Tom and Misha, two bottlenose dolphins, were originally captured from
the wild off the coast of Turkey and were subsequently used to perform
and provide ‘swim-with’ opportunities for tourists in captive
facilities. Following a campaign in 2010, spearheaded by the Born Free
Foundation and a local network of concerned individuals known as the
Dolphin Angels, Tom and Misha were rescued and re-homed to a specially
constructed sea-pen, in partnership with Turkish NGO, S.A.D., where
they underwent an extensive programme of rehabilitation prior to their
release on 9th May 2012.
The Back to the Blue project not only aimed to rescue these two
individuals from an appalling situation but also to highlight the plight
of captive dolphins and the repercussions of the increasing impact of
‘swim-with’ opportunities on the animals concerned.
Tom and Misha were caught from the wild and expert analysis suggested they retained some of the survival skills that they had developed in their wild environment. Captivity had, however, undoubtedly not only eroded their fitness but also replaced their reliance on their wild behaviors with dependence on their trainers.