Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Marine park exec says closure will kill marine animals

By Ansbert Joaquin
Inquirer News Service

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT-An official of Ocean Adventure said calls by environmentalists to close the marine park would mean "certain death" for the marine animals under the park's care.

"Closing Ocean Adventure will not only sentence the marine mammals to certain death, but will also deprive hundreds of thousands of Filipinos of the opportunity to truly appreciate the value of marine mammals as partners of humanity in saving our oceans," Gregorio Magdaraog, vice president for corporate affairs of Ocean Adventure said in a statement.

Earlier, the Earth Island Institute-Philippines (EII) and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society sought the closure of the marine park in Subic Bay and called on environment and health officials to save the two false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) still in captivity.

The whales and some sea lions, are used in amusement shows at the park.

The groups issued the call following the death of a female false killer whale in the park on July 8.

Ocean Adventure is operated by the Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium (SBME), an investor inside the freeport.

Magdaraog said the death of the whale, named "Hook," was "indeed a sad occasion."

"(But) it is ironic that the two organizations that proclaim their love and care for animals now want to close down a world-class facility that provides one of the best care for cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and other marine mammals," he said.

"With what and how will they save two whales that are living quite well in the loving care of animal care experts?" Magdaraog asked. "What whales have these groups saved already?"

Environmentalists said Hook was the third whale to die in captivity at the Ocean Adventure Park since it opened in 2001.

Coral (11 years old) died in January last year while Deuce (9 years old) died in July 2001. The whales died of gastrointestinal illnesses.

Trixie Concepcion, EII coordinator, said false killer whales live up to 62 years in the wild, "but confinement in Ocean Adventure will make sure that none of these animals will live to reach maturity."

But Magdaraog said the park helped save Hook.

He said Hook got her name because when she was rescued from the wild, a large fishing hook was lodged in her body. Marine park personnel surgically removed the metal and saved Hook from death, said Magdaraog.


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