‘Missing’ rescued dolphins actually died, Bali authorities say

Photo of a bottlenose dolphin for illustration purpose only. Photo: Pixabay
Photo of a bottlenose dolphin for illustration purpose only. Photo: Pixabay

Two dolphins that were rescued from a captive facility in Bali have died after their health deteriorated, the province’s Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) revealed, following demands for answers from activists who reported the porpoises missing.

Related ⁠— Activists say dolphins rescued from captivity in Bali are missing

Sumarsono, who heads a conservation department at BKSDA Bali, told local news outlets yesterday that the dolphins were already sick when they were rescued, having lived under abusive conditions at the Dolphin Lodge. 

“We saw that the eyes were a bit yellowish, because they were severely exploited by the old owners. [And then] they were ridden on by Lucinta Luna and friends, among other things,” Sumarsono said. 

A coalition advocating for dolphin welfare yesterday called on Indonesian officials to explain the missing dolphins, after the group’s representative found that there were only five out of the seven rescued dolphins at their temporary home at Bali Exotic Marine Park.

Sumarsono also quickly dismissed circulating rumors that authorities had gone on to sell the dolphins or cooked them for consumption. The two dolphins that died, he added, were lacking in nutrition and had never undergone a medical examination. 

“There was never a medical check-up. They didn’t have an appropriate medical record, so when we seized them several were sick but they looked healthy,” Sumarsono said, without revealing specific details about the mammals’ cause of death. 

Indonesian officials took their time to close down the Dolphin Lodge, even when the dolphin attraction facility has long been accused of animal exploitation and despite official orders to shut operations last year. Evidently, it took a viral video featuring dangdut singer Lucinta Luna swimming with a dolphin for authorities to actually enforce the law. 

That led to the rescue of seven bottlenose dolphins, which are of the Indo-Pacific species. The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins are a protected species in Indonesia, and they are listed as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Authorities previously said the dolphins were healthy and being closely supervised, though animal welfare organizations have raised concerns over its current placement at the Bali Exotic Marine Park, which some activists describe as a “commercial captivity center.” 

Sumarsono emphasized that the dolphins had been under medical treatment and supervision to prevent the worst outcome. 

“But what can we do, when they had already been sick since we rescued them?” he said.

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