Ric O'Barry

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O'Barry in June 2009

Richard "Ric" O'Barry (born Richard Barry O'Feldman[1]) is an American first recognized in the 1960s for capturing and training the five dolphins that were used in the well-known TV series Flipper. O'Barry made a radical transition from training dolphins in captivity to assertively combating the captivity industry soon after Kathy, one of the Flipper dolphins, died in his arms. O'Barry contends Kathy committed suicide.[2]

In 1970 he founded the Dolphin Project, a group that aims to educate the public about captivity and, where feasible, free captive dolphins. He was featured in the Academy Award-winning film, The Cove (2009), which used covert techniques to expose the yearly dolphin drive hunting that goes on in Taiji, Japan.

Flipper[edit]

Richard O’Barry started out capturing and training dolphins for the Miami Seaquarium and through the 1960s became the head trainer for the five dolphins who collectively played Flipper on the popular American TV show, while also serving as stunt double for show cast member Luke Halpin.[1] When, in early 1970, a few years after production of Flipper had ended, Kathy, the dolphin who most often played Flipper, did not resurface for air, O' Barry considered the possibility that she had committed suicide, and concluded that capturing, displaying and training dolphins to perform tricks was wrong.[2]

Activism[edit]

On Earth Day in 1970 he founded The Dolphin Project, an organization dedicated to educating the public about the plight of dolphins in captivity. He also pioneered work to demonstrate rehabilitation and release as a viable alternative for captive dolphins. O’Barry has since rescued and released over twenty-five captive dolphins in Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, The Bahamas and the United States.

O’Barry and his associate Lloyd A. Good III were found guilty of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act for not providing adequate notice for releasing two dolphins into the Gulf of Mexico; a 1999 Commerce Department press release argued that they “were not prepared to survive in the wild and sustained life-threatening injuries.”[3]

For the last 40 plus years O’Barry has spoken about the harmful effects of captivity on dolphins at lectures and conferences around the world. In 1991 in recognition of his contribution to the protection of dolphins, O’Barry received an Environmental Achievement Award, presented by the US Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program. In 2007 he became a marine mammal specialist for Earth Island Institute and director of the Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project. Working with DolphinProject.org , O’Barry leads an international effort to stop the killing of dolphins, end the trafficking in live dolphins to theme parks and captive swim-with-the-dolphins attractions and continues to lecture and speak out against the captivity industry.[4]

O’Barry is co-author of three books, Behind the Dolphin Smile, To Free a Dolphin (both with Keith Colbourne) and most recently Die Bucht about dolphins and the making of The Cove published in Germany with Hans Peter Roth. Richard O’Barry is a Fellow National in the Explorers Club and he lives with his wife and daughter in both Denmark and Miami.

O’Barry lives in Coconut Grove, Florida, USA.[1] In 1989 O’Barry founded the non-profit organization, Dolphin Project Inc.[5]

The Cove[edit]

Main article: The Cove (film)

O'Barry was featured in the Academy Award-winning feature-length documentary The Cove, directed by Louie Psihoyos which investigates links between the killing, capture, trade and display of dolphins all over the world. The 2009 film centers on Taiji, Wakayama, Japan, drawing attention to the hunt of about 2,000 dolphins taking place there every year.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14] O’Barry and his son Lincoln O'Barry are also behind the Blood Dolphin$ TV show for Discovery’s Animal Planet, which continues on where The Cove left off.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c O'Barry, Richard; Keith Coulbourn (1988). Behind the Dolphin Smile. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. ISBN 0-912697-79-2. 
  2. ^ a b "Interviews - Richard O'barry | A Whale Of A Business | FRONTLINE". PBS. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  3. ^ Activists Fined $59,500 In Sugarloaf Dolphin Release 10 June 1999 Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  4. ^ "International Marine Mammal Project - Earth Island Institute". Earthisland.org. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  5. ^ Gonzalez, David (2001-07-03). "Santa Lucía Journal; Flipper's Trainer in Crusade Against Dolphin Exploitation". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  6. ^ Toshihide Iwasaki and Hidehiro Kato. "Japan Progress Report on Small Cetacean Researches; May 2000 to May 2001" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved 2009-12-22. 
  7. ^ Toshihide Iwasaki. "Japan. Progress report on small cetacean research; June 2001 to April 2002" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved 2009-12-22. 
  8. ^ Toshihide Iwasaki. "Japan. Progress report on small cetacean research; May 2002 to March 2003" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved 2009-12-22. 
  9. ^ "Japan. Progress report on small cetacean research; April 2003 to April 2004" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved 2009-12-22. 
  10. ^ "Japan. Progress report on small cetacean research; May 2004 to April 2005" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved 2009-12-22. 
  11. ^ Toshihide Iwasaki. "Japan. Progress report on small cetacean research; May 2005 to April 2006, with statistical data for the calendar year 2005" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved 2009-12-22. 
  12. ^ Toshihide Iwasaki. "Japan. Progress report on small cetacean research; May 2006 to March 2007, with statistical data for the calendar year 2006" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved 2009-12-22. 
  13. ^ Toshihide Iwasaki. "Japan. Progress report on small cetacean research; April 2007 to March 2008, with statistical data for the calendar year 2007" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved 2009-12-22. 
  14. ^ Emami, Gazelle (2010-03-08). "'The Cove' Oscar Speech Gets Cut Off For Activist Message" (PDF). The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 

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