Jailhouse Crock: Update from Taiji

What the hunters are doing in Taiji violates an ancient friendship cultivated by time, between man and dolphin.” ~ Ric O’Barry

In my 13th consecutive year on the ground in Taiji, Japan, where both the killing and capture of dolphins takes place and upon which the Academy award-winning movie “The Cove” was based, I could sense a tension which wasn’t present in previous years. The police, whom we’ve always had a good relationship with, continued to be friendly, but were obviously receiving orders from higher up.

Just hours before the start of the 2015/2016 dolphin drive season, I was arrested for allegedly not carrying a passport. After spending the night in jail, forcing me to miss the September 1 start, all charges against me were dropped when police located the passport inside the car I was driving.

I felt as if I were being targeted, as if I were the ‘figurehead’ representing all Western activists. No laws were broken, and we’ve always operated within the framework of the Japanese legal system. Needless to say, the arrest backfired on those who orchestrated this, resulting in a massive onslaught of media attention on the cove.” ~ Ric O’Barry

Japan Dolphins Day 2015: TokyoOn that same day, individuals, activists and organizations across the world participated with Dolphin Project in an International Day of Action, showing Japan, as well as the rest of the world that the massacre of dolphins in Taiji is a crime against nature and must be abolished.

Eleven days after, a pod of approximately 12 Risso’s dolphins were driven into the killing cove and slaughtered – but not before a female Risso’s attempted to flee towards the beach, landing mere feet away from where I was standing.

There she was, banging her head against the rocks and thrashing around. I wanted to jump in and help her, but I knew that would immediately result in yet another arrest, this time, legitimate. It was already too late for the dolphin, as she died shortly afterwards, succumbing to shock and to the violence of the drive itself.” ~ Ric O’Barry

It was a horrifying scene, all caught on Dolphin Project’s live stream, and our video was soon picked up by international media and broadcast across the world.

Fishermen attempt to push a female Risso's dolphin back into deeper water after she stranded herself when trying to escape. Photo: DolphinProject.com

In the first capture of the season for captivity, a pod of 75-80 bottlenose dolphins were pushed and netted into the cove. Over a two-day period, an estimated 50 animals were selected for a life of captivity, with the remaining pod irreparably broken. Babies were separated, then reunited with their mothers. Dorsal fins were smeared with blood. Dolphins were entangled in nets. It was a war zone.


captured dolphins, Taiji, Japan

Photo Credit: DolphinProject.com

Amidst these atrocities, came hope in Ollie Blackmore, who with a 3600km solo and unsupported ride across Japan, made it his mission to raise awareness and funds for Dolphin Project. He rode directly into Taiji and several blue cove days followed him. During his visit, Ollie, myself and our Cove Monitors went to Nachi Falls, where I made a prayer for dead dolphins.

When another arrest on bogus charges became imminent, I went to Beijing and made my way to Europe, where I am now. I’m planning on returning, when I am assured my civil liberties won’t be violated again.

Enough is enough! The time to end this madness is NOW!” ~ Ric O’Barry

How You Can Help

Dolphin Project will be on the ground in Taiji for approximately six months, during the entire killing season. Without a presence there, it’s a case of “out of sight, out of mind.” That’s why it’s crucial for us to document and share with the world the atrocities being committed to dolphins in Taiji.Day 13 - Nakakaruizawa to Ikenotaira

Your support – whether be donating funds, volunteering to be a Cove Monitor or purchasing original gear – is crucial to our campaigns, and is greatly appreciated.



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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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