Connect with us

Opinion

Opinion: Horrible history of dolphins in Thailand continues in Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

PHUKET: Thailand is witnessing an ever-increasing legal and illegal exploitation of local wildlife and marine life.

Dolphins have been kept in captivity in Thailand since 1986. The first wild pink dolphin was caught and kept at Laem Singh in Chanthaburi by Vichai Wattanapong at a venue that later became the Oasis Sea World. But it wasn’t until recent years that interest in new dolphinaria developed within Thailand.

Several attempts to start up aquariums containing wild-caught dolphins in Phuket and Koh Samui did not eventuate. One involved a Danish scientist who tried and failed to win the support of local politicians and businessmen to start a dolphinarium in Phuket in order to treat autistic children, three years ago.

Likewise, a Koh Samui resort owned by a politically influential Thai family purchased a locally caught wild pink dolphin in an attempt to increase tourist interest. While they claimed that they had rescued the dolphin from a collision with a fishing boat, the dolphin was trained to perform shows instead of being medically treated, with evidence of which being printed in The Nation in February 2007.

The poor animal was later confiscated and freed back into the Gulf of Thailand, with the resort’s further plans of obtaining more dolphins being cancelled.

Prior to this, two enterprises initiated the exploitation of dolphins many years earlier: Oasis Sea World in Chanthaburi (established in 1991) and the “Sanctuary of Truth” in Pattaya (established in about 2001).

Both resorts claimed to be merely rescuing wild dolphins that were harmed by the fishing industry, building ponds in order to nurse the “rescued” dolphins back to health. However, the dolphins were instead trained to perform shows, attracting tourists with the promise of rare and beautiful species of wild dolphins.

Oasis Sea World was even able to export six pink dolphins to Singapore in 1999, despite the international regulatory body the Conference on International trade of Endangered Species (CITES) clearly forbidding the trade of wild-caught specimens for entertainment purposes. The Sanctuary of Truth allegedly still does not even have a zoo permit to date.

Thankfully, a campaign led by the Thai Animal Guardians Association, the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand and Care for the Wild International, which called on the Thai government to enforce the CITES regulations and local laws, put an end to the export of dolphins after the financially lucrative deals undertaken by Oasis Sea world.

With such exports banned and its location a little inconvenient for tourists, Oasis Sea World was forced to look into other options to increase profits. This resulted in the “Pattaya Dolphin World and Resort” being developed last year. A soft opening on August 12 this year saw the transfer of seven of 18 dolphins at Oasis Sea World, but improved visitor numbers and profits are expected by the end of this year for both Oasis and Pattaya Dolphin Worlds.

On Phuket, there were serious plans last year and early this year to construct yet another dolphinarium by a Canadian national and a group of foreign investors. After several articles in a local newspaper and a number of open blog discussions, it was clear that a lot of the locals and expatriates did not agree with the plans, resulting in some investors since retracting financial support (story here).

People involved in the Phuket project wished to display local and imported species, but acquiring local species may be nearly impossible, and it could be similarly tricky to import species from the Solomon Islands after changes in the law disallowing any further export licences from January 1, 2012.

The Phuket project is not completely out of the question just yet, however, but with continued pressure from environmental organizations, it may be cancelled entirely.

The current figures on captive dolphins in Thailand are can be looked at by species of dolphin and the origin of the marine mammal.

Species:

Pink or Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) 7 to 8 individuals at 3 places.

Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) 14-15 individuals at 3 places.

Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates) 6 or more at 1 place.

Beluga or white whale (Delphina-pterus leucas) 4 or more at 1 place.

Origin:

Local dolphin species (wild-caught) 21-23 in total (both CITES Appendix 1 protected).

Imported (with CITES permits) dolphins or whales: 10 or more.

— Edwin Wiek / The Nation

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand7 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Disease control amendment in the works; reopening delays | September 22

South8 hours ago

5 billion baht loss as birds’ nest producing swiftlets found dead

Crime8 hours ago

Ex-cop “Joe Ferrari,” other officers charged with violating discipline policy over suspect’s death

Sponsored8 hours ago

HOMA is now offering fully-serviced, affordable lifestyle apartments in Phuket Town.

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Thailand8 hours ago

5 Pattani men arrested for allegedly posing as police officers to extort locals

World9 hours ago

Thai woman tricked into human trafficking in Dubai brought home safely

Phuket9 hours ago

Alleged cable thief busted in Phuket, accomplice possibly still at large

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand10 hours ago

Thaiger Bites | Your Feedback and Comments! | Ep. 23

Guides10 hours ago

Bangkok’s best fresh markets to visit

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

Wednesday Covid Update: 11,252 new cases; provincial totals

World10 hours ago

Tesla stock dive costs Elon Musk $7 billion, World’s Richest Man title

Kanchanaburi10 hours ago

Kanchanaburi temple that served as a rehab closes amidst shocking abuse allegations

Coronavirus (Covid-19)11 hours ago

Post-Covid condition MIS-C afflicted 30 to 40 children, 1 death

Thailand11 hours ago

Morning Top Stories | New disease control law, Thai border patrol tightens security | September 22 |

Thailand12 hours ago

Manhunt underway for foreigner who allegedly prepared bread using his feet

Phuket12 hours ago

Burmese man arrested for rape and assault of Thai woman

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14 | Thaiger
Thailand1 week ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism7 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending