JEJU, Aug. 24 (Korea Bizwire) — An Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin released into the wild off South Korea’s largest island of Jeju three years ago was confirmed this week to have given birth, a team of South Korean and Japanese researchers said Friday.
The team, comprised of researchers from Jeju, Ewha Womans and Kyoto universities, said it spotted the marine mammal, named Boksoon and believed to be 20 years old, swimming with a calf and raising the baby in waters off Seogwipo on the island.
The birth by Boksoon, who was reintroduced into waters off Jeju in 2015 with Taesan, a male dolphin now believed to be 23 years old, marked the third case in South Korea of a released dolphin having a baby in the wild following births by two female dolphins — Sampal and Chunsam — in April and August of 2016, respectively.
On Monday, the team observed Boksoon swimming in a mother-calf posture in the sea off Seogwipo.
Photos of the dolphin around the coast of the island, taken by the team, indicated that Boksoon was living alone until July 28, but a calf was swimming alongside her from Aug. 7. The calf that appears in the photos was confirmed to be the same in every photo and have stripes on its body, formed from it being crunched up in the womb,
“It is extremely rare for a newborn calf to show a parent-child posture with a different mother,” the team said. “Booksoon is believed to have given birth between late July and early this month.”
Booksoon was among the five captive dolphins that were rehabilitated in sea-pens off Jeju and released from 2013 to 2015. The five — Boksoon, Sampal, Chunsam, Taesan and Jedol, a male — were illegally captured and sold to entertainment parks in South Korea.
The release of the dolphins came after the Supreme Court ruled in March 2013 that Jeju’s Pacific Land theme park had to give up four illegally caught dolphins. The four dolphins, and Jedol from the Seoul Grand Zoo, were given chances to return to their underwater world after being rehabilitated and acclimatized in sea-pens and regaining their health before the release.