17 January 2012
Both Tom and Misha are doing well as we enter the new year – and hopefully the year when they will both again be free.
Following the set back last year with their illness, they have now been brought back to health and are doing well; very bright and responsive and their food intake has slowly been increased. The next crucial stage will be the introduction of live fish into their diet. While work continues to build up their strength and weight; their ability to catch and eat live fish will be the main determining factor as we plan for their release. And as it is anticipated that this could take them a while to get used to, the team want to build up more weight so that Tom and Misha have a sufficient fat reserve should they take a while to adapt.
The traps for the fish and a suitable pen have been constructed in readiness to build up a sufficient supply so that once introduced, the team can maintain this element of their diet. We have also installed underwater cameras so that we can try and capture this behaviour on film and therefore ensure both dolphins are capable of this vital survival tool. Meanwhile, more construction work has been underway, building remote feeding devices and a ‘sling shot’ that will be used to deliver their current diet of dead fish from a distance instead of directly from the carers.
The beautiful bay they are in is providing them with a sheltered location and helping protect their sea pen from the worst of the weather, and the water quality is regularly monitored. In a few weeks time, a small team from Born Free Foundation, including our senior veterinary consultant John Knight, will visit the project to review progress and discuss the remaining challenges of their rehabilitation process.
Special thanks to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute for providing the cameras.