The world’s first permanent sanctuary for dolphins who have been rescued from captivity was founded recently by the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation on the tiny island of Lipsi, south of Samos in the eastern Aegean.
The sanctuary, which is located in a small bay on the north side of the island, was created in the hope of giving these rescued creatures a safe place to live out their lives, as well as to end the exploitation of the intelligent mammals in zoos and marinas around the world.
The location of the Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary (AMLS) in the elongated, fjord-like gulf of Vroulia Bay provides safe shelter, natural waters with high biodiversity, and both shallow and deeper locations within an area many times as large as the largest dolphin pool, as well as minimal human intervention. Some areas of the nearby seafloor are as deep as 40 meters, or 131 feet.
The local community has welcomed the project, which involves not only the protected part of the bay but also a center providing veterinary medical care, research facilities and an environmental information center.
Environmental organizations have repeatedly attacked the inhumane treatment of dolphins for commercial gain and entertainment; however, international law has prohibited the release of these animals on the open seas. The Archipelagos Institute’s sanctuary will help to solve this problem by offering a place where dolphins formerly held captive can now swim free.
The dolphins will be under surveillance in a safe environment and monitored until they reacquire their hunting instinct. Only then will they be able to be released back into their natural environment.
Anastasia Miliou, the research director of the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, states that there currently are 2,913 dolphins in captivity around the world.
“We want them to be released, because it is scientifically proven that they have a high degree of intelligence and they are suffering in captivity,” she said, adding that the sanctuary at Lipsi will serve as a prototype, with the view of developing similar centers around the globe.