A Report On Dean Bernal (the Warden for the Queens Fish) and the JoJo Project's Activities which Contribute to JoJo's Physical, Legal, and Moral Protection As a National Treasure of the British West Indies, Turks and Caicos Islands
|-Legal Protection for JoJo and Cetacean Population
-Medical attention and emergency network for JoJo and Cetaceans
-JoJo and Cetacean Research
Maintained and transported scuba equipment, video cameras, photography equipment, research equipment, boats and materials assigned for JoJo warden duties.
Maintained inventory and security of equipment assigned for JoJo warden use.
Completed Special JoJo warden assignments and projects requested by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Established the guidelines for a position and responsibilities for an apprentice JoJo warden and cetacean warden program.
Established a program for a Turks & Caicos youth representative for JoJo the Dolphin.
Advised local and international Marine Mammal programs, concerning cetacean welfare and conservation.
Dean Bernal's commitment to education for children and visitors, as well as public and private industry, and the government has aided in JoJo's recognition as a respected and unique form of protected wildlife inhabiting the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Frequent presentations to schoolchildren have served to enhance JoJo's role as a school mascot and unique form of wildlife that deserves special consideration. Because of the consistent work of the JoJo Project and Mr. Bernal, JoJo is not only recognized as a unique form of wildlife to the Islands, but also as a National Treasure. JoJo has been "adopted" by both the government and the public.
Educational presentations regarding wildlife and habitat protection continue today and are available to schools, hotels, and the government. The educational presentations focus on the following: history of marine mammal protection; current and needed protection for unique and endangered species; long-term species and habitat protection; moral and ethical aspects of species and habitat protection; and case studies of unique dolphins, such as JoJo, and their histories of protection.
The educational focus of the Project is also continued in articles for local newspapers that help people understand JoJo's behavior and his distinctive position as a lone wild dolphin. Dean's writings provide an understanding of the reasons why JoJo deserves special protection.
Educational pamphlets are also posted in hotels, schools, and public areas to inform visitors and residents that JoJo is not trained and will respond with the same unpredictable behavior as any other wild dolphin. It is emphasized that JoJo should be respected if he chooses to approach people.
Part of the education process also consists of correcting misinformation. Many journalists and tour operators visit from overseas and request information on JoJo. Some information sources have been obscure, incorrect, or misleading. This incorrect information can and does produce serious repercussions for tourists, and for JoJo, if not corrected or prevented.
Mr. Bernal and the JoJo Project provide factual information about both JoJo and other wild dolphins' natural behavior and their history in the islands.
Today, because of Mr. Bernal's observations and his educational role, a better understanding of JoJo, his natural behavior, and the circumstances that confront him exists. JoJo is no longer seen as the "attacker" but the victim of human intrusion, ignorance, and greed. Thus, as part of the educational campaign to keep JoJo protected as a unique form of wildlife, it is abundantly clear that the island community, the private sector, and the government work cooperatively to keep JoJo out of the physically intrusive, profit-making commercial market.
In addition, Dean and the Project's education mission involve researching the ways in which important medical and legal protections can be provided for JoJo and other dolphins.
The "Dolphin Research Proposal" has not received full funding to date. However, Mr. Bernal does continue with his personal studies of JoJo and other wild dolphins, both in the Turks and Caicos and overseas.
Mr. Bernal's work overseas keeps him abreast of many issues specifically dealing with marine mammals, their habitats, and human interest. This has offered Mr. Bernal a continued dialogue with marine mammal researchers and experts, in both academic and field studies, involving both captive and wild cetacean populations. This gives him great insight into such issues as the needs, behavior, habitats, and welfare of cetaceans.
Mr. Bernal's personal observations and studies of JoJo and other wild dolphins have provided him with the necessary information to approach the appropriate private or public institutions regarding the needs of JoJo, other wild dolphins, and related environmental issues.
Feeding, socializing, mating, and resting grounds have been identified by observing JoJo and wild populations of dolphins and requests have been made to the government to have these areas protected and formally designated as such.
Stomach contents from JoJo are collected from vomit samples and keyed to help understand the feeding habits of JoJo and other wild dolphins. These vomit samples were at one time thought to relate to sickness and the reason for JoJo's independent status. But Mr. Bernal's own observations have shown that JoJo and other wild dolphins' regurgitations are natural events. More research on this subject is now being conducted in other parts of the world as a result of Mr. Bernal's work.
Mr. Bernal's interest and studies pertain not only to JoJo, but to wild dolphin populations as well, along with their migration patterns and use of habitats. This is a subject area that has not been studied in the Turks and Caicos. Proposals to the government have been submitted for research project approval.
JoJo has been injured on a consistent basis. Some injuries are life threatening; other injuries scar JoJo's body for the remainder of his life. Through close examination and study of the injuries (the impact direction, depth into muscle tissue or fat, nature of the cut or laceration, etcá), Mr. Bernal has identified the general or specific cause, and then determined the necessary corrections, such as focusing attention on the threat of jet-skis and of water-skiing. This has aided in preventing further injury to the dolphin-or to the humans inhabiting the same waters.
Legal protection for JoJo falls under the portfolio of the Turks and Caicos Marine Mammal and Fisheries Legislation. Most cases of harassment against JoJo are corrected because they occur while observed by Mr. Bernal when he is in the field.
Observations of JoJo are usually obtained at sea or from shore, usually without the use of a boat or vehicle. When swimming at sea there is no access to direct radio or phone communication. Corrections concerning harassment of JoJo are done at the moment of occurrence to prevent any immediate or long-term physical or behavioral effects on the dolphin.
For instance, persons attempting to feed JoJo dead fish may produce serious problems for JoJo. Attempting to feed him is dangerous for two reasons. If JoJo eats a dead fish, the fish may cause a severe bacterial infection. The second reason is that if JoJo associates food with people, then he may learn to demand it. This will change his "wild" status and provide other reasons for his association with humans.
Other instances needing immediate correction are persons attempting to jump or throw themselves or their children on JoJo's back. This is a common occurrence because not all people understand that JoJo is wild. Persons attempting this all need immediate correction because their actions are teaching JoJo to defend himself more aggressively with each repetition, thus negatively affecting JoJo's long-term behavior.
Often swarms of people approach JoJo resulting in a potentially serious situation for both the dolphin and the people. To escape being surrounded by groups of people, he must target one person to make his escape. This can be prevented only when an experienced person is present in the field who is capable not only of identifying the situation, but even preventing the incident in the first place. Since 1984, it has been shown that Mr. Bernal's commitment and clear understanding of JoJo's behavior, temperament, and responses to the above predicaments has enabled him to provide correction in these situations. This knowledge has provided boundaries and a safe set of behavior patterns for JoJo when dealing with people.
Charter operators, as well as their paying guests, must continually be made aware of the laws regarding JoJo. They must be reminded of the long-term cumulative effects of their inappropriate advances. In addition, Mr. Bernal exercises legal protection when uncontrollable, repetitive, or life-threatening situations involving JoJo are discovered. He then brings these incidents to the attention of the Fisheries department.
Informing the government of commercial interests in JoJo, which have included the private sector, photographers and film crews, has become a part of Mr. Bernal's concern for JoJo's welfare. The present filming permits adopted by government for marine mammal protection were drafted by Mr. Bernal.
The repercussions from the negative publicity, which relegates JoJo to the status of a circus pet or tourist attraction, are countered through an education and information process provided to the government. This results in the implementation of legal protection or the development of policies that prevent these occurrences that demean JoJo's status as a National Treasure.
Incidents involving JoJo in legal suits will most likely require legal council. Pending lawsuits exist where a hotel has advertised JoJo as a pet or attraction and then an injury involving JoJo has been inflicted upon a guest. If the guest was made to believe from an advertisement that the dolphin was a "tourist attraction," and the guest was injured when the dolphin defended itself, the operator and or hotel could be held liable for advertising JoJo.
Dean Bernal is capable of providing information as an expert observer as to the natural behavior of JoJo as a wild animal merely defending himself. Dean's long-term studies show that JoJo has no reason to defend himself unless enticed or provoked by people or situations.
Already these lawsuits exist. Information to defend JoJo is difficult to obtain because acting in defense of JoJo may also act against the party or organization that negatively advertised, misrepresented, or exploited JoJo in a commercial manner.
Closely monitoring JoJo's behavior patterns, and changes in behavior, is the most promising method of determining his health. JoJo's behavior changes show the clearest signs of any non-visible illness or injury. When JoJo is sick or temperamental, Mr. Bernal informs the water sport operators and public to use caution with boats and to use care around JoJo. Mr. Bernal then initiates a closer monitoring of JoJo's health and behavior. Marine Mammal Veterinarians and Marine Mammal Experts are consulted for opinions and advice if necessary.
Human induced physical injuries to the dolphin have been prevented, once the cause is determined and action is taken by Dean Bernal. These actions constitute the grinding down of sharp bolts or edges on the undersides of swim platforms on boats or boat ladders, shaving down of corners on metal, or removing wires on piers, removal of abandoned turtle nets (by fisheries officers), removal of apparatus which have entangled the dolphin, and removal of monofilament fishing line which have cut into the dolphin have all been real circumstances which have involved a direct injury to JoJo.
Other situations involving direct confrontations with JoJo, which affect his welfare or health, need correction. These situations usually involve the misuse or abuse of equipment such as, water-ski boats, tender boats, thrill toys, (jet-skis, wave runners, etc.,), sonic calling devices, modified depth sounders, sonar guns, and prodding devices. These items have been presented to JoJo by both residents and guests to entice him. High frequency modified devices are possibly dangerous to JoJo and are produced in attempts to attract him. These situations have been corrected or prevented while Dean Bernal is in the field observing JoJo. Other attempts to harm JoJo are prevented by receiving information about attempts to utilize the devices while inquiring about JoJo.
Physical injuries can be treated if necessary. Mr. Bernal has access to antibiotics on hold for marine mammal use specifically. In stock is a valued $3,000.00 worth of specialized medication in refrigeration for marine mammal applications. Presently, only antibiotic ointment applied to JoJo to prevent the infection of open wounds will help prevent primary infection and scarring. JoJo is checked for injuries on a daily basis when possible.
Mr. Bernal keeps an ongoing communication with Marine Mammal veterinarians and dolphin specialists who have been briefed on JoJo's behavior and injuries. These veterinarians and dolphin specialists are reachable if there is a stranding or if special assistance or advice is needed regarding JoJo or other wild dolphins.
Mr. Bernal strongly supports the fair representation of JoJo on the moral and ethical grounds that benefit JoJo's welfare. JoJo is somewhat morally and ethically protected from the commercial advertising markets and direct intrusive physical exploitation.
It is to JoJo's benefit to keep him out of the demeaning commercial market in terms of negative commercial promotion or direct physical intrusion. Once direct physical and commercial intrusion begins it will be uncontrollable.
Commercially exploitable trips to see JoJo are dangerous because collecting money on a charter to receive a "product," such as seeing JoJo, does not consider the effect of the intrusion on JoJo. This can be especially damaging when he wants to be alone or when he is socializing with other dolphins, or engaged in mating patterns or feeding behavior. This intrusion can have even more serious consequences when JoJo is ill or injured. His legal protection as a marine mammal--from direct intrusion or disturbance--is mandated by the marine mammal fisheries regulations and continually promoted by Dean Bernal's fieldwork or involvement with Fisheries Officers.
Moral and ethical protection for JoJo, specifically regarding his commercial exploitation, have been addressed by Mr. Bernal to the government, as well as to public and private operators. Such exploitation is hardly morally conducive to the protection and welfare of JoJo if he is utilized negatively for private commercial enterprises and demeaned as a form of wildlife.
Studies, and Mr. Bernal's recommendations, assert that it is necessary to keep JoJo safe from developing negative or aggressive behavior. If situations continue to occur where the dolphin is forced to defend himself, because of an injury or enticement, then the dolphin will consistently learn to physically defend himself in other situations, whether the assaults from people are accidental or intentional. Antagonizing or intimidating JoJo, even in isolated instances, produces long-term behavior effects which have proven dangerous to the public and JoJo. With long-term of harassment from people, JoJo may continue to reinforce this defensive behavior.
Mr. Bernal's educational efforts and fieldwork prevent many of these isolated instances from reoccurrence. This minimizes the harassment to JoJo and the negative effects people have on JoJo's behavior. Mr. Bernal's long-term interaction with JoJo provides a calm, consistent and well-maintained behavior pattern for JoJo. Dean Bernal is always capable of leading JoJo away from aggressive human activity and of preventing adverse or defensive reactions from JoJo.
The impacts on JoJo are increasing as both the Island population and tourism grow. Dolphin feeding, resting, and socializing areas that Dean Bernal has identified are also being utilized by tourists and tour operators, since no legislation recognizes these areas as specifically significant to dolphin populations. This lack of understanding has resulted in the creation of a water-ski zone over an area once designated as a dolphin feeding area-which itself rests in the middle of Princess Alexandria National Park.
When these crucial areas are not designated as protected areas, where dolphins or even whales and their calves rest during their migrations, the area is misused as a tourist attraction for whale or dolphin watching. Unfortunately, because of the tourist influx and anxious boat operators, Mr. Bernal has witnessed, for consecutive years, the forced separation of mother and calf whales. It may be questionable to protect such areas, which are specific to only one dolphin, like JoJo, but it is clearly necessary when considering the general protection of all cetaceans and their habitats.
As tourism increases so will the impact on natural resources, especially such volatile and significantly exposed resources as JoJo. Boat impacts and human intrusions that effect the dolphin's behavior, health, and habitat are the real concerns. With his continuous observation and study, capable medical attention, and expertise on the dolphin's needs, health and behavior, Mr. Bernal is capable of providing to the government and public a better understanding of JoJo.
Mr. Bernal's personal commitment to JoJo and the JoJo Project stems from a deep appreciation for JoJo as a unique form of wildlife. As Mr. Bernal continues to be exposed to other dolphin projects, and cetacean issues, this appreciation continues to grow. Comparatively, Mr. Bernal emphasizes, JoJo is a highly intelligent and personable dolphin, deserving special protection and understanding.
Mr. Bernal has recommended to the Government of the Turks and Caicos that JoJo be officially declared a National Treasure, deserving special recognition and consideration beyond that of the present protection of the Marine Mammal Fisheries Legislation. JoJo the Dolphin, for numerous reasons, is definitely a most unique and rare form of wildlife to the Turks and Caicos Islands and is deserving of the highest recognition and protection as such.