Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive!

Vol. VII No. 1 January 1998


Captive Cetaceans In Latin America And The Caribbean

by William Rossiter, CSI President


Photo of dolphin SherrylA traveling dolphin and sea lion show originally from Columbia called Mundo Marino attempted to enter Puerto Rico last year, but was rejected. During the enormous effort by many organizations to prevent an import permit, including CSI, the show's record and standards became clearer. A true horror story developed. Since the U.S. rejection Mundo Marino has set up a base on Margerita Island. This photograph shows Mundo Marino's standard display facility, at Maracaibo, Venezuela: a pit dug into the ground, lined, and filled with water, ordinary salt, and chlorine. The dolphin in this pit is Sherryl. She died shortly after the photo was taken. The photo was provided by Ric O'Barry and Helene Hesselager, who had gone to Maracaibo to investigate and negotiate with Venezuelan officials.

Sherryl was captured in Russia, perhaps originally for military use, possibly passed through Vietnam and other Asian countries, became abandoned at a Buenos Aires swimming pool in 1993, and finally was transferred to the custody of the Colombian Oceanarium, Mundo Marino. Sheryll's two companion dolphins had died of pasteurellosis during 1993. Another nine Russian bottlenose dolphins died in Argentina and Chile between 1991 and 1993 due to terrible conditions and care. Sheryll was reported to have lived for a while in the swimming pool of a Colombian drug dealer, and surfaced again with Mundo Marino while touring through Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. Mundo Marino is a member of the International Marine Animal Trainers Association (IMATA). We must wonder how Sherryl survived as long as she did, and what IMATA did to improve the lives of the marine mammals toured by Mundo Marino.

CSI's goal is to improve the lives of captive cetaceans, to prevent wild captures and promote appropriate releases, and to educate the public who endorse the industry at the ticket booth. We must begin with an awareness of where and how cetaceans are kept. This can become a grinding horror story to the many who care. The point is to make everyone care enough to make changes happen.


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