All Korean Captive Dolphins Back with their Families
The Korean rehabilitation and release project, of which I was an advisor and the Korean Animal Welfare Association (KAWA) an integral part, can be officially declared a roaring success!
Here is a screen capture of the moment of the release from the sea pen, on July 18. The net was lowered and the dolphins Jedol and Chunsam swam out from the sea pen and into the open ocean:
Sampal, who was also being rehabilitated, had escaped the sea pen before the official release and rejoined her original pod. After the official release, Chunsam was seen with an adult dolphin and a calf, and Jedol was observed as not having rejoined his home pod. We were concerned that these two might not find their original pods – captivity is extremely traumatic for dolphins, and it could leave potentially permanent psychological scars. However, it appears that this story has a happy ending: Hyung Ju Lee, campaign manager for the KAWA, reports that, on August 3, Chunsam was observed as having joined her original pod at 10am, and then at around 4pm, “the monitoring team found both Jedol and Chunsam swimming with a pod of more than fifty dolphins.”
They all found their way home!
The three dolphins are doing just fine after having been returned to the ocean. They are keeping distance from boats and marinas, which means they no longer rely on humans for food. In short, these three beings, torn from their families and exploited for money, have been allowed to live out the rest of their lives in the ocean, as it should be.
Here is a video of that big pod, swimming freely in the ocean. Many thanks to KAWA for the videos and for leading the rehabilitation and release project.
Click here to watch the video.
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Ric O’Barry, Dolphin Project Founder & Director has worked on both sides of the captive dolphin issue, making him an invaluable asset in the efforts to end exploitation. He worked for 10 years within the dolphin captivity industry, and has spent the past 40 working against it.
In the 1960s, O’Barry was employed by the Miami Seaquarium, where he captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV-series of the same name. He also trained Hugo, the first orca kept in captivity east of the Mississippi. When Kathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms, O’Barry realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.
From that moment on, O’Barry knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he launched a searing campaign against the multi-billion dollar dolphin captivity industry and has been going at it ever since.
Over the past 40 years, Ric O’Barry has rescued and rehabilitated dolphins in many countries around the world, including Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Bahamas Islands and the United States. He is a leading voice in the fight to end brutal dolphin hunts in Japan, the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands, and wherever else they occur.
O’Barry has been recognized by many national and international entities for his dedicated efforts, such as being voted Huffington Post’s 2010 Most Influential Green Game Changer, and being listed on O Magazine’s 2010 Power List – Men We Admire for his “Power of Passion.” O’Barry received an Environmental Achievement Award, presented by the United States Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program. He has done countless interviews with such prestigious news programs as Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper 360, the Mike Huckabee Show, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.
His book Behind the Dolphin Smile was published in 1989; a second book, To Free A Dolphin was published in September 2000. Both of them are about his work and dedication. He is the star of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove and the Animal Planet television series Blood Dolphin$.