Visit to dolphins a blast from PE past

Domino in action in Hong Kong last month
Domino in action in Hong Kong last month. Picture by Jason Cooper

Memories of the first time he saw Port Elizabeth’s famous dolphins came flooding back for a former resident who saw Domino in action in Hong Kong last month.

Jason Cooper first saw the city’s famous dolphins, Domino and Dolly, perform at Bayworld when he was just five years old.

Then, last month, the now 22-year-old Cooper saw Domino again – this time at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park, to where Domino was relocated with his daughter, Dumisa, nearly six years ago.

A former Grey High School pupil and Rhodes University photojournalism student, Cooper moved to Hong Kong last year to teach English.

Knowing the dolphins had been moved there, he went specifically to visit them.

“When Domino was introduced to the audience, it was like seeing a long-lost friend again – very special. The dolphins did a bunch of flips and splashes, and even interacted with the trainers in the pool.

“The crowd loved the show, there was a lot of cheering throughout.

“There were lots of children in the audience, and it reminded me of when my parents took me to see the dolphins.”

Asked how they looked, Cooper said: “The dolphins look happy. I would prefer it if they were free to roam the oceans, but Ocean Park is doing an outstanding job at promoting ocean conservation, inspiring children from a young age to keep our oceans clean and safe.”

He said he was grateful to his mother, Lesley Cooper, for taking him to see the dolphins at such a young age. It was a cherished memory.

Domino and Dumisa, Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphins, were moved to Ocean Park as part of a global breeding programme in July 2009.

The move was also an attempt to address concerns about in-breeding between the father and daughter – Domino was also Dolly’s son – and to allow the two to interact with unrelated dolphins of the same species.

Bayworld marine mammals and seabirds senior curator Cherie Lawrence said R500-million would be needed for them to return to Port Elizabeth.

“The deal with Ocean Park is that we still own our two dolphins as well as every second calf they produce.”

-Siphiwokuhle Penze

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