Outrage at official go-ahead for uShaka rave: iLIVE

29 December 2012 - 10:42 By @noblue_nogreen

An ad hoc group of activists opposing the planned New Year’s Eve rave at uShaka Marine World were outraged by media reports this morning, which stated that both uShaka and the SA Association of Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) have given the go-ahead for the event to take place.

A small delegation representing the 500-strong group of activists and the 7,500 people petitioning to have the event either cancelled or relocated met with representatives from uShaka, the SAAMBR, the event organisers, and the City of eThekwini, which owns the facility, yesterday. The activists put forward several proposals regarding the event, and agreed as a group not to make these public until uShaka and the SAAMBR had had time to consider them and to revert with an official response. As negotiations about possible alternatives to the way in which the event was originally configured were still in progress, the group felt this was the correct and ethical approach to take.

However, earlier today – and with no prior notification to activists – the SAAMBR released the attached media statement.

With reference to this, activists would like to note the following:

  1. The NSPCA has clearly stated that it is opposed to this event, and has called on the organisers to cancel it. This appears to have been ignored.
  2. The delegation at yesterday’s meeting posed a number of specific questions to uShaka management and the SAAMBR, but no responses to these have been received.
  3. The scientific information reviewed in the meeting – and referred to in the SAAMBR statement – was generic information related to the way in which marine animals hear. uShaka has not conducted any specific research into the effect of large-scale events such as the planned rave on the marine animals in the park, despite the fact that two dolphins died after a similar event in Switzerland last year.
  4. In contrast, group members who are sound specialists are currently engaged in developing a detailed analysis of the impact that sound at the event is likely to have on the animals. They are of the opinion that the organisers have failed to demonstrate in a scientific way that the levels of vibration, noise and light the animals will be subjected to will not be damaging.
  5. Activists are concerned about the effect that an event of this nature will have on all marine life in the park, but specifically the effects it will have on cetaceans (dolphins, whales and porpoises) and sharks, which have acute senses (see links to further information below). This extends to concerns about both the physical and psychological wellbeing of the animals.
  6. Concerns relate specifically to the scale of the event, which will have three staging areas and feature 18 DJs. The nature of the event is fundamentally different to private parties and corporate events previously held in the park.
  7. During yesterday’s meeting, SAAMBR CEO Judy Mann admitted that the effects of a stressful event are not always seen immediately, and that these might only emerge a few days later. When further  questioned as to what precautions have been or would be put in place to limit possible stress to the animals during the event, she advised that nothing in addition to normal operations would be put in place as the SAAMBR was absolutely certain the animals would be safe. She advised that only if and when the animals showed stress would action be taken.
  8. Activists are also concerned that uShaka’s management and the SAAMBR have effectively ignored the significant public outcry against the rave, disregarding the voices of over 7,000 people in favour of an event that will carry ticket prices of up to R1,500.
  9. Advance publicity for the event clearly stated that DJ Lisa Lashes would be hosting one leg of the event on the Phantom Ship where Progressive Tech/House and Trance music would be featured. A map of the park, available on the uShaka web site, shows that the Phantom Ship is situated right in the middle of a number of tanks where different marine animals are housed.  According to the SAAMBR’s statement today, this leg of the event will now take place at Moyo’s Restaurant, which is situated at the entrance to the park. This seems to indicate that marine biologists did indeed have concerns about the effect that the event as it was originally configured would have on marine life, and have made this change under pressure from activists.  The fact that this has not been made clear appears to be purposefully misleading.
  10. When the organisers refer to ‘retro’ music and ‘classics’ this does not mean classical music, but ‘classics’ in the genres of music that will be featured at the event.

Members of the delegation who attended the meeting yesterday have categorically stated that at no stage during the meeting did they say they were satisfied with the nature of the event or with arrangements to monitor its effect on the marine animals in the park.

The group is currently considering what further actions to take in light of today’s developments.

Further information:

  1. Definition of ‘rave’ (Urban Dictionary): n. any gathering of people centred around listening to and dancing to electronic music, as played by a set of live DJs.
  2. Effects of strobe lighting and sound behavioural deterrent system on impingement of aquatic organisms at Plant Barry, Alabama.
  3. How do animals hear underwater?