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ANIMALS > Fethiye’s captive dolphins now free

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

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Dolphins Tom and Misha return to the sea. This is the first time in Turkey that this type
of return-to-nature project has been done for dolphins living in show centers.

Dolphins Tom and Misha return to the sea. This is the first time in Turkey that this type of return-to-nature project has been done for dolphins living in show centers.

Two male dolphins, Tom and Misha, who were rescued from a small and septic pool in September 2010 in the Hisarönü district of the southern province of Fethiye, were returned to their wildlife environment after a 20-month rehabilitation process as a result of the efforts of the Born Free Foundation.

This is the first time in Turkey that this type of return-to-nature project has been done for dolphins living in show centers. The whole process sparks hope that it can be applied for the freedom of dolphins all around the country as a healthy model.

The two dolphins were rescued with the help of the thousands of supporters of Born Free, Dolphin Angels and Freedom to Dolphins Platform from Turkey and abroad. But the rehabilitation process of the dolphins took more time than expected since they were near death when they were rescued from the pool in Fethiye.

The process was accelerated last year when the Global Sailing Academy assigned a new area for the rehabilitation of Tom and Misha. In the new area, the dolphins’ health improved. They gained enough weight to survive in their natural environment and prepared for life in the sea. For example, they learned techniques to catch live fish.

Finally, on May 9, Tom and Misha were released to the sea when the barrier was removed.
“Thousands of Dolphin Angels volunteers from all around the world continued the campaign for Tom and Misha. Born Free and the rehabilitation team owned the project to the last. In this way, we all witnessed that the two dolphins were rescued from their captivity,” said Nichola Chapman, one of the spokespersons of Dolphin Angels.

But Tom and Misha are not totally free. Their movements are followed by the rehabilitation team through satellites. Also, boats follow them in order to make sure that they are far from any danger they may face during their first days of freedom.

This story of freedom also has another meaning in that both the dolphins are swimming to their own regions, where they were captured in 2006 for shows. Experts say there is still chance that they can find their families after all these years.

May/15/2012

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