Tom and Misha are two bottlenose dolphins. They were captured off the coast of Turkey and rehoused in a small theme park pool where people paid to swim with them. Over the years in captivity, Tom and Misha forgot many of their natural instincts and wild behaviors.
As intelligent animals, dolphins need to be challenged to avoid boredom. Living in captivity, dolphins don’t receive the mental stimulation that their natural habitat provides and so become unhealthily dependent on human interaction, often dying sooner than their wild counterparts.
Born Free Foundation launched a campaign in 2010 to rescue and rehome Tom and Misha. The pair spent two years in a specially constructed sea-pen, relearning their natural instincts and survival skills with trainers prior to their release into the wild in 2012.
Though no longer in captivity, Tom and Misha continue to be monitored by Born Free to see how they are getting on. Their struggle and new lives have been documented by the foundation in order to lay the groundwork for freeing other dolphins back into the wild.
You can watch the awe-inspiring moment when these beautiful animals were returned to their natural environment here:
World Oceans Day is June 8 and the story of Tom and Misha is a thoughtful reminder to be aware of the perils of marine animal captivity.
[H/T The Dodo]