Thu | Dec 2, 2021

Carolyn Cooper | No dolphin doodoo in Discovery Bay!

Published:Friday | November 2, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Heroic community groups in Discovery Bay are fighting another big battle. This time, to prevent the setting up of a dolphin cove! It's just a constant struggle to force government agencies to do the right thing for the good of the whole society.

Special-interest groups always seem to be able to get their own way. Environmentalists have warned about the harmful consequences of a dolphin cove in Discovery Bay's calm waters. But the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) seems to be ignoring all objections.

I emailed Peter Knight, CEO of NEPA, on October 14 about that issue and another matter. On October 13, The Washington Post published an article by Kate Chappell with the headline, 'Jamaica takes aim at the trash crisis that is ruining paradise'. Fines of up to $15,000 will be instituted for importing and up to $370 for manufacturing.

I thought the $370 fine for manufacturing must be inaccurate. I asked Mr Knight if he'd been misquoted and suggested that, if so, he should ask the Post to make the correction. The presumed error is still on the newspaper's website.

The main issue I raised was the dolphin cove. I asked if a licence for the project had been approved and, if so, why the concerns of informed protesters had been ignored. So far, Mr Knight hasn't responded to my email, even after a follow-up telephone call.




There are so many problems with setting up a dolphin cove in Discovery Bay. First of all, there is no dolphin conservation policy for the island. A draft was prepared by NEPA in 2003. An essential study should have been done to determine just how many dolphin coves Jamaica can sustain. There are already four. There's still no approved policy. What's causing this long delay?

Then there's the big moral issue of keeping dolphins in captivity. An article by Maddalena Bearzi, posted on the National Geographic blog on April 8, 2014, is headlined 'Debunking Captivity: 3 Reasons Not To Keep Dolphins in Tanks'. Bearzi has studied wild dolphins for more than 20 years and she intimately knows the difference between free animals and those cooped up in cages.

The three reasons Bearzi gives for emancipating dolphins are:

"Dolphins are large-brained cognitive animals."

"Dolphins live in complex societies in the open ocean."

"Dolphins have emotions (and personalities)."

Elaborating that last point, Bearzi gives a grim reminder: "We like to think of dolphins as happy animals with an omnipresent smile frolicking in the sea. We tend to anthropomorphise them, projecting our own attributes on them. But what we think is the blissful face of a dolphin can obscure the animal's true feeling, especially when we keep them confined. Let's not forget that dolphins also die smiling!"

Bearzi challenges the main justifications given for keeping dolphins in captivity: research, education and conservation. She confirms that new technologies now make it relatively easy to study dolphins in their natural environment. And she persuasively concludes: "It's time we recognise that the only, true reason we still keep these magnificent, large-brained and socially complex creatures captive is for our entertainment; entertainment for the motive of making money, and lots of it."




The 8th annual Cinema Paradise film festival is on this weekend. The final event is the 30th anniversary celebration of Cocktail, starring Tom Cruise, which was filmed in Portland. It's at 1:30 this afternoon at Goblin Hill Villas, San San, and lunch is included. The opening film was Countryman screened on Thursday in Kingston. That film is set largely on Hellshire Beach.

When I saw what the beach looked like almost 40 years ago, it hurt mi heart to see what it has become. There is hardly any beach left! The reef has been destroyed and the sand is rapidly going out to sea. This is what happens when the warnings of environmentalists are ignored. It's not too late to save Hellshire. But it will cost a lot to rebuild the reef.

As for Discovery Bay! A huge issue is the potential accumulation of dolphin doodoo. Dolphins in the wild travel up and down the ocean spreading their doodoo far and wide. And it's full of nutrients that feed other marine life. The doodoo from dolphins in captivity is a completely different matter. It is released in the same spot every day. And it is likely to have negative impacts on the local marine environment. An excess of nitrogen and phosphorus may lead to the overgrowth of algae that would damage sea grass beds.

The entire ecology of Discovery Bay could be compromised by a dolphin cove. So why create completely unnecessary environmental problems? To make money! At what cost! The irony is that a dolphin cove is likely to adversely affect Puerto Seco Beach. That world-class attraction is supposed to be the main money-spinner. What goes around comes around. And that includes dolphin doodoo!

CORRECTION: In error, the following statement was attributed to Peter Knight: “There’s going to be a need for increased resources and public education and actual garbage collection," he said. It was actually made by Daryl Vaz. The next sentence accurately reports Knight 's statement that fines of up to $15,000 will be instituted for importing and up to $370 for manufacturing.

- Carolyn Cooper, PhD, is a specialist on culture and development. Email feedback to and