The following article is an excerpt from “I shall return,” Ric O’Barry tells Taiji by Merritt Clifton, Animals 24-7.
December 2015 concluded and 2016 began with 10 consecutive “Blue Cove Days,” as Dolphin Project Founder/Director Ric O’Barry calls days when no dolphins are killed at the infamous scene near Taiji, where the 2009 Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove was covertly filmed.
There was no reason to believe, unfortunately, that “Red Cove Days” would not soon resume.
“In the previous season,” summarized Japan Times, “they [the Taiji hunters] caught 937 dolphins against a quota of 1,971. The current season’s quota is set at 1,873.” The quota was reduced, apparently, Japan Times explained, because “In May, the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums banned its members from obtaining any dolphins caught through this method, after the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums temporarily suspended its membership.”
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Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project volunteers have kept the cove under daily surveillance. O’Barry himself, however, has been away from Japan for weeks, making speaking and media appearances, fundraising and leading protests.
His hiatus from Taiji is soon to end, however.
“I’m scheduled to go back in January with a German TV crew,” O’Barry told attorney/journalist and musician Stack Jones, given name Jack Stone, in recent years a prolific blogger for Nihongo News.
“I’ve hired an attorney to make sure that my legal rights are protected,” he continued.
What happened to O’Barry on his last visit to Japan – and his subsequent relative silence about it – exemplified much that Jones had already been blogging about. In early December 2015 Jones and Nihongo News made the episode public, in depth and detail.
O’Barry has been internationally known for making noise against dolphin captivity since Earth Day 1970, when he left a lucrative career as a Miami Seaquarium and Hollywood dolphin trainer to try unsuccessfully to free a dolphin named Charlie Brown from a laboratory in the Bahamas.
Yet O’Barry made very little noise on his own behalf after he was arrested in Japan on August 31, 2015.
He was arrested, Jones reported, at direction of an employee of the Shingu Police Station in Wakayama named Takimoto.
“The police charged Mr. O’Barry for being in violation of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act,” Jones said, which “requires foreigners to be in possession of their passport at all times. The problem that arises for the Japanese authorities is that O’Barry was in possession of his passport, and the police who arrested him knew it all along. O’Barry was also in possession of an international driver’s license.”
“I hardly remember being released,” O’Barry continued. “I was exhausted, sleep-deprived, numb. I was not capable of thinking anything. And that’s how they do it. They want you in that condition so you’ll finally sign whatever it is that they put in front of you.”
“After being released,” he added, “the cops followed me around everywhere I went. They were calling my hotel room, and asking me to come to the police station for questioning. They followed my car, and pulled me over to ask if I would come in for more questioning. They kept telling me to return to the station to aid in their investigation. Each day I was followed around, and asked to submit to more interrogations. I said, ‘You got to be kidding me. What makes you think I want you to torture me again?’ I videotaped these harassments. The cops didn’t know it, though. It stopped when I hired a lawyer, and he called them, and told them I wasn’t going to answer any more questions.”
Editor’s note: Despite what happened to O’Barry during his last trip to Japan, he remains focused on the Taiji dolphins. Dolphin Project Cove Monitors are on the ground during the entire six-month killing season, documenting and live streaming to share the goings-on there with the world. The killing cove itself may be hidden from public view, however the brutal practices that take place are a secret no longer.