Dolphins at UWS living in terrible conditions, say experts

Dolphins at UWS living in terrible conditions, say experts
A pink dolphin at UWS is suffering from a non-contagious form of skin cancer.

SINGAPORE - Poor water quality, run-down infrastructure, extended contact with humans - these were the main criticisms two visiting marine experts had on Sentosa's Underwater World Singapore (UWS), where a pink dolphin was recently discovered to be suffering from skin cancer.

In a video interview with SPH Razor, Naomi Rose, marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute said this was one of the worst facilities she had ever seen for water quality.

"The tank was full of algae and chipped paint, and the water quality was simply below standards," she said in an interview with SPH Razor, adding that while she did not want to attribute the poor water quality as causing the dolphin's skin condition, the poor water quality certainly would not assist it in healing.

"The bad water quality is much worse because they have got a dolphin with a skin condition," she said, stressing that UWS has an extra responsibility to improve the water quality because of the dolphin.

Former Sea World Orlando Florida trainer Samantha Berg noted that the dolphins were subjected to ultraviolet radiation all-day long because of the small amount of shade structure, which would also affect their skin.

Rose highlighted two main problems with the dolphin tank at UWS.

"First, the actual infrastructure is deteriorated, and there is rust and chipped paint which is extremely dangerous for the dolphins. It means that the paint has been chipping off into the water, which is something that requires the dolphins to be moved temporarily while the tank is completely drained and resurfaced," Rose said.

Berg felt that there was not anything that was salvageable from the pool's condition.

Rose said the second problem is the algae growth, which is indicative of potentially high faecal coliform, and that the water was not being kept clean enough.

"That is something UWS can deal with in the short term. Sometimes, all you have to do is manually scrub the walls and get rid of all the algae," she explained.

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