Ocean Park employees have been filmed tracking dolphins in the Solomon Islands by animal welfare campaigners who claim the theme park's representatives were on board a boat that was attempting to capture wild dolphins for export. The claim - denied by Ocean Park - comes a day after the park admitted it had been in 'very preliminary' talks with the Solomon Islands government to carry out research into dolphin numbers in the country's waters in an arrangement that will include an option to import dolphins. A film crew for the Animal Planet channel, working with renowned dolphin trainer-turned-activist Ric O'Barry, followed the Hong Kong employees by helicopter as they travelled by boat along the coast of the country's main island, Guadalcanal, earlier this month. O'Barry and other activists claim the boat was equipped with nets and was trying unsuccessfully to catch bottlenose dolphins. Two dolphins had already been captured and put in holding pens on a nearby island, they claim. However, Ocean Park chief executive Tom Mehrmann yesterday denied the claims, saying the park's executive director for zoological operations, Dr Suzanne Gendron, and general curator, Grant Abel, were on board an observation boat that was tracking dolphins but had no nets and was not involved in the capture of dolphins. They were aware of the helicopter filming them, he said. He said a four-member Ocean Park team had also been on board a vessel in December that took two captured dolphins on the first part of a journey to Singapore after they were bought for Resorts World Sentosa in a controversial deal. Mehrmann said he believed the activists might have confused the Ocean Park team with other groups capturing dolphins for export earlier this month, saying: 'It was an observation boat. It had no nets. There was no capture of dolphins.' Speaking from the United States, O'Barry - a former trainer of dolphins used in the Flipper TV series and star of the Oscar-winning 2009 documentary The Cove - said he saw Ocean Park employees 'in capture boats with capture nets'. 'We were monitoring their two capture boats for some time and we followed them to a place called Church Island. We photographed two dolphins they had already captured. They were being kept in holding pens.' Working with the Animal Planet team, O'Barry said he later confronted the two Ocean Park employees at their hotel on the main island. 'They said: 'We are conservationists',' he said. 'When they saw our cameras, they ran like hell.' Ocean Park is considering importing wild dolphins captured in the Solomon Islands. However, chairman Allan Zeman has insisted the theme park will not import any dolphin from the Solomon Islands unless it is satisfied the country's waters provide a sustainable source of the animals. The research the park will fund for the Solomon Islands government will attempt to establish this. Mehrmann said: 'We were only there for conservation and research reasons. There are other people who are there, but this is a place where there are captures and collections taking place. We are not party to that. 'We are there to do research first and foremost. If there is a sustainable source we would look into whether we can get permits to import dolphins but it is a very long process.' He confirmed Gendron had been confronted by the film crew. 'They did talk to Suzanne. She was there as part of our conservation efforts. She told them she was involved in conservation research. She didn't agree with their approach.' Mehrmann said four employees from Ocean Park joined a boat transferring two dolphins on the first leg of a journey to Singapore in December but said: 'Our people were on the boat observing not the catch but the transport of the dolphins for Sentosa ... We had nothing to do with the catch or collection.' The dolphins they accompanied on that journey are believed to among 18 currently stranded in the Philippines amid a controversy over whether permission should be granted for them to be released to the Singapore theme park.