They are waiting for me in the conference room. Jake Giles, the Assistant Director of the Parks and Wildlife Service, Terry Hill, the enforcement officer and Mr. Mahood. I am wearing a suit and carrying my briefcase, looking as professional as possible.
"Thank you for meeting with me," I open my briefcase and remove an impressive sheaf of papers. "First of all I want you to know I appreciate the Minister of Environment's move to halt the capture of dolphins from New South Wales waters. It's a step in the right direction and shows the government's concern about dolphins held in places like the Lion Park Safari. But it also puts the government in an uncomfortable position because it does express an official, political recognition of the fact the conditions at the Lion Park are unacceptable." Giles starts to object but I hold up my hand and continue quickly, "Morally unacceptable if not technologically unacceptable. This puts your office in a bind as you have granted and sustained permission for Bulley to continue what is, following the position statement in Parliament, a publicly unacceptable condition."
Jake Giles looks uncomfortable. "I don't think any of us here would disagree with you on that. I've recommended there be a national conference of the entire Parks and Wildlife Services to discuss holding conditions for marine mammals. But meanwhile we are stuck with Bulley's license."
"The way the courts work here in New South Wales we would be lucky if we could get a hearing in three years," chips in Mr. Mahood, "and by that time the dolphins would be dead."
"Not to mention the costs," gripes Terry Hill.
"Well, suppose we can talk Bulley into cooperating with a sea-side park concept? I've written out some ideas about this," I pass out some sheets describing the operation and benefits of a sea-side dolphin park. "I've discussed this idea with various people here in Sydney, including Professor Talbot at Mcquarie University, who is very supportive of the concept. This might be a useful way out of our bind. If the National Parks and Wildlife Service were to go along with such a plan and offer Bulley a place to set this up within the confines of a National Park, perhaps he will play ball."
"What sort of place did you envision?" asks Mr. Giles.
"A large bay, deep, surrounded with a National Park Forest. With a narrow entrance. The entrance could, at first, be netted off. Some of the bays in Pittwater might be ideal for this." I see them thinking about it. "Look, Mr. Giles, how about if you and I fly over the parks one day next week. I can arrange a sea-plane. We can see what looks good from the air and talk more seriously about it."
"I can see some problems with security," said Terry Hill. "That's all we'd need. Some nut case sneaks in there and kills the dolphins some night."
"I share your concern but really, Dolphins are not easily fooled, and would be difficult to get to in their natural surroundings. Anyway I would assume there would be some sort of facility there with a night watchman, just as there is now at the Lion Park." They seem to be taking the idea seriously.
"Well, there's no harm in looking," Giles glances around at the others. They nod, shrug, murmur assent. "What about Thursday of next week?"
"That will be fine. I'll call you and arrange for a time and place to meet. Oh, by the way," I open my briefcase again, "When I was at the University I was given some petitions by the biology faculty and some students. Also I was given some petitions from some private citizens...I guess about 1000 signatures...calling for the release of the dolphins at the Lion Park and the establishment of a sea-side park for dolphins. I thought it might help you gain support with the director and other executive levels of the government for such a plan. There will be more coming and you can use them however you'd like.
"I want you to know I'm pleased and relieved to know you sympathize with the need to get the dolphins into a more suitable habitat. With the backing of the public behind you, I feel we have a reasonable shot at getting Bulley to cooperate."
"I don't know," Giles gives a half-smile, "Bulley has been getting harder and harder to talk to. Your Friend Estelle really complicates things."
"Estelle means well. Maybe her sort of pressure will help Bulley decide to work with you towards a more reasonable solution than just letting the dolphins go at sea." I suggest but their faces all reflect grave doubts.
Freddy is waiting for me outside and we go downtown, walking along Pitt Street, to talk to Greenpeace and the Jonah Foundation. They share offices in a second floor walk-up. The stairway well is lined with posters and photographs of nature. Inside their suite of offices, we find a big reception desk piled high with various books, calendars, and environmentally oriented buttons.
The receptionist comes out of one of the other offices, smiles, and asks what she can do for us. I give my name and ask if the representatives of Greenpeace or the Jonah Foundation are around. She goes back into the office she came from while Freddy and I wander around. There are a group of people in one of the larger rooms making muppets. They glance up at us and resume muppeting. We amble past them and peek into an office cluttered with photos of environmental topics from rain forests to whales. Greenpeace stuff. The people making the muppets glare at us with what seems to be open hostility. That's odd. Why should they be hostile to us?
Finally, the receptionist comes back. She is nervous and hesitant. Sandy Walker, the head of the Jonah Foundation (Save the Whales) is on a long distance conference call and will not be able to talk with us.
"We can wait. What about Greenpeace?" I ask.
"Well, Vanessa is here....." she looks over my shoulder into the room with the muppets.
"Oh good, fine," I turn back into the room, "Vanessa?"
Vanessa gets up and comes over, accompanied by a fat and unattractive woman who is adding a scowl to her lack of charm.
"Hi, my name is Dr. Richard Chesher....." I begin but she stops me with..
"I recognize you from the Willosy show. What do you want?" She's definitely hostile. Strange.
"Well, uh, I thought Greenpeace would be interested in knowing what's been happening with the move to get the dolphins at the Lion Park to better quarters, perhaps a sea-side park where the dolphins could......"
"Greenpeace deals with whales," The fat lady butts in, "not dolphins."
"Dolphins are whales, you know, even if they are not very big ones." I smile and try to be friendly.
"We are not convinced the dolphins at the Dolphinarium at the African Lion Safari are in any way being harmed or endangered," announces Vanessa - the head of Greenpeace for Australia - "and if they were, there are far better avenues for dealing with the situation than rabble-rousing. These things must be dealt with through channels."
Freddy and I look at each other in amazement. I look around the offices with theatrical confusion, "This is the office of Greenpeace International? I mean we haven"t walked into a subsidiary of the Bulley Circus?'
Vanessa flushes and I quickly retreat, "Sorry, just kidding. Listen, how can Greenpeace condone the 12 dolphin deaths in that little swimming pool? Just because the people who are holding the dolphins claim their facility is fine does not mean it is. Dead dolphins should speak louder than words to conservationists like yourselves. Besides, I am not suggesting Bulley do anything irresponsible or even unprofitable. By establishing a sea-side dolphin park he would be taking a major step forward in marine mammal/human interrelations."
"I'm sorry, Greenpeace does not wish to become involved in this at all. We have our reputations to think of. For your information there are many really important conservation issues here in Australia and our success hinges on our credibility. If the people we work with in the government system think we are irresponsible they will not support our efforts." Vanessa whinges at us while the fat lady menaces forward.
"I can't believe I'm hearing this. If Greenpeace had such an attitude when it tried to stop whaling here in Australia there would still be whaling here in Australia. What about all your demonstrations and fiery rhetoric and the huge public support you gained? That was what forced the politicians to step in and ban whaling. Hey, you can even use your muppets, make a dolphin muppet and..." I gesture at the neglected dolls.
"That was then. Not now. Now we are established and work through channels." She snaps.
"Uh, OK. Well, here is a short explanation of what we are trying to do," I hand her a typed sheet about the sea-side park. "I've just come from a conference with the National Parks and Wildlife Services and they are interested in the proposal. If you decide you might have time to help out, please give me a call. My telephone number is on the sheet."
I turn and walk into the Jonah Foundation office. Sandy Walker sits tensely at her desk, clearly listening to the exchange and not on the phone at all. I smile and nod, turn and Freddy and I leave.
"Son of a Bitch!" Erupts Freddy as we emerge again onto Pitt Street, causing a minor collison between an elderly woman and a wide-eyed boy. "What a bunch of whimps....What the hell are they doing in there?"
Back at the Bateau Chateau, I call John Lewis, who was a founding member of Greenpeace Australia and ask him the same question.
"Well, like I said the other day, we used to be an active group but most of us sort of went on to other things after we won the Whaling battle. The people who run Greenpeace Australia now don't do much except solicit and spend contributions."
"And sell books and do Muppet shows," I add.
"Right. They don't do anything to make waves because it might cut down on their contributions." John comments sadly. We talk about the movie plans. Everything is on hold until Bulley makes a final decision.