Dolphin Quest: Deaths And Injuries

Dolphin Quest Kahala Resort Kahala Mall Hilton Waikoloa
There have been a number of preventable deaths at Dolphin Quest. Many of these appear to stem from their breeding program. Since the co-founder, Jay Sweeney, surrendered his dealer's license in 1984 breeding has become the only option to keep their business going.


During a hearing for a resolution we wrote this past year, a former colleague of Dolphin Quest veterinarian Greg Levine spoke about her experience accompanying him to the company's location on the Big Island at Hilton Waikoloa. She said "we performed ultrasounds to try and determine why the pregnant females were regularly terminating their pregnancies." She also stated that the dolphins have "to be medicated for their own safety. They are given antibiotics, antacids, anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety med(ication)s."
Their first captive bred dolphin died. During the mother's 5.5 hours of labor, the calf sustained injuries and was having breathing problems. The calf beached herself and died two days later. Dolphin Quest's response? They were "very pleased Pele has the potential of being a good mother." So they pushed forward with their breeding program. After all, they already had 3 other pregnant females. Pele went on to have two other calves that died, one of intestinal torsion and the other was simply listed with the cause of death as "not reported."
In addition to this, you may have noticed that four of the calves listed in our image do not have NOAA ID #'s. That's because they never reported them. Fortunately, someone did, because all four are included in the Bottlenose Dolphin Studbook compiled by SeaWorld for AZA (Association Of Zoos And Aquariums).
There's also one dolphin that was born in 2013. Dolphin Quest shared the news on their social media platforms and guests uploaded images and video of the calf. Less than two weeks later the calf was gone and Dolphin Quest's posts about the animal were deleted. This calf was also never reported to National Marine Fisheries Service which is required by federal law.

Broken Jaw: 

Somers was born at Dolphin Quest Bermuda where he suffered a broken lower jaw and septicemia death at an early age. DQ staff undermine Somers' injury by chalking it up to roughhousing with other dolphin prisoners, but it would take some real significant force to break the jaw in that way such as a moving propeller or other mechanical device like a gate mechanism. DQ staff could have discovered and treated the septicemia early instead of inflicting Somers to a long flight that can cause stress-related health issues. Somers died at only 12 years old just weeks after the move to Dolphin Quest Hawai'i in 2010. Dolphin Quest recently transferred dolphins via @FedEx between facilities and to @DolphinarisArizona, a traumatic experience for these animals. One of the original wild caught dolphins Pele has been made to breed several times, two of her offspring were recently taken from her in this recent transfer and this definitely isn't the first time they've done this to her and other dolphins that founder Jay Sweeney captured from the ocean. @Dolphin_Quest should be ashamed of themselves, breeding these animals for profit. Dolphin Quest failed miserably in their husbandry obligations with Somers. Their inability to determine a cause of the injury is unacceptable and avoided probable causes that would have required action on DQ's part. How many other Somers stories are there at Dolphin Quest? #DolphinQuestLies #AnimalCruelty #FedExtinction #ARHawaii #AnimalRightsHawaii #CaptivityIsCruel #EmptyTheTanks #DolphinQuest #SeaLifePark #KahalaResort #HiltonWaikoloa #Hawaii

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Kai And Yoichi:

Kai and Yoichi were two of the first wild captured dolphins at Dolphin Quest. They were both found lying dead on the bottom of the lagoon in the morning upon staff arriving at their Hyatt location (now Hilton Waikoloa). One died in March and one died in April and for a while they couldn't figure out what had gone wrong. It turns out they were poisoned by consuming naturally contaminated reef fish that had swam into their lagoon from the ocean.

Hurricane Gert

keiko conservation dolphin quest hawaii bermuda kahala resort hilton waikoloa sea life park taiji dolphin captivity

Image: BBC

In 1999 at Dolphin Quest's Bermuda facility, 4 of their dolphins were abandoned during a hurricane, including a mother and newborn calf. Winds clocked at 110mph destroyed their seaside enclosure. And they were "severely battered by debris" until the tide rose and they could escape to the open sea. Eyewitnesses said "they cried out as they were pummeled by debris" and "one of them is cut badly." Despite there being plenty of warning of an approaching hurricane and time to evacuate, Dolphin Quest didn't want to move the calf due to her being so young. Co-founder Rae Stone was told USA Today reporters that they tried to protect the dolphins by removing some of the fencing around the compound.
They eventually located and re-captured the mom and calf, but the other two males were never found.