Subject: Case Study: DNA & captive release (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Tue, 14 May 1996 14:09:28 -0400 (EDT)

What effect does mixing population propose?
Is this beneficial or not?
Isn't a wider gene pool adventageous?
What do you think?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 14 May 1996 08:35:25 -0700
From: MARMAM Editors <marmamed@UVic.CA>
To: Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
Subject: captive release

Forwarded message:
From: (Doug Cartlidge)

The European Cetacean Organization (ECO) would like to pose the following
question to the scientists and cetacean display industry supporters who are
so vociferous in their opposition to the relocation of captive cetaceans for
release back into the wild.

The two main points of opposition to the relocation and release of
captive cetaceans are:

1.   The candidates may transmit disease to the wild population;
and, once released;
2.   may cause genetic dilution or genetic problems within local wild

There has been a dramatic increase in the relocation of Cuban,  Mexican,
Black Sea and US Tursiops into sea pens around the world by the display
industry, simply for commercial use in swim-with programmes.  This would
appear to violate both points of opposition as disease can easily be
transmitted beyond sea pens.  Some diseases can also be transmitted to wild
dolphins through an enclosed captive dolphin facility's untreated waste
water and untreated human waste.

Following the escape of 8 foreign Tursiops in Honduras, along with the
documented sexual activity and temporary loss of US Tursiops in the Bahamas;
ECO asks if this is not the same, or potentially worse, than the
rehabilitation projects which attracted, and still appear to attract, much
criticism and persistent opposition from some MARMAM subscribers.

It is clear, following the escape in Honduras, the admitted "mixing" in the
Bahamas of foreign Tursiops with the local wild population, that all of the
"oversights" dolphin advocates were and still are accused of perpetrating
are regularly and increasingly the commercial display

Where are all those criticisms from people who spent so much time and effort
suggesting Into the Blue, the Keiko project and similar programmes are
wrong and should not be allowed?

The danger of these commercial display escapes has existed since the
inception of these programs.  Why were these projects not intensely
criticized like the release programs (and for the same reasons) on every
available medium including MARMAM, as were criticisms of the release
programs.  Unless disapproval is expressed by those concerned, there will be
no reason to stop the practice.

In light of the above, ECO asks ALL those who so strenuously oppose
rehabilitation projects if they have been as vocal in their opposition of
the relocation of "alien" captive Tursiops into sea pens around the world.
We also ask if those same people would forward copies of their written
opposition, which we presume they have sent to NMFS and other non-American
regulating agencies and the relevant local governments, as they do so
eloquently and persistently during rehabilitation projects.  If there does
not exist such documentation, then it appears that disapproval of past and
future captive release programs are politically motivated rather than
scientifically motivated - even though there may be scientific questions
that must be mitigated in all future releases.

Doug Cartlidge
European Cetacean Organisation
7 Meadway Court
The Boulervard
BN13 1 PN

Tele/Fax 44 1903 241 264