Still no sweetness and light at Sugarloaf

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1995:

SUGARLOAF KEY, Fla.–– Controversy
over the Sugarloaf Dolphin Sanctuary flared again on
October 4 when marine mammal veterinarian Joseph
Geraci, brought from Canada by the National Marine
Fisheries Service to do yet another of many inspections
of the site in recent months, flunked Sugarloaf health
care in a four-page report to Dale Schwindaman,
USDA Deputy Administrator for Regulatory
Enforcement and Animal Care. Geraci called for either
“a major overhaul of SDS philosophy, program and
resources,” or “relocating the dolphins to one or more
facilities with strong established health care programs.”
At issue: Geraci believes the Sugarloaf dolphins
should be kept sling-trained to enable close
inspection and blood-drawing to make sure they do not
transfer disease to the wild population. Sugarloaf director
of rehabilitation Ric O’Barry––who was away at the
time of the inspection––believes all response to human
command must be extinguished, to insure that the dolphins
pursue a wild way of life upon release instead of
hanging around harbors begging.

“You take blood once a year,” O’Barry says.
“We’ve done that. We’re in compliance with all the
NMFS regulations. We’ve been found in compliance
every time we’ve been inspected, 38 times in the past
year, probably costing taxpayers over $100,000.”
Sugarloaf now has five dolphins. Three exNavy
dolphins are ready for release, O’Barry says.
Two others, the former Ocean Reef club dolphin Molly,
and Sugar, kept at Sugarloaf since it was a tourist
resort, might be suitable for day release, says O’Barry,
with the option of returning at night.
Geraci has been controversial himself since
1980, over allegedly cruel experiments done to see if
dolphins can survive becoming fouled by oil slicks; the
deaths, apparently in his custody, of at least five dolphins
captured from the Mississippi Gulf, one of whom
was still listed as “alive” in his Marine Mammal
Inventory report until 1992, five years after she died;
and a report he published in 1988, asserting that 750
dolphins died off the Atlantic Coast in 1987-1988 due to
the toxic effects of a red tide. Necropsies reportedly
found no red tide-related toxins in some of the remains,
but did find PCB concentrations in the dolphins’ livers
of up to 6,000 parts per million, about 100 times the
level commonly found in healthy dolphins.

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