Subject: Re: Releasing captive/rehabilitated dolphins

Dagmar_Fertl@smtp.mms.gov
Mon, 07 Oct 96 07:48:22 EST

     Dear James,
     
     An excellent, thought-provoking question!  What I know about releasing 
     captive/rehabilitated dolphins is second-hand, by reading about it, or 
     hearing about it from people who have done the work.  There are a few 
     reports out there about this subject, including one Navy report 
     recently released by Brill and another by an organization in 
     Washington headed by Balcomb.  Unfortunately, I have both of those 
     reports at home, so I can't give you the full citation right now.  I 
     would suggest that you contact the Protected Resources Office of 
     National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for further information 
     (their address can be found on the WWW, or you can write to me again 
     and I'll give it to you).  NMFS recently had a short article in their 
     MMPA Bulletin (MMPA=Marine Mammal Protection Act) about this subject.  
     You might also want to read "The Dolphin Chronicles" by Carol Howard 
     about two bottlenose dolphins (Misha and Echo) from Sarasota, FL that 
     were captured for research and then released back into that area and 
     monitored.  
     
     The question as to whether reintroductions are successful or not is 
     difficult.  Some people consider a reintroduction into the wild 
     successful if they get the animal into the wild.  However, what makes 
     a reintroduction successful is if we know that the animal survives and 
     makes it into some type of social grouping with others of its species. 
      It would seem that reintroductions that involve more than one 
     individual, that have somehow come to know each other, are best.  It 
     is also extremely beneficial to release an animal back to the area 
     from which it came.  I think it is generally accepted that many 
     reintroductions have not been truly successful.  To release an animal, 
     we need to be sure that it is healthy enough so that it could survive, 
     but also that it won't pass a disease to animals out in the wild.  
     Many captive dolphins no longer know how to catch live fish (this is 
     potentially a problem for stranded animals that have been held in 
     captivity for a relatively long period of time); teaching a dolphin 
     how to catch fish is not an easy thing to do.  If it's a very young 
     dolphin that has stranded, or is a captive-born animal, it should not 
     be released since it has not been taught or experienced the skills for 
     surviving in the wild.  Will the dolphin be able to adapt quickly 
     enough to its new-found freedom to find food, be part of a social 
     group, and avoid predators?  We don't know if the dolphin would be 
     readily accepted back into a dolphin group or society.  
     
     We still have much to learn about marine mammals before we can do 
     these releases well.  However, releases do provide us with a wealth of 
     information, since in many of these cases, the animal is released with 
     some type of tag that allows for a researcher to be able to monitor or 
     even follow the animal to be sure it's doing ok.  What we need to be 
     sure of is that the reintroduction is truly the best thing for the 
     animal.  Will it be safe, healthy, and "happy", or are we merely 
     trying to release a dolphin because it makes us feel good to do it 
     (even if it's not good for the animal).  
     
     


______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: info requested
Author:  ejgaudet@sanborn.k12.nh.us at ~smtp
Date:    10/4/96 1:29 PM


Hello my name is James Albrecht .  I go to Sanborn Regional High School 
and I'm in a class called Project Whaleboat. I'm wondering if you could 
direct me to a person or place where I can get information on captive 
whales or dolphins being released into the wild.What do you know about 
this subject and are they succesful?Any help that you can provide will 
be appreciated. Thanks for your time.
Sincerely,
James Albrecht
-- 
E.J. Gaudet-- teacher
Project Whaleboat
Sanborn Regional High School