Dolphins held in captivity - Malta

Mediterraneo Marine Park holds a reported seven bottlenose dolphins. In 1990 when WDC exposed the trade in bottlenose dolphins from the Black Sea, four were being held in Malta. All have since died.

At the time WDC discovered a document listing this facility as being part of a breeding programme by European zoos. "Mediterraneo Marine Park was the only facility listed that displayed bottlenose dolphins from the Black Sea within that so-called "Breeding Programme" and interestingly all four dolphins were males", recalls Nicolas Entrup, former WDCS campaigner and co-author of THE DOLPHIN TRADERS. "So either this breeding programme was completely unfounded, which we believe it was, or it was meant to mix dolphins from different regions. You may wonder about this, but it is simply a reflection of how poorly the dolphinarium industry is performing and that captive displays are not about conservation at all", states Entrup.

In 2003, with only one Black Sea dolphin still surviving, Mediterraneo Marine Park imported six wild-caught dolphins from Cuba and now offers visitors the opportunity to swim with its animals. Although there is no publically available inventory on the dolphins held in captivity in EU Member States, an unofficial inventory managed by the NGO community, Ceta-Base, lists seven bottlenose dolphins held at Mediterraneo Marine Park, including two calves born in 2010. This means at least one of the dolphins imported from Cuba has died.

Malta is Party to ACCOBAMS, Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area, which clearly prohibits the taking of any whale or dolphin in the region. To be consistent with their ACCOBAMS status (and other protection measures for cetaceans within EU waters) the Maltese government should apply the same protections to cetaceans imported from elsewhere and not allow captive dolphin displays or imports of wild-caught dolphins from overseas.

A coalition of NGOs in Malta, supported by international NGOs such as WDC, have formed CETFREE - Cetacean Freedom Alliance (Malta), to campaign against dolphin captivity in Malta.