After almost two years of dedicated rehabilitation, Tom and Misha, two male bottlenose dolphins rescued from a hotel swimming pool in Hisaronu, Turkey, have been released back to the wild.
Their journey back to freedom has been a long one. But it was finally realized on May 09 when the Born Free Foundation announced that Tom and Misha had been released back to where they came from. And the dolphins, rescued in 2010, never once looked back as they bolted for the blue. The rescue to rehab to release was a battle from day one, but is a testament to what can be accomplished when persevering hearts and minds combine forces. And although it is still early days and cautious optimism rules the roost, these two bottlenose dolphins carry the hopes of many pinned to their fins. Tom and Misha were captured around six or seven years ago in the eastern coastal area of the Aegean Sea, where they were incorporated into a dolphinarium called Dolphin Therapy Kas. From here they were moved to a swimming pool in Hisaronu, for use in a swim-with-the dolphins program. Turkish campaign group, the Dolphin Angels had already mounted a local campaign against the facility when a team from the Born Free Foundation visited the site to investigate. They discoDigital Jouranavered a filthy cesspool housing two dolphins swimming in their own waste. The owner of the facility subsequently fled said Born Free, forcing the foundation into “Considerable negotiations with the facilities’ creditors.” With an agreement finally reached, ownership was transferred to the foundation and with the help of the Underwater Research Society (SAD) and Dolphin Angels, Tom and Misha were relocated to a temporary sea pen in southern Turkey. From there said Born Free, “The dolphins were moved to a specially designed large, deep rehabilitation sea pen constructed by the Foundation.” Rehabilitation for release back to the wild is a long graduated process dictated by the dolphins’ progress. Tom and Misha had to check off several boxes before a return to the ocean could be considered. The first stage included nursing them back to full health. There had to be little to no chance that the bottlenose could transmit any known pathogen or disease to the wild dolphin population. Then their echolocation abilities had to be checked. Cetaceans often switch off their sonar in captivity as it constantly bounces back at them. Tom and Misha also had to relearn the art of catching live fish again, a complicated and gradual process called broadcast feeding.
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