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Pledge £1 for Tom and Misha

by Darren

To see the map, please click here. Thanks to CASA, UCL for providing the mapping service.

Well, we’ve reached the end of our week and the last of our #5Acts4Wildlife.  I’m really grateful to everyone for taking part this week and supporting the mini-campaigns we’ve run.  I’ve had a lot of fun doing the five actions and I hope you have too.

To end we’re going back to marine life and the plight of dolphins Tom and Misha in Turkey.  The captive dolphin trade is truly heartbreaking and watching the documentary ‘The Cove’ will change the way you view the world.  Painful watching, yet it’s important that you get hold of a copy, then show your family and friends.

Please, please please, if you take anything away from this week, watch The Cove or do your own research on the captive dolphin trade and the effect of dolphinaria on these incredibly intelligent creatures.  I don’t need to tell you not to visit them because once you know, you’ll be pleading with others not to go.

Humans appear to have what is approaching limitless power over this rock we live on and it’s occupants.  The way we treat each other sometimes is pretty terrible, but the way we treat our fellow species is shocking.  My heart is warmed to know that this week we’ve each done 5 small but significant acts to go towards correcting those wrongs.  But I feel even better knowing that you’ll all go on trying to do something each and every day for wildlife.

Thanks for doing #5Acts4Wildlife

Catch up:

Day 1: Who’s the monster, the myth about sharks
Day 2: Help Wildlife Aid to Rescue Orphans
Day 3: Save Our Forests
Day 4: Ppppack up the Penguins – Stop the use of animals in shops

Image courtesy of G Parsons (via Born Free)

Andrina Murrell is a campaigner at The Born Free Foundation helping to coordinate the rescue and rehabilitation efforts for Tom and Misha. Described by The Times as ‘Big enough to make a difference, but small enough to care,’ Born Free never forgets the individual and believe that every animal counts. Their work to prevent individual animal suffering, protect threatened species and keep wildlife in the wild sets them apart from the rest.

What’s the issue?

Following an intense Facebook campaign and several visits by Born Free Foundation with Patrons Helen Worth and investigative journalist Donal MacIntyre, the story of Misha and Tom, a pair of wild-captured adolescent dolphins who were being kept in horrible conditions in a tiny pen in Hisaronu in Turkey, was brought to the public’s attention. Tourists, including many Britons, paid £50 to swim with the dolphins in a pool of just 12m x 17m, 4m deep.  The pool had been condemned by local health authorities as unfit for human use, but this didn’t stop people fulfilling the “dream of a lifetime” and swimming with Tom and Misha. Thanks to the efforts of Born Free, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Dolphin Angels (a group of mainly British residents of Hisaronu) and the generosity of the public Tom and Misha were rescued in 2010 from their tiny concrete pool and are currently being cared for in a 30m diameter, 15m deep rehabilitation pen in the Mediterranean Sea.  They have already been visited by some free, wild dolphins and Born Free hopes it won’t be too long until Tom and Misha can also be free again.

While it is wonderful to see Tom and Misha back in sea water where they belong there are still many hundreds of whales and dolphins still in captivity and being used as tourist attractions around the world. Thankfully there are no dolphinaria in the United Kingdom but we still have our part to play in ending this cruel trade.  Thousands of Britons each year visit dolphinaria in the US, Europe and the Caribbean to swim with dolphins.

Why are you passionate about it?

At least 19 different species of cetacean are currently held in captivity around the world, including over 800 bottlenose dolphins.  Captive dolphins have become a regular feature in tourist resorts. A trained bottlenose dolphin can generate $1 million a year. Dolphins bred in captivity do not sustain their numbers. Therefore they are frequently captured from the wild and sold into captivity.  Wild dolphins are a wide-ranging animal with complex social networks and hunting behaviour which the captive environment is unable to provide for. Many suffer from behavioural abnormalities, illness and premature death.

Captive dolphins are forced into unnatural social groups and cannot display their natural behaviours.  Many studies have shown that confinement is detrimental to the welfare of dolphins.  The stress they suffer often results in behavioural abnormalities, illness, lowered disease resistance and premature death.  Accidental deaths have occurred as a result of captivity – in 2008, a dolphin collided mid-air with another dolphin after leaping out of the water during a show at Discovery Cove in Orlando. The 30-year-old female bottlenose suffered head injuries and died soon afterwards.

Why should others be passionate about it?

This is undoubtedly an issue where consumer power will make all the difference.  While each dolphin can earn their captors $1 million a year operators will continue to run dolphin shows and take wild animals from their homes to fulfil their needs.   The methods used to capture and transport dolphins can be extremely cruel and some dolphins die in the process.  The film The Cove, exposes the dolphin hunt in Taiji in Japan – dolphins and whales are chased into a small cove, those deemed suitable for captivity are captured and transported, the rest are slaughtered in a bay which quickly fills with dolphin blood.  By exercising our power as consumers we can help to save the lives of over 20,000 dolphins every year.

What can others do to help?

Donate just £1 to the Born Free Foundation using the button below to help with Tom and Misha’s rehabilitation and pledge not to visit any captive dolphin facilities.

Why will people taking action help?

While Tom and Misha are safe in the sea pen, they’re still in captivity and with rehabilitation costs totalling over £150,000 there is a lot more work to be done before release can even be considered. Every penny raised is vital to ensure their continued improvement and to help secure their wild future. By refusing to visit these attractions we will reduce the market for the capture of dolphins such as Tom and Misha from their homes in the wild.

Further information

The Cove
Hisaronu Dolphins
Born Free Foundation petition
Facts on Captive Whales & Dolphins
British Divers Marine Life Rescue

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