Now this is a happy ending. Two dolphins were just released back into the wild, after being rescued in 2010 from a Turkish tourism resort CNN reports.
Tom and Misha, both male, have trekked 100 miles so far and are being observed via satellite transmitters where they have hunted fish and made friends with other dolphins.
“It’s unbelievable to see them travel this hard and fast,” Jeff Foster, a mammal expert who took care of the dolphins’ and their rehabilitation, said. “The assumption is they’re going back to the area that they were a pod in. They’re definitely on a mission.”
Tom and Misha are suspected to be heading back to waters around the Turkish city of Izmir, where the two were discovered residing in filthy waters. Both are estimated to be 12-years-old and were caught in the Aegean Sea about five or six years ago. They were living in a Turkish resort where people could pay to swim with them.
“The pool in Hisaronu, Turkey, where Tom and Misha had spent the summer months of 2010 had such a high bacterial count . . . that it was a significant health hazard to the dolphins and for the unsuspecting tourists who paid to swim with them,” Shirley Galligan of the Born Free Foundation told CNN.
The water was filled with feces, dead fish and sludge. Even worse, Tom and Misha were underweight and sluggish. They probably wouldn’t have lasted much longer if they didn’t catch the eye of a group of environmentalists, who joined forces and rescued the two.
Luckily, the duo was saved. They then entered an expensive and risky program by the Born Free Foundation, an organization in the United Kingdom dedicated to proving captive dolphins can be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
Even though Foster and his team worked with Tom and Misha for over a year in a cove on the Aegean, training and teaching domestic dolphins can be very difficult, and so far the success rate hasn’t been great. There are no guarantees.
“There have only been a handful of reintroduction programs with mixed results,” Galligan says. “Returning any captive wild animal to the wild is never without risk.”
Tom and Misha were taught how to catch their own food and also went through intensive training for them to learn how to fend for themselves.
“We must remain cautious,” Born Free announced on its website. “There is still a way to go before we know 100 percent that Tom and Misha have readapted fully to life back in the wild.”
They seem to be doing well as of right now, and Foster and his team are keeping a good eye on them to ensure they’re safety.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com