Protests greet new dolphin attraction
Ni Komang Erviani
The Jakarta Post
A newly opened dolphin attraction in Bali has sparked protests from NGOs, which say keeping dolphins in a small chlorinated pool will cause the intelligent beings to suffer a slow, horrific death.
Located on the beachfront in Keramas, Gianyar regency, Wake Bali Resto and Dolphin is offering a dolphin show, as well as a Swim with the Dolphins program. Four young dolphins have been placed in one pool measuring about 20 by 10 meters.
Two NGOs, the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) and Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA), have openly criticized the new dolphin facility. Both NGOs has investigated and uploaded a video showing the inadequate facilities for the dolphins at this attraction.
JAAN deplored that the facility had been allowed opened only two years after an identical one was closed down at Akame Restaurant near Benoa port in Denpasar.
'Four dolphins were sent by truck from Semarang in Central Java to Keramas in Bali in the first week of July. This trip took around 30 hours overland and by ferry. It's the worst nightmare for a dolphin. And it's happening right here in Indonesia,' wildlife rescue and rehabilitation manager and founder of JAAN, Femke Den Haas, said.
'The dolphins kept in the pool in Keramas will be exploited for US$75 for a 20-minute opportunity to swim with the dolphins. We are certain these highly intelligent beings will suffer a slow, horrific death in these chlorinated pools at Wake Resort,' Den Haas stated.
From investigations conducted by JAAN and BAWA, Den Haas said that the facility staff confessed that they had obtained the dolphins from a company in central Java, Wersut Seguni Indonesia (WSI), the same company that supplied the dolphins to Akame Restaurant.
'The dolphins were captured in the Java Sea, which is illegal, yet the company that bought them from fishermen claimed they were rescued after being entangled in fishing nets.
'The Forestry Ministry, which strangely enough in Indonesia is in charge of marine mammals, used that opportunity to the fullest to exploit the dolphins and provided the company with a permit to temporarily keep them until they are healthy enough to return to the ocean,' she declared.
The company in central Java, she said, had also sold dolphins to places like Melka Hotel in Bali, Ancol Dreamland in Jakarta and Taman Safari Indonesia in Bogor.
JAAN staff member, Amang Raga, added that the facility was also violating the provincial bylaw on spatial planning as it was built only 30 meters from the shore. Bylaw No. 16/2009 stipulates that no building can be constructed closer than 100 meters to the shore.
When asked for confirmation, a member of staff at Wake Bali, Denala, confirmed that a new facility had been built in Keramas as a dolphin attraction for tourists. It is a new program for Wake Bali, which has existing adventure and paintball programs.
She also acknowledged that four dolphins had been placed in a pool by Keramas Beach. However, she said that the facility had yet to open. 'We are still making preparations. We haven't opened yet.'
Danela assured that the company had fulfilled all the legalities and administration. 'There is no problem with the paperwork. We have a complete permit,' she said.
Meanwhile, the neighboring Komune Resort management has publically declared that the dolphin facility was not part of its resort.
'It has come to our attention that rumors are being circulated that Komune Bali is keeping dolphins in our pool at Keramas. This is not correct. A new 'attraction' [with no links whatsoever to Komune] has just been built 400 m down the beach at Keramas and unfortunately last week they have just put dolphins in their swimming pool,' the Komune Resort management said in a written statement.
They say they have expressed their concern to the owners about this and to the Keramas village banjar and regency.
'We hope that the owners of this dolphin pool will see the light and return these dolphins to the wild. We are very concerned for the wellbeing of these mammals in such a small pool,' the management said.
According to the statement, Komune Resort supports Surfers for Cetaceans and has run many charity events raising funds and awareness for this cause.
'We are surfers who experience interaction with dolphins in the wild nearly every day while surfing and do not agree with locking wild animals up in this way,' the Komune Resort management added.
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