Captive dolphins released from Turkey thriving in the wild04/09/2012 11:41:45
Captive DolphinsThere are at least 19 different species of cetacean currently held in captivity around the world, including more than 800 bottlenose dolphins.
Studies into the effects of captivity on dolphins implies that confinement is detrimental to their welfare. Dolphins are very intelligent, self-aware animals. The stress of confinement often results in behavioural abnormalities, illness, lowered disease resistance and premature death.
September 2012. Three months after their release, Tom and Misha, two captive dolphins rescued from certain death in a filthy swimming pool in Hisaronu, are successfully adapting to life back in the wild. The Back To The Blue team made up of experts from the USA, Turkey and the UK, undertook twenty months of intensive rehabilitation, organised and funded by international wildlife charity, the Born Free Foundation, ultimately transforming Tom and Misha from lethargic dependent 'captives' who were close to death, into effective independent wild animals.
"Tom and Misha's success in re-adapting to life back in the wild clearly illustrates that rehabilitation can work. By breaking down the concrete walls of their tanks and the mental barriers created by years in captivity and, literally, by showing them the way, Tom and Misha have demonstrated that dolphins can regain their freedom" said Will Travers OBE, CEO of the Born Free Foundation. Mr Travers continued "Ultimately, however, it is unlikely that this will work for all captive dolphins; many may have just had too many years locked away; and, of course, it's an expensive process. Nevertheless, as concerns grow about the keeping of cetacea in captivity, Tom and Misha's transformation and release clearly illustrates that these animals possess innate natural behaviours that captivity cannot extinguish."
Campaign to end dolphin captivity
"This has been a ground-breaking project and I admire the Born Free Foundation for stepping up to this challenge and taking it on and also for adopting such a responsible approach. The very high levels of experience brought to this project by members of the team meant that the individual needs - physical and psychological - of each animal could be addressed and each new challenge overcome. You can never predict what will happen next."
Captive dolphins in Spain
The Satellite and VHF tracking devices attached to Tom and Misha have expired and after three months in the wild the dolphins have proved that they have the essential survival techniques needed to thrive in their natural underwater world. Virginia McKenna OBE, the Founder of the Born Free Foundation, concluded, "When Tom and Misha left their pen and swam back to the blue all those weeks ago, it confirmed my incredulity at our schizophrenic attitude to captive cetacea.
The Born Free Foundation, supported by Helen Worth and Donal MacIntyre, alongside our wonderful rehab team and Dolphin Angels (the local group who spear-headed the campaign for Tom and Misha's freedom in Turkey) knew we had to act to rescue the dolphins from certain death in a filthy swimming pool. We all cried tears of joy when we saw them finally swim away. Yet countless people continue to be taken in by the captive dolphin's smile, unaware of the price these animals are forced to pay for our so-called entertainment or the suffering caused when they are caught from the wild."