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Video Report: Phuket dolphin park’s Taiji killing connection

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Video Report: Phuket dolphin park’s Taiji killing connection | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Phuket stands to suffer widespread damage to its global reputation as a tourism destination if it allows the establishment of a dolphinarium in Chalong, said renown dolphin trainer turned animal rights activist Ric O’Barry, well-known for his role in the Academy-award winning documentary The Cove.

“Most of the [captured] dolphins today are coming from the cove in Taiji, Japan. An extremely violent process has to take place to get them to Phuket,” he told the Gazette in an exclusive interview last week.

“If Phuket actually imports dolphins from Taiji, it’s going to be a blemish on tourism in Phuket on an international scale, because Phuket will be supporting this dolphin slaughter.”

Mr O’Barry urged Phuket officials to use the same global scale of exposure to positive effect.

“If Phuket does not import captive dolphins, Phuket will be sending a positive, powerful message to the rest of the world about Phuket’s respect for nature. That’s something that money can’t buy,” he noted.

The permit to import the dolphins for the Phuket dolphinarium has yet to be approved by the Department of Fisheries. However, the application has been sent to the main office in Bangkok, confirmed Kiattikhun Charoensawan, chief of the Phuket Fisheries Office, last month.

Early reports by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society claimed that at least one of the six dolphins tagged for the Nemo Dolphinarium in Phuket was caught in Japan and then shipped to Ukraine, where it would then be imported into Thailand (story here). The owners of the Nemo dolphinarium have yet to refute the allegation.

“Even if they are allowed to operate the dolphinarium, we must ensure that all of their paperwork is legal,” Director of the Fishery Management Bureau Marnop Chaengkij said.

“We will check where the animals are being exported from, and we won’t just believe whatever is written in the application – we will do our homework.”

However, Mr Marnop noted that Thailand does not have any embargo on dolphins from Ukraine or Japan, as long as the correct documentation is provided.

Phuket risks great harm to its reputation as an international tourist destination if a dolphin park is allowed to open here, explained dolphin-rights activist Ric O’Barry in an exclusive interview with the Gazette. Video: PGTV

Mr O’Barry explained that it is very likely that the dolphins are coming from the cove at Taiji, Japan, which was pushed into the international lime light after the The Cove blew the lid off the annual slaughter of dolphins there.

“It’s the largest slaughter of dolphins on Earth. And it’s also the place were most of the captures take place. Either there or Cuba, and I doubt that they are coming from Cuba,” Mr O’Barry said.

CAPTIVITY KILLS

Though the origin of the dolphins remains a focal point for Mr O’Barry and many other animal rights advocates, the Nemo Dolphinarium facility itself has also come under scrutiny.

“Today we know that captivity kills – captivity kills dolphins,” said Mr O’Barry, who started his career in the early 1960s as a dolphin captor, as well as the trainer of the five dolphins in the popular TV show Flipper.

“At that time it [the Miami Seaquarium] was the third dolphinarium in the world… Flipper was made there, and I think as result of the popularity of the Flipper TV series it [dolphins in captivity] became a multi-billion-dollar industry,” Mr O’Barry said.

Dolphins are hauled out of the water at the Soloman Islands. Photo: The Dolphin Project.org

Times have changed, as has people’s understanding of the consequences of keeping dolphins and killer whales in captivity, explained Mr O’Barry.

“Working with them closely in captivity, I realized they really don’t belong there, and I know many dolphin trainers and ex-trainers today feel the same way,” he said.

“The animals are too intelligent; they get bored very easily in captivity; they die easily in captivity; and it is clear that the largest tanks on Earth are too small to be confining these animals.”

Mr O’Barry, who has seen photos of the Nemo facility, compared it to the Bates Motel of the classic horror movie Psycho.

“It’s a death sentence for them. I don’t think they all will survive.”

However, Mr Marnop assured the Gazette that a Fisheries Department team would be coming down from Bangkok to investigate the facility.

“We cannot block the dolphinarium. We will check the application, and then ensure that the facility meets quality standards. Additionally, the owners will have to prove that they can provide regular health checkups for the dolphins,” Mr Marnop said.

Performing dolphins are often heavily treated with drugs including antibiotics, anti-anxiety drugs and stomach soothers, due to the high-stress levels of their living environments, explained Mr O’Barry.

“Captivity separates dolphins from the two most import things in the world to them: their families and the freedom of the ocean. All that is taken from them.

“So Phuket is about to receive an enormous amount of international publicity, whether it is positive or negative depends on the decisions that will be made soon,” Mr O’Barry said.

CONSEQUENCES

Though Mr Marnop recognizes the possible negative consequences of the dolphinarium to Phuket’s tourism image, he notes that it could also be another major draw for the tourism on the island.

“I understand that it’s going to cause damage to Phuket’s tourism image, especially in the eyes of people who oppose the dolphinarium,” said Mr Marnop.

Japanese fisherman review their catch of dolphins at Taiji Cove, Japan. Photo: The Dolphin Project.org

“However, if we think about it the other way around, this might actually bring more tourists to Phuket. There are many dolphinariums, aquariums and zoos around the world, and they are still major tourist attractions.

“Additionally, if we block the company from importing the dolphins without legal reasons, they can sue us for abusing our power.”

Nonetheless, Mr O’Barry called on the world community and members of the Phuket community to push for the request to be denied.

“It perpetuates the suffering. It’s all about supply and demand, so it’s important for Phuket to say, ‘No. We want cruelty-free entertainment and tourist attractions in Phuket’,” he explained.

“Do they really want to connect Phuket to Taiji, Japan… and be part of the problem? Do they really want that? Just so that a few entrepreneurs can make a lot of money?

“It’s abusive, it’s unnecessary and it perpetuates the trafficking of captive dolphins. There is time to correct it. There is time for Phuket to get a windfall of positive publicity simply by saying, ‘No’.”

Additional reporting by Chutharat Plerin

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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

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Events

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners

The Thaiger

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The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners | The Thaiger

4,000 runners from Thailand and overseas took part in the 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle Fun Run and Half Marathon 2019 yesterday, starting from the Phuket Gateway.

The event is expected to raise 700,000 baht for the charity, now in its 15th year. The money raised goes towards to The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which is committed to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and ecosystems, for the wellbeing of sea turtles that nest in the Mai Khao beach and the surrounding areas.

The annual race also provides funds for thePhuket Marine Biological Centre’s Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program and The Third NavalArea Command’s Turtle Hatchery Program.

The race was in its 15th year and runners of all ages and abilities took part in the race. The morning’s racing was divided into five categories – the 21.1km half marathon, 10.5km mini- marathon, 5km fun run and 3k family run and VIP participants for all the races. The route of 21.1 kilometre race took runners northwest along the Haad Sai Kaew beach towards Thao Thepkasattri bridge, past the rural road No. 3006, run along the road – Pi Lai viewpoint area returned back along the T. Baan Tha Nun to the iconic Sarasin bridge before finished the half marathon in the Phuket Gateway.

For Mini Marathon 10.5 km – Over all category, Mr. Chinnawat Changlek clocked 39 minutes and 40 seconds to clinch victory in the male half marathon, winning prize money and a trophy with the signature of Phuket’s Governor. The winner in the female mini marathon was Surakarn Wanna with a time of 47 minutes and 47 seconds.

Winners also received a prize gift voucher as well as a medal. Congratulations to all participants.

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Events

‘Phang Nga Bay and Beyond’ exhibition by Marilyn Band at Mom Tri’s WOK Gallery Kitchen in November

The Thaiger

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‘Phang Nga Bay and Beyond’ exhibition by Marilyn Band at Mom Tri’s WOK Gallery Kitchen in November | The Thaiger

The Art exhibition “Phang Nga Bay and Beyond” by Marilyn Band is being held at Mom Tri’s WOK Gallery Kitchen, Chalong, Kata Hill, Phuket from November 30, 2019 – January 31, 2020. The opening will take place on Saturday November 30, 2019 at 6.30 pm.

Artist’s Statement

“For the current exhibition, I am presenting recent work, a more abstract expression of Phang Nga Bay’s beauty, which intends to encourage the viewer the opportunity to interpret and appreciate a little bit of paradise. I am quite excited about these more abstract works as it has allowed me to explore the essence of these limestone monuments in the bay.

“I find the natural world a beautiful, magical place. My paintings are inspired by many sea voyages. Though based on reality I try to introduce my own feelings and vision which will delight others.”

Biography

Marilyn Band has been creating art since childhood, influenced by a family who surrounded her with paintings and the creations of several generations of her ancestors who were famous stained glass artists. She went to Florence, Italy for life drawing and then went on to study graphics at High Wycombe Technical College in Buckinghamshire, England and started her career as a graphic designer in a variety of advertising agencies in London.

On Holiday in the Seychelles, she met her future husband, Nick Band, and they have been sailing around the Indian Ocean and SE Asia for more than forty years allowing Marilyn the chance to draw and paint the now disappearing tropical cultures from Zanzibar to Sri Lanka to Phuket, and beyond.

She arrived in Phuket in 1980 and immediately built a studio that has been the center of her art projects. Between sea voyages and other travels, Marilyn has become one of Phuket’s most significant artists with one person exhibitions at Mom Tri’s Boathouse and Villa Royale Galleries.

She has also designed and developed the graphics for the island’s world famous Phuket King’s Cup Regatta media.

She continues to explore new avenues of self- expression in acrylic, oil, watercolour, ink, collage and silkscreen.

'Phang Nga Bay and Beyond' exhibition by Marilyn Band at Mom Tri’s WOK Gallery Kitchen in November | News by The Thaiger

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Crime

Thalang Police arrest local Phuket drug dealer with amphetamine pills

The Thaiger

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Thalang Police arrest local Phuket drug dealer with amphetamine pills | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: เหยี่ยวข่าว ภูเก็ต Newshawk Phuket

Thalang Police have arrested a local drug dealer with more than 192 amphetamine pills. Thalang police in Phuket arrested 29 year old Wimon Songkong from Nakhon Si Thammarat with 192 amphetamine pills that he was carrying when they nabbed him in front of a 7-Eleven store inside a PTT gas station on Thepkasattri Road, in Thalang District.

The amphetamine pills were packed in a black zip-lock plastic bag, which was hidden in his grey shoulder bag. Two of the pills were green and 190 of them were orange, while each pill had the letters ‘wy’ printed on them.

Wimon was charged for possessing and trading illicit drugs and was sent to Thalang police station for further investigation and processing.

STORY: Newshawk Phuket

Thalang Police arrest local Phuket drug dealer with amphetamine pills | News by The Thaiger

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