Subject: Laws - Activists Charged in Sugarloaf Dolphin Release (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Fri, 16 Jan 1998 10:47:35 -0500 (EST)

                      J. Michael Williamson
Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <>
                   Associate Professor-Science
  Wheelock College, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA 02215
             voice: 617.734.5200, ext. 256
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          "I must confess, I could use some rest.
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                        Jimmy Buffett

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 1998 08:24:16 -0500
From: Dagmar Fertl <>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Subject: news - Activists Charged in Sugarloaf Dolphin Release

     Information released by NOAA this morning.  Contact person is Scott
     Smullen (

                Activists Charged in Sugarloaf Dolphin Release

     The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric
     Administration has filed charges against several dolphin freedom
     activists for harassing and illegally transporting two captive
     dolphins in connection with their deliberate release six miles off the
     coast of Key West, Florida, on May 23, 1996.  Alleging multiple
     violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NOAA assessed a
     maximum allowable $10,000 for each of the six counts charged,
     resulting in a total of $60,000 in penalties against those involved.

     After the dolphins were dumped off the side of the boat, they were
     found injured, emaciated, and begging for food from boaters in local
     marinas, and were rescued by federal biologists with the help of
     several government agencies and private groups.

     Charges have been filed against Richard O'Barry of Coconut Grove,
     Fla., Lloyd Good, III, of Sugarloaf Key, Fla., Sugarloaf Dolphin
     Sanctuary, Inc., of Sugarloaf Key, Fla., and the Dolphin Project,
     Inc., of South Miami, Fla.  All four have been charged with failing to
     notify NOAA prior to the transport of the dolphins.

     According to NOAA, the dolphins were transported without prior
     notification and not for purposes of public display, scientific
     research, or enhancement or survival of the species or stock.  The day
     after they were dumped overboard and released, one of the dolphins
     appeared in a congested Key West marina with lacerations and begging
     for food.  The second dolphin, found over 40 miles away almost two
     weeks after the release, also sustained deep lacerations and was
     emaciated.  After determining that the dolphins were injured and in
     need of treatment, the agency, with the help of others, rescued and
     provided veterinary care to the dolphins.  Following initial
     treatment, one dolphin was transported to the U.S. Navy facility in
     San Diego for rehabilitation.  The other dolphin was found to be in
     considerably worse condition requiring extended rehabilitation, and
     remains at a Department of Agriculture licensed marine mammal public
     display facility in the Florida Keys.

     Federal officials later seized a third dolphin from the Sugarloaf
     Dolphin Sanctuary, after officials with the Department of Agriculture
     suspended the facility's license for multiple violations of the Animal
     Welfare Act.  The dolphins had been on public display at the Sugarloaf
     Lodge motel in Sugarloaf Key since 1994.  Prior to that, these
     dolphins were part of the U.S. Navy's marine mammal research program,
     and had been in captivity since the late 1980's.

     Acoording to the agency, in order to protect the health and welfare of
     marine mammals, any release should be conducted only under a Marine
     Mammal Protection Act scientific research permit.  Applications for
     such permits are subject to scientific and public review, and would
     involve the development of a release protocol that addresses important
     concerns such as whether: (1) a released animal is properly and
     humanely prepared to live in the wild; (2) long-term follow up
     monitoring of the animal is conducted; (3) wild marine mammals are
     affected; and (4) contingency plans are in place if it necessary to
     rescue a released animal.

     "These dolphins were injured, needed medical attention, and could have
     died.  This incident underscores the need to conduct any dolphin
     release scientifically and with follow-up to ensure the health and
     welfare of the animals," said Terry Garcia, assistant secretary of
     commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA deputy adminstrator.
     "Prior to the release, we repeatedly warned these individuals of the
     risks inherent in releasing dolphins without a scientific research
     permit.  They agreed to apply for a permit but didn't, and released
     the dolphins without one.  A scientific research permit, if issued,
     would have facilitated the development of a responsible release
     protocol and authorizeed any 'take' that could have occurred
     incidental to a release."

     Agency officials said, wildlife experts agree that releasing captive
     marine mammals has the potential to hurt both the released animals and
     the wild marine mammals that they encounter.  Experts are concerned
     about the ability of a released animal to hunt for food, defend itself
     against predators, and avoid interactions with people and boasts.
     Other concerns include disease transmission and unwanted genetic
     exchange between a released animal and wild marine mammal stocks, and
     any behavioral patterns developed in captivity that could affect the
     social behavior of wild animals as well as the social integration of
     the released animal.

     The parties charged in this case have 30 days in which to respond.  If
     desired, they may request an administrative hearing in which to
     contest the charges.