Cyprus is one of the twelve EU Member States without dolphins in captivity and one of the two Member States explicitly prohibiting their display.
Cyprus used to have a dolphinarium, the Ayia Napa Marine Park, located in the main tourist resort. In 1994 the Ayia Napa Marine Park imported four Black Sea bottlenose dolphins and two sealions supplied from the Russian Academy of Science. The following year the park applied for four more Black Sea bottlenose dolphins but was denied. Subsequently, in 1997 a Ministerial decree was passed prohibiting cetacean shows and the use of cetaceans for commercial purposes in Cyprus. Finally, after the decree came into force in 1999, the Ayia Napa Marine Park closed its doors forever.
Unfortunately the closure of the marine park came too late for the four Black Sea bottlenose dolphins who all met their deaths by 1998, four years after being imported into Cyprus. The marine park never published any form of scientific papers on the research it claimed it was undertaking and it seemed the attraction’s sole purpose was the entertainment of tourists.
Shockingly, after the park closed to the public, the two sea lions were left, neglected and starving, showing again the type of treatment the park owners allowed these animals to endure. Sadly one died shortly after in September 1999, the other was declared “fit-for-travel” and flown back to the Russian Academy of Science.
Luckily now all dolphins seen from Cyprus are free-living wild populations living off the shores of the island in the Mediterranean Sea.
Cyprus is Party to ACCOBAMS (Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Meditteranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area) a cooperative tool for the conservation of marine biodiversity in the Mediterranean and Black seas.
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