Marine Life's Future To Be Decided In Court - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/15/05

Marine Life's Future To Be Decided In Court

Marine's Life President has been fired and its animals are for sale. Co-owner and President, Dr. Moby Solangi was removed from his job by majority owner, Don Jacobs.

As WLOX News reported on Tuesday, Jacobs has reached an agreement to sell Marine Life's animals to "Atlantis Paradise Island" in the Bahamas. That's one point of contention between the two sides. Now Solangi has filed an injunction to block the sale and keep the animals here.

The animals of Marine Life in Gulfport have entertained thousands for decades and been a vital part of marine research in the nation. Hurricane Katrina swept some of the dolphins into the Mississippi Sound. Miraculously, they survived and stayed together until their trainers could rescue them, making headlines around the world.

"After all that, then you hear this, that's pretty sad," co-owner and former President Moby Solangi said.

Solangi is talking about the pending sale of all of Marine Life's animals to "Atlantis" in the Bahamas. He's taken legal action to block the sale.

"He wants to sell. I want to keep the animals here and rebuild the facility, that's the fundamental difference. And I don't believe in selling the animals to the highest bidder."

Sources told WLOX News, majority owner Don Jacobs who wants to sell the animals, stands to make millions. We asked the newly appointed President, David Lion for a price.

"I'm not going to disclose that, the most important thing here is that the animals found a good home," Lion said.  

Some of the 17 Marine Life dolphins are being housed in pools at the Navy Seabee Base in Gulfport. The rest are living at aquariums across the nation. Experts agree that it's important to get the very social animals back together.

"We have an immediate need, the health of these dolphins , the 8 at the Seabee base are in pools that are designed to keep dolphins for 3 weeks," Lion said. 

Lion also says Atlantis is a state of the art facility with 45 marine mammal specialists and 6 million gallons of fresh sea water where all the dolphins can live together again. He goes on to say that they would love to keep their animals here and re-open Marine Life in Gulfport, but don't know how long that would take.

"We would absolutely want to reopen marine life, but as you can tell, it's going to be a long time before something's rebuilt," Lion said.

But since 1993, Marie Life owners tried various times to entice casinos to buy the property. Donald Trump toyed with the idea of leasing the area for a development.

Moby Solangi believes there's a future for Marine Life, and says he "will" re-open an aquarium and a non-profit Marine Mammal Studies facility in Gulfport. But he wants to keep the marine mammals at home.

"These animals have been a part of our family, and part of Gulfport, and part of Mississippi and to be just sold like a commodity to the highest bidder is very disingenuous."

byRebecca Powers

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