Dolphin Project’s team on Karimun Jawa island teaches school children the importance of marine conservation.
Ten years ago our Indonesian team received a phone call about a dolphin inside the notorious traveling road shows in the greater Jakarta area. The mammal was dying – confined in a plastic pool inside a tent. We learned another dolphin had just died, too, suffering from the inhumane conditions forced upon them, for the sake of “entertainment.”
Upon further investigation, we learned that dolphins were being caught from the waters of Karimun Jawa island for the road shows, despite a law banning wild dolphin captures in Indonesia. Here, in 2011, in partnership with local organization JAAN we constructed the world’s first permanent facility dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of wild dolphins. Named Camp Lumba Lumba (lumba being the Indonesian word for dolphin), the rehabilitation center addressed the need for effective enforcement mechanisms of this law. Fishermen and traffickers had been exploiting a loophole allowing wild-caught dolphins to be “rescued” by dolphin show operators or traveling dolphin circuses, thus supplying the local captivity industry.
The project has been quite challenging to say the least, as the circus owners fought back. The sea pen was badly damaged, our basecamp was attacked and personal threats were made, however we persevered and are proud of our accomplishments, including the release of a dolphin destined for the traveling roadshow back in December 2017.
Today, the tide has turned for the better! Our team on-the-ground is running various activities including beach clean-ups and puppet shows, teaching school children in Karimun Jawa the importance of marine conservation. We have now built our second education center which is hosting class visits and providing curriculums and resources. Awareness is being raised about the need to protect marine life, not exploit it.
The local community should be proud of its heritage – one that includes the ability to observe and study dolphins and other marine life in the beautiful waters surrounding the island. We are so pleased at the kids’ enthusiasm and hope that the positive seeds of change can be planted through our conservation activities.