Dolphins in the wild.
Dolphins in the wild. WAP and Rachel Ceretto

Study into sea pen to house captive dolphins

THE feasibility of a sea pen sanctuary, where Dolphin Marine Magic's five dolphins could live out their lives, will be investigated.

World Animal Protection has joined forces with Action for Dolphins to conduct the study which was part of a negotiated settlement after Action for Dolphins sued Dolphin Marine Magic earlier this year.

"While we investigate the possibility of a sea sanctuary solution, we'll continue to call on dolphin venues in Australia and throughout the world to ban captive breeding and end interactions like rides and kisses," Ben Pearson, senior campaign manager at World Animal Protection, said.

World Animal Protection has committed $100k to fund the three parts of the study (location/engineering, animal welfare and financial implications). 

"As the tide turns against using marine mammals in captivity for entertainment, the conversation about what will happen to these dolphins needs to start now.

"We want these five dolphins to be the last generation kept captive in New South Wales and a sea sanctuary could be a much more humane environment for these beautiful animals to live out their lives."

World Animal Protection is funding the world-leading study to scope the animal welfare, engineering and financial implications of a sea sanctuary in Coffs Harbour.

The study will be done with Action for Dolphins, who have a collaborative relationship with Dolphin Marine Magic.

Jordan Sosnowski, Advocacy Director, Action for Dolphins sees the sanctuary as not just providing a humane home for the dolphins, but also a much-needed refuge for wild animals in need of rehabilitation and release.

"Dolphin Marine Magic has been an iconic institution in Coffs Harbour for more than 40 years. Action for Dolphins is excited to be part of the new direction the marine park is taking in exploring the option of a sea sanctuary as a possible new home for its dolphins.

"Dolphin sanctuaries are being established in the US and Europe but now that the feasibility study is going ahead, this one in Coffs Harbour could be the first of its kind in the world."

The findings of the three part feasibility study are likely to be announced by early 2019.

World Animal Protection is also calling on Sea World Marine Park on the Gold Coast to start planning for the future of its captive dolphins.

"Today's announcement further confirms that it is a matter of when, not if, Sea World closes. They need to start planning for the future of their dolphins by stopping breeding, stopping interactions and investigating a sea sanctuary," Mr Pearson added.

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