dolphin hunts

10

The duels between hunters and hunted are as dramatic as any event in the natural world. The stakes could not be higher. For both, it’s a matter of life and death. Yet surprisingly, it’s the hunters that usually fail. To have any chance of survival, predators must be perfectly tuned to their own hunting arenas. Every habitat brings a different challenge. THE HUNT will reveal as never before the extraordinary range of strategies predators use to catch their prey. But even for the most skillful, success is never guaranteed.

Before the 1960′s, when the TV series Flipper became popular, trained sea creatures such as dolphins were a very rare occurrence. Richard “Ric” O’Barry was a dolphin trainer at Miami Seaquarium and helped to capture five wild dolphins that would be trained to star in Flipper. He carried this on for 10 years until Kathy, who was the main dolphin to star in Flipper, died in his arms; he strongly believes she committed suicide when she didn’t resurface for air. It was this one event that completely changed his stance on what he was doing. He suddenly realised that imprisoning and training these beautiful and intelligent creatures for human entertainment was abhorrent. On Earth Day of 1970, Ric founded The Dolphin Project which is an organisation dedicated to educating people about the plight of dolphins in captivity. This organisation rescues and rehabilitates dolphins and releases them back to the wild. As well as this, Ric leads an international effort to stop the hunting of dolphins and the trafficking of dolphins to theme parks such as Sea World. He has written two books: Behind the Dolphin Smile and To Free a Dolphin, and also appeared in the documentary, The Cove.

Vigil

Notes: Or, the missing scene in 2x06, when Caitlin says, “Stay with me, Barry…” Caitlin-centric drabble. Timestamps based on the fact that there were still people at work the time that Zoom dragged Barry around town. I have an early class in the morning but ugh this idea seized me with its demonic claws…


06:39 p.m.

When Zoom brings him in, Caitlin shoots out of her chair, and his name is a strangled bird’s cry in her throat. Her vision narrows to Barry, bloody and bruised like she has never seen him before, and while she feels movement around her—Cisco silently taking the gun, Harry whispering that he had made a mistake—all she thinks is no no no no not him oh god please not him

In the end, Cisco saves his life, but it’s up to her to make sure he stays alive. She is the first by his side, and she knows with a cursory glance that he isn’t breathing. This knowledge creeps to her heart and clenches around it like ice. “Stay with me,” she whispers, placing her hands on his chest. “Please, Barry, please—”

When Barry finally lets out a stuttering breath, Caitlin springs into action. She and Cisco drag him onto a mobile bed—Cisco remarks on how strong she is, and she mutters adrenaline, but in truth she is so, so afraid because the threat of losing him is more real than ever, a threat like a dagger on a string hanging over their heads—and she immediately gets to work: she strips him of his suit, hooks him up to an IV, wires him to the heart monitor, checks for broken bones and internal haemorrhaging, and she panics because his list of injuries is nearly as long as a page in her medical textbook, and she wonders if his body can take it, if there is a limit to his regenerative abilities—

She barks at Cisco to bring her her medical equipment. “Barry’s going to need stitches,” she says. “He’s got so many injuries that energy goes to repairing the damage to internal organs first—I have to stitch him up to stop the bleeding—”

Cisco winces at her tone, and quickly brings them to her. She sets her mouth in a thin line and tries to keep her hands steady as she works. Hang in there, Barry, she says, over and over again, even if he cannot hear. Hang in there

After the stitches, she sets dislocated joints, puts his neck in a cast, wraps sprained areas tightly, and realigns his bones by traction. Cisco stands by in awe, muttering that he had never seen anyone work so fast before, and Caitlin replies shortly that Barry isn’t healing as fast as he normally does and it should be a cause for worry—

When she finishes, she sponges the blood from his wounds. She tries to erase evidence of the encounter, tries to erase memory of the fear that gripped her heart when she believed him dead.

———

10:15 p.m.

She watches him non-stop in what seemed like four hours of hell before his vitals finally stabilise. By this time she is so tired that she does not even have the heart to be mad at Harry the way Joe is. “Barry’s vitals have stabilised,” she says. “Let’s let him go.”

But she supposes that a father’s ire cannot be appeased so easily, and she barely follows the scene that unfolds between Cisco, Harry, and Joe. She slinks back to Barry’s side at the end of it.

“Caitlin?” Joe says. “You’re not going home?”

He and Cisco are standing at the doors of the Cortex, coats on and ready to leave. She smiles wanly, shakes her head and says, “I’m on guard duty tonight.”

———

11:23 p.m.

She catches sight of the Thai food that Joe had thoughtfully bought for her and Cisco earlier, and realises that in her panic she forgot to eat. But she also realises that she isn’t hungry, anyway.

———

1:09 a.m.

Caitlin watches him dream.

She follows the outline of his eyes flit back and forth under the skin of his lids, and remembers the time when he was in a coma for nine months, remembers how knowing that he was dreaming was far more comforting to her than seeing that his vital signs were stable. After all, most comatose people had stable vital signs, but they couldn’t dream because of extensive brain damage. His dreaming—both then and now—indicates that his memory’s intact; it’s the surest sign she has that he will wake up.

But she also remembers how his dreaming—or, she hypothesised then, his nightmares—would often precede a blackout: his breathing and heartbeat would become so erratic that even the machines couldn’t keep up with his pulse, and on a few occasions, sparks of electricity would dance on his fingertips. He muttered things under his breath: his mother, dead, murdered, blood, knife, father, innocent, prison, and—Caitlin’s heart constricts at the memory—Iris, Iris, Iris, like a mantra, a prayer. She remembers instinctively reaching for Barry’s hand, in thick rubber gloves, of course, but still against Dr. Wells’ and Cisco’s advice; she remembers smoothening the crease in his brow in the darkness while Cisco descended to the foundation of the lab to switch on the generators.

Until today Caitlin still cannot fathom why she had reached to touch him, why she tried soothing him the way she did. Maybe it was because he reminded her so sharply of herself, of the times when she would wake from the cold fingers of a nightmare of Ronnie’s death, craving heat and human touch…

Right now she wonders what he’s dreaming about. He is quiet tonight, she muses. And because she is in a nostalgic mood, she mimics the path her hand had traced on his face so long ago, after his nightmares, before he knew her name, before she knew how much he would come to mean to her. She smoothens the imaginary lines on his forehead with her thumb; she trails it over the shape of his brow, the velvet of his lids; she traces bridge of his nose and lingers over the curve of his lips—

“Caitlin,” he breathes, and, startled, she pulls her hand away as if scalded. But she realises that he is still asleep, so there is no way he will know it’s her. 

And besides, his utterance of her name shouldn’t mean anything.

———

3:21 a.m.

Caitlin flits in and out of consciousness, and her dreams are so vivid that they feel like her waking moments. She sees Ronnie many times: she sees him again in the chamber of the particle accelerator, walkie-talkie pressed to his chest; sees him disappear into the whirling singularity. As the night wears on her dreams become more and more surreal: She dreams she is walking on a tightrope, her belly round with child, a girl with her hair and Ronnie’s eyes; she dreams of an abyss that swallows light beneath her feet; she dreams of eating fire, of knowing the child she is carrying will die; she dreams that she is holding the grey stillborn flesh in her arms, its eyes wide open, accusing, You could have saved me, you could have saved me…

She also sees Jay. He is standing on the island of Atlantis, smiling and asking her to come with him; he tells her there are so many things in his world that he wishes to show her, he tells her that she will enjoy the shark-hunting, the dolphin-riding, the mermaid sightings; he promises her happiness. She stares at him from the little white operating room she is in, littered with medical equipment crusted with blood, and she stares at Barry sleeping, breathing, alive, and she shakes her head at Jay and tells him gently, no, you don’t understand, this is my happiness

She dreams of Barry, and she dreams that they are in love. They are on a beach, somewhere far away from Central City, and he is holding her hand. She is wearing a white sundress and he is trying to get her to swim, and she tells him she doesn’t know how, and he laughs and tugs at her, says, do you trust me? and she nods, yes, of course, but I’m terrified of drowning, and he leads her to the water and kisses her hands and holds her waist, lips pressed to her shoulder, as she wades deeper and deeper and struggles against the waves, but she knows she is safe because he is holding her. 

And when the dream finally ends she feels her heart bursting with light and warmth, and in a daze she whispers to him, my god, maybe I do love you…

———

4:36 a.m.

When Cisco arrives at the Cortex that morning, Caitlin has finally fallen asleep at Barry’s side, her hand intertwined with his. She looks so peaceful that he doesn’t have the strength to wake her, so instead he covers her with a blanket and quietly leaves to buy her breakfast.

———

7:04 a.m.

When Barry wakes, he feels the ghost of a warm touch lingering in his hand, feels a twinge of sadness for the loss of something he cannot remember having.

4

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)

  • MC: You'll never guess what just happened.
  • Addison: You went out in the hallway, stumbled into an inter-dimensional portal, which brought you 5,000 years into the future, where you took advantage of the advanced technology to build a time machine, and now you're back, to bring us all with you to the year 7010, where we are transported to work at the think-a-torium by telepathically controlled flying dolphins?
  • MC: Hunt kissed me.
  • Addison: Who would ever guess that?
theguardian.com
My film Blackfish plunged Seaworld into crisis – but it’s not only killer whales we must protect | Gabriela Cowperthwaite
The crisis at SeaWorld reflects people facing up to uncomfortable truths about animal welfare and what it means to be humane – and not before time
By Gabriela Cowperthwaite

When I started work on Blackfish, I could not possibly have imagined the effect it would have on SeaWorld. Let’s be honest. Not a lot of people see documentaries. And not a lot of people want to see a movie that sucker punches a beloved cultural icon. But it seems as though the movie has indeed changed how many view the park.

Over the past couple of years, SeaWorld’s visitor numbers have fallen, its stock has plummeted, lawsuits have confronted their business practices, legislation has challenged what goes on at Shamu Stadium, and reported profits were down 84% on the previous year.

People ask me whether this is a win. I can only say that it was inevitable, and that I hope it’s only the beginning. Today’s kids are increasingly becoming part of the “I can’t believe we used to do that” generation. They know that killer whales are not suitable for captivity.

SeaWorld sees profits plunge 84% as customers desert controversial park

Read more

Instead of acknowledging this, SeaWorld has decided to spend its way out of the crisis. With its glossy, protracted PR fight, it continues to claim it is battling an image problem. Yet I see no meaningful change. I guess this is what happens when a corporation operates essentially ungoverned for 45 years. But I know many of us still hold out hope that SeaWorld, in one final Hail Mary pass, will do something drastically progressive – like stopping their breeding programme. This would mean no more baby Shamus for SeaWorld. It would mean that the whales currently at SeaWorld would be the last it will ever have in captivity.

After this, SeaWorld could almost singlehandedly pioneer a sea sanctuary where it could retire the remaining whales. SeaWorld’s whales are unlikely to know how to hunt for their own food because they are given antibiotics and might die if they’re not in human care, so they can’t simply be tossed back into the open ocean. But a killer whale sanctuary would provide these animals with a massive, cordoned off, ocean cove where they could live out their lives in a healthier and more dignified way.

In a sea sanctuary they could echolocate on new and novel objects every day. They could experience the natural rhythms of the ocean. They would have more control over their lives and their choices. And this could be a profit-making endeavour for SeaWorld, with admission fees, a visitor centre, an underwater viewing area, etc. It’s hard to imagine people not showing up in droves to see these magnificent animals actually doing what they were meant to do. It’s infinitely more satisfying than seeing ailing, grieving, surface-resting animals performing tricks at a park.

Today’s kids are increasingly becoming part of the ‘I can’t believe we used to do that’ generation

There are sanctuaries for many animals, such as chimpanzees, elephants and tigers. Placing them in a setting that approximates to their natural habitat as closely as possible is, in some ways, the best we humans can offer animals that can’t be returned to the wild. But so far, there is no killer whale sanctuary. Such a move by SeaWorld would not only be seminal, it would be culture-shaping.

Without evolving alongside public opinion though, without showing a desire to shake up its antiquated business model, I can’t imagine SeaWorld bouncing back. It now risks becoming an artefact; an embarrassing relic from a less informed time.

People have stopped going to SeaWorld not simply because of a movie but because, it seems, we’re recalibrating how we feel ethically about animal welfare. Faced with uncomfortable truths about animal welfare, we’re clarifying what it means to be humane. We see it in discussions about factory farming and dolphin hunts. We see it reflected in the outcry about the last white rhino and Cecil the lion. We feel a collective empathy, and I think we’re at our best and our most principled when we’re exercising that empathy.

I hope this movement grows beyond the SeaWorld discussion. Maybe if we continue to consider how someone else is experiencing our footprint, we’ll walk more softly in general. And that’d be a win for the planet.

10

Taiji, Wakayama - home to the infamous ‘Cove’
I travelled here in February 2013 with two Japanese students to see first hand the small towns 'traditional’ practices of hunting dolphins and small whales for human consumption. We stayed in a local hotel which is a front for the captive dolphin trade (we were the only guests for two nights) and included a visit to the very crowded dolphin pools where these giant creatures who were once wild performed for us. The hotel foyer had small dirty plastic tanks with endangered Green sea turtles. We were granted access to the Taiji Whale Museum, saw dolphin performances and saw the grotesque whale hunting display. We were the first to discover 'Angel’ the albino dolphin has been moved into the aquarium tanks which was big news for her supporters around the world. This trip gave me an interesting insight into the contradictory nature of Japanese culture, and how Japanese people don’t feel like they ever have the 'right’ to change the status quo, especially when it is very loosely linked to their cultural traditions. Unfortunately it is not tradition but a profitable, cruel and unnecessary captive dolphin supply industry.  

Caroline Kennedy slams Japan’s annual dolphin slaughter

NBC News, Reuters: Caroline Kennedy, the US Ambassador to Japan, has weighed in on the issue of Japan’s controversial annual dolphin hunt criticizing the ‘inhumaneness’ of the slaughter.

Hundreds of dolphins have been rounded up in a secluded bay for this year’s hunt, according to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Photo: Fishermen hunt dolphins at a cove in Taiji, western Japan, on Monday (Adrian Mylne / Reuters)