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Queensland Government backs Sea World’s marine mammal conservation work
With environmentalists undertaking a high-profile campaign for legislation to end dolphin captivity in NSW, the Queensland Government is backing Gold Coast theme park Sea World and its dolphin and marine mammal conservation work.
While Sea World’s dolphin shows are one of its signature attractions, behind the scenes the theme park is responsible for major conservation projects involving dolphins and marine mammals. The Sea World rescue team, which collaborates with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol, undertakes the rescue of stranded and entrapped marine animals – including dolphins, turtles, whales and penguins – and has been called upon numerous times by Queensland, interstate and overseas governments to assist with marine animal strandings, frequently then embarking on the rehabilitation of these animals if they are injured.
Sea World, along with Dolphin Marine Magic in the NSW town of Coffs Harbour, is one of only two Australian locations that keep marine mammals.
While the current campaign for legislation is focussed on NSW, conservation group Australia for Dolphins has previously targeted Sea World’s dolphins.
Australia for Dolphins Chief Executive Sarah Lucas told the Gold Coast Bulletin that it was inevitable Sea World would lose the right to keep dolphins, stating “it’s a declining industry.”
Citing a survey that said four-fifths of Australians don’t agree with dolphins being kept captive, Lucas added “Queensland is looking like it will be one of the last states in the world that will address this law.
“I have a lot of respect for the staff at Sea World but at the end of the day dolphins do not belong in captivity and we are setting our sights on Queensland next.”
However, while Lucas claimed activists had been in talks with the Queensland Government about ending dolphin captivity in the State, a Queensland Government spokesman has come came out strongly in support of one of Sea World saying there was no move to stop the attraction keeping and breeding dolphins.
A spokesman for the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries stated “Queensland’s private animal exhibition industry contributes to our economy, provides educational experiences to local communities and tourists and contributes to the conservation of species worldwide.
“Queensland’s licensing arrangements ensure that an organisation has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and adequate facilities to provide for the welfare of any dolphins bred in captivity.”
Sea World Director of Marine Sciences Trevor Long said the attraction was pleased to hear that the attraction had the Queensland Government’s backing.
Long stated “the information some people put out about dolphins is incorrect.
“If this (proposed NSW) law was to be implemented (in Queensland) there would be no Sea World rescue program.
“Anecdotally dolphins are disappearing in Gold Coast waters every day. Our rescue operations have increased drastically in the past 12 months. It is the bulk of what we do and I’d be devastated if this law was passed one day. It would mean we wouldn’t be able to rescue and rehabilitate dolphins.”
Long said Sea World was a dolphin “oasis” compared to many other marine life parks around the world.
He added “Sea World is more of a sanctuary than anything else. We have natural sand bottom pods that are the largest in the world.
“We are working toward doing more research with universities to validate that our dolphins aren’t stressed.
“I know the performing side of things is an issue ... and it’s something we would be open to looking at, but it actually makes them happier.
“By no means are dolphins forced to perform.”
Long is responsible for the Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to funding and promoting independent marine research projects. Through research and rescue activities, Sea World aims to help build our knowledge and appreciation of the wondrous variety of life in our oceans.
The Foundation seeks to encourage and assist marine sciences and since being founded in 1988 has supported over 160 research projects relating to aspects of the biology of marine vertebrates and considers applications from both the private and public sectors.
Click here for more information on the The Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation.
Images: The Sea World rescue team returns a rehabilitated dolphin to the ocean (top) and Trevor Long (below).
9th May 2016 - CAMPAIGN LOOKS TO NEW LAW TO END DOLPHIN CAPTIVITY IN NSW
22nd April 2016 - SEA WORLD TO MARK WORLD PENGUIN DAY
22nd March 2016 - SEAWORLD USA TO MOVE AWAY FROM KILLER WHALE SHOWS
4th November 2015 - SEA WORLD RESCUE TEAM REHABILITATES DOLPHIN
29th May 2015 - SEA WORLD WHALE WATCH LAUNCHES 2015 SEASON
7th January 2015 - ANIMAL RIGHTS CAMPAIGNERS TARGET SEA WORLD DOLPHINS
7th April 2009 - SEA WORLD ICON RECEIVES INDUSTRY EXCELLENCE AWARD
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