A Street to Call My Own

A Street to Call My Own

By Ric O’Barry

With the success of The Cove, this last year has been surreal. I’m used to beating down doors, not having red carpets rolled out in front of them.   So when South Miami City Commissioner Walter Harris told me a few months ago that the city wanted to name a street after me, I thought he surely must be joking.  I really kept expecting that phone call – “Sorry, we’ve made a horrible mistake.”

But it never came, and over the weekend Commissioner Harris and South Miami Mayor Phillip Stoddard designated SW 74th St. “Richard O’Barry Drive.” Both are the real deal when it comes to the environment.   Commissioner Harris has worked hard to preserve South Miami’s natural beauty, fighting big development and winning. Mayor Stoddard has a degree in Marine Biology, and has actually studied animal communication.  I can tell his heart is in the issue.

I’ve had many highs and lows over the last 40 years, and this is definitely a high.   My opinions have not always been popular, especially in a state like Florida, home to SeaWorld, the Miami Seaquarium and, over the years, more mom and pop dolphin parks than I can name.  I can’t thank the city enough for coming forward, not just for me, but for what it means for dolphins and other marine mammals.

It was also a kick to see some or our original Dolphin Project members from the 70s – people who have supported me tirelessly over the years.    I can’t thank them enough – they are my extended family.  Speaking of family, my son Lincoln surprised me by flying in from a remote Blood Dolphin$ shoot.

Lincoln O’Barry celebrates.

If you haven’t seen it yet, Animal Planet, a Discovery channel, will be re-airing Lincoln’s show Blood Dolphin$ this week – January 8th through the 16th.   The Solomon Island’s episodes are particularly important because they show a path forward for the Japan campaign.

You can see more pics from the street event here:

http://worldredeye.com/2011/01/richard-obarry-drive/

More than anything, I hope this all translates into awareness.  That some young kid will look at that sign, google Richard O’Barry, and get educated about the issue.  I hope it will also send a message to people that this is an important issue that deserves attention.  Because we still have much to do…Dolphins are still dying in the Cove, and the captive dolphin trade is still exploiting and abusing dolphins.  So we will need many more signs.  I’m personally looking forward to seeing one soon in Japanese!

Onward!

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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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