Well, it looks like the controversial dolphin exhibit will open in early 2015, according to an announcement made by Coral World on Monday. Check out this story published yesterday in the St. Thomas Source:
Coral World Plunging Ahead with Dolphin Project
BY SOURCE STAFF — NOVEMBER 4, 2013
With approval last month of its plans for dolphin habitat in Water Bay, Coral World General Manager Trudie Prior thanked the 14 senators who voted in favor of the project, and said Monday the company is already moving ahead to develop the facility and open in the first quarter of 2015.
“The senators who voted for the project … recognized the value this project has for the Virgin Islands. Coral World to date has spent a couple hundred thousand dollars locally with engineers, architects, and other experts in the design and permitting of the facility, so the community is already benefitting,” Prior said in a statement issued Monday by Coral World.
“We will be investing at least $5.2 million in the construction of the facility. Most of that will be spent locally except for specialized equipment and materials unavailable here, so there will be numerous local contractors and trades people engaged in the construction.”
Prior said the project will create 25 jobs at the facility by the end of the first full year of operation. It will also give local residents the chance to become involved in marine mammal care and training, and would protect the almost 70 jobs at Coral World today.
“The facility won’t just benefit our employees,” Prior added. “Taxi drivers who transport guests to Coral World will be carrying thousands of people annually who now leave St. Thomas to go directly to the Tortola to swim with dolphins. No one here tried to stop that facility. Instead they are trying to stop a project that would bring a much-needed boost to the local tourism product and keep visitors here on St. Thomas.”
Other local businesses would also share in the additional traffic, she continued, “because cruise ship visitors who participate in Coral World’s dolphin program still have at least half a day to spend on island.”
Prior and Lee Kellar, Coral World’s general curator, took time in Monday’s news release to dispute claims made by opponents, most recently at the Oct. 23 Senate session.
Opponents claimed that dolphin habitats are closing around the world, but according to Kellar, that “just isn’t true.” Tortola’s facility is run by a company called Dolphin Discovery, which has 13 facilities in the Caribbean and Mexico including the Riviera Maya, Cozumel, and two in Cancun, Kellar said.
Click here to read the full story from the St. Thomas Source.