Sampal the dolphin was accidentally captured in a fishing net in the waters off of South Korea. The fishermen, rather than setting the animal free decided to illegally sell her to an aquarium. At the age of ten, this wild dolphin was placed in a tank to learn tricks and amuse the crowds.
Four years later the South Korean government decided that Sampal and her tank-mates should be returned to the waters of Jeju Island, where they were captured. Not wanting to simply drop the animals in the ocean and hope for the best, a rehab facility was set up to help ease the dolphins back into the wild.
Sampal, knowing she was close to home decided she did not want to wait a few months for her scheduled release date. Sampal found a small tear in the net used to keep her penned in for rehabilitation. The dolphin was able to maneuver her way through the hole and escape to freedom.
The trainers helping Sampal through her rehabilitation were concerned the dolphin was not yet prepared to return to life in the wild. Researchers from the Cetacean Research Center tracked Sampal 60-miles from her ocean pen. She was spotted interacting with a pod of wild dolphins.
The researchers believe that the pod of dolphins Sampal was seen with is the pod she was born into and taken from in 2009. The researchers believe Sampal is doing fine now that she is back in the wild.
There have been a few stories in the media this week about wild whales and dolphins. It seems to be the "Blackfish" effect. People are taking notice of more stories regarding cetacean animals since the film "Blackfish" was released on Friday.
"Blackfish" tells the story of a 12,000 pound killer whale named Tilikum currently held in captivity at SeaWorld, Orlando. In 2010 Tilikum killed a veteran trainer named Dawn Brancheau by grabbing her and pulling her into his pool.
Tilikum's attack on Brancheau was particularly violent, the trainer even lost an arm when Tilikum went after her. "Blackfish" explores the dynamics that led up to Tilikum's attack and Brancheau's death. It asks its viewers to decide if orca and other cetacean captivity is in the best interest of the animals that entertain us.
Below is footage featured in the film of a SeaWorld orca attacking and almost killing a trainer during a show.
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