Category Archives: JoJo the dolphin

A Call for Letters to the Governor and Planning

Jo Jo March 2008
On October 5th, local headlines read “$3million Dolphin Park Proposed for Providenciales” and the Turks and Caicos community responded within the week with a petition boasting 800 plus signatures and a comeback headline “PRIDE Questions Dolphin Attraction in TCI.”  Many of us believed our current legislation within the Endangered Species Act forbade the import of  Cetaceans but new reports have surfaced that these laws have been changed so that Dolphin Cove may open for business on TCI shores.    
 Jo Jo March 2008

Those that would welcome Dolphin Cove may not understand the truth about dolphins in captivity.  To begin to grasp the ethical issues one must first research how these dolphins are forced into captivity in the first place.  An  eye opening look into that industry is available through the award winning documentary film  The Cove.  I wrote this post after having seen the film myself, I never imagined such horrors.

PRIDE has written an excellent letter to the government highlighting the historic ways the Turks and Caicos Islands have served as a safe haven for dolphins for decades.  Please read the full letter here.  Yesterday I wrote my own letter to the governor:

October 31, 2012
To Governor Ric Todd,
I am writing to express my deep disappointment of the change in legislation to allow the import of animals for the purpose of human entertainment.  Months ago you took a very brave stand in this country with a push for the advancement of the Equality Bill, surely realizing that you would face controversy and opposition.  With that great stride in forward thinking and action, you have now taken a giant leap backward in amending a righteous law to an unrighteous law.  I would strongly encourage you to dedicate a few hours on researching the captive dolphin industry.   A great resource is the WDC, Whale and DolphinConservation website which posts here
“WDCS believes that the arguments against the confinement of cetaceans are so over-whelming, that any proposal to keep them captive, for whatever reason, should be rejected on animal welfare grounds alone. WDCS has a series of well-substantiated concerns about interactions between humans and dolphins in captivity. These concerns, relating to the welfare of humans as well as dolphins, apply equally to DAT. They include the welfare of the animal; the risk of aggression towards people; the potential for disease transmission from human to dolphin or vice versa; the fact that dolphins may be forced into interactions with humans and have little respite from these actions, and the fact that in so many DAT and other interaction programmes, dolphins are captured from the wild and are transported thousands of miles to suffer the effects of confinement in captivity.
Dolphins are large, strong animals, perfectly adapted to the conditions of the open ocean. Held in a confined space and subjected to forced interaction with humans, aggressive behaviour can have serious consequences. A recent study carried out by WDCS into dolphin/visitor interactions at marine parks in America records many incidents of aggressive behaviour by dolphins towards human visitors such as threats, biting and butting. This study also raises serious concerns regarding the potential for the transmission of disease between human visitors and dolphins. Inadequate regulations exist in relation to interactions between captive dolphins and members of the public. WDCS is bringing its concerns and evidence to the attention of relevant governments and other interested parties, who must address the potential consequences for both human and dolphins of these interaction programmes.”
  If you are a visual learner with a strong stomach I suggest you watch the award winning documentary “The Cove,” which will surely open your eyes to the complexities of this issue. In this country we have a fiercely dedicated environmental community.  We know we have one of the rarest ecosystems on the planet and though we are few in numbers, we know the necessary channels to pursue should our arguments fall on deaf ears locally.  We desire only positive international media attention for the good of the country but will resort to the opposite should this law not be returned to its former righteous state and the permission to the Dolphin Cove Proposal denied.
Stacie Steensland-Gaudet

  Today, I received THIS response.  I plan to drop this letter addressed to  planning today, along with another letter opposing the Leeward-dredging-proposal-up-for-consideration. I am asking everyone who cares about our environment and our “Beautiful by Nature” reputation to write their own letters to the Governor and to Planning as soon as possible.  Please sign the petition here.  Share your opinions and show your support on the facebook page No2CagedDolphinsInTurksandCaicos.  To read more about the scientific evidence on why dolphins should not be kept in captivity, see these publications on WDCS. To read the Review of the Environmental Impact Assessment for the Proposed Dolphin Park in Hanover by the Jamaica Environment Trust, please click here.

JoJo and The Cove

If you have ever read into the Turks and Caicos Islands, surely you have read a thing or two about JoJo.  I remember my initial flight over being given some reading material about the extremely rare solitary dolphin who voluntarily interacts with humans.    JoJo was declared a national treasure in 1989, but just a short two years previous was almost deemed a tourist liability and placed in captivity.  Thanks to Dean Bernal,  a Californian who met JoJo in 1984 and went on to share many adventures, an awareness campaign was created that protects JoJo to this very day. 
  I have had the fortune of meeting JoJo face to face on many occasions.  Every experience has been fascinating and remarkable, but witnessing him light up in the presence of Pepper has been thus far incomparable.  JoJo seems to have a real curiosity about dogs, and luckily our potcake loves to jump ship and make chase of JoJo on the surface.  With us occasionally he can seem sleepy, one might even say bored, but as soon as Pepper joins us in the water it is all chatter and chase, twists and turns, fun and frolick. These experiences, as well as research into the intelligence of the species, leaves no doubt in my mind that they should ALL be treasured and protected.
Above photo by Shayna Bigazzi
Unfortunately, in some parts of the world they are not.  I had heard about The Cove, the Oscar Award winning best documentary feature film, quite awhile back but it took some serious self pep talk for me to actually watch it.  Though it was even more painful than I possibly imagined, it accomplished with me exactly what it’s objective continues to be- spread the word.  I would encourage everyone to see this brave film about the slaughter of 20,000 plus dolphins a year in Japan.   The production team and all involved took gigantic risks in exposing this very dark secret.  Please see the film, or if you can’t muster up the courage, please visit the website and take part in halting this atrocity.  To learn more about sustainable fishing please click here to discover which fish are the safest to enjoy, that have the lowest amounts of mercury.  Then download the Seafood Watch Guide, to discover the best options for sustainable fishing in the area in which you live or will be traveling.