WE refer to the report “Langkawi set to lure the rich and famous with mixed development of RM4bil” (The Star, March 31), which mentions plans for a dolphinarium.
As a marine conservation NGO that is focused on dolphin research and conservation and one that has been doing so in Langkawi since 2010, we are deeply concerned about this planned dolphinarium.
Our main concern is on the source of the dolphins that will be acquired for this facility, followed by the actual size of the facility and the level of skill that will be employed to care for the animals’ wellbeing.
Dolphins are highly mobile organisms and require vast areas to roam and so confining them in a tank in an artificial setting can cause them to suffer major health problems, which are hazardous not only to them but also to their handlers.
We are not in favour of animals in captivity, and especially when such captive facilities are unnecessary and operated purely to exploit the animals for profit.
It is indicative that many issues surrounding dolphinariums have not been carefully considered in the development of this plan which does not only raise concerns over the eventual welfare of the animals, but also on the environmental and social impact of the project.
We feel that by going through with this plan it will attract a negative perception of Langkawi from the public, both nationally and internationally.
While we understand that there are some captive facilities in existence around the world which provide educational services to the public, we believe that Langkawi has more than enough to offer naturally without resorting to the establishment of such a facility.
Langkawi’s natural beauty and high biodiversity is its biggest draw and Langkawi is also home to populations of wild dolphins and porpoises. These animals can be observed with care in their natural environment, therefore the plan for a dolphinarium is rather redundant and outright unnecessary.
Having such a facility on Langkawi even makes a mockery of Langkawi’s Unesco World Geopark Status and the “Naturally Langkawi” brand.
We are strongly committed to protecting the best interests of dolphins and all other marine mammals in Langkawi and Malaysia.
It should be noted that a collective group of marine mammal researchers and conservationists from around the world had congregated in Langkawi in March, last year for the Third South-East Asian Marine Mammal Symposium (SEAMAM III), and one of the most heated discussions related to the issue of marine mammal captivity.
Additionally, the public perception of the marine mammal captive industry has also dwindled significantly since the release of the documentary “Blackfish” earlier this year.
We feel that should this dolphinarium proceed, it will only bring negative attention to Langkawi rather than enhance its reputation as a major nature-based tourism destination of the world.
We urge all stakeholders to re-consider their plans for a dolphinarium in Langkawi.
MareCet Research Organisation