Friday, 7 September 2012

Captive dolphins released from Turkey thriving in the wild

International efforts successfully return captive dolphins to the wild
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
While Tom and Misha have become the poster boys for freedom, the Born Free Foundation and NGOs around the world continue to campaign for an end to the commercial exploitation of dolphins in captivity, an increasingly controversial entertainment business built on deprivation. Jeff Foster, the marine mammal expert who headed up Tom and Misha's rehabilitation programme, and who previously led projects to return the orca 'Keiko' to the wild and also reunite 'Springer' with her wild orca family, believes that 90 days of freedom confirms Back to the Blue is a success,
"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."

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