Good Things from Mikura Island, Japan

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project

Our good friend and writer, Leah Lemieux, is returning to Taiji in Japan to be our volunteer Cove Monitor for the next month.  But first she traveled to Mikura Island, off Tokyo, to swim with the dolphins.  Here’s her report:

Reporting from the Izu Shoto islands:  I’m on Mikura island, about 120 miles south of Tokyo, a very special place in Japan where this coastal community loves, protects and benefits from the local dolphin population.

Around 120 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins call Mikura’s waters home and tourists visit from all over Japan to meet them here.

Here, Japanese citizens grow up boating and visiting with the islands resident dolphins as part of their culture.  They know many dolphins on sight and understand that in this tiny and remote area, they are a very valuable resource for revenue and must be protected, not hunted.

Mikura residents have been heard to remark that, if a hunt similar to that conducted in Taiji were to begin here, there would be immediate protests and resistance by the locals in defense of the dolphins.

It is hoped that perhaps the example of human-dolphin relations exemplified in Mikura can be demonstrated as a positive working model for other parts of Japan, including Taiji.

Gotta go….last swim before we head back to Tokyo.
My thanks to Leah and all our volunteers who are spending their time in Taiji, Japan, to let the rest of the world know what is happening there.

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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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