Captive dolphins rescued from Fethiye

Underwater Research Society (SAD)


20th September 2010


Two bottlenose dolphins, which have been kept in concrete pools for a long time for recreational purposes, were taken from the owners and moved to Gökova for rehabilitation by means of sea and land transportation on 5th September, 2010.

Underwater Research Society -Marine Mammals Research Group (SAD-DEMAG) and Born Free Foundation (BFF), in coordination with the nature conservationist and law attorney Şule Beder and the Dolphin Angels group in Fethiye, started thorough work in August 2010 in order to rescue two bottle-nose (Tursiops truncatus) dolphins which have been kept captive for 6 years. The project has a special importance from the point of view of being the first in Turkiye to release captive dolphins kept in dolphinariums. The project, shortly named as “Back to the Blue” is carried out not by one NGO only, but with the participation of several other NGOs and nature conservationists such as British Divers Marine Life Rescue group and Dolphin Angels group from Fethiye in addition to the cooperation of SAD and BFF. The dolphins, which were abandoned by their owners and whose care had been neglected, were taken from their pool on land in Fethiye Hisraönü after their health control was carried out by veterinarians and marine biologists. Then they were brought to Gökova Çamlı from Fethiye by means of land transportation while keeping their bodies constantly wet on airbags. From here they were taken to the care location by boat transfer and were moved to the open marine pools several hundred meters distant from the transportation location on the coast. No problems were encountered, neither during the transportation nor during their transfer to the pool. SAD divers were present in the pool to observe the dolphins, diving in and around the pool during and after the  transfer process, ready to take action in case of an emergency situation such as a suicide attempt by the dolphins by holding their breath. Tom and Misha, on the other hand, did not show any sign of problem during their release to sea water, and showed a great adaptation to open marine pool medium and started to swim and dive actively. They are now in good health and spirits in their pool made of nets in Gökova. Members and working team of Underwater Research Society and SAD Fethiye Representative are busy with feeding the dolphins in the care location, and continuing to monitor, cure and feed the two afalina dolphins in place.

SAD-DEMAG, in their letter dated 16th August 2010 to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, mentioned that the dolphins were taken care of under very poor conditions in the land pool in Fethiye, that the pool was extremely unhealthy, unfavorable and small sized, that the Law numbered 5199 for Protecting Animals was violated by the owners of the dolphins by using them for recreational purposes, and demanded that the animals impounded by the authorities and given to SAD for rehabilitation and afterwards release to the environment. This letter was supported by several reports indicating that the conditions were

very unfavorable in the pools that the dolphins were kept in and the conditions were well below the standards, that the dolphins’ state of health was very poor. Because neither of the two ministries responded to the impound claim until 5th September 2010 on which the dolphins were transferred, they were rescued by the concerned NGOs and volunteers from Fethiye. After the transfer of the dolphins by means of land and boat transportation without trouble, their rehabilitation was started by SAD-DEMAG, BFF and the volunteer group called Dolphin Angels in the coastal zone in which the Mediterranean monk seal Badem has been under care. At the end of a rehabilitation and nursing process that is expected to take 6 months – or probably longer-, if the experts, marine biologists and veterinarians of both NGOs are convinced that the dolphins adapt to foraging and surviving in wild, they will be released back to the blue in Gökova to enable these vulnerable creatures to live the rest of their lives freely.

The dolphins are fed with frozen Norwegian mackerel and pelagic fish as such, and supported by vitamins in case of need. Away from the poor conditions in Fethiye, they are now in good spirits in the natural wonder, Gökova with its clean marine environment and without human interference. The dolphins have been monitored and taken care of for 14 days by 2 full-time workers, one of them a marine biologist and the other one a veterinarian, and 2 part-time workers and the participation of many other volunteers and logistic support. The ultimate aim is to provide a behavior and living environment for the dolphins free from human instructions and trained actions, and help them to be able to hunt for fish by themselves in wild as early as possible. If these aims are achieved, Tom and Misha will be released back to their natural habitats, to the blue sea.

SAD is an NGO with the opinion that no new dolphinariums should be opened in the country, and the available dolphinariums should be closed completely after a phase out period while comprehensive studies should be made for the preparation of legislation on keeping existing captive dolphins and using them for recreational purposes. Imprisoning such smart and vulnerable creatures for the purpose of human entertainment and for commercial purposes, and training them with hunger and beating is unacceptable. We are confident that the people visiting the dolphinariums would never come to the shows again if they knew how bad situation these vulnerable creatures are. Dolphin captivity and dolphinariums are completely banned in countries such as England, Brazil and Belgium for legal and ethical reasons.

Underwater Research Society (SAD) in Turkiye and Born Free Foundation in the UK are carrying out fund raising campaigns to cover the expenses for transfering, feeding, nursing, rehabilitating and releasing the two bottlenose dolphins, Tom and Misha, back to the blue, and to meet the expenses of the veterinerians, experts and volunteers participating in the process. Your support is essential for the freedom of Tom and Misha.

You can contact SAD from the website to support the “back to the blue” project for the freedom of the dolphins Tom and Misha.

For more information: SAD-DEMAG   0533.488 5858   //  0536.612 2401

We expect to receive your donations to the following bank accounts to support the dolphins. We would like to point out that even the smallest grant is very valuable for Tom and Misha. You can e-mail the payment receipt to [email protected] after your remittance.


For donations in TL:


Account no: 2336685-367 IBAN TR69 0013 4000 0023 3668 5000 17

For donations in Euro:

Account no: 2336685-370 IBAN TR85 0013 4000 0023 3668 5000 20