▲ Jedol on his return to Jeju back in May. Photo courtesy Seoul City Hall
Jedol and Chunsam - dolphins illegally bought by Pacific Land, Jungmun - were observed on Aug. 3 swimming with wild dolphin pods in the seas around Jeju just 16 days after being released on July 18 at Gimnyeong-ri, Jeju.
The released dolphins were among 11 Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins illegally captured in 2009 from the Jeju seas and then sold to the owners of Pacific Land, an animal show in Jungmun. Jedol was then sold on to Seoul Zoo, leading to a high profile campaign for his release.
Despite Chunsam being seen with fellow dolphins on July 23 - the very same pod she had swam with before capture - there were concerns as Jedol was observed feeding alone. Finally, however, on Aug. 3, he was recorded with a wild dolphin pod.
Jeju National University Research Team and Ehwa University Eco-Science Department Research Team observed Jedol, Chunsam and Sampal at around 5 p.m. hunting with a pod in the seas near the Gujwa-eup coast.
Fellow returnee Sampal was in the news a month before as on June 22 the dolphin escaped from its adaptation net and enjoyed the high seas. He was the strongest of the three and was soon observed socializing with other dolphins.
In a sign of successful adaptation, all the animals are now feeding without begging behaviour and are cautious around boats and other obstacles, as expected of wild dolphins, the research team reported.
It took a lengthy court case to ensure the dolphins' release and the case represented a watershed in Korean animal rights history as it was the first time that animals' right to life had been recognized by a court, according to lawyer Song.Ji-heon. It was also the first time such a dolphin release had occurred in Asia.
Kim Byeom-yeob of the Jeju National University Research Team said:
“We confirmed that they joined up with a wild pod which shows definite success. From now on, we will continue to monitor Jedol and the wild dolphins’ pod and social group.”
▲ Observation maps of the dolphins' movement. Photo courtesy Jeju National University Research Team
Jedol was sold to Seoul Grand Park and Zoo in 2009 in return for two Stellar sea lions and and Seoul Supreme Court eventually ordered Jedol’s release. The animal left Seoul on May 11 with the Korean Animal Welfare Association and Dolphin Project instrumental in the transportation and rehabilitation process.
Jedol and Chunsam are known to have spent 1,540 and 1,487 days in captivity, respectively. There is a stone monument on the Gimnyeong-ri shore which reads: “Jedol’s dream was the sea,” unveiled on July 18.
All three dolphins will continue to be monitored and are expected to fully adapt to the wild.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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