TOKYO, KOMPAS.com — Three bottlenose dolphins were released into the open sea in Indonesia Saturday, Sept.3, after years of being confined for the amusement of tourists who would touch and swim with them.
As red and white Indonesian flags fluttered, underwater gates opened off the island of Bali to allow Johnny, Rocky, and Rambo to swim free.
The trio were rescued three years ago from their tiny pool in a resort hotel to which they had been sold after spending years performing in a traveling circus.
They regained their health and strength at the Bali sanctuary, a floating pen in a bay that provided a gentler, more natural environment.
Lincoln O’Barry, who worked with the Indonesian government to set up the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release, and Retirement Center, said dolphins are wild animals that should live free.
Also read: Animals Gone Wild: Orangutan Evacuated after Entering Village in East Kalimantan, Indonesia
“It was an incredibly emotional experience to see them go,” O’Barrry said.
The center was initiated in 2019 by the Bali Forestry Department and the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry. “Umah lumba” means “dolphin” in Indonesian.
For some time after the gates opened, the dolphins looked at the opening, uncertain of their next move. But after about an hour, they were on their way, sometimes jumping over choppy waves.
The Associated Press watched their release through an online livestream. O’Barry is documenting the release with drones and underwater footage for a film.