Featured Image Credit: Wikipedia
By Emily Persico
The covert capture of over 30 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins was recently discovered and exposed by nonprofit International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP). These illegally captured dolphins were caught inhumanely and then transferred to shallow net pens near the Solomon Islands’ capital of Honiara.
Fortunately, the Solomon Islands Fisheries Ministry acted fast and ended their journey to captivity there. All illegally captured dolphins were freed. Their perpetrators may face criminal action.
The Solomon Islands are historically known as the world center of the live dolphin trade. Recently, though, the Fisheries Minister has been cracking down on illegal activity. “The Solomon Islands Fisheries Ministry deserves great credit for upholding the ban on dolphin capture and export,” applauded director of the IMMP David Phillips.
Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins are vastly intelligent and social creatures, prized and preferred as captive display species. They are highly charismatic and, unfortunately, this works to their detriment rather than their benefit. The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin’s biggest threat is direct harvest by humans, many of whom think they are just too cute to leave wild in the sea.
Hunting these delicate species has been illegal since the 1990s. This simple fact has deterred some, but many have found ways to evade the law. China in particular is responsible for hundreds of attempted importations of illegally-caught marine mammals for captive display. Singapore and Japan are also big participants in the illegal trade that is threatening populations of dolphins, orcas, and other cetaceans.
Just as in the case of the 30 dolphins recently released from captivity, wild-caught marine mammals are often put through undue stress and hardship. They are torn away from their families and their home in the ocean wild, held in shallow pens, and eventually shipped by cargo jets to dolphinariums around East Asia.
Check out our sources to learn more about the status of Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins, IMMP’s work to combat inhumane treatment of marine mammals, or the 30 dolphins who just barely broke free of their captors.