A WAR of words has erupted over the capture of Moreton Bay’s Cliffy, the lone dolphin which has won the hearts of baysiders.
Whale conservation group Sea Shepherd has joined forces with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society in condemning Cliffy’s confinement at Sea World on the Gold Coast.
The State Government requested that Sea World capture the dolphin late last month when it was deemed he was at risk of being injured or killed.
Cliffy had become a regular visitor to the Water Police base at Lytton.
However, Sea Shepherd co-ordinator Michael Dalton, pictured, has condemned the actions, saying Cliffy should never have been removed.
``It’s just not right. We want to help him,’’ Mr Dalton said.
``No dolphin should be kept in captivity for human entertainment.’’
Mr Dalton and Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society director Dr Mike Bossley said there were documented cases of lone dolphins living world-wide with no justified reasons for their removal.
``While it is true that many solitaries have suffered an untimely end, it is also true that if their situation is properly managed they can live indefinitely in the wild,’’ Dr Bossley said.
Sea World’s director of marine sciences, Trevor Long, said releasing Cliffy into the wild would be irresponsible.
He said there had been previous attempts to return him to the ocean, but he always returned to human activity in port.
``Cliffy has bitten children, has had hooks in his body and lines around him and is missing three inches from his tail,’’ Mr Long said.
``If we let him go now it will only be a matter of time until he eats a bad fish and dies, someone hurts him, he gets caught in more fishing lines, he gets hit by a boat or attacked by a bull-shark due to his weak situation.’’
Mr Dalton rejected the claims, saying any animal in Moreton Bay could be hurt by fishing lines, boats and interaction with humans.
It was a long bow to draw that Cliffy’s situation was different, he said.
``If he’s released into the wild, the best thing would be to educate locals not to feed him and other marine animals, rather than use that as justification to keep him in captivity,’’ Mr Dalton said.
Department of Environment and Resource Management director Terry Harper said it was preferable for wild animals to always remain in the wild, but in individual cases such as this it might be appropriate that it remained in captivity. ``The animal had become habituated to human interaction which put it at risk,’’ he said.
Conservation groups will hold a 6.30pm screening of dolphin protection documentary The Cove at Portside Dendy tonight to raise awareness of Cliffy’s captivity.
The documentary looks at the plight of dolphins slaughtered in Japan.