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Dolphins Held Captive for 20 Years Successfully Released

| Eva Marrero
Topics: Captivity Industry, Dolphins, Rehabilitation, Release, Sanctuaries

This is the third installment in our series spotlighting successful cetacean retirement, rehabilitation and release stories. Companies like SeaWorld claim that releasing orcas and dolphins to sanctuaries for retirement is dangerous, "irresponsible" and even impossible.  However, these stories reveal the truth: that it is possible, and in the best interests of the cetaceans, to retire them permanently and even release them back into their wild ocean homes when possible. 

Read the rest of the stories here. 


Rocky, Missie, and Silver are living proof of just how successful rehabilitation and releases of cetaceans can really be. All three of these dolphins lived in captivity for many years, and their flourishing in the wild demonstrates how even the most domesticated, used and abused of animals can thrive when given a chance to live in their natural habitat.

Into the Blue” was the name of a group release effort that took place on Turks and Caicos. Backed by the Born Free Foundation, the Bellerive Foundation, and the World Society for the Protection of Animals, the project took three captive dolphins that were no longer being used for performances from different parts of the world, and prepared them for reintroductions to the ocean. Rocky, who was caught in the Florida Panhandle in 1971 and held at Marineland in Morecambe, England, lived in captivity for twenty years; Missie, from Biloxi, Texas, had lived in captivity for twenty-two years; and Silver, believed to have been from Taiwan, was captive fifteen years.

The dolphins were moved to a conch farm lagoon on one of the islands of Caicos in 1991. Here, they began their rehabilitation process. They learned how to eat live fish and acquired the skills they would need to survive in the wild. Motivated by the animals’ marked progress, the research team moved them just months later to a floating sea pen. Finally, on Tuesday, September 10, 1991, the dolphins were freeze-branded and released into the wild.

All three dolphins have been re-sighted on a number of occasions since then, by fishermen and tourists alike. There has even been a strong bonded friendship observed between Silver and one of the local, wild dolphins, affectionately named “JoJo” by the locals.


Header image by Jim the Photographer / Flickr (photo is not of Rocky, Missie or Silver). 

Social image: Peter Bloom, BSc.