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Tears of a dolphin

Posted May. 13, 2013 05:36,   


At 5:30 a.m. Saturday, some 10 trainers work hard around a pool that is 12 meters long and 6 meters wide in the back of the dolphinarium at the Seoul Grand Park. On one side of the pool, a dolphin stayed still with its head poked out of the water. The dolphin moved only when its trainer walks near the pool. The dolphin’s name is Jedori and it was soon to be released to waters in front of Jeju Island.

Jedori is an Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin, one of the five species of dolphins found near the Korean Peninsula. Since it was caught in waters in front of Jeju Island in 2009, Jedori had performed a show at the Seoul Grand Park until last year. In March last year, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon decided to send it back to home due to issues posed by civic groups.

When it comes to sending an animal as big as a small car to its home, everything was challenging from lifting Jedori out of a water tank and putting him in a portable tank. In spite of the concern of Yoo Mi-jin, the chief of the Animal Management of the Seoul Grand Park, what if Jedori would not come out of the water due to fear, the dolphin soared to the surface of the water at the signal to come up.

When Jedori came to the surface, trainers put the dolphin in a small tank that fits him tightly and moved the tank on a trailer truck. The dolphin was carried to the Incheon International Airport by the trailer truck, to the Jeju International Airport on an Asiana airplane, then to Jeju's Seongsan Port by a trailer truck at 2:10 p.m. The entire trip took five hours.

A GPS tracking device was installed on its dorsal fin before Jedori was put into a fish cage with a diameter of 30 meters, located 3 minutes by a boat from the Seongsan Port. Jedori joined two other dolphins that arrived there a month earlier. In just thirty minutes, Jedori and the other two dolphins became friendly one another.

Jedori will go through a 15-day adaptive training including hunting live fish and be moved to another fish cage in northern Jeju for a final adaptive training. The dolphin is expected to be freed at the end of June.

The success of the release of the dolphins will be measured by animal behavioral studies. Jang I-gwon, an Eco Science professor at Ewha Womans University, has led a research team since January to study Jedori’s behavior including resting and swimming to compare them with those in the wild surrounding.

Professor Jang said, “Jedori took less rest and swam more when it was moved to a larger tank. As a research result shows that animals well adapted to the environment of fish cage are more likely to successfully adapt to wild environment, Jedori is expected to adapt well to the wild environment.”