The death of a dolphin at a NSW entertainment park remains unexplained as the Department of Primary Industries refuses to comment on the circumstances of the animal’s containment.
The youngest dolphin at Coffs Harbour’s Dolphin Marine Magic had been one of six dolphins, including four males, kept in a pool that, by the DPI’s standards, was too small — until an inquiry in June deemed it big enough, without evidence to support that claim. The DPI’s standards require that many captive creatures be kept in a pool of 1700 cubic metres.
The Australian revealed the pool, built in the early 2000s, was designed to be compliant for four dolphins at 1400m3.The engineering firm that designed it recently used the final construction plans to calculate the volume at 1438m3 at most.
The entertainment park’s 2009 and 2010 annual reports note that “the current facilities allow a maximum of five dolphins” and the park previously had claimed on its website that the pool was 1500m3.
Last November The Australian revealed the original “variation” to allow Dolphin Marine Magic to keep too many dolphins in too small a space came after then primary industries minister Katrina Hodgkinson visited the park, where her children enjoyed a free swim with the dolphins. A DPI spokeswoman said she “will refer any comment to DMM” when asked what had killed the dolphin.
Two-year-old Ji-Ling was found dead on October 8. Park chief executive Paige Sinclair declined to comment on what killed Ji-Ling. Dolphins generally live for between 40 and 50 years.
The park’s former head trainer, Troy Saville, said it was impossible to tell how the dolphin died without seeing the necropsy report, but given Ji-Ling had been ill the day before he died, “they should have had some indication”.