An International Celebration for the Dolphins!

By Ric O’Barry

On April 13th, I had an absolute blast with the students of Christ the King Catholic School in Canada, hooked up via SKYPE with the MAST Academy in Miami, Florida.  The schools co-hosted Sonar2Voice, with 800 students at both schools vowing to help dolphins and other marine life around the globe that are in danger.

I asked my host Mark Knowlton, a teacher at Christ the King School, how Sonar2Voice came about:

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It started by having my class watch The Cove, and afterwards three students and I got together to plan the event, because we wanted to do something.  A year-and-a-half later, Ric O’Barry came to our gym, and the rest is history!

Musical acts from Christ the King students along with the headliner band Hearts in Stereo entertained and completely energized the crowd.  It was an amazing and unique experience to see both crowds from two different countries rockin’ out together as one big crowd for the cause.

Leah Lemieux (who volunteered to monitor the Cove in Taiji this past hunting season for Save Japan Dolphins and is the author of a book on the problems of captive dolphins titled Rekindling the Waters) spoke, telling the students that approximately 100 whales are killed each year in Canada, but their nation has no marine mammal protection laws, unlike the United States.  Furthermore, Taiji dolphins had been imported to the Vancouver Aquarium in the past.

The atmosphere gained an even stronger international feel when Ric O’Barry came up to the microphone as our keynote speaker.  Ric captivated the crowd with his message and fielded questions both from local students in the gymnasium in Georgetown and also from MAST Academy students through a SKYPE connection projected on a big screen.

Canada, Ric told the students, has the largest marine mammal kill in the world off its East Coast for harp seals.  And Ric asked the MAST Academy students to help with the effort to free Lolita, the captive orca kept in the Miami Seaquarium, which is across the street from the MAST Academy.  Environmentalists want to retire Lolita to a sea pen in her home waters where her family still exists in the wild in the Pacific Northwest.

The youth present for this event were all deeply moved.  Never again will they buy a ticket to a dolphinarium, and all promised to take Ric’s message to others that need to know what is going on in Taiji.  It was a truly educational experience that the students from both schools will not soon forget.

The hope is that although the dolphins can only communicate their cries in sonar, we can respond to their cries with our human voices – so let’s raise them and help get this senseless slaughter to end.

The video footage shot of the concert will be released on Youtube soon and will also be sent to political leaders and other schools around the world in an effort to try and encourage others to join their voices with ours in helping the dolphins and other marine species in danger. Sonar2Voice is already planning another event next year, and it promises to be even bigger.

For more information on how to start an event at your school or college visit www.sonar2voice.com and join the voice!

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I want to add my personal thanks to the students and staff of Christ the King School and the MAST Academy.  What a great day for me, and I hope they all got a lot out of it, too.  Their young enthusiasm should be bottled and sent around the world!

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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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