"By becoming familiar with the life and purpose of a single lone dolphin, we have created a greater understanding of compassion, companionship, and knowledge between humanity and the other species that share the earth."
JoJo is an extremely rare dolphin that voluntarily interacts with humans in his own natural ocean environment. It is a fantastic experience to swim with JoJo and yet this unique interaction has created the need for the JoJo Project. Dolphins are mammals and, like humans, do NOT enjoy unsolicited touching or provocation. Because JoJo and other wild dolphins swim in shallow waters, human interaction is typical but also may be dangerous to marine mammals.
In 1987, JoJo, according to letters to the government, had become a tourist liability. The dolphin had reportedly been attacking humans after being exploited as a "pet" for commercial interests. Knowing the dolphin, Dean Bernal wanted to correct the misconceptions of the dolphin's antics before JoJo was placed in captivity. Dean petitioned the Turks and Caicos Ministry of Natural Resources, stating that the dolphin was defending himself against harassment and that the dolphin should be protected as a unique resource.
In 1989, JoJo was declared a 'National Treasure' and Dean was appointed as the dolphin's official warden. Because of JoJo's uniqueness, the friendly dolphin has become a powerful symbol for nature conservation. Dean created the JoJo Project not only to raise awareness, but to educate and protect, not only JoJo, but all wildlife and their habitats. Today, this small island nation has established 33 national parks and protected areas in an effort to safeguard its pristine shores and coral reefs.
Despite these efforts, JoJo and his environment are coming under increasing pressure as the influx of tourists grows. This same growth, and the increased demand on the marine environment, has caused both injury and increased harassment to JoJo and other marine mammals. In order to safeguard the wildlife and their habitats, the JoJo Dolphin Project has initiated a variety of practical conservation measures including:
Expert medical assistance for JoJo and Cetacean Populations
Assistance when Cetaceans are Stranded or Entangled
Public Awareness and Education Programs
Promotion of Legal Protection for JoJo and other Marine Mammals
Non-invasive Scientific Research on Wild Cetaceans
International Wildlife Campaigns and Conferences
International Education Projects and Programs
Even with the committed efforts of Dean, the JoJo Project is severely under-funded. The JoJo Project is NOT a commercial swim program--with JoJo as a trained, captive animal--nor does it charge for visits to JoJo. JoJo is completely wild and not fed by people. The Project educates the public on how to respect a wild dolphin, such as JoJo, and to understand how and why wild dolphins interact with humans.
In an effort to raise awareness, as well as funding for the JoJo Project, Dean has created a multimedia presentation focusing on the need for public awareness and education. He has also created the JoJo Collection in order to assist in these education and fundraising efforts. Each item in the JoJo Collection carries a Certificate of Authenticity describing the JoJo Project and its goals.
The JoJo Project and Dean are committed to wildlife education via documentary films and videos, books, and practical field projects. Documentaries of JoJo have been shown worldwide, and many articles have been published that focus on JoJo's plight. The JoJo Project regularly updates its website to inform and educate the general public. The website focuses on the efforts of the Project to insure JoJo's well-being, along with the world's other rare lone dolphins.