Geumdeung and Depo are two indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins who were illegally captured off the coast of Jeju Island in South Korea back in 1997 and 1998. Now, after 20 years, the two animals will finally be given their freedom! The wonderful news was shared by the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS), who has been following the work of HotPinkDolphins, a marine mammals welfare organization based in South Korea, as they rehabilitated the dolphins.
In spite of how much time Geumdeung and Depo spent in captivity, in conditions very different from what they would be in their natural habitat, both animals are doing very well in the sea pen where they were transported on May 22, 2017. In the sea pen, they were able to readjust to life in the ocean, learning how to navigate currents and catch live fish all over again.
Very soon they will be free, enjoying their lives the way they were intended, with family and in the wild. They are set to be released July 18th.
OPS shared on Facebook that they had the opportunity to come over to the HotPinkDolphins facilities and learn from the specialists how to rehabilitate and release captive dolphins back to the wild, as well as get necessary experience and training.
Keeping dolphins and whales in captivity is often justified and explained away by arguments that the animals are content in their synthetic homes or that the educational value of keeping them captive outweighs their freedom. However, cetaceans are very obviously far from happy living in captivity – there is countless proof in instances of aggression in captive animals, the emergence of zoochosis – abnormal repetitive behaviors similar to Neurosis – health problems, like vomiting and unusual illnesses, accelerated deaths, and even self-mutilation and suicide attempts. In the light of these facts, the educational and entertainment value of aquariums seems to pale in comparison to animals’ well-being. What we’re seeing in these artificial pools are not happy animals, performing tricks at will but really sick, desperately unhappy and anxious beings. Is that really what we want to support?
These two dolphins prove that life after the tanks is possible, so isn’t it time we emptied the tanks?
Image source: Oceanic Preservation Society/Facebook