What could have been a touching marriage proposal turned into a social media mess Thursday, as photos of a dolphin used to pop the question spread.
The photos were first posted on Facebook by Ocean Adventure, a popular resort in the Subic Freeport Zone that offers dolphin interaction services for its guests.
They showed a dolphin whose belly was marked with the words “Will you marry me Rona?"
Ocean Adventure has since taken the photo down, but not before marine life advocacy group Earth Island Institute Philippines took a screenshot.
“Romantically cruel this Valentine’s? No to dolphin cruelty! Don’t support captivity! Boycott Ocean Adventure” the group said in post with the screenshot.
Earth Island Institute’s followers have hit the photo, some of them directly addressing the soon-to-be-groom. Others, however, blamed Ocean Adventure.
“Why let a creature suffer for your expression of love?” Facebook user Nem Ledda said in a comment on the environment group’s Facebook post.
“Malunod sana yang love na yan, if only to teach you a lesson to stay away from hurting more animals than we already did,” she added.
On the same Facebook post, however, user Mike Yap said, “Wala silang alam, ang me kasalanan nito ay yung lintek na Ocean Adventure na yan.”
Resort officials have however clarified that the material used to write the proposal message on the dolphin’s body is safe to be used on the animals.
“We used zinc oxide, which is sunscreen. We use it so dolphins we rescue won’t get sunburns,” Ocean Adventure marketing officer Rio Carcado said in a phone interview.
He added that it was the first time the resort offered such services. It was also the groom, a foreigner, who approached resort personnel with such a request.
Earth Island Institute, for its part, is not only protesting the act of marking dolphins, but dolphin captivity in Ocean Adventure and elsewhere.
“It is a scientific fact that dolphins die prematurely in captivity because they are innately unsuited for confinement,” the group said in a statement last year.
Dolphins are meant to be wild and free-swimming animals and imprisoning them “disrupts their overall behavior as well as affects them biologically,” it added.
“Studies have shown that the stress of imprisonment often results in behavioral abnormalities, illness, reduced resistance to disease and low life expectancy,” Earth Island Institute said further.