For the past decade, a rescued dolphin named Martinha has been confined to a small backyard concrete swimming pool. The tiny pool became Martinha’s “home” after she was stranded on the coast of Portugal in September 2007. She was certainly lucky to be rescued from the dangerous situation she found herself in, but what came later can in no way be called a lucky turn of events for the animal. The dolphin was allowed to spend years in the waist-deep pool and, despite assurances that she would eventually be returned to the wild, it is believed that Martinha is still being kept in completely inadequate conditions that she should never be forced to endure. But where is she exactly? This is what a team of advocates is now trying to find out.
The dolphin was rescued by the organization CRAM-Q when she was about six months old, and her rehabilitation in a medical pool began soon after. Unfortunately, after rehabilitation, instead of being released, Martinha was moved to a tank of water which was approximately only seven meters wide, 13 meters long, and less than two meters deep.
After five years, Martinha was joined by another dolphin, the pregnant Barra, who soon miscarried her calf. At some point after that, it is believed that Barra died, although the exact date is not known.
A coalition of marine mammal advocates and experts have come together to seek answers from the Portuguese government and the NGO about the current whereabouts and condition of Martinha, Marine Connection reports. The animal advocates have created an informational website dedicated to the dolphin and launched a petition aiming to enable independent experts to conduct a welfare check on the animal.
“Over the past month, on two separate occasions I contacted both CRAM-Q and ICNF on behalf of the coalition enquiring if Martinha was still alive and if so, would they provide us with the most up to date photo of the dolphin,” said Liz Sandeman of Marine Connection. “However, despite assurances from CRAM-Q the coalition would receive an official answer after the 8th of October from ICNF, no information has been forthcoming which is very disappointing.”
Martinha is a “public trust animal,” as stated by the Portuguese government. This means that the public has the right to transparency when it comes to the conditions she is kept in. Despite that fact, the dolphin’s life has been virtually a mystery, and her current situation and location are completely concealed. You can help find Martinha by signing the petition in her case here.
Lead image source: martinha.org