I recently spent a few lovely days in Dingle at the gathering to celebrate the fact it is now 30 years since Fungie the dolphin appeared in Dingle Bay. Throughout the weekend there were many enjoyable events including movie screenings, children’s activities, poetry readings, musical performances and much more.
There were also various speakers giving talks including Nick Massett of IWDG who spoke about whales and dolphins in the local area.
Marine Connection’s director Margaux Dodds talked about solitary dolphins worldwide. Although Fungie is known as the longest standing friendly solitary dolphin in the world, Margaux explained to the audience that she feels they should be called lone dolphins rather than solitary, due to the fact that most of these so called solitary dolphins do in fact interact with other pods of dolphins from time to time.
One of the most enjoyable exhibits was a photographic exhibition held in the Marina Centre by 'Fungie Forever' giving members of the public had the opportunity to see some of the most amazing images of Fungie, as well as learning more about the species in general.
One of the most touching things about the weekend was the opportunity to not only see this amazing dolphin, but to have the opportunity to catch up with several people who I have known for over 20 years and whose life has been touched by this dolphin. Some still live in the area whilst others have moved elsewhere but came back simply to celebrate the life of this wonderful dolphin.
05 May 2013
I read with delight recently of new UK government proposals which are to be put in place making it an offence for any operator to use a wild animal in performance or exhibition in a travelling circus in England from December 2015.
With this new development banning the use of wild animals in circus shows, my thoughts turned to the threat of the possibility of dolphinariums being established again in the UK, something which is always of great concern. There was great opposition in the UK in the early 1990s against dolphins being held in captivity, which resulted in these closing in the UK however with so many facilities continuing to be established around the world, I am always aware of the danger to these starting up again on UK shores.
Unfortunately although many are opposed to captivity of any animal, there public still visit aquariums and zoos, despite the miserable life this can be for those forced to endure a life of captivity. Behind the glitzy image portrayed by these facilities which hold animals captive and their claims to provide a conservational or educational service, in reality these facilities make a vast amount of money each year from keeping captive animals.
James D. Atchison, Chief Executive and President of SeaWorld Entertainment, stated in a recent interview that there had been a lot of interest in the SeaWorld brand from overseas, and that they could take their 'Shamu' show in Orlando to Malaysia, Abu Dhabi or Dubai. Despite there being no UK dolphinariums, there is no legislation in place as yet to stop a facility being established to house captive cetaceans, although the regulations are much stricter than they were when the last dolphin facility in the UK closed its' doors. One thing I am sure of however, is that any application to establish such a facility in the UK would be met with extreme opposition from charities such as Marine Connection and their supporters, I am certain of that.
21 April 2013
On Friday 26 April I will be heading to Dingle in County Kerry to attend a weekend-long event celebrating Fungie the dolphin living in Dingle Bay.
Whilst it is not unusual for dolphins to turn up in an area and stay for a while, Fungie is exceptional in as much as he has remained in Dingle for 3 decades or more. This dolphin has changed the lives of many, including myself. I first visited Dingle in the early 1990s and seeing Fungie in his natural environment made me want to help protect dolphins and their whale kin, which led to me co-founding the Marine Connection.
Fungie does interact with other dolphins at times, but it would appear has never taken the opportunity to leave Dingle – and having visited the area many times, I can’t say I blame him. He has brought joy to the lives of literally thousands of people who travel from all over the world to see him and experience the thrill of this lovely dolphin living happily in his ocean home. To the local people Fungie is simply part of their culture now; with many growing up in the town never knowing it without him being around. It will be a sad day for not only the people of Dingle, but also those who, like me, have been fortunate to see Fungie simply enjoying life as a wild dolphin, when the day comes that people wait for him and he is not seen again, but we hope that will be a long time coming and he can continue to live in the safety of Dingle Bay for many years to come.
The Marine Connection is honoured to be part of the weekend celebrations. Our director, Margaux Dodds, will be giving a talk on solitary/social dolphins at the event. We hope you may be able to join in celebrating the life of this extraordinary dolphin. Click here for further details
07 April 2013
I was saddened to hear about the death of Marcos, the striped dolphin who after becoming separated from his pod last year was being looked after by conservation group Promar, in a netted-off seapen within a sheltered bay in the nearby town of Almerimar, Spain.
Fortunately captivity was never going to be an option for this little fighter, instead the goal was to rehabilitate and release him back to the open Mediterranean. Although this would have taken some time, Marcos had already been in the seapen for over 5 months and was doing well. His death has come as a shock to all, especially the team who were caring for him.
05 February 2013
I recently heard something that I am hoping will prove to be good news for 2013. Merlin Entertainments (owners of Sea Life Centres in the UK/Europe and the second largest visitor attraction operator in the world), are apparently to open a permanent dolphin sanctuary in Greece to possibly accommodate four captive dolphins that they currently have via their ownership of Gardaland, a theme park based on the shore of Lake Garda, Italy. However there is question about which dolphins will be relocated as Merlin owns only 1 of the Gardland dolphins - the remaining 3 are on loan.
There are apparently plans to also move their other remaining dolphins currently being held in Nurnburg Zoo. These dolphins were moved to Nurnberg from Heide Park, Germany when Merlin acquired the facility and, after some time, accepted that conditions at Heide Park were very substandard for the dolphins welfare - hence the move.
Currently Merlin state that their plans are to establish the sanctuary in a Mediterranean bay and to operate this as a tourist attraction – this in itself is concerning as it is in reality then going to be in essence a tourist attraction calling itself a ‘sanctuary’. As a tourist attraction, Merlin will want to see a return on this investment as such, I am sure the visiting public will have to pay a fee to view the dolphins. The dolphins will apparently not be used in shows; there will instead be a network of underwater fences and nets with 3D sea-bed based cameras to enable visitors to view the dolphins.
Whilst on the face of it this appears to of course be a better living environment for the animals, what does concern us is the fact it has taken nearly 6 years for Merlin to get to this stage in the process and, to date, a location has still not been secured, therefore how much longer will it be before this comes to fruition?
Given this latest release by Merlin, we also now have to question what will happen with regards to the Asian facilities they purchased only a year ago which hold beluga whales which are reportedly, according to records, wild caught. Although not directly responsible for the whales’ capture, will Merlin move the beluga whales to a cold-climate sanctuary or transfer them to one of the SeaWorld parks, owned by private equity firm Blackstone Group, which Merlin are associated with – we watch this space with interest and hope.