British Divers Marine Life Rescue
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (photo: Steve Marsh)
British Divers Marine Rescue

News

2010-09-14 14:26:39

Turkish Dolphins Rescue – new links

» See how the BDMLR team moved Misha and Tom to their new sea pen
» YouTube: Tom and Misha's Rescue
» YouTube: Tom and Misha - Next Part of the Journey

BDMLR and Born Free rescue captive dolphins in TurkeyFollowing a dramatic 48 hours of negotiations at the end of last week, the Born Free Foundation secured the release of the two dolphins, Tom and Misha. A team from BDMLR was then allowed to rescue and move them from their small concrete swimming pool in the Turkish town of Hisaronu.

A local campaign group, the Dolphin Angels, had arranged a massive Facebook protest and an ongoing street presence, calling for their release.The appalling conditions in the pool caused many to fear for the deteriorating health of the dolphins and to speculate as to whether they would survive their ordeal. Water samples taken by experts revealed harmful bacterial counts ten times higher than would be permissible under internationally accepted marine mammal standards. Meanwhile, SAD (Underwater Research Society), a Turkish NGO, has been pushing relevant governmental departments since July with supporting reports and proofs so that the dolphins must be confiscated by the government and handed over to NGOs which will carry out rehabilitation.

Backed by a dedicated team of wildlife professionals, including directors of British Divers Marine Life Rescue Alan Knight OBE, Mark Stevens and the pre-eminent dolphin rescue expert Doug Cartlidge, the team, along with Senior Vet Consultant, John Knight and senior Born Free executives flew to Turkey over the weekend.

Alan Knight OBE, Chair of British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said "The success of this operation really was a tribute to the cooperation between all of the parties involved - I salute Born Free for being able to mobilise everyone at short notice and we are thrilled to have been part of such a great success. We've always had a good relationship with them and it's refreshing to be involved in an operation that depended on mutual trust and respect for each organisation's knowledge and the skills of the individuals concerned".

The dolphins are now in a temporary sea-pen off the coast undergoing a thorough medical assessment. The move was made possible thanks to the co-operation of the Turkish Authorities and was facilitated through Born Free's project partners, Turkish marine research and conservation NGO, SAD, who have provided the sea and coastal facilities which could eventually to enable Misha and Tom's rehabilitation back to the wild.

Born Free's Campaigns Director, Alison Hood, reporting from Turkey concluded: "There can be no guarantees that this will succeed, but given the choice of either leaving them to perish in the pool or take their chances in the sea - their natural environment - the decision was made and for the first time in 6 years, Tom and Misha have a chance - ultimately - of freedom. However, it's going to be a long haul and we are going to need all the help we can get." The Foundation has launched a £150,000 appeal which will pay for the rescue of the animals, all care costs, rehabilitation and, hopefully, their return ‘Back to the Blue'.

Born Free Patron Donal MacIntyre (see photo above)whoflew out to document the story of Tom and Misha said "We have made amazing progress here. Born Free have assembled some of the worlds leading experts to save Tom and Misha. What is clear to anyone who knows the dolphins is that they are real characters and personalities in their own right, they have proved to be resilient and upbeat despite the terrible conditions. Along with the rest of the team we are really hopeful that Tom and Misha make it to their new home and we will have a successful outcome".

Stephen Marsh
BDMLR Operations Manager