Two Dolphins Go Back To The Sea

Mostly we take dolphins FROM the sea. We put them in marine parks, we charge tourists to watch them do tricks and to swim with them, and we often breed them to produce more dolphins that can stock the parks. So it is pretty cool when there is an attempt to take captive dolphins and send them in the other direction: back to the wild.

It’s a process that is highly complex (the dolphins have to be taught how to hunt for themselves again, among other things), and many argue that returning marine park dolphins to the wild puts their lives at risk. So we should pay close attention to what is happening with Tom and Misha, two dolphins who have been rescued from a filthy pool in Turkey, rehabilitated and prepared for release by marine mammal experts, and set free in the Aegean.

Tom and Misha are part of an expensive, ambitious and risky program sponsored by the UK-based Born Free Foundation, which is aiming to prove that captive dolphins can be reintroduced to the wild.

For more than a year, Foster and his team worked in a quiet cove on the Aegean, teaching the two dolphins how to catch their own food. He said the intensive training was necessary to get the dolphins ready to fend for themselves.

“It would be like taking your dog and releasing it into the woods,” Foster said. “If you don’t prepare your dog for that, it would never happen.”

When Foster first met these dolphins more than a year ago, he said they would eat only if humans placed dead fish directly in their mouths.

“We had literally thousands of fish in the pen, and they just wouldn’t look at them,” Foster said. “They had just been so used to being hand-fed in a captive situation that they did not recognize fish as a food source.”

If they can survive, and even thrive in the wild, it will help establish that marine park releases, for dolphins that are good candidates, are viable. So far, Tom Continue reading “Two Dolphins Go Back To The Sea”

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