Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin to be released after 17 years
The last Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin held in captivity in Korea will be released to the ocean after 17 years, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced Wednesday.
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said Wednesday that it will begin full-scale preparations for the release of the dolphin after training it to assure that it can survive on its own.
The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, a dolphin species currently known to inhibit waters surrounding Jeju Island, came into public attention recently when it was mentioned in “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” a popular television series featuring a main protagonist obsessed with whales and dolphins.
Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins were designated as protected species in 2012. At the time, a total of eight dolphins of the species were in captivity in aquariums around the country. Of these, seven were returned to the sea and only one remains at the Jeju Pacific Land Aquarium.
The last remaining Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin was caught in 2005 near Jeju Island and has since been bred and managed at the Pacific Land Aquarium for performances and exhibitions.
“In principle, whales or dolphins caught should have been released to the ocean straightaway, but I think public interest has now begun to affect this issue,” said Cho Seung-hwan, minister of oceans and fisheries.
The last Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin will first undergo wildlife adaptation training such as catching fish and communicating with wild dolphins at a training center in Jeju before being released into the ocean. The dolphin is currently in a very healthy state, according to the ministry.
Before being released, a GPS location device will be attached to the dolphin and its behavior will be monitored for more than a year.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced on the same day that it will strengthen policies to improve the welfare of marine animals in the future. Amendments to various laws regarding marine animals have been submitted to the National Assembly, including those to prohibit new animals being exhibited in aquariums and restricting activities that can cause excessive stress to animals currently in captivity.
“The ministry will strengthen policies to improve the welfare of marine animals while promoting related system improvements,” said Cho.
BY LIM JEONG-WON [email@example.com]