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Born Free USA Global Field Projects

Hisaronu Dolphins in Turkey

Published 01/04/11

Two bottlenose dolphins who had been grabbed from the sea were hauled in the back of a produce van to a hillside Turkish tourist resort. They unceremoniously were dumped into a small concrete swimming pool. Their owner planned to use the mammals for “swim with” opportunities and charge tourists $80 for the “privilege.”

This inhumane and hugely inappropriate development was met with immediate outcry. A local campaign group, the Dolphin Angels, arranged a massive Facebook protest and an ongoing street presence, calling for the dolphins’ release.

Water tests revealed that the fetid pool carried a bacterial load 10 times higher than would have been permitted in a similar U.S. facility. Hearing of the protests and fearing for the Hisaronu dolphins’ very survival, the Born Free Foundation, Born Free USA’s England-based partner in animal protection, lead negotiations to have them removed and eventually returned to the wild. By early September, Born Free’s team received clearance to rescue the dolphins, and transferred them—with expert care—to a temporary sea pen off the nearby coast in the Aegean Sea.

In early November 2010, Tom and Misha were placed in a larger sea pen, with depths of up to 15 meters (about 50 feet). It offers the dolphins more space and freedom to help them regain their strength as the rescue team works toward through its rehabilitation plan. Scientists said the dolphins were making steady progress — their release back into the wild seems more assured, although still many months away.

The cost of rescuing Tom and Misha, and their ongoing care and rehabilitation, is substantial. Born Free USA, through the immediate and generous support of its members, is helping to fund this tremendous undertaking — one that not only has spared two dolphins from a miserable existence in a fetid swimming pool, but also has raised worldwide awareness about the cruelties of dolphin captivity and exploitation. Please consider making a donation online or by sending a check (clearly indentified for “dolphin rescue”) to Born Free USA, 1122 S St., Sacramento, CA 95811.

Read updates about our Hisaronu dolphin project.

See the Hisaronu dolphin project's photo gallery.

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