Statement on Dolphins Rescue

Tue, May 14th 2024, 03:40 PM

The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources wishes to inform the general public of recent events concerning the seizure of "Pegion," "Justis," "Fiona," "Harry" and "Diamond," 5 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, previously situated at Blackbeard Cay/Balmoral Island, off the northern coast of New Providence.

The fate of these dolphins has garnered much local and international attention. I am ever so thankful to all who expressed genuine interest and offered constructive advice and/or physical assistance, and wish to assure the world that all 5 dolphins are safe and secure.

This high-profile case is extremely convoluted with a long history of various legal battles, including ownership of the dolphins; years of facility operation and years of closure, with the affairs and the facility being left in disarray. It is most unfortunate that it appears the optimum care for the dolphins was not made a priority in this saga.

I wish to inform detail the facts of events leading up to the safe rescue of the 5 dolphins:

On 9 April, 2024, Ms. Sam Duncombe, President of reEarth met with me and ministry officials and informed of this matter. A site investigation was requested and conducted 10 days later on 19 April, 2024, by the Department of Marine Resources.

The results of that investigation were under active review, culminating in the Government officially requesting assistance from Atlantis on 8 May, 2024. This is fine example of team work in action, with the ministry and Department of Marine Resources partnering with brother agencies, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and the Port Department, and of course with our private sector champions, Atlantis.

On 9 May, 2024, the collaborative team again ventured to Blackbeard Cay and successfully rescued "Pegion" and "Justis," then, on the following day, 10 May, 2024, "Fiona," "Harry" and "Diamond" were also rescued and reunited with their peers. The operation was a success, thanks in great part to the assistance given by former caretaker Louis Arthuro Hernandez.

The Department of Marine Resources has carriage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (2005) and the Marine Mammal Protection (General) Regulations (2005), which pertains to the import, export, ownership or captivity, sale, scientific research, or transport of marine mammals. Additionally, Section 35 of the Marine Mammal (Captive Dolphin Facility) Regulations provides that:

"If a dolphin is determined, whether by the facility or the Minister, to be no longer suitable for use in nay swim programme or otherwise, or if the Minister deems that it is no longer in the best interests of the dolphins to remain at the facility, that dolphin shall be taken into the care of a body appointed by the Minister..."

Therefore, with regard to the laws of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and in the best of the dolphins and all concerned, this Minister acted in law and appointed Atlantis' Animal Care facility,

Dolphin Cay, to receive the dolphins for further observation, medical attention and continued care.

Dolphin Cay is one of the most sophisticated marine habitats in the world with the Caribbean’s premier marine life rescue and rehabilitation facility offering an extraordinary environment and marine mammal interaction programmes. It is a fully licensed and internationally accredited marine mammal facility, offering immediate expertise, veterinarian assistance in the interest and wellbeing of the dolphins.

I am fully satisfied that "Pegion," "Justis," "Fiona," "Harry" and "Diamond" are receiving the best possible care with proper nutrition, proper veterinary care and security, and I am happy to report that all dolphins are acclimating well, eating well and are on a path to good health.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources wishes to inform the general public of recent events concerning the seizure of "Pegion," "Justis," "Fiona," "Harry" and "Diamond," 5 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, previously situated at Blackbeard Cay/Balmoral Island, off the northern coast of New Providence.
The fate of these dolphins has garnered much local and international attention. I am ever so thankful to all who expressed genuine interest and offered constructive advice and/or physical assistance, and wish to assure the world that all 5 dolphins are safe and secure.
This high-profile case is extremely convoluted with a long history of various legal battles, including ownership of the dolphins; years of facility operation and years of closure, with the affairs and the facility being left in disarray. It is most unfortunate that it appears the optimum care for the dolphins was not made a priority in this saga.
I wish to inform detail the facts of events leading up to the safe rescue of the 5 dolphins:
On 9 April, 2024, Ms. Sam Duncombe, President of reEarth met with me and ministry officials and informed of this matter. A site investigation was requested and conducted 10 days later on 19 April, 2024, by the Department of Marine Resources.
The results of that investigation were under active review, culminating in the Government officially requesting assistance from Atlantis on 8 May, 2024. This is fine example of team work in action, with the ministry and Department of Marine Resources partnering with brother agencies, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and the Port Department, and of course with our private sector champions, Atlantis.
On 9 May, 2024, the collaborative team again ventured to Blackbeard Cay and successfully rescued "Pegion" and "Justis," then, on the following day, 10 May, 2024, "Fiona," "Harry" and "Diamond" were also rescued and reunited with their peers. The operation was a success, thanks in great part to the assistance given by former caretaker Louis Arthuro Hernandez.
The Department of Marine Resources has carriage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (2005) and the Marine Mammal Protection (General) Regulations (2005), which pertains to the import, export, ownership or captivity, sale, scientific research, or transport of marine mammals. Additionally, Section 35 of the Marine Mammal (Captive Dolphin Facility) Regulations provides that:
"If a dolphin is determined, whether by the facility or the Minister, to be no longer suitable for use in nay swim programme or otherwise, or if the Minister deems that it is no longer in the best interests of the dolphins to remain at the facility, that dolphin shall be taken into the care of a body appointed by the Minister..."
Therefore, with regard to the laws of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and in the best of the dolphins and all concerned, this Minister acted in law and appointed Atlantis' Animal Care facility,
Dolphin Cay, to receive the dolphins for further observation, medical attention and continued care.
Dolphin Cay is one of the most sophisticated marine habitats in the world with the Caribbean’s premier marine life rescue and rehabilitation facility offering an extraordinary environment and marine mammal interaction programmes. It is a fully licensed and internationally accredited marine mammal facility, offering immediate expertise, veterinarian assistance in the interest and wellbeing of the dolphins.
I am fully satisfied that "Pegion," "Justis," "Fiona," "Harry" and "Diamond" are receiving the best possible care with proper nutrition, proper veterinary care and security, and I am happy to report that all dolphins are acclimating well, eating well and are on a path to good health.
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