Over the last decades, the harsh reality of the cetacean entertainment industry has thankfully been brought to our attention. With the help of contemporary media exposing the treatment of dolphins, as well as the conservation and environmental work of non-governmental organisations alike, the public and tourist industry are recognising the inhumanity in dolphin captivity. However, previous campaigns or actions have not led to a tangible or long-term solution. Until now.

Sadly, the future of cetaceans in captivity is bleak, as experienced by 4 bottlenose dolphins after the closure of Särkänniemi Adventure Park in Finland. The Adventure Park closed down due to public pressure and low attendance. Yet, the dolphins remained in the facility for 10 months without performing because the Park wasn’t able to find an alternative. Thus, the dolphins were transported to Attica Zoo where they were again forced to perform in shows. Unnatural environments like these often lead to damaging consequences. For example, stress related disorders, including behavioural abnormalities such as self-mutilation, self-inflicted trauma, repetitive purposeless behaviour and excessive aggressiveness towards other dolphins and humans.

Moreover, captive dolphins have a much lower life expectancy. The average dolphin in the wild lives between 30-50 years. In comparison, a dolphin in captivity lives on average to just 12 years. As dolphins living in captivity have either never learned or forgotten how to hunt live fish, these animals need to be constantly watched and trained until they are ready to live in the wild. Rehabilitation is additionally needed because of their physical and mental conditions, the dolphins need care to be able to survive the natural waters and its wild marine mammals.

Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, founded in 1998, have been using scientific research and conservation action to defend the biodiversity of Greek seas. The Aegean Sea composes of the most bio-diverse region within the entire Mediterranean. As an organisation frequently witness strandings and injuries of marine mammals and turtles and local endangered species can go extinct if there is no medical facility to take care of injured species.

This is where our solution comes in, the Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary in Lipsi Island. The world’s first sustainable and low-cost marine rehabilitation and refuge sanctuary for formerly captive dolphins and injured marine mammals and turtles. Additionally to its main rehabilitation purpose, it has an educational and raising-awareness aim. The sanctuaries’ educational facility aims to drastically change the perception of the public in relation to dolphin captivity tourism, by educating about these charismatic species and its behaviour in the wild.