Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Back to the Blue

Emergency rescue of Misha and Tom - September 2010

The plight of Tom and Misha generated a determined effort to free them.  In Turkey, the Dolphin Angels investigated all campaign routes in a manner that was intelligent and passionate.  Peaceful demonstrations were held at the pool in Hisaronu; a Facebook campaign was launched which attracted over 21,000 supporters, and legal routes for confiscation were investigated. 

Born Free, working alongside the Sunday Mirror newspaper and patron Helen Worth, visited Turkey to investigate the situation.  An appeal was launched asking tourists not to support the ‘swim-with’ programme established around Tom and Misha.  Thomas Cook and TUI, as well as several smaller independent tour operators, supported the campaign.

Negotiations continued for the dolphins’ release and transfer of ownership to Born Free.  Eventually, following a boycott of the Hisaronu facility by major international tour operators who were concerned about human safety and animal welfare; the disappearance of the owner and a pool now suffering from substantial subsidence, the dolphins were signed over to Born Free under the supervision of local lawyer.

A team was mobilised quickly, comprising Born Free representation, SAD representation and support from British Divers Marine Life Rescue and Dolphin Angels, all under the guidance of our Senior Veterinary Consultant, John Knight, and Marine Mammal Expert Doug Cartlidge.  On 5th September 2010, an emergency rescue was undertaken and Misha and Tom were returned to the Aegean Sea to a temporary sea pen provided by Born Free’s Turkish partners, SAD.

Leaving the pool © BFF
Health check © BFF
Rescue vehicle © BFF
Transported to the boat © BFF
Boat transport to pen © BFF
Into the temporary pen © BFF

Although the dolphins’ health had deteriorated in the weeks before rescue due to the conditions in their pool in Hisaronu, the team were optimistic that this would only be temporary and that their health would improve following their move to clean water, less stressful conditions and proper veterinary care.

Carers were immediately employed to work under the guidance of marine mammal rehab and veterinary experts, initially building the dolphins’ health back up, recording and observing them and ensuring their well-being.  Following this, Misha and Tom's rehabilitation began in earnest.

Back to the Aegean - Misha and Tom just after rescue © BFF
Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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