Free our last 6 dolphins in Belgium.

La lettre d’Eva de Promar

(Do not feel offended by some words that are only directed to some people who have been very tactless with us, You have all been amazing on this facebook page)

Good morning to all, as Promar Almería coordinator and on behalf of my team-mates and all the people who make Promar our family I would like to emit this message:

We know that people are asking for explanations and we, the responsible people of the organization haven’t been able to give them to you not because we don’t want to, but because we still couldn’t, first of all because the results from the laboratories that are going to analyze Marcos’ histopathology will take some time, and second because these last few days have been extremely hard for us, and I am finding it hard to write these words, as does Paco Toledano who is the admin of the Promar page, and it is hard because apart from being responsible for Promar, we are also people, people with a broken heart, and we can hardly see what we type because our eyes are so swollen from crying for Marcos, and we have slept now thanks to taking sleeping pills, and this is why we ask for respect, and not explanations just a few hours after Marcos was dead and still had to undergo the necropsy, and some people were already criticizing and demanding explanations.

I won’t go on further expressing the pain we are all suffering from because it is something between Marcos and ourselves, and everyone should respect what I am saying here, I am going to give only one explanation of what I have been saying for the past months and something that has been questioned so many times by people who have no knowledge or experience in the care of cetaceans.

Marcos was a Stenella coeruleoalba, a baby, like so many who have appeared dead after Marcos stranded on the 21st of August. Marcos is a dolphin who should be living 14 miles off the coast, a species of dolphin that is thought not to tolerate human contact, and that die in only a few hours because they appear with very hard pathologies and consequence of the stress involved.

But Marcos came to us willingly, no one could have caught a striped dolphin if he doesn’t allow himself to be caught, we did not use any nets to catch Marcos when he appeared close to the shore, and let it be very clear that we did not take Marcos from his pod to place him in the sea pen in Almerimar, Marcos was picked up by a person, also called Marcos, because he was in distress and asked for this person’s help.

We have done weekly analysis on Marcos and there have been various problems in different parameters. When Marcos had to make a physical effort, like when he jumped or swam very fast, he had difficulties breathing, we did radiographies of the lungs and heart ecography because we knew this was not normal, but we were only able to have him for a few seconds doing these tests, because he was a dolphin and being out of the water for a longer period the stress may have cost him his life, so we could not do a proper check that we now know he needed.

We had him tested for viral illnesses that can cause these symptoms, and we were still waiting on the sonar testing that we could not do because of a broken piece, and we needed to do all this because we knew something was not right in him.

The permits to move the new sea pen to the “blue cove” were also being hard to get, and I had been begging them to speed up the process, the structure took 10 more days to finish than we expected, and we have had two weeks with 3 big storms on top of all this. But despite all our effort, the truth is that Marcos could never have been set free, if he had had to make an effort his heart would have failed.

You ask why we didn’t take him out of the sea pen with the storm forecast, and this is why: last time we took him out of the pen, was because Marcos literally swam into the arms of the volunteers to be taken out, he was worn out, not normal for a dolphin who should be surfing 5 meter waves, but he needed us to hold him and we did that and put him in the pool. When conditions got better, we put him back in the sea, because the pool causes much stress for these animals.

On Saturday Marcos was being watched by 4 people, the pen had been made bigger so he could have more depth, and he wasn’t willing to be held and we could not take him out of the water, because if he didn’t want it, throwing nets in the water would have caused him great stress and why risk his life to take him out of the water, when he seems to be doing fine? Well we took a decision, based on Marcos’ behavior, and what happened, did so in an instant.

He ate well and in a moment he disappeared, in the sea pen of greater dimensions, and even with light son the water, and his dorsal fin painted white with the zinc oxide (sun cream), we could not see him, it was impossible with the waves, it all happened very fast, and Marcos all of a sudden appeared stranded on the sand. He was taken immediately and placed in the big pool with clear respiratory problems, and despite hours and hours of trying our best we could not do anything for him this time. He suffered from 5AM to 1PM approximately.

Can this just happen so fast? To be fine, and in a heartbeat suffer a problem like this? Yes, it can, and the best example of this is football players, who get health checks frequently and sometimes, will just fall on the ground for no apparent reason. It is called sudden cardiac death: the heart fails, and there is nothing to be done.

The owner of the labs, also named Marcos, and who has done all Marcos’ basic analysis, we woke up in the early hours of the morning, he came and took Marcos’ blood while he was still fighting for his life, and in 15 minutes he had results. We woke up every vet who had helped us in these months, and Emilio, our vet, and we could do nothing. Marcos had a strong bleeding in the lungs because of the effort, and this is a problem impossible to solve. This time we could do nothing, and no one but us can understand the pain we felt watching this.

When Marcos died he was taken to Almería and our responsible vet Emilio Guil performed the necropsy, and I have already explain the macroscopic problem (bleeding in the lungs), and now we await more results from the lab.

We are not going to say what we could have done differently; I will only say that a cardio-respiratory problem could only have been detected if we had a scanner. Does anyone know of a scanner like this that could be used by the beach, and a way to keep a dolphin alive for more than 1 hour in a tunnel while the scanning is being done? No. Well this is what we have to think about, and not demand that Promar plead guilty, because we have had very limited resources, you should demand we get more help because this is what Promar have been fighting for for more than 15 years, and what we will continue fighting for.

If we had thrown Marcos back in the sea a week after a week with us, because he seemed better…would we have been heroes? When someone finds a hurt dog… the solution is to first take it to the vet and then to the hospital, right? Why should we be criticized for keeping Marcos in observation like in a hospital? And above all in his natural habitat which is the sea. And why aren’t the people who do the same but in concrete tanks or dolphinariums criticized?

Why, if our intentions weren’t to give him an opportunity to heal and return to the sea, did we spend 5 months on a beach and experiencing one calamity after another? Why were we getting him an expensive satellite transmitter? Why has Marcos returned to us every time his sea pen has broken? And not headed out to open water. Why do you say he was kidnapped? He escaped on occasions, and he didn’t leave.

We can do it better, of course we can, but with the right resources, with expensive equipment, with a good sea pen which is permanently in the sea and not by a port, and not having to wait for authorizations that take months…this is what we have to fight for.

Marcos showed us the way…this is his legacy.

If doing our work differently, not putting a dolphin in a tank and keeping him to ourselves, or for not throwing him back in the sea to die at the first sign of improvement, and then placing badges on ourselves…we are exposed to some people’s criticizing, then shall be it, because we are not going to take the easy road, which is so wrong for dolphins but comfortable for people.

I want to thank each and every one of the people who have been a part of this wonderful family, and who have fought so fiercely so that the sea could take back one who belongs there. But the sea threw him out on three occasions and the sea won the battle in the end. This does not mean that Marcos is gone though, Marcos will be remembered, honored and now more than ever we will fight so that the next dolphin that needs us can have better care and resources.

Now I ask for no more confusion or bad comments, there are many bad people with evil hearts in this world. We will cry for Marcos and keep fighting, for a better care of our oceans, and never with closed door. We will be open with everyone like we have been these 5 months and we are not a “circus” as many have said. It is called being transparent and open.

A hug to you all,
PROMAR-Almería Coordinator
Eva María Morón


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