Dolphin: Case File

Dolphin Name: six year old male, eight year old female

Species: Two Pacific bottlenose dolphins

Previous Location Address:Sea Life Park in Hawaii

Type of Facility:

Conditions:

Age:

Organizations/Individuals Involved:

Date of release:1979

History : permitted ocean access after four years of captivity

Rescue/Release Process Followed:The dolphins gradually ventured further from their sea pen, and eventually after

four months of ocean access, they chose to remain at sea.

Post Release Follow Up:

Comments/Observations:

References:

  • Balcomb, K.C. 1995. Cetacean Releases. Centre for Whale Research, Friday Harbour, WA.
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Dolphin: Case File 7

Dolphin Name Joe (male) and Rosie (female),

Species:Bottlenose dolphins

Previous Location Address: Marineworld- Africa, U.S.A

Type of Facility:dolphinaria show based, and used for research

Conditions: captive scenario

Age: 7 Years of captivity

Organizations/Individuals Involved: ORCA,Oceanic Research Communication Alliance and Tides Foundation (San Francisco)Documented by Coyle, V. and J.Hickman, (1988)

Date of release: July 1987

History : male and female bottlenose dolphins used in Dr. John Lilly’s communication experiments at Marineworld-

Africa, U.S.A. at the time based in Redwood City, CA

Rescue/Release Process Followed:released off Wassaw Island, Georgia”All reports of their activity in the wild indicate that they are in good health and have associations with resident pods.” Not returned to native habitat. Yet remarkable ability to adapt socially with wild dolphins, and catch their own prey.

Post Release Follow Up:

Follow-up successful. The last documented sighting in October 1987

  • Note on suspected pathogen spread into the wild: Dr. David Bain has suggested that Joe and Rosie may have been the carriers of disease which ravaged dolphins along east coast in 1987/88, but on review of the facts that seems improbable. The massive die-off of dolphins along the east coast began off New Jersey in June 1987 before Joe and Rosie were released, and it progressed southward along the coast. Stranding s of dolphins did not occur off Georgia until year end. A retrospective analysis in 1993 indicates the die-off may have been due to a morbillivirus with environmental contaminants implicated in immune system failure. Phocine morbillivirus has been detected in New England since 1986 and earlier. Dr. Joe Geraci of Guelph University examined the cause of this die-off and reported it to be coincident with high contaminant levels in the dolphin tissues which may have suppressed their immune system. (See Geraci, 1989).

Comments/Observations:

The paper ´´Readaption and Release to the wild for Joe and Rosie´´ by Coyle, V. and J. Hickman provides a summary of the “Joe” and “Rosie” release project, together with newspaper clippings and information on follow-up. Apparently, there were reliable reports of these two dolphins coping successfully in the wild as late as October 1987.

References:

  • Balcomb, K.C. 1995. Cetacean Releases. Centre for Whale Research, Friday Harbour, WA.
  • , 1988. Published by ORCA, Oceanic Research Communication Alliance, Tides Foundation 873 Sutter St, Suite A, San Francisco, CA 94109. Abstracted: Provides summary of “Joe” and “Rosie” release project, together with newspaper clippings and information on follow-up.
  • Linden, E., 1989. Setting free the dolphins. Whalewatcher Vol 22(1): pp.6-7. Published by the American Cetacean Society, P.O. Box 2639, Sazn Pedro, CA 90731. Abstracted: Describes people involved in release of “Joe” and “Rosie”
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Conditions
Netted sea pens in natural water

Age Unknown

Organizations/Individuals Involved
The dolphin escaped, no carefully formulated plan in place

Date of Release 1992

History
Annessa, disappeared and was feared lost during a hurricane in August 1992. Annessa survived the hurricane, however, and was adopted by a pod of wild dolphins.

Post Release Follow Up
She has been sighted numerous times – healthy and foraging on her own.

Comments/Observations
This example demonstrates that a dolphin held captive over a long period of time can re-adapt socially into wild populations and catch her own prey. No evidence was reported of the spread of pathogens to the wild population, and her success in the wild demonstrated that she was able to successfully deal with outside pathogens.

References

  • Balcomb, K.C. 1995. Cetacean Releases. Centre for Whale Research, Friday Harbour, WA.
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Dolphin: Case File

Dolphin Name Matt

Species An adult male bottlenose dolphin

Previous Location Address Mote Marine Laboratory’s facility.

Type of Facility Marine Hospital

Conditions marine hospital, professionally cared for.

Age Captive 37 days

Organizations/Individuals Involved
The Mote Marine team

Date of release 1992

History A stranding

Rescue/Release Process Followed
Matt, was rehabilitated, freeze branded, and then released after thirty-seven days at Mote Marine Laboratory’s facility. Within a matter of minutes, he was associating with a mother-calf pair in the area, a clear example of cetaceans remarkable ability to re-adapt socially back onto the wild after extensive human care and contact. After extensive follow up no report indicates a risk of this dolphin spreading pathogens from captivity into wild populations.

Post Release Follow Up
At least twelve sightings of Matt were reported in the first nine months following release. Returned to native habitat.

Comments/Observations
Knowledge gained from stranding cases like this one is invaluable. Especially to do with pathogen spread and infection,from captive to wild.

References

  • Balcomb, K.C. 1995. Cetacean Releases. Centre for Whale Research, Friday Harbour, WA
  • Matt, an adult male bottlenose dolphin was rehabilitated, freeze branded, and then released after 37 days at Mote Marine Laboratory’s facility (Gorzelany, 1992).
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Dolphin : Case File

Dolphin Name Flipper (Male)

Species Bottlenose Dolphin

Date of Release: 1993

Previous Location Address Unknown

Type of Facility Dolphinarium

Conditions Unknown

Age Captive 10 years

Organizations/Individuals Involved Unknown at this time

History Approximately 10 years of captivity

Condition at Point of Rescue Unknown

Rescue/Release Process Followed
Released off Laguna, Brazil , no more information to be found.

Post Release Follow Up
Since release, Flipper has been seen along at least 155 miles off the coastline, often in the company of other dolphins,thus again demonstrating ability to re-adapt socially with wild dolphins and catch live prey. His most recent documented sighting was in early 1995. Returned to native habitat.

Comments/Observations
Follow up successful ,but long term after monitoring not scientifically sufficient for critics.

References

  • Balcomb, K.C. 1995. Cetacean Releases. Centre for Whale Research, Friday Harbour, WA.
  • Flipper – a male bottlenose dolphin released off Laguna, Brazil (Rollo, 1993).
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Dolphin Name Bahamas Mama (Female)

Species: Bottlenose Dolphin

Location Address the Treasure Island facility in the Bahamas

Type of FacilityOne of a dozen captive dolphins in a “Swim with the Dolphins” program

Age At least 17 years in captivity

Organizations/Individuals Involved

The dolphin herself organized her own escape,one day she leaped the fence of her pen to freedom. During the same time EarthWatch was running an expedition in the Bahamas (paying volunteers join a scientific research team as part of a working vacation) Their project was to photo-identify and take a census of the wild dolphins in the region by taking pictures of their dorsal fins. A few days into the project they encountered Bahamas Mama. The project researchers immediately recognized her because they had photo-identified her a year earlier while she was still in captivity. She looked healthy. Her wild companions kept their distance and waited for her. Over the next two weeks, Bahamas Mama was spotted several times. Each time with a different group of wild dolphins, clearly a welcome member of the local dolphin community.

History A long history of swim-with-dolphins and captive scenarios.


Date of Release
1992

Condition at Point of Release(escape) Healthy

Post Release Follow Up

No official follow-up occurred, however this dolphin was positively photo-identified up to eight months after release in the company of wild dolphins in the Bahamas. Assumed returned to native habitat.

Comments/Observations

Clear example of how each dolphin must be individually treated on a case by case basis ,each individual dolphin is different. This individual had obviously received no preparation for her release (Claridge, 1992) through a carefully planned rehabilitation project , but demonstrated strong will for her own freedom.

Also a striking example of cetaceans remarkable abilities to adapt to different situations as well as instinctive skills. Bahamas Mama escaped from captivity ,re-adapted quickly with wild dolphins and remained unaffected from pathogens. Earthwatch researchers observed her freely associating with a group of seven dolphins, including a calf. She was positively identified by her former facility.

References

  • Dolphins and the case of the mental patient, article by
  • Balcomb, K.C. 1995. Cetacean Releases. Centre for Whale Research, Friday Harbour, WA.
  • Claridge, D.E. and K.C. Balcomb, 1993. In search of marine mammals. Bahamas Naturalist,Vol7(l):11-17.)Documents a successful reintroduction to the wild of a bottlenose dolphin which had spent seventeen years in captivity.
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Dolphin Name Bahamas Mama (Female)

Species: Bottlenose Dolphin

Location Address the Treasure Island facility in the Bahamas

Type of FacilityOne of a dozen captive dolphins in a “Swim with the Dolphins” program

Age At least 17 years in captivity

Organizations/Individuals Involved

The dolphin herself organized her own escape,one day she leaped the fence of her pen to freedom. During the same time EarthWatch was running an expedition in the Bahamas (paying volunteers join a scientific research team as part of a working vacation) Their project was to photo-identify and take a census of the wild dolphins in the region by taking pictures of their dorsal fins. A few days into the project they encountered Bahamas Mama. The project researchers immediately recognized her because they had photo-identified her a year earlier while she was still in captivity. She looked healthy. Her wild companions kept their distance and waited for her. Over the next two weeks, Bahamas Mama was spotted several times. Each time with a different group of wild dolphins, clearly a welcome member of the local dolphin community.

History A long history of swim-with-dolphins and captive scenarios.


Date of Release
1992

Condition at Point of Release(escape) Healthy

Post Release Follow Up

No official follow-up occurred, however this dolphin was positively photo-identified up to eight months after release in the company of wild dolphins in the Bahamas. Assumed returned to native habitat.

Comments/Observations

Clear example of how each dolphin must be individually treated on a case by case basis ,each individual dolphin is different. This individual had obviously received no preparation for her release (Claridge, 1992) through a carefully planned rehabilitation project , but demonstrated strong will for her own freedom.

Also a striking example of cetaceans remarkable abilities to adapt to different situations as well as instinctive skills. Bahamas Mama escaped from captivity ,re-adapted quickly with wild dolphins and remained unaffected from pathogens. Earthwatch researchers observed her freely associating with a group of seven dolphins, including a calf. She was positively identified by her former facility.

References

  • Dolphins and the case of the mental patient, article by
  • Balcomb, K.C. 1995. Cetacean Releases. Centre for Whale Research, Friday Harbour, WA.
  • Claridge, D.E. and K.C. Balcomb, 1993. In search of marine mammals. Bahamas Naturalist,Vol7(l):11-17.)Documents a successful reintroduction to the wild of a bottlenose dolphin which had spent seventeen years in captivity.
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Dolphin Case File

Dolphin Name Tom and Misha

Species Bottlenose Dolphins

Date of rescue: September 2010

Previous Location Address Hisaronu, Turkey (Small Swimming Pool)

Type of Facility Substandard swim-with-dolphin program for tourists

Conditions Serious concerns about water quality, crumbling pool,chlorinated.

Age Unknown

Organizations/Individuals Involved
This project is ongoing. Whale Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) are involved. Born Free’s rescue team, including Senior Veterinary Consultant, John Knight, Alan Knight and Mark Stevens from British Divers Marine Life Rescue, and dolphin expert, Doug Cartlidge, accompanied by Turkish partners, S.A.D (Underwater Research Society) Dolphin Angels, the local activist group played a huge role in gathering support for the dolphins plight.

History
Turkey has 11 facilities that are keeping dolphins, many of which are just small cages attached to the coastline. The vast majority of the bottlenose dolphins and beluga whales held in Turkey have been captured from the wild. Turkey once had a ban on the capture of bottlenose dolphins but revoked it in 2006. It has since been confirmed that 23 bottlenose dolphins have been captured from Turkish waters, despite the Black Sea population of dolphins being classed as Endangered and the Mediterranean sub population being classed as Vulnerable (IUCN Red List).

Condition at Point of Rescue
Misha and Tom were rescued from the tiny, filthy concrete pool in Hisaronuvery bad, bobbing up an down in stress with serious health concerns like kidney failure. Their health condition was such that at first the priority remained focused on increasing their food intake and getting them stronger, their body condition having deteriorated while in captivity.

Rescue Process Followed
Their 30 metre sea pen, which goes up to a depth of 15 metres, offers them the chance to dive, leap and swim in the natural ocean current – and it allows them to see and experience once again the sea life that exists in their natural environment. With this added enrichment and good diet their health is steadily improving. The priority at the time of writing is to increase the dolphins’ fish intake as well as beginning to prepare them for their assessment for release back into the wild. They dolphins are scheduled to be released in July 2011.

Post Release Follow Up
As this project is on going, these detail are unknown. But certainly the team would have the follow up in place.

Comments/Observations
Public opinion is shifting and the public are increasingly interested in seeing dolphins and other marine mammals behaving naturally and are less interested in seeing ‘unnatural’ circus tricks. This project is testament to the tremendous power people have together, due to public pressure these dolphins were able to be rescued, which in turn saved their lives. In addition this project is ongoing, yet in their large sea pen, already the dolphins seem unaffected from pathogens in the wild .The next stages of rehabilitation will be focusing on adaptation to catching live prey (see you tube link in references).The expert team has ensured that they will not spread pathogens into the wild through a detailed and comprehensive natal population study, of which unfortunately we have no access too. And it remains to be seen whether they will adapt socially with wild cetaceans, (who have already swum up to these pens a number of times)

References

http://www.bornfree.org.uk/campaigns/marine/hisaronu-dolphins/misha-tom-gallery/

http://www.bornfree.org.uk/campaigns/marine/hisaronu-dolphins/

for the latest you tube video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8MihM3zaAE&feature=related

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Dolphin: Case File

Dolphin Names

“Rocky” (M) caught Florida Panhandle in 1971 and maintained at Marineland in Morecambe, North England;

“Missie” (F) caught off Biloxi, Texas in 1969 and maintained at Brighton Aquarium, South of England.

“Silver” (M) believed to have been caught waters of Taiwan in 1978 and also housed at Brighton Aquarium.

Species Bottlenose dolphins

Type of Facility Aquaria/Dolphinariums show based

Age Rocky had spent 20 years in captivity, Missie 22 years and Sliver 15 years.

Organizations/Individuals Involved

This dolphin release project was called INTO THE BLUE and was operated by a consortium of animal welfare and animal rights groups and organisations including:Zoo Check (the Born Free Foundation,UK), Bellerive Foundation (Switzerland) and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA )The project was funded from an appeal by the British Mail on Sunday newspaper. Chuck Hess – founder of the local environment concern group: PRIDE (Foundation for the Preservation of reefs and Islands from Degradation and Exploitation) supplied the location in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the British West Indies.

More recently the story was made into a documentary by Michael Cain entitled, ´´Into the Blue´´,for TV in 1991.

New location

A conch farm lagoon made available by Chuck Hess in the Turks and Caicos Islands to serve as a rehabilitation centre prior to the release of the animals.

History

This project obtained three ‘redundant´ animals from U.K. dolphinaria, rehabilitated them and released them off the coast of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Date of rescue

“Rocky” was transported to the conch farm lagoon from the UK on February 11, 1991; “Missie” and “Silver” on March 19, 1991.

Rescue Process Followed

The animals were moved from the conch farm to a floating sea pen off West Caicos Island on September 7, 1991. They were released from this to the wild at 1.30.pm on Tuesday, September 10, 1991. All three animals had “freeze branding” on their dorsal fins. “In the acclimation sea pen, they learned how to capture live fish”.

Post Release Follow Up

The three animals were seen a day after release at this location.”Missie” and “Rocky” have not been seen since this time by project staff; all sightings after this point were second hand by fisherman and tourists.

“Silver” was seen after the release from September 16 – 29 by project staff. He appeared to have some weight lost and health problems (an infection on his rostrum) and was given both food (a total of sixty pounds) and antibiotics by project staff in the wild over this period. This indicates that he was taking time to adapt to the pathogens in the wild. He was also associating with a wild “friendly” dolphin that swam in this area called “Jojo”, demonstrating that he was re-adapting socially with wild species. After this time all “Silver”s sightings were also second-hand by tourists and fishermen. All three dolphins have been re-sighted numerous times since then. In several of the recent sightings, Silver was in the company of JoJo, a “friendly” dolphin that swims near Club Med at Providenciales´´. All sightings from this point onwards were second hand through tourists and fishermen, not enough, to silence serious criticism of the project. Thus,we can take the middle ground : follow-up tentatively successful.

Comments/Observations

This project came under fire from all angles:

  • the project was a controversial one and serious scientific concern was expressed re garding the eventual release of the three dolphins into the Caribbean in September 1991. This was due – among other considerations – to the fact that the three animals were not originally from these waters and were, therefore, genetically foreign, making the release an action that went against any current IUCN guidelines on reintroduction….., a documentary of this project, shown on BBC 2 in 1992, was the subject of an investigation by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission, published in October 1993. After investigation, the Commission upheld six of twelve complaints against the programme claiming that it was emotive, inaccurate or misleading.´ The ultimate fate of these animals seems to me to remain unknown´´(John Dinely, main marine park associate scientist,written in the International Zoo Newsletter)Another report from a marine park spokesman in the U.K. went so far as to label the whole project a fraud.

To date, there has not been any evidence of these dolphins affecting the wild population through pathogens,and the fact that one of the dolphins was seen associating with the wild population is definitely positive.

Instead of arguing endlessly, due to different organizations with their different agendas, would it not be more constructive to ask the questions:what can we learn?what can be done better? This project demonstrates the incredible need for a centre to develop proper scientific protocols, so that releases can be carefully planned, orchestrated and followed up, in a way that will silence the critics,and get people together finding answers instead of incessantly arguing. The incredible knowledge gained will bring benefits for all parties,once people let go of their agendas and focus together on the job at hand.

(note:this author is convinced that the release was conducted responsibly and without intent to deceive)

References:

  • First Article written by John Dineley,2010 (of the opinion that releasing has no scientific basis)
  • Balcomb, K.C. 1995. Cetacean Releases. Centre for Whale Research, Friday Harbour, WA.
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Scientists are sceptical that captive hand-reared primates can be reintroduced successfully to the wild. Research like this has never been done before, and is experimental. Dedicated wildlife rehabilitators and researchers are set on proving to the world that this kind of rehabilitation (where captive animals are released back into the wild) can be done.

One such respected rehabilitator is Helena Fitchat who, along with dedicated organizations like Center for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (C.R.O.W) in South Africa, has already released two entire troops of Vervet monkeys,back into the wild and implores that projects of this nature are incredibly valuable.The African Vervet monkey (Cercopithecus Aethiops) is common in some areas, but like many species are threatened by disappearing habitat.The key with primates is forming successful family groups who can be released all together, as a working troop.

In the coming years her team will prove this, through study of the two troops already released by measuring their survival rate, finding out how well they adapt, how quickly they adapt and lastly by documenting their interaction with the wild monkey population.
Once these findings are documented and the facts emerge over a period of time, the knowledge learnt would provide the protocol procedures and blueprint for future successful releases of Vervet monkeys as well as for other rare and endangered primate species.

Releases of cetaceans also face skepticism from scientists,researchers,dolphin trainers and dolphinarium owners. New data on dolphin intelligence has found dolphins understand syntax,semantics and word order and are capable of mirror-self-recognition,comprehension of pointing gestures and understanding reference to body parts.They can identify the same abstract object using vision or echolocation and there is evidence that dolphins have culture.Dolphins exhibit sophisticated characteristics previously attributed only to humans and possibly to other higher primates.Why should the scope of their intelligence be lacking when faced with learning the skills to survive in their natural ocean habitat?

In fact many releases of captive born as well as wild caught dolphins, have successfully taken place and have been documented. But because of difficulties in long term monitoring of survival rates with radio tags and the like, there is great debate over naming them successes or not.

All kinds of cetaceans including orcas and belugas have been kept in captivity over the years, numbering in their thousands.Yet there has certainly been a total lack of focus on researching their rehabilitation back into the wild. State of the art marine mammal hospitals do exist, for example ( Mote Marine Laboratory,Florida) yet these specialize only,in the important work of saving stranded and injured wild cetaceans.There is not such institution for cetaceans who have been in captivity for years or are captive born.It is clear though that this kind of project would be very valuable .A separate organization without any bias is needed to ensure its success.Yet, the knowledge gained would be incredibly valuable. Future projects to save extinct or rare cetacean species would then be possible, protocol procedure would be documented,so releases could be replicated again and again. There is also a growing shift in public awareness.They want to experience wild dolphins,free in their natural environment.At the very least, substandard dolphinariums must be shut down.Instead of their captive cetaceans being sold on to other facilities, confined to a lifeless concrete tank.At the very least these dolphins deserve a second chance and a choice to be free.

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