Threat From Solomon Island Dolphin Captures Continues
WDCS is very concerned at the continuation of captures and international export of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in the Solomon Islands.
A Canadian businessman established a dolphin capture and export business under the guise of an educational facility (Solomon Islands Marine Mammal Education Centre, SIMMEC) in the Solomon Islands in 2003. At that time, nearly a hundred dolphins were captured with subsequent export of 33 dolphins to a Mexican aquatic theme park. Soon after this shipment, and because of the international outcry over the death of several of the animals after their transport thousands of miles across the globe to Mexico, the Solomon Islands, as well as Mexico, banned future exports and imports of these animals under national legal proclamations and decrees. Unfortunately, as political winds of change swept through the Solomon Islands, the ban on dolphin exports was lifted, and the operations of SIMMEC have continued.
Unfortunately, in October of last year, an additional 28 dolphins were shipped to a marine park in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. WDCS understands that another shipment of live dolphins from the Solomon Islands is scheduled for export to Singapore. The dolphins exported to Dubai and those to be exported to Singapore were wild-caught from the waters surrounding the Solomon Islands. Shortly after joining CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in June 2007, Solomon Islands indicated their intent to export up to 100 bottlenose dolphins per year.
To date there are no peer-reviewed published scientific studies on the abundance of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in the Solomon Islands. This uncertainty makes it impossible to evaluate the impact that any dolphin removals would have on the fitness, ecology and sustainability of these populations.
Based on this lack of information coupled with observations in other locations that indicate that Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins reside in small, discrete groups it is plausible that the removal of 100 or more dolphins may represent a very serious risk to the conservation status of this species in coastal Solomon Islands waters. In addition, the cruelty of the methods utilized during capture, and the associated mortality involved with the capture and transport of dolphins over long distances, is of paramount concern.