Impact of Hurricane Irma on Captive Dolphins Facilities
Amidst the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma in Florida and several Caribbean islands, there have been major concerns for the many dolphins held in captive facilities throughout the region.
Miami Seaquarium has been criticized by former SeaWorld trainers Jeffrey Ventre and Samantha Berg for leaving solitary orca, Lolita, alone in her pool with her dolphin companions to ride out the storm despite her uncovered tank being at risk from falling debris. The Miami Seaquarium has since published a message on Facebook, announcing that Lolita and the other animals in the facility suffered no injuries from the hurricane.
Five bottlenose dolphins between the ages of 13 and 43 were transported to SeaWorld Orlando before the storm from Dolphin Connection in Duck Key. With the Florida Keys having been hit hard by Irma, it is unclear when the five bottlenose dolphins will be able to return Duck Key. Another facility on the Keys, Theater of the Sea have said its dolphins are safe but that the facility will be closed until further notice after suffering a lot of damage. With many facilities having lost power, there are concerns over the loss of refrigeration used to keep fish fed to the dolphins.
According to the website CetaBase, the dolphins on Tortola (British Virgin Islands), Anguilla and St. Kitts have not been injured by the storm.
Six bottlenose dolphins were evacuated by helicopter from the dolphinarium on Cayo Guillermo Island to Cienfuegos in Cuba before the hurricane. It is unclear when they might return as the island suffered extensive damage.