Tag Archives: Ric O’Barry

Slaughtering dolphins in a drive hunt was news in 1980. Why not now?

When fishermen in the Japanese island of Iki began the practice of slaughtering dolphins in a drive hunt shortly before 1980, it was news.  The news spread, an outcry arose, and the outcry stopped the drive hunt slaughter.

When fishermen in the Japanese town of Taiji slaughter dolphins in the same kind of drive hunt in 2012, the silence from the media is deafening.  The outcry from the public is loud, the outcry is consistent.  And yet the Isana Fishermen’s Union kill more dolphins and whales at every opportunity, at market price.  With no media reporting this news.

Why the difference?

Dolphin Slaughter on in Japan

In 1980 it was news when fishermen in the town of Iki, Japan, drove dolphins to their deaths. The outcry stopped the slaughter. Why isn’t it “news” in 2012? Or 2011? Or . . .

While only the media knows why they make their decisions, a few facts highlight the differences between then and now.

  • The fishermen at Iki considered hunting dolphins as a means of exterminating a competitor for their fisheries.  Truth.  Read the news article.
  • The fishermen at Iki, recognizing that dolphin was not considered a food source, ground up the dolphins to use as fertilizer.  Truth.  Read the news article.
  • The Iki fishermen after “dismantling” the dolphins, also fed the ground up dolphins to pigs. Truth.  Read the other news article, from the Montreal Gazette.

But, more importantly,

  • The Iki fishermen were not paid hundreds of thousands of dollars on a “per dolphin” basis by the aquarium industry.
  • The Iki fishermen were not paid a per poundage basis that “human food” would fetch.


  • The aquarium industry in 1980 did not shop for dolphins in Iki, Japan.
  • Japanese dolphins were not even sold, collaterally, as human food  in 1980.
Evening Independent 022980 Protestors barred from dolphin slaughter site in Iki Japan

Even though protestors were barred from the site, the world was watching, even in the limited a way we could in 1980, because the mainstream media was covering the news.

So, even though protestors were barred from the site of the Iki dolphin slaughter, the slaughter was halted.  Certainly, the activists at Greenpeace did not stop working merely because they were barred from witnessing the slaughter.  Much the same as the Sea Shepherd Conversation Society Cove Guardians and the Save Japan Dolphins Cove Monitors are not stopping, merely because of a few strategically-placed blue tarps.

Meanwhile, as the “CGs” and the “CMs” continue their work of documentation and deterrence, social media groups continue their campaigns to support the efforts of those on the ground by raising awareness not only of the horror on the ground, but where to find the real-time information, actions that people can take on their own by providing phone and fax numbers, email addresses, hashtags on Twitter, demonstration events, and focused “CALLs TO ACTION,” some to gain media attention.  The leadership also continues their good work to raise awareness, through the publication of books, such as Ric O’Barry’s re-release of Behind the Dolphin Smile.

I don’t know why media won’t show up.  But I do know that the main difference between 1980 and 2012 is in the following picture.

Sea Shepherd CS Cove Guardian pic 0912 dolphin headed to aquarium Dolphin Base Taiji Japan

A dolphin ripped from the ocean in September 2012 in Taiji, Japan, is destined for a life as a “trick pony” for the aquarium industry. Photo Credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Cove Guardians on Facebook

For more information and an engaging discussion where you’ll learn why a boycott against Japan as a whole is a misplaced idea, and where racism and hate speech will not be tolerated, please visit the Facebook community page of Save Misty the Dolphin.

Don’t Go to the Dolphin Show – Ric O’Barry Interview

Ric O'Barry after release of The Cove

Ric O'Barry after release of The Cove, photo from The Examiner

Ric O’Barry, from Save Japan Dolphins, articulates

  • why going to the dolphin show is what keeps the dolphin hunting and capturing money machine going
  • why dolphins bred in captivity is not an acceptable alternative

So, whether your local or not-so-local dolphin show or display is at the Georgia Aquarium, Sea World, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, the National Aquarium, the Shedd Aquarium – don’t go.

Georgia Aquarium General Admission ticket price includes dolphin show:  Now that the Georgia Aquarium has included the price of the dolphin show in the General Admission price (but only a third or less of the participants will actually be able to make it into that horrid theater), everyone who goes to the Georgia Aquarium pays directly for dolphin captivity.  No longer can one rather craftily make the argument that they are going to see the jellies, but that they do not support dolphin captivity.  Nope.  Not any more.  The Georgia Aquarium is making you pay for that.  More on that later.

But now to Mr. O’Barry, who has worked for dolphin freedom for over 40 years, interviewed on February 16, 2012, by Veenarat Laohapakakul, for the show Viewpoint on ASEAN TV:

He also provides a pathway to dolphin freedom:

  • Stop the captures;
  • Rehabilitate and release the dolphins (who can be) already in captivity;
  • Use birth control for those dolphins already in captivity.

Freedom is not just another word for nothing left to lose.  Maybe it is for humans, who with those amazing thumbs can give up on their own lives.  But we have no right to project our own failings on the rest of the animal kingdom.

Just say NO! to the dolphin show.

For more information and how you can help:

Join in finding freedom from captivity – A New Show

Ric O'Barry after release of The Cove

Ric O’Barry after release of The Cove, photo from The Examiner

For years, Ric O’Barry and Hardy Jones have spoken out against marine mammal captivity.  They have pointed out in movies, such as The Cove and A Fall from Freedom, that whales and dolphins do not belong in captivity.  Recently a group of former Sea World trainers have created an interactive website, where they speak out about the life of captivity for marine mammals.

Mr. O’Barry, as a former and probably the world’s most famous dolphin trainer, learned from being with them on an ongoing basis, that training them to perform and keeping them in captivity was not an ethical undertaking.  He learned that dolphins in those settings can become dispirited and depressed.  He learned what Jacques Cousteau admonished, that

No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal.  – Jacques Yves Cousteau

In response to that realization, Mr. O’Barry and others have devoted their lives toward securing the release of dolphins and orcas from a captive, for-human-entertainment life.

Rehabilitate the captives.  Mr. O’Barry has suggested an ethical alternative for the trainers and the captive facilities, like SeaWorld and the Georgia Aquarium.  That alternative is to provide real education about whales and dolphins by rehabilitating for a life in the wild the cetaceans whom the aquarium industry has captured or bred for captivity.  And making that the show. There are over 50 cetaceans at Sea World Orlando alone, and hundreds in the United States.  The international situation mirrors the United States one, with worse conditions than the meager protections afforded by U.S. laws.

Wouldn’t rehabilitation of former “performers” be a fine undertaking and a show that you’d be proud to attend?  And a wonderful memory for your children?  Of having been part of and been there on the front row of finding freedom for the world’s dolphins and whales.

You have, perhaps, seen the videos of dogs who had spent their entire lives chained to a post and then become free from that chain.  While dogs and dolphins are not an apt special comparison because dolphins are actually wild, undomesticated animals, watching even a dog experience freedom from a chain, unsuitable for its normal activity and range, may give us some sense of what an orca or dolphin, far more intelligent than a dog, would experience in the same situation.

We would need to be very responsible in that endeavor to release these highly intelligent mammals in a way that took into account their intelligence, their lifestyles, their instincts, their native habitat.  We could do that.  And if we humans are ethical and moral creatures, we will do that.

Rehabilitate the stranded.  After we succeeded in rehabilitating the captive-bred or captured dolphins and orcas, there would be ongoing work to rehabilitate whales and dolphins who strand, generally en masse, for reasons that still elude the human species.  Instead of finding reasons to retain the stranded, Sea World and the rest could re-focus the effort that they now expend in training for jumping, splashing, ball-throwing shows on caring for the stranded, locating the still-free remnant of the pods, and reuniting them.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to share with your children an experience of restoring a free life to these magnificent creatures?  As a comparison, if we desired to design a depressing life for dolphins and whales, we would wind up with a design like the current Sea World and The Georgia Aquarium.  Of course, that is not our desire.  That is, I feel certain, not the desire of the aquariums.  But the apparently willful blindness of the aquarium industry to the egregious, depressing life that they have designed for whales and dolphins is no excuse.  It is not an excuse for any of us, any more. We and they must step beyond the Mid-Twentieth Century mentality of dolphin and whale captivity.

The great news is that there is an alternative. An ethical alternative.  An alternative that will allow us all to participate in making a difference for life.  But we must together create that alternative.  How?

By being part of a demand for A New Show.

And, meanwhile, by taking a pledge not to go to the current one.  Be part of building an ethical outcome to the captivity dilemma.  Never again allow a dolphin to die as Jiyu, whose life will forever remind us that dolphins should be free.

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn't withstand captivity Taiji Cove

Jiyu a dolphin who couldn’t withstand captivity, photo by Heather Hill of Save Japan Dolphins


Ric O’Barry Live from Taiji, Japan

Ric O'Barry, photo from www.thecovemovie.com

For the last several days, Ric O’Barry has been live streaming via ustream from Taiji, Japan.  Mr. O’Barry, the world’s most known dolphin activist,  is discussing dolphin captivity, capture and slaughter.

I just learned about it – woops – and thought I would pass it along right away.

Click now and sign up for a reminder for a live broadcast tonight, Saturday, January 7, 2012, at 8:00 pm E.S.T.

For more information about what you can do to be part of a worldwide movement to save the world’s dolphins, go to Save Japan Dolphins.

September 7, 2011

September 7, the first were killed, including the mother and baby.  The mother and baby that we saw just before they were slaughtered.  Thanks to the kind heart and brave spirit of Leilani Munter for Save Japan Dolphins, we can see the souls to whom we said goodbye.

I have to believe that these souls will be among the last to die.  That they will be specially honored among cetaceans as those who captured the world’s heart and awoke its will, and saved all who came after from the same fate.

No matter what happens every day, every day I will call.

I will call to beg.  I will call to bargain.  I will call to thank on the days that the hunt is called off.  And for the day when it is called off forever, I now bless their souls.