Dolphins in Captivity in Taiji

By Tim Burns
Cove Monitor
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project

Today the hunting boats left Taiji harbor, but due to bad weather returned early. 

The hunters transferred six dolphins from the harbor pens to Dolphin Base, a captive facility in Taiji that trains wild dolphins, by boat/sling.  A crane hoisted the dolphins into the upper tanks.  This also included a juvenile (only his pectoral fins could be seen, as he was too small for his tail to stick out) and another young dolphin.  The other four were adults.

One of our videographers, Melissa Thompson Esaia, shot footage of the transfer today:





Two of our volunteer Cove Monitors, Karla Sanjur Campo and Jeremy Raphael, took some photos of the dolphins being “sorted” in the Cove yesterday, in the harbor pens today, and sunset at the Cove.  This would be a beautiful place if the dolphin killers were not present.


Yesterday, dolphin hunters in the Cove in Taiji “sorted” out bottlenose dolphins for captivity.  The rest of pod will be released, in a very strange deal between the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and the Taiji dolphin hunters, in which no bottlenose dolphins are killed in the first month of the hunting season, to try to separate the captures for captivity from the slaughter.  Of course, other species are fair game, and the bottlenose dolphins only have a short reprieve until the end of the month.  WAZA should be ashamed for this clumsy deal.  Photo by Jeremy Raphael.



Just one of the many floating pens in Taiji harbor where captured wild dolphins are turned into performing clowns for the public.  Photo by Karla Sanjur Campo.


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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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