Ric O'Barry

I am not at all interested in having my daughter who is 3-and-a-half grow up thinking that it’s normalized to have these intelligent, highly evolved animals in concrete pools. I don’t want her to think that’s how we treat the kin that we find ourselves around on this planet. I think it’s atrocious.“ - John Jett

“People who have faced death often speak of their lives flashing before their lives. Something much different happened to dolphin trainer Richard O'Barry when one of the dolphins that played Flipper on television died of stress in his arms. He realized that most of his career as an animal trainer had been a mistake and that dolphins have as much right to freedom as humans. He vowed not to rest until he freed every last dolphin that could be returned to the wild successfully.

This is a true story that will move not only animal lovers but everyone who loves a well-told tale. He began to understand that dolphins were easy to train because of their great intelligence, not his great talent, and keeping them in captivity was cruel and morally wrong. While research and entertainment are important to human life, they are not worth the cost to these beautiful and gentle animals.

O'Barry was arrested trying to free a dolphin, but that didn’t stop him, and he now devotes his life to untraining dolphins and returning them to their natural habitats. Once the pride of the billion-dollar dolphin captivity industry, he has since become its nemesis.”

“I love how SeaWorld keeps suggesting that somehow Blackfish’s ‘undeserved’ success has prevented it from 'telling its side of the story.’ SeaWorld was in a position to tell its side of the story for 45 years - in fact, during that time it had almost exclusive use of the mike. Turnabout is fair play, SeaWorld - get over it.” - Dr. Naomi Rose


Some notes I took from The Cove (the quote in the title is something Ric O’Barry quotes a worker at the cove as saying, regarding the dolphin hunting):

• Ric O’Barry is a former dolphin trainer and former Sea Shepherd activist, seeking to expose the cruelty in Taiji, Wakayama, Japan.
• In the ‘60s, O’Barry helped capture and train dolphins for the TV programme ‘Flipper’.
• A realisation came when a dolphin committed suicide in his arms by voluntarily closing her blowhole so as to suffocate. He has been an activist for their freedom ever since.
• Taiji, Japan: mass-slaughter site, shrouded in secrecy, concealed from the public – supplies marine parks (performing animals, etc.) and meat industry.
• Extensive security, concealment and denial – threats of arrest, abusive and intimidating behaviour from the local police and local government towards people who try to photograph/film activities at the cove. Foreigners in Taiji are questioned by police, on suspicion they are trying to expose operations.
• Dolphins are ‘caught’ by fleets of boats who create a wall of sound to drive them into a lagoon – they are ‘stressed to the max’.
• An isolated cove nearby is surrounded by barbed wire; ‘Keep Out’ signs. The team hide cameras in fake rocks and, late at night, stealthily hide them amongst existing rocks in order to obtain footage of the dolphin slaughter. Some dolphins, as previously mentioned, are sold into captivity, but most suffer extreme distress and pain before they finally die and are sold to supermarkets.
• Dolphin meat contains dangerously high levels of mercury, and is sometimes mislabelled and sold under the guise of another type of meat.
• A 2006 report in the journal ‘Science’ predicts a total collapse of the world’s fish stocks within 40 years, at the current rate of fishing.
• The Japanese control the world marketplace in fish – buyers in every major port in the world. They are apparently worried there’s not enough fish so they whale instead.
• The Japanese government approaches small, bankrupt countries and offers them financial support (and really whatever it takes) in return for the country joining the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and voting in Japan’s favour. The film shows images of representatives from these countries asleep at the conference.
• A case of ‘misplaced national pride. They had had enough of the West telling them what to do and when to do it.’
• Schools receive free lunch meat (i.e. dolphin meat) under government subsidies.
• They also interview people on the streets who claim to have no idea about what happens, or that dolphin meat is distributed under other names. Some say things along the lines of ‘surely not’.
• There is a saying in Japan which goes: ‘The nail that sticks up must be pounded down’. I think that pretty much sums up the attitude towards people trying to expose what happens in Taiji.

I highly, highly recommend this film. It’s incredibly eye-opening, moving, distressing, horrifying and above all, true. Give it a watch – it’s important that we try to learn what we can and support those who try to teach us.


Today in Taiji, a large number of short-finned pilot whales were slaughtered. It took at least 5 documented trips to bring the fresh bodies to the butcher house. They were held in the killing cove for 44 hours without food. Some were selected for a life imprisoned in captivity and after the slaughter, the banger boats worked to drive the remaining pilot whales back to sea. Most are juveniles and are weak, starving and grieving the loss of their family. They will likely stay close to the shore where they witnessed members of their family get brutally murdered. It’s a sad day in this cove whenever the water runs red, but I can’t get over the extra torture inflicted on these sentient beings. It’s disgusting and the killers/Taiji Fishermen must get off on the power they think they have when all they are showing is cowardly and weakness.

There is no reason for the Taiji dolphin drive to be taking place in this day and age and it needs to come to an end. I can only thank Ric O’Barry and his Dolphin Project and the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians for keeping the spotlight and the pressure on Taiji. Let’s not hide what is going on. It’s time people all over the globe become aware so we can ban together and fight to end this. Our planet and these animals depend on us.


BREAKING NEWS TOKYO (AP) — “Game of Thrones” star @Maisie_Williams wants everyone to stop buying tickets to marine shows. She says it’s the best way to stop the capture and killings of dolphins in Japan.

Williams spoke Friday in the small Japanese town of Taiji, made famous in “The Cove,” a 2009 Oscar-winning film that documented the dolphin hunt and starred Ric O'Barry, the dolphin trainer for the “Flipper” TV series.

Williams is the latest celebrity trying to save dolphins. Others include Brian May of Queen, Sting and Daryl Hannah.

She hopes her influence on social media, with 4 million Instagram followers, will help educate people about Taiji, including Japanese.

Williams, global ambassador for O'Barry’s Dolphin Project campaign, says only a handful of Taiji fishermen are benefiting from the practice. (x) (x) (x)