Every time I drive over Brouwersdam – about twice a week – I think of a plan I had more than thirty years ago.
A marine mammal sanctuary.
It was a year after the change in the former Eastern Bloc. The Russian navy was in the belly with dozens of dolphins that had been trained to carry out acts of war. I was in Scharendijke with our boat (Jaguar 25) when I read it. Very occasionally a seal could be seen in our marina, causing hilarity and interest. Now I knew that some of the recovered and released seals from Pieterburen were picked up from the beach every few months to recover. I had suggested releasing them into Grevelingen and teaching them to forage or be fed further in a certain area. Nice attraction for the many visitors to the largest saltwater lake in Europe.
I also saw another spectacular possibility: take the Russian dolphins to Grevelingen and release them there as soon as they have learned to get food in a fixed place. A huge tourist attraction that would keep the many holiday parks busy for weeks longer.
Marine Mammal Foundation Grevelingen
I persevered and together with a few friends, including a biologist, a lawyer and an experienced civil servant, we set up the Grevelingen Marine Mammal Foundation. Research showed that this beautiful lake could be a perfect habitat for the dolphins. We also understood that porpoises were regularly beached and shelter for seals also became necessary in Zeeland. We contacted the leisure board, which gave us a willing ear.
Via a small message to AD, we received a whole page to launch our idea. The reactions were overwhelming. Many wanted to cooperate, but others were strongly opposed. Naturally, the holiday parks, tourist information and other tourist institutions wanted to cooperate. The resistance came from the fishermen on Grevelingen, the speed boat owners and the Harderwijk dolphinarium!
The latter invited us to take a look at them. Locked in a couple of large aquariums, we watched dolphins swim. “We are working on a bay where they have more freedom” our guide assured us, but we had already seen enough. A year later, Harderwijk started a shelter for stranded guinea pigs at Neeltje Jans in the Oosterschelde, which has since died a quiet death. The resistance from the fishermen was less friendly and we finally decided to stop after a year of struggle. We all had a job, and one of us turned out to be a notorious black eye: it wasn’t worth it anymore.
Still, I think it’s a really good idea. Close Harderwijk and transfer the dolphins to Grevelingen. First in the refuge on Brouwersdam, so they know where they can get food and then let them go.
Experience with dolphins
Once on a friend’s sailboat off the north coast of Brittany, I encountered six wild dolphins. A tear-jerking experience. They jumped out of the water at the same time and looked at us. Shot under the boat and stayed next to us for about five minutes. I give that experience to every water sports enthusiast.
Let go of the dolphins and, if necessary, buy them also from other European dolphinariums and put an end to animal cruelty. The benefits are countless for tourism, but also for studying the animals. Dolphins in the wild do antics, let them do it in an open pool and make one of the refuges: a foraging harbor. Build facilities for temporary shelter, stands and a restaurant around it.
The number of water sports enthusiasts in Grevelingen can be regulated because there is only one access lock. Rehabilitation of seals, seals and porpoises can also find a place there if they get their strength back and let the Grevelingen fishermen catch the food for the animals outside the lake: are they also satisfied?
Who starts it? I would like to share my idea for free but ……..
If it all goes through, as a reward, I want the foraging port de Sörhaven Called.