Attraction on Blackbeard’s Cay closed down
In a major victory for marine mammals, a Supreme Court judge in the Bahamas has ordered a “swim-with-dolphins” exhibit to shut down and release its eight captive dolphins. The facility on Blackbeard’s Cay, off the coast of Nassau, had barely opened its doors when Justice Stephen Isaacs ordered its owners, Blue Illusions Limited, to remove the shallow and unprotected sea pens that the dolphins were held in and restore the area to its original condition.
Is it Now Illegal to Import Dolphins??
The Bahamas judge presiding over the case is now questioning if it is legal to import dolphins for reasons other than research—which is a huge decision for the tourist based economy.
The Bahamas Supreme Court’s decision to close the tourist attraction comes after ReEarth, a nonprofit community and environmental watch group in the Bahamas obtained documents proving government violations. ReEarth also created a petition to shutter the facility that was signed by more than 65,000 people.
Lots of Hanky Panky with the Laws
The documents show evidence of the prime minister, the minister of agriculture, and the town planning committee, among many others violating the law when giving Blue Illusions Limited (which is headed by Samir Andrawos, a St. Maarten business man) permits to build the dolphin attraction on Blackbeard’s Cay. Siding with reEarth in the lawsuit that the organization filed against Blue Illusions Limited, Justice Isaacs found that the company skirted building permits and ignored the public outcry against the facility, and built the dolphinarium despite opposition from the Planning and Subdivision act.
The documents also show that the attraction’s eight dolphins were imported from Honduras before attaining the proper permits, which violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Blue Illusions Limited can appeal the Supreme Court’s decision, but for now, there is still plenty to celebrate over this groundbreaking decision.
“I am thrilled,” Sam Duncombe, president of reEarth, told The Nassau Guardian. “We’ve been fighting this issue for 24 years and finally we’ve been able to bring one of the developers with dolphins in captivity to court over the circumvention of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.”
In a final blow, the judge ordered Blue Illusions to pay for reEarth’s costs in bringing the lawsuit.