Dolphin Quest was founded by two marine mammal veterinarians, Dr. Jay Sweeney and Dr. Rae Stone. Both of them have been considered controversial in the captive dolphin community, but most concerning is Sweeney, who was involved in so many wild captures before opening Dolphin Quest that he's been labeled a "dolphin trafficker."
Jay Sweeney Reported Take Records And Results:
Before Dolphin Quest, Sweeney ran Dolphin Services International, "the second largest dolphin catching operation in the United States." An excerpt below from Sun Sentinel summarizes it well. You can click it to be taken to the full article.
-6 captured in Florida. Footage of captures featured in Fall For Freedom. "All six were captured in 1985 off Florida's west coast by California veterinarian Jay Sweeney."
-They named the dolphins Bob, Geno, Tyke, Toby, Christie and Katie.
-Geno drowned in a pool net in less than a year. (Source: National Marine Fisheries Service NMFS)
-"Bob was known to have aggression issues and was implicated in the death of Katie, who allegedly suffered with a lung condition."
-In the wild male and female bottlenose dolphins don't socialize constantly, especially not in a confined space. Orlando Sentinel said "Bob roughhoused 12-year-old Katie, worsening her lung condition and leading to her death."
-In 1987, two more dolphins died just three days apart. They were suspected to be injured by Bob as well. "A 9-year-old female died of a brain hemorrhage and a 6-year-old male died after its vertebrae were fractured."
-"Kym Murphy, Disney’s corporate vice president for environmental policy, told the Sentinel, 'Bob probably contributed to the 1987 deaths of two other dolphins at the Living Seas.'"
-"Bob caused further issues when he was shipped to the National Aquarium in Baltimore in 2003. He died two years later.
-Despite Epcot's inability to provide a safe atmosphere for their captive dolphins, Dolphin Quest shipped off one of their 5 year old captive bred dolphins to Epcot in 2005. A dolphin named Malabar.
CBS Local Baltimore. (Article not publicly archived on CBS's website, but shared here.)
Orlando Sentinel Article
National Aquarium Baltimore:
Excerpt from "People Promoting and People Opposing Animal Rights: In Their Own Words"
-Jay Sweeney captured two dolphins for National Aquarium in Tampa Bay, Florida. The governor at the time, Bob Martinez, stated that the animals were trucked across the state without the proper state transportation permit. To evade Sea Shepherd, Sweeney moved the capture location to Tampa Bay when the permit was for Charlotte's Harbor.
-The dolphins were taken to Hawk's Cay Resort to go through a holding period before being shipped to the National Aquarium. This is done with almost all wild captured dolphins as it takes up to a few months to teach them to do things like accepting human touch and begin consuming dead fish.
-The dolphins were reportedly ill and suffering from skin lesions so the executive director for the National Aquarium refused the animals, saying they were "too introverted" to be on display. At this point the state wanted the release of the animals but the aquarium refused.
-One, a dolphin named Benny, died just three months after capture while being held at Hawk’s Cay Resort. This death angered animal activists and Governor Bob Martinez. Sweeney blamed the death on a "skin infection when it was captured" and that they animal "was slow to adapt to captivity." to Sun Sentinel.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
-Jay Sweeney captured dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico in Florida with the Director of the "Dolphin Research Center" (another dolphinarium), Mandy Rodriguez in 1984.
-"Ric O'Barry explains that marine mammal dealer Dr. Jay Sweeney held the capture permits in Florida for the six wild-caught dolphins in the 1980s before the practice was banned by NMFS."
-Happy died "because he refused to eat dead fish." (Necropsy and letter from Sweeney above)
-The other five arrived in Finland in 1985.
-The conditions of this dolphinarium were described as "deplorable," "despicable," "unnatural conditions," by others in the industry. About the two dolphins born into captivity at the facility Ric O' Barry stated, "the dolphins now need constant medical attention. They have never seen a live fish, never experienced the tide, never seen a seagull overhead, never even seen the sky. They are freaks that we have created for our amusement. They were created for corporate profit.”
-Thanks to tireless efforts by activists for three decades, the facility closed in 2015 because people stopped purchasing tickets.
-There are only four dolphins left, two surviving dolphins from the six captured in Florida and the two captive born who are now "afflicted with a captivity-related blood disease known as hemochromatosis."
-In 2016 the dolphins were sold to a Greek dolphinarium and transported discreetly during the middle of the night.
Dolphin Outlook - Don Lichterman
Whale News- July 2016
Ric O' Barry's Dolphin Project- The Finland Four
Ric O' Barry's Dolphin Project- Finland Four Moved Under Cover Of Darkness To Greece
-Jay Sweeney was hired in 1988 to capture 8 Pacific White Sided Dolphins. 3 were released and 1 died. The other 4 were transferred to Shedd.
-Captured 3 belugas in Churchill in 1989, the two kept were shipped to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma Wash in chartered cargo plane There they joined Tacoma's three adult belugas captured in Churchill in 1984. The two Shedd whales will remain in Tacoma until sometime next summer when they take up permanent residence in the Shedd's Oceanarium. (Triune article)
-Jay Sweeney reportedly collected 2 bottlenose dolphins in 1989 for Miami Seaquarium. One died in 1991 and the other in 2000.