3/11: A Sad Anniversary for Japan

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Dolphin Project

Today is a very sad day for Japan, and I join them from my travels to Hong Kong in sharing the pain of the terrible devastation from the earthquake and tsunami that hit that country on March 11, 2011.

Even amid all that human pain and death, there were some heart-felt stories of survival.  One even included a poor dolphin stranded by the waves in a rice paddy — the dolphin was rescued and returned to the sea by a citizen, a pet store owner helping animals in the devastated area:

As I’ve said time and time again, our Campaign is not against Japan.  There are only around 50 people in Taiji, for example, who are involved in hunting dolphins.  The vast majority of people in Japan do not even know that dolphin hunts are going on their own country.  The many Japanese we have talked to on the streets in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and other cities, and even Japanese people in Taiji itself, are shocked when they see The Cove DVD and hear about the killing of dolphins for food.  They are as shocked as all the rest of the world has been.  This is a major reason why Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project does not support a boycott of Japan – it is unfair and misses the real parties that are responsible for the hunt.

Our Campaign in Japan is working WITH the Japanese people to end the dolphin hunts.  The government Fisheries Agency is dead set on killing whales, and they are backed by the politically powerful fishing industry, fishermen’s unions, and even extreme nationalist groups and the Japanese mafia.

But the people of Japan are now buying less and less dolphin and whale meat.  Our message about mercury contamination of dolphin meat is drying up the market for this poisoned meat.  The Japanese people are more careful about what they eat than we are.

If you’ll recall, we almost lost our own volunteer Cove Monitor Brian Barnes, who was in the northern port town of Otsuchi when the quake hit, and he decided he should get to higher ground.  He filmed the tsunami sweeping in that obliterated Otsuchi and the devastation that was left in the wake of the huge waves.  For more on Brian’s story:


Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, our staff, volunteers and I extend our condolences to the people of Japan.  We join in their sad remembrance of the people and the towns that were devastated, and we hope reconstruction will build a better world for those who suffered.

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About Ric O'Barry

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Ric O’Barry, Dolphin Project Founder & Director has worked on both sides of the captive dolphin issue, making him an invaluable asset in the efforts to end exploitation. He worked for 10 years within the dolphin captivity industry, and has spent the past 40 working against it.

In the 1960s, O’Barry was employed by the Miami Seaquarium, where he captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV-series of the same name. He also trained Hugo, the first orca kept in captivity east of the Mississippi. When Kathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms, O’Barry realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.

From that moment on, O’Barry knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he launched a searing campaign against the multi-billion dollar dolphin captivity industry and has been going at it ever since.

Over the past 40 years, Ric O’Barry has rescued and rehabilitated dolphins in many countries around the world, including Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Bahamas Islands and the United States. He is a leading voice in the fight to end brutal dolphin hunts in Japan, the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands, and wherever else they occur.

O’Barry has been recognized by many national and international entities for his dedicated efforts, such as being voted Huffington Post’s 2010 Most Influential Green Game Changer, and being listed on O Magazine’s 2010 Power List – Men We Admire for his “Power of Passion.” O’Barry received an Environmental Achievement Award, presented by the United States Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program. He has done countless interviews with such prestigious news programs as Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper 360, the Mike Huckabee Show, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

His book Behind the Dolphin Smile was published in 1989; a second book, To Free A Dolphin was published in September 2000. Both of them are about his work and dedication. He is the star of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove and the Animal Planet television series Blood Dolphin$.

Author: Ric O'Barry


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