You may remember way back in 2010 there was a campaign to rescue Tom and Misha from living in quite diabolical conditions in a small pool in a tourist town in Turkey. Thanks too Born Free Foundation and Turkish NGO Underwater Research Society they were successfully recovered and I'm pleased to report that their rehabilitation is going really well and the team are now hopeful that release will be possible!
Jeff explains; "We have had and still do have many obstacles to overcome but, throughout, Tom and Misha have proven to be willing participants. We have been working hard to prepare them for life outside their sea-pen. Building up their fitness and stamina has been a crucial component. Their muscle strength was very weak when they first arrived and they were desperately underweight and lethargic as they had been confined to a ridiculously small and inadequate captive environment. They have since gained weight, their bodies are toned and they are clearly much fitter and stronger".
Some of the techniques adopted by the team were first tested during the rehabilitation of the orca Keiko, star of the Hollywood hit ‘Free Willy’. Jeff recalled, "We ‘cut our teeth’ on Keiko, which was a hugely expensive and ambitious project. We learned from that experience and this enabled us to go on and successfully release Springer, another orca ."
Jeff added, "Tom and Misha are different again, not only because they are a different species but because they have spent years in captivity and have lost a lot of their natural instincts, which is what makes this project so unique and pioneering. One of the challenges has been to change their focus from ‘above water’ and people, to below water and their natural habitat. If we can get Tom and Misha back to the wild, in my view, it will be one of the great release projects of all time."
Also if you have a bit of spare cash, even a fiver, you can donate here: http://www.bornfree.org.uk/shop/acatalog/Dolphin_Rescue.html