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.