A New Kill of Risso’s Dolphins

By Tia Butt
Cove Monitor
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project

Today when we woke up, and I drove down to the usual lookout point where we watch the boats going out, I had a bad feeling for the safety of the dolphins that were going to be travelling anywhere near Taiji.  The ocean looked calm, the weather was clear, and I knew the dolphin killers would be wanting to get dolphins badly, as they have not had much luck lately.  The last successful hunt they had was almost a week ago, so they would be keen to get some dolphins.

I was right – just before 8AM they were driving a pod of dolphins in, and it all happened so quickly.  They had a pod of Risso’s dolphins in the Cove fast, and by the time we had raced up Takababe Mountain overlook, the dolphins were already being netted into the Cove, under the plastic tarps set up to block our cameras.

They were a beautiful pod, so elegant and graceful.  Some whiter in color than the others, and, as tears rolled my face filming, I could hear my fellow Cove monitor Johanna panting also in a panic, as we knew that these beautiful animals were going to have an agonizing death.  We could hear the killers getting the tarps up ready to butcher them under, and possibly take some for a captive life.

Soon they were pushed in; these dolphins did not want to go under the tarps, and it took a while for the divers and the killers to get them in.  A couple got caught in the nets and that is always hard to watch, along with the shouting of the dolphin killers and the sounds of the motorized skiff boats scaring the dolphins under the tarps to their fate.


Two were selected for captivity – a similar scene to last Wednesday, almost like a bad dream being replayed.  We heard the rest dying under the tarps.  I kept thinking of how these beautiful elegant animals were being butchered so painfully right beneath me.  We stood there in silence listening to the hunters dump the dead bodies onto skiff boats to be taken away to the slaughterhouse to be processed.

Again we are drained from a day of hell here in Taiji, but we will continue with our efforts to tell the story of each slaughter and capture we witness.  We owe it to the dolphins.

We need to let the dolphin hunters and the Japanese government know that we are watching and that we will not give up until the dolphin hunts end.

I am updating the Dolphin Project Cove Monitor Facebook page with events as they happen here so please like and share. 

Also follow us on Twitter.  The dolphins are depending on us to tell their story.  We are their only hope.

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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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