But is it all that bad? What about the success stories? In Korea three dolphins were successfully released into the wild where they still live today. Earth Island Institute's Dolphin Project transferred the captive dolphins from aquarium tanks to a temporary sea pen in order to make them ready to go into the real ocean, an approach that has deemed successful. However, dolphins that have lived for long periods of time in captivity are still at risk. It can be hard to adjust to being back in the wild and some struggle with their new found freedom, but it's certainly not impossible.
What are the alternatives?
Fair enough, captive rehabilitation is bad news to dolphins, but the question still remains: How should we take care of stranded dolphins if we can't help them in captivity?
Like the release of the Korean dolphins suggests, sea pens can prove to be useful. It gives the dolphins' time to adjust to being back in the sea and in time they are ready to leave life behind bars.
However, SeaWorld and other captive facilities often claim that captive dolphins will struggle to survive in the wild after years in captivity, but this isn't true. As the release of the Korean dolphins clearly demonstrates, captive dolphins can easily be released into the wild if done properly, and this leads us back to the question of captive rehabilitation as the dolphins are not supposed to end up in captivity in the first place. Sea pens, sectioned off coves and bays, are a much better alternative as the dolphins can be kept in a natural environment making their release back into the wild a much easier task. So hopefully the future will be little brighter for the world's stranded dolphins. All it takes is a new approach.