Over the last several years I've been inspired by diving with whales, sharks, dolphins, manta rays, sailfish and all the other extraordinary creatures that call the ocean their home. This month, we tagged sharks in the British Virgin Islands, worked on creating a Caribbean marine reserve for rays and sharks and were delighted to see Indonesia create the world’s largest manta ray sanctuary. I’m proud to be a part of the OceanElders, who work to protect, value, and celebrate the ocean and its wildlife.
I've also been saddened by the destruction caused by human beings, for example the capture and killing of dolphins in Taiji's cove. Like many people, I've been deeply touched by films such as The Cove, Sharkwater and more recently Blackfish. These films have opened our eyes to a range of issues and have ignited a very healthy debate. We've been listening and want to make sure we continue to listen to ensure we do what is right for these majestic creatures.
As I said last month, I believe no dolphins or whales should EVER again be killed by humans, or TAKEN from the ocean for marine theme parks. However, as far as I know, animals that have been bred in captivity cannot safely be released. So if the ones who are currently in captivity have to be kept there it is critically important that they are treated properly and given the necessary environment to thrive. As long as this criteria is met I believe access to these magnificent creatures in the proper humane conditions - alongside ocean research and exploration - can help to educate our children and improve our understanding.
Virgin Holidays has been proactively addressing the issue of animal welfare in tourism for a number of years. The team are working with and listening to experts to better understand the views of the scientific community and the public so we can ensure that these beautiful species endure and flourish forever.
We will continue to listen and share what we are learning and would love to hear from you about any ideas that you have for Virgin Holidays that allow people to experience wildlife in its natural habitat without harm or disruption. We will also continue to do what we can to protect the ocean and its wonderful wild creatures. We are at a critical juncture and have the opportunity to protect some of the last pristine "high seas" by banding together around the world to use our voices to create marine protected areas and stop overfishing.