Students Protest the Capture of Dolphins in Panama

In Bocas del Toro, Panama citizens and students launch protests to stop the "harvesting" of wild dolphins for a dolphinarium, after the Panamanian government proposed approval to capture 28 dolphins for a resort.

A proposal by Ocean Embassy Panama (OEP) to capture 28 live dolphins for a dolphinarium was met with resistance throughout the country. Even before mass demonstrations in Panama City were organized, students of Bocas del Toro schools marched through town with banners, inflatable dolphins and megaphones denouncing the proposal.Communities in Dolphin Bay area were especially incensed by the idea as the bay was included as one of the capture areas. A large group of residents met to form a coalition to oppose the OEP project.

Marine mammal specialist Naomi A. Rose, PhD, wrote an open letter to Panamanian President Martin Torrijos on behalf of Humane Society International which outlined the many reasons why such a project is not only uncalled for and inhumane but detrimental to the entire eco-system of the area. As OEP is considering a “Swim With the Dolphins” program, Dr. Rose points out the many dangers of such a practice - not only to the dolphins but to the swimmers.

Her letter is fully documented with research done by scientists over the last few decades. The footnotes alone filled several pages. We’ve included a large portion of her letter in this issue. It is informative and scientifically accurate. Research of this sort is unbiased and non-profit.

The only good argument for dolphins being in captivity at any time is for research. The work done by scientists such as Kenneth Norris, John Lilly and Carol Howard in the last century brought insight as to dolphin communication, social structure, echolocation, temperament and so on. After the early work of these pioneers, the scientific community agreed that any further research could be done in the wild, or with dolphins already born in captivity. Capturing dolphins for human amusement is not justifiable.

Dolphin Bay is a beautiful place and an excellent setting for those wanting to see dolphins leaping, spinning and surfing on the waves of boats’ wakes. They have been called the “humans of the sea” for their intelligence and playfulness.

The students of Bocas understand the dolphins’ need to be free. It is hoped that the Panamanian government listens to the children, and understands too.

The Bocas Breeze


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