Exclusive: Message from Ric O’Barry
They might have taken me out of the country, but not my commitment to see these slaughters end.” ~ Ric O’Barry, Founder/Director of Dolphin Project
February 5 is going to be a day long burned in my memory. While I was grateful to have been released from my 19-day incarceration, it also marked the last time I would step foot into Japan, at least for the short while – a country I have deeply grown to love over the many years I have been visiting there.
My son, Lincoln, was able to get me upgraded to business class, free of charge, on the flight back to the United States as I probably would have passed out in coach. He met me in Dallas when we landed, organized a wheelchair to whisk me through immigration and got me back to the homestead in Miami. This was a good thing, considering I had eaten very little, and my muscles were weak, not having exercised for days.
I want to thank everyone for standing with me during this ordeal. It was inconvenient and uncomfortable but well worth it. The payoff for the dolphins was huge and ongoing. The international media attention on Japan’s war on dolphins was massive. We should probably thank the immigration service as we could not have done such a thing on our own.
As a result of my detention and subsequent deportation, based on trumped-up charges, millions of new people have been exposed to the annual dolphin slaughter. Many of them will join the cause and take action. It’s exactly what the dolphins needed.
Day after day I sat in my cell (actually, either stood or was lying down as there was no chair), I worried about the drives taking place. I was allowed to make outgoing calls, and when I did, asked about the number of boats going out, and whether any dolphins had been caught. People were asking me about my health but my heart was in the cove.
As tourists, we have a legal right to be in Taiji, provided we do not interfere with, and/or violate the law. We are dolphin watching, as macabre as it sounds. While we are witness to a real-time horror show, we are still watching dolphins. We have a legal right to take photos and share these images on social media. We have a right to live stream. And the same goes for Japanese tourists who come to America. If they chose, they could check into a hotel in the Midwest, go to a rodeo, shoot video, live stream, take photographs and post all this onto social media. Not a problem. It’s what a democracy is all about. Dolphin Project Cove Monitors are doing just that, only in Taiji. They have been there since the dolphin slaughter began again on September 1 and will be there until the end of the drive season. We have never violated a Japanese law, have never lied to immigration and our work methods have been 100% peaceful.
Deporting me is not the end, it’s the start of something new. We are now in a position to file a lawsuit against the Japanese government. We have never been in that position before. I can’t say too much about our legal strategy at this time because the government reads everything. But rest assured, our Japanese legal team is hard at work, making sure our rights are not violated.
While the guards at the immigration center were kind, respectful and professional, the immigration officers at Narita Immigration who detained me were not. The police who arrested me on bogus charges in Taiji on August 28, 2015 violated the law. Both the immigration service and the police violated the law routinely with their abusive interrogation methods. There are thousands of innocent people in Japanese prisons who signed confessions for crimes they never committed.
Please stand with me, and our team at Dolphin Project, to ensure we continue our crucial work in Taiji. As legal costs are escalating, we have established a Legal Defense Fund. If it’s possible for you to contribute, whether one time, or in the form of a monthly donation, we would be very grateful as funds are urgently needed. We will take the lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court of Japan, if necessary. Our success might very well be in the process itself, for the dolphins need all the attention they can get.
As I write this, I am sitting in front of a beautiful basket filled with fruits and vegetables. It arrived on my doorstep not long after I came home, sent by two dear friends of mine, Leilani Munter and her husband, Craig (Kiwi) Davidson. I cannot help but admire the bounty of shapes, colors and sizes, details I hadn’t paid much attention to until now. I need to do more of the same, and as I have promised my family, focus on getting strong and healthy. Although we may not be able to answer every email and message we receive, we will keep everyone updated on our website, DolphinProject.net and on our social media channels.
Again, thank you one and all, for your support. #IStandWithYou
- Happy 47th Birthday Dolphin Project! - April 18, 2017
- BREAKING: Taiji’s Drive Season Over - February 28, 2017
- 2016: What A Year It Was! - December 15, 2016
- Dolphin Sabbatical Project: A Social Experiment for Captive Dolphins - June 17, 2016
- Statement on Morgan by Ric O’Barry - June 9, 2016
- Op Ed: Is it Okay to Go Back to SeaWorld? - March 31, 2016
- Addressing the Confusion about Angel - March 26, 2016
- Exclusive: Message from Ric O’Barry - February 8, 2016
- What Will 2016 Hold For Dolphins? - December 15, 2015
- The Finland Four - November 28, 2015
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$.