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Official statement Westerlaken foundation / Yayasan Bali Bersih regarding the death of two dolphins

'evacuation' of 7 Bottlenose dolphins from Bali Dolphin Lodge to Bali Exotic Marine Park, 27 April 2021. Photo: Yayasan Bali Bersih

As Westerlaken foundation and Yayasan Bali Bersih we believe that dolphin captivity, in any form, is wrong. We do believe that dolphins should be wild and free and that any kind of interaction program with dolphins and humans should be stopped. We do believe that holding dolphins in captivity cannot be classified as conservation nor education. We are convinced that rehabilitation programs for ex-captive dolphins work and these programs qualify as conservation. Rehabilitation of ex captive dolphins should in our opinion not happen in a chlorinated artificial environment, but in a natural seawater environment. Since 2019 a seapen natural environment for rehabilitation of ex captive dolphins is available in North Bali, welcoming ex-captive dolphins from any captive environment.

Westerlaken foundation and Yayasan Bali Bersih do have a high academic background and integrity, lead by science. If science proves our opinions wrong, we will admit and change our point of view based on science.

The quality of aquatic mammal’s environment can have significant effects on dolphins health and welfare. (The European Association of Aquatic Mammals, 2019). ABTA (2013) notes that a chemical imbalance in the water may cause cetaceans to exhibit erratic swimming and in severe cases to suffer early death (p.21) as well as abnormal discharge from the eyes or the blowhole (p.24).

A blog of the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore notes that the use of chlorine eventually leads to further problems like chlorine poisoning. Dolphins have been reported to have skin peeling off, or being unable to open their eyes due to the use of chlorine. Furthermore, bacterial and fungal infections have been known to be one of the leading causes for the dolphins’ deaths (NTU, ND).

To conclude, a chemical imbalance can cause significant effects on health and welfare such as erratic swimming, abnormal discharge from the eyes and inability to open eyes, discharge from the blowhole, chlorine poisoning, skin issues, bacterial and fungal infections and premature death.

On April 27, 2021 we received the news that 7 bottlenose dolphins had been 'evacuated' from Bali Dolphin Lodge (PT PIAYU SAMUDERA BALI) and had been placed under the care of Bali Exotic Marine Park (PT TAMAN BENOA BALI). Since then we are following the news around this case with worry, as we are surprised that dolphins used to be living in a seawater environment were placed in a chlorinated artificial environment.

Since a number of weeks we are receiving reports that 2 dolphins would be missing. On 24 November 2021 we sent a letter to BKSDA Bali requesting information and transparency on the whereabouts of these dolphins. The letter remains unanswered. On 30 November 2021, based on the claim of Sumarsono in the media that these two dolphins have died, we have requested the necropsy reports. Until now we have not received these reports. Westerlaken foundation and Yayasan Bali Bersih have a wide network of national and international academics and senior veterinarians specialised in dolphin wellbeing, health and behaviour. Upon receiving the requested necropsy reports we will give further statements on the reason of death.

We do request transparency from all stakeholders, as such may be expected from us.

ABTA (2013), Animal Welfare Guidelines (2013), ABTA The Travel Association. NTU (ND), impact of captivity.

captivity/ The European Association of Aquatic Mammals (2019), Standards and Guidelines for

the management of aquatic mammals under human care (version March 2019).

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