Mexico Closes Marine Park After Dolphin Death
MEXICO CITY, Mexico, August 26, 2003 (ENS) - The Mexican environmental authorities have announced the partial and temporary closure of an aquatic park in Cancun that imported 28 bottlenose dolphins from the Solomon Islands in July. The closure follows the death of a dolphin at Parque Nizuc from what appears to be stress, according to officials at Profepa, the federal agency for the protection of nature.
The most recent death is in addition to that of an imported dolphin that passed away July 28, six days after its arrival at the park.
The park imported the dolphins for use in its lucrative and popular Swim with Dolphins attraction.
The federal office of the Profepa judge advocate general explained that the administrators of Parque Nizuc marine park had failed to comply with the recommendation against keeping the imported dolphins in strict confinement.
According to Profepa, the exchange of water between the units in which the imported dolphins are confined and the open sea facilitates the possibility of the transmission and dispersion of infectious diseases that pose a danger to native wildlife and its habitat.
Veterinarians of Nizuc park carried out an autopsy on the dolphin and observed various stomach ulcers that indicate stress, Profepa said. To corroborate this first diagnosis, Profepa personnel, together with specialists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, will carry out a second study.
On August 13, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) called on the Government of Mexico to immediately place imported wild dolphins from the Solomon Islands in protective quarantine.
IFAW urged that sanitary tests for disease and pathogens be carried out and that the imported dolphins be placed in quarantine to reduce risks to native dolphin populations and the marine environment.
Profepa said the closure could be lifted if the park kept the imported dolphins confined and carried out a series of medical tests on all the animals there.
Mexico imported the dolphins from the Solomon Islands amidst an international outcry over the actions of local fishermen in the Pacific island nation who captured some 200 bottlenose dolphins and confined from near the capital Honiara for sale to amusement parks.
The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species has asked Mexico and the Solomon Islands for all documents related to this sale to determine if it complies with international regulations.
CITES is examining two export permits issued by the Ministry of Forests, Environment and Conservation in the Solomon Islands authorizing the export of 120 bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).
This species is listed in Appendix II of the CITES Convention, which means that it can be traded internationally if the export is found to be non-detrimental to the survival of the species by a designated scientific authority.
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