Death of a Dolphin

By Ric O’Barry

Campaign Director

Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project


In the face of the slaughter of thousands of dolphins, can the death of just one dolphin mean much?


Two years ago my son Lincoln and I stood in front of a tank in the notorious Taiji Whale Museum, surrounded by international and Japanese media.  The tank was a small one, housing three dolphins in a very confined space.  I used the tank to illustrate for the media what is wrong with captivity for dolphins.

These poor animals had been removed from their extended family – their fathers and mothers, their sisters and brothers, and likely their children.  The rest of that family was brutally slaughtered, and these three dolphins likely knew it.  They were now confined to a small tank and taught to eat dead fish instead of live fish.  The tank was too small to let them swim much.  Dolphins will swim miles each day in the ocean, in a very complex natural and social environment that even the largest existing tanks cannot hope to match.


Brian Barnes took this photo of the tank yesterday, which illustrates well just how confining this tank is for dolphins.  Brian reports: “There is no stimulation for these dolphins in this tank at all.  They won’t even open their eyes – it’s as if they’re in a coma.”

One other sad fact:  There are now only two dolphins in this tank; one died.

As we know, the huge prices that aquariums will pay the dolphin hunters of Taiji to get live dolphins is subsidizing the slaughter of dolphins.  We suspect that if the captive industry were not involved in Taiji blood dolphins, that in time the hunts would likely collapse.

Captivity runs on the principle of supply and demand.  If dolphinariums cannot make any money, they will shut down.

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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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