dolphins and this is something that we can be proud of. There is nothing Caymanian, sustainable or indigenous to having captive dolphin facilities in Cayman. We should not be a copycat destination but instead embrace ‘all things Caymanian’.”

CITA stated its strong support for tourism, including new development and diversification of our existing product. “We encourage the growth of new properties, dive sites, restaurants and attractions but the CITA will not support either of the captive dolphin parks. Will people visit these places? Perhaps, but is it right for the dolphins and our future vision of tourism in the Cayman Islands? That is for you to decide.”

The statement concluded, “Once again, we beseech the government to seriously consider the implementation of a ban on the future importation of cetaceans, as many other nations have already done. We need to protect these marine mammals, the environment, the reputation of our tourism product and the culture and heritage of the Cayman Islands. Let your voice on this matter be heard. You can request email copies of our position papers by emailing info@cita.ky.”


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  1. noname says:

    Seems to me that the CITA is trying to protect tourism and embrace culture in Cayman as well as across many borders. If the ‘foreigners’ you speak of do not talk for the dolphins, then who will?



  2. Anonymous says:

    It is disappointing to see a body of people who are supposedly dedicated to tourism, coming out publically against 2 Tourist facilities.  However, the hate campaign has been well executed and built up from the onset of these facilities  announcing their intentions.  Hobbies and Books asked the author Rick O’ Barry to come down and do a promotion for his books regarding dolphins and his life as the trainer for the TV show Flipper and his life as being part of dolphin captures. At the time, he was not aware that some of the facilities the dolphins were sent to were totally inadequate and the dolphins mistreated and they died. His books are very interesting and his terrible guilt is brought out as to why he started The Dolphin Project to save any dolphins from any capture. He served many good years as a trainer, but when Flipper was over he went on to "save" them. The movie he showed was very impacting, interesting. He sold a lot of books through Hobbies and Books, which is fine to make money, no one is opposed to that. Yet the campaign became very aggressive and words like "murderer" was and continues to be frequently used. One talk show host was physically "jostled" by one of the advocates because both sides had been on the show to expose both sides.  As it got closer to the opening, people were out very aggressively to get other support against the dolphinariums and if people did not know both sides, it seemed a good thing to support.
    It is shocking that the "foreigners" running CITA are so bold that they have not weighed the damage their published statements are doing, as the facilities are now here. The statements are not completely correct as a previous survey in 2003 showed there were members who were in favor of the dolphinariums and still are, so to make a unamous statement for the entire CITA, is not correct. Not only that, but who are they to turn down Caymanians who pay for and ask to be members?  Not only is that not in keeping as to how to improve tourism, but it is against the mandate of everyone working together.  As members, these facilities can be monitored and any negative publicity can be staved off by the Tourism sector. Not only do these people feel violent against anyone who supports the dolphinariums, they become abusive in public, calling people "murders", etc. While I am against the mistreatment of Dolphins, I however join the fight to save them from abuse and mindless long liners who kill them daily just because they get caught in their nets and other senseless abuse. The dolphins themselves recently killed several in a pod by the other dolphins in a most brutal manner, throwing the dolphin in the air and breaking his back and continued abuse until the dolphins were killed.
    That is sad and makes one wonder what happened?  We are facing terrible economic times, we do not need a Tourism body being negative against anyone who is trying to create attractions, which have been approved by our Government.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It disappoints me that falsehoods are being spread to young people from these dolphin parks. What are we to think that young people would be misinformed or manipulated if you will by these foreigh workers.

    It is my understanding that there are very few Caymanians employed at the dolphin parks because Caymanians know next to nothing about dolphins which supports the claim that dolphins do not belong here.

    At least the turtles have a long history and connection with the evolution of Cayman and this rich history does the country proud. Shame on the dolphin parks.

  4. Anonymous says:

    2.10 Do dolphins live shorter in captivity?

    There is no evidence to support that statement. A recent study, comparing the survival of dolphins in captivity from 1940 through 1992 showed no significant difference in ASR between the "captive population" and the Sarasota Bay population. The ASR for the captive population was 0.944 (life expectancy: 17.4 years). Also in captivity dolphins have reached ages over 40 years.


    R.J.Small & D.P.DeMaster (1995) Survival of five species of captive marine mammals. Marine Mammal Science 11(2):209-226.

    Again – lies lies lies from CITA

    CNS: I’ve deleted the section of this post that quotes an anonymous review of Divetech, which has nothing to do with the discussion here.

  5. Nancy Easterbrook says:

    I recently had the pleasure of speaking to some school children about captive dolphins after they had visited the facilities. The engagement, intelligence and interaction with this new generation was truly rewarding.

    At the same time, it was upsetting at what the youth were being told by the dolphin facilities which I don’t think is right.

    Dolphins live 40 – 50 years in the wild and are estimated to live about 7 – 10 years in captivity. These are facts as reported by international reputed organizations. The kids were told by the dolphin park that captive dolphins live 50 years in captivity but only live about 20 years in the wild so they are saving these intelligent mammals from harm’s way in nature! What are these parks – miracle workers that they can double the life span of one of God’s creatures? Where are all these 50 year old dolphins in captivity?

    Another group of youth that made a recent visit were told that dolphins never jump in the wild and that they had trouble feeding in the wild. Give me a break.

    I find it extremely disturbing that the youth of this country are being told untruths, while the Dolphin facilities purport to have educational value. Where’s the education in a lie?

  6. Anonymous says:

    In a normal electionm the turnout rate can be as low as 40% of the voting population. When the winner is announced say witha 55% majority, they don’t say there are now winners as he only got the vote of 55% of 40% of the people! Otherwise no-one would win

    Using your logic only 22 of the 230 members were for Dolphin Parks! that’s a less than 10% approval that was accepted, good work!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I will unreseveredly state that I am completely against eradicating human beings living in the Cayman Islands. It is against God’s law and that even includes the homosexuals and adulterers.

    Clearly the views of someone stuck in the old testament.



    • Anonymous says:

      It should be noted that the 43 respondents to the CITA dolphin survey were owners and operators of CITA member businesses representing HUNDREDS of people, not just 43.

  8. Anonymous says:

     The way I read CITA’s survey is that there are 230 members and only 43 people out of 230 people voted against the facilities.

    How in any way possible can that be a majority – for CITA to state that they are against it is an outright lie.  Only 43 people out of 230 are against it. Wake up and smell the coffee people…..

    If you are against it thats fine but there is no need to twist the facts to further the agenda of just a few board members.

    The true colors of CITA are starting to show. The facilities are here and what has CITA done recently for the many charities out there.  Kudos to the dolphin parks for making this accessible to people who might never get a chance to see a dolphin up close.

    CITA’s silence on this speaks volumes.

  9. Common Sense - not all that common anymore! says:

    according to today’s Net News, now senior citizens have been invited and went to see the ‘lovely’ dolphins in captivity – they’re trying really hard to get people on their ‘side’.   It’s like a new ‘pretty’ designer fur coat on sale without letting the consumer see the torture and skinning alive of the animal beforehand.  Or buying new clothes while ignoring the underaged workers in the factories being abused and paid cents to make it just for the material greed of others.   Wasn’t ever right, won’t ever be right.  Don’t fall for it, open your eyes.

    Dolphins are beautiful animals, there’s no denying that.  But watching them in a cement tank or in an enclosure where they can’t swim freely is wrong.  If you’re blessed enough to witness the uncommon occasion of seeing a dolphin out in the wild in Cayman’s waters, be appreciative of the blessing, don’t try to make a dollar or two or more (I hear it’s not cheap at these parks) out of uneducated and ignorant people.   Dolphins should not be in captivity.  It’s proven and the numbers don’t lie.  Nor has CITA for that matter.

    Have respect for people and animals alike.  Didn’t your mother or father teach you better than that?  Maybe not, and that’s the start of our problem.  Lesson of the day:  the dollar isn’t worth more than your morals and human decency.  We’re supposed to be the smarter species aren’t we???

  10. Anonymous says:

    "These are not native to our country and so should be iradicated"

    Ah hence why so many cats and dogs are abused also, as these are not native either and due to your thinking should be eradicated to. What about humans, after all they were not native to the country either.

    SO what about the native species.. Blue Iguanas, well they have almost gone? Nesting turtles on the beaches (11 left?), Native Caimans oops , I hope they were tasty!

    And how is CITA publishing lies? even the 2nd poster list the survey in 2003 which shows 56% or  43 people were opposed to dolphin facilities, 29% or 22 people were in favour of dolphin facilities.

    SO the Majority of those you answered are against Dolphin parks as they stated, where is the lie??


  11. Green Hornet says:

    If it makes money, then it’s a good thing. Otherwise — BAD! This is, unfortunately, what a lot of Caymanian "culture" has become — certainly on a political level. It would seem that environmentally unethical practices condemned by the ROW (rest of the world) are just fine here as long as they bring in those sheckles.

    There are many Caymanians who do not believe in what is being done in the name of tourism and development-at-any-cost (aka subdivisionitis). Their voices are, unfortunately, not as loud as those who are reaping in the dollars at the cost of our children’s future. Nor , of course, are their bank balances as large.

    What is needed are politicians and business leaders who care about what is happening to our islands, and who are prepared to do something about it — not just pay lip service to ecological issues.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This  link is NOT for the faint of heart – but this is how many dolphins are captured, a few ending up in captive dolphin entertainment parks. What has been done wrong in the past cannot always be corrected – but we can stop doing more things wrong in the future.



    • Anonymous says:

      Come! this video is about dolphin meat.This is not about them being put into parks.

      Dont try to make people think this is how its done all the time!

      I dont believe in them being killied like this or even killed at all but make sure let the ppl know ur talking about how they are being killed and sold for meat.

  13. Common Sense - not all that common anymore! says:

    I agree with CITA’s position.  For those who are still in support of the dolphins in captivity, just take some time to research the process of how dolphins are cruelly and sometimes fatally captured from their wild, natural habitat, the ocean.  There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it, dolphins should NOT be in captivity.  Life span shortened and having to perform for food is not what God intended.

    Re the prior comments on CITA’s survey……  Any organisation that surveys its members can take the opinion of the majority.  They made their survey public so people could see the results but the opinion held by the organisation is the majority, the sensible majority it seems I might add!

    Prior comments re uncared for animals, I agree that Cayman sadly has some issues in this regard.  There are unfortunately some people, ignorant people, who are cruel towards animals.  It is most unforunate and breaks my heart to see a poor dog, cat, horse, bird, etc that’s been uncared for, mistreated, or in some cases attacked.  I am not a vet, nor someone who’s worked specifically with animals, but I have a respect for animals as they are God’s creatures.  Who gives ANYONE the right to mistreat an animal, usually an innocent animal?  It is nothing but an ignorant, selfish, and cowardly act to hurt or mistreat an animal.   If there’s someway to change this mentality, I don’t know, but I wish there was something we could do.  It’s not a Caymanian way, but there are Caymanians and non-Caymanians alike who are ignorant in this regard, just as there are Caymanians and non-Caymanians who care for and respect animals.  I would hope that one thing we could say was a part of our ‘all things Caymanian’ was a total respect for animals, a demonstration of our people’s natural caring and respect for others.

    Have a good day, and again, do some research on dolphins being captured and lifespans of dolphins in captivity.  Do the right thing. Always.


  14. Anonymous says:

     It still amazes me after all these years that CITA is still publishing lies and their  press releases are being used by the board and namely Mr. Broadbelt to further their personal opinion on dolphinariums and still to this day refuse to acknowledge that from their own survey of CITA members and press release of July 11th, 2003 it shows that CITA surveyed 230 of its members to find out what tourism operators think about the the introduction of dolphin attractions in Cayman.


    The survey achieved a response rate of 34% or  78 members out of 230 and of the respondents 56% or  43 people were opposed to dolphin facilities, 29% or 22 people were in favour of dolphin facilities and 15% or 11 people were undecided.


    In a statement released Monday, the association, which is made up of a cross-section of businesses and stake holders from the tourism sector, said that its position had not changed: “CITA has been on record since 2002 as being opposed to these facilities and we have well researched and documented facts that support this position.”


    It would be helpful for Cayman News Service to actually check the facts before publishing the lies of CITA and trust that they will do a follow up story to present the facts in a truthful manner.


    Would someone in CITA please explain to me why you continue to lie outright to the Caymanians and show us your proof that CITA has been on record since 2002 as being opposed to these facilities.


    For CITA to twist the survey to meet the views of only a few board members is just wrong and the public awaits the proof from CITA that the association is against these facilities.


    And to blast the lovely kids of the Lighthouse School for visiting the dolphin facility was a blow below the belt from Mr. Broadbelt.


    If CITA would like to show some proof that the majority of their members are opposed to the dolphin facilities – let’s see it………..

  15. Anonymous says:

    quote:  There is nothing Caymanian, sustainable or indigenous to having captive dolphin facilities in Cayman. We should not be a copycat destination but instead embrace ‘all things Caymanian’.”

    So? Out of curiosity… what exactly are "all things Caymanian"? Is it the turtle farm where you can go see turtles ten deep crapping in each others mouths and intelligent birds caged up? I went to the pet store recently to get some food for the dog and cats that I have adopted since there are so many running wild and uncared for (or even abused… check out the shelter some time). Is that one of the things "all Caymanian"? No one seems to care about the dogs and cats of this island. While there I got to see a few crazy Macaws in cages. Those wild birds are not local but are being sold for profit. They didn’t seem to happy in their ‘homes’. Anyone want to start a discussion about that? I used to see iguanas around my yard all the time but it seems someone has been eating them because they are all gone now. How does the stomping of the blue iguanas to death fit into all this?

    What exactly are "all things Caymanian" because after living here for three years I’m not sure what Cayman culture is all about. 


    • Anonymous says:

      A short comment regarding the post which mentioned iguanas "around my yard". I presume that these are GREEN iguanas. These are not native to our country and so should be iradicated as they are a nusiance. Maybe a new tourist trip – Green Iguana Hunting.

      The native BLUE iguana is another matter altogether and their protection needs to continue.

      • Phil McCraken says:

        To the person who said Green iguanas are not native to the islands and should be eradicated.

        Should we also apply the same to humans?  Humans are most definately a nuisance to the islands and do far more harm than any green iguana could ever do.

        Why not eradicate all humans from the islands?