Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Jeju - Captive Dolphins - featuring Naomi Rose, Rick O'Barry and others

This evening, outwith the IWC Scientific Committee (which is meeting here in Jeju Island), some Korean NGOs ran an excellent symposium about the planned release of 'Jedol' a bottlenose dolphin back to the sea following his captivity in a zoo in Seoul and a dolphinarium in Jeju.

Jedol is due to be released in the near future from a sea-pen back to the population on Jeju that he was born into and two females will accompany him. This is the first rehabilitation of a captive marine mammal back to the wild in Korean history and many from the IWC Scientific Committee were keep to learn more, offer whatever advice they could and show their support.

Dr Rose speaks
The Korean NGOs had invited experts from overseas that they had been working with on this relsease programme and the Korean academic team who are guiding it. Speakers included Naomi Rose of the Humane Society International, one of the world's leading experts on captive cetaceans; the legendary Ric O'Barry of Earth Island Institute (once the trainer of Flipper and now someone who devotes his time to the release of captive dolphins); and veterinarians Pierre Gallego and Nick Gales.

The project is being overseen by Dr YiKweon Jang, a behavioural ecologist, who is striving to make sure that the dolphins are fit and ready for release and that the local human population is ready to recieve them - and in particular will not attempt to feed them, should the dolphins beg for food..

Previous successful dolphin releases elsewhere in the world.
Dr Rose described the requirements that needed to be met  before any reintroduction could occur.
Nick Gales Australian Veterinarian 
\Dr Gales told the story of a reintroduction programme that he was involved in some years ago.
Pierre Gallego

Pierre Gallego described the necessary disease tests that the animals needed to be subjected to in order to ensure that they did not expose the wild populations to any risk.

Dr Yikweon Jang, Ewha University
Dr Jang and his students talked about their monitoring studies of the dolphins in captivity and talked about their plans in the next few weeks to release the animals. The present plan is to move the dolphins from the sea pen they are currently held in to a larger one on the northeast coast of Jeju Island (where the local dolphin population is concentrated). The dolphins need to be released before typhoon season arrives, so a clock is ticking.
Rick O'Barry
Rick O' Barry described his various experiences around the world with reintroduction programmes, something that he has dedicated his life to.

Outside of the symposium hall, the local NGOs provided badges to the visitors and talked about their work. One of the little badges showed an image of a severed whale tail and in Korean asked the reader not to eat whale meat.

Jedol in the English language news here.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Mark, Jo from Derby Uni here! Very inspiring post, I'm very happy about this, good news for dolphins! And of course my very favourite people all in the same room :)