Bayworld dolphin pool demolished as part of redevelopment

PE Express
Cara-Lee Dorfling

The last signs of the dolphins that were kept at the Bayworld Oceanarium in Gqeberha will soon disappear, with the redevelopment project that is underway.

The demolition of the dolphin pool and pavilion is part of the Bayworld renovation project by the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA).

This first project, for which R20 million has been budgeted, involves the construction of temporary facilities for the animals in Bayworld’s care, together with their relocation and the demolition of disused facilities.

There are 13 planned projects for the larger development, which is estimated to require an investment of around R3 billion.

For the additional financing, the MBDA will look for local and external partners or investors to be involved.

Long-term plans include building a digital dome powered by technology and artificial intelligence, for an interactive oceanarium experience.

“The future of Bayworld will not exclude animals, but it will be driven more from a conservation point of view,” said Luvuyo Bangazi, MBDA spokesperson.

Although Bayworld was previously popular for the dolphins Domino and Dumisa, talk of their return, or more dolphins, were met with fierce opposition from the public.

Both dolphins were taken to Ocean Park in Hong Kong in 2009, where they became part of a breeding programme.

Bangazi says the renovated oceanarium will definitely have dolphins, but in digital form.

With the completion of the first project, operations at Bayworld are expected to stop for only a month while the animals are moved to the temporary facilities at the rear of the building.

At the end of the project, expected towards the end of the year, an interactive digital zone for younger visitors will also be available.

Bangazi would not speculate on the time frame for the completion of the larger development project, but expects it to take several years.

Current estimates indicate that the larger project can make a potential contribution to the gross domestic product of at least R1.5 billion per year, as well as include 4 139 jobs during construction and 1 000 during operation.