CZM Chair Questions Coral World’s Intent for Dolphin Increase Request

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Coastal Zone Management commissioners listen to Coral World’s legal counsel George Dudley, from left, Keith Richards, Winston Adams, Sarah Simmonds, and Karl Percell. (Source photo by Bethaney Lee)
Coastal Zone Management commissioners listen to Coral World’s legal counsel George Dudley, from left, Keith Richards, Winston Adams, Sarah Simmonds, and Karl Percell. (Source photo by Bethaney Lee)

When representatives from Coral World asked at a Coastal Zone Management Commission meeting Wednesday that the park be permitted to increase the number of captive dolphins it can acquire and house be raised by two, CZM Chairman Winston Adams suggested the reason could have more to do with monetary gain than to rescue dolphins.

George Dudley, who represented Coral World Ocean Park at Wednesday’s hearing, said the park had been permitted for six dolphins, but park management is requesting room for two more, which would allow the park to make good on its contract with a stateside zoo.

Dolphinaris, a facility in Arizona, had a number of unexplained animal deaths Dudley said. There were four dolphins, born in human care, which were rerouted to Coral World when the Arizona park shut down. But Coral World is also expected to take an additional four dolphins from a Chicago based zoo, which would exceed the park’s permitted allowance of dolphins held within the enclosure.

Dudley added that while there has been a limit placed on the number of dolphins Coral World is permitted, capacity for the enclosure is said to be as many as 15 dolphins.

Amy Dempsey of Bioimpact stands to the left of lawyer George Dudley, representing Coral World, as he testifies before the Coastal Zone Management Commission on Sep. 11. (Source photo by Bethaney Lee)
Amy Dempsey of Bioimpact stands to the left of lawyer George Dudley, representing Coral World, as he testifies before the Coastal Zone Management Commission on Sep. 11. (Source photo by Bethaney Lee)

But Adams was hesitant to raise the number of dolphins allowed within the enclosure, especially beyond the eight requested. His first question to Dudley was, “What happens when the dolphins breed?”

An inevitable occurrence that Dudley said would result in the transportation of the excess dolphins from the park, where they would be sent to other parks, which Dudley said the park will always have to do.

No, said Adams, “you have a limit. And once you get beyond that limit you say you will be transporting them but I’m wondering in my mind if this is going to be transfers or if this is going to be sales … be aware that we are quite aware of what is taking place.”

Adams added that he was not convinced the park was only in it to rescue the animals, and the “reason I say that is because the last time we did a site visit at the center we saw some questionable practices taking place and I was not comfortable with it.”

Coastal Zoning Management Commissioner Sarah Simmonds said a sea lion had died, which marine activist Adrian Poe with V.I. Dolphin Voices said was due to tank aggression and a behavior that can be found with dolphins kept in captivity as well.

Poe, who has protested Coral World’s dolphin plans since 2014, said dolphin calves are sold for around $250,000 each. He said Dudley claimed the dolphins had been moved to the islands due to an emergency, but that wasn’t true.

Ariel photo shows runoff blanketing Coral World’s dolphin enclosure after a heavy rainfall. (Photo provided by Adrian Poe)
Ariel photo shows runoff blanketing Coral World’s dolphin enclosure after a heavy rainfall. (Photo provided by Adrian Poe)

“They were going to take them back to Hawaii and Texas, because they were on loan to Arizona. Arizona never owned those dolphins. They were on loan. These animals are literally only to make money, they are not to educate the public. It is all a farce,” Poe said.

The marine activist, who spent 14 years in the states growing coral before moving to the V.I. and spends her days on the island diving, said if Coral World was really interested in educating the public they would educate them on captive dolphins, because captive dolphins don’t behave like they do in the wild.

“When they stand on their tales and perform tricks, they never do that in the wild, that is man-made. That is not educating people on what dolphins do because wild dolphins don’t do those things,” Poe said.

The activist said sitting through the Coastal Zoning Management meeting was frustrating because “you’re forced to listen to these people say the water quality is fine but then I can show you drone footage of the runoff into the enclosure. You can not deny that.”

The runoff that occurs after heavy rainfalls drag sediment into the shallow ocean waters causes bacteria growth which Amy Dempsey of Bioimpact said has occurred on at least one occasion, Poe said.

The commissioners postponed the vote and scheduled an onsite review of Coral World’s facilities before making any final decisions.

Original Source: https://stjohnsource.com/2019/09/12/czm-chair-questions-coral-worlds-intent-for-dolphin-increase-request/