Sunday, October 31, 2010

Statement by Ric OBarry, Earth Island Institute

Participating in a Public Dialog with Mayor of Taiji about Dolphin Hunts on Nov. 2, 2010

Ric overlooking the cove in Taiji.
Photo by Leah Lemieux.

Ric OBarry, long-time dolphin activist for Earth Island Institute (EII) and subject of the Oscar-Winning THE COVE, makes this statement as a participant in a public discussion about dolphin hunting with Taiji Mayor Kazutaka Sangen and members of the fisheries union:

"I want to thank Mayor Sangen today for arranging this meeting. We at Earth Island Institute support dialog on the subject of the dolphin killing."

"It is important that we state our views clearly and firmly:"
  • EII and I do not believe in breaking the laws in Taiji and will not conduct illegal activities.
  • EII and I do not support a boycott of Japan. We feel a boycott is counter-productive.
  • EII and I have always addressed and will continue to address these issues with respect for the people of Japan and will work with them to solve these problems.
  • The media and government have tried to link us with other organizations, a linkage which we reject as unfair and inaccurate. We speak for our organization and ourselves only.
"From the beginning, I have sought to bring the truth to the people of Japan, truth which cannot be denied or covered up anymore:"

  • The Japanese people must be made aware of the killing of dolphins, which has been covered up by their government. The dolphin slaughter cannot be a Japanese cultural practice if the vast majority of the Japanese people dont even know it is happening.
  • The Japanese people must not be subjected to poisoning by mercury contamination found in dolphin meat, which is unsafe for human consumption.
"Westerners are not the original source of these concerns. Japanese researchers have done extensive testing on contamination of dolphin meat with mercury - in Japan, and Taiji specifically - proving that the mercury levels present a serious danger to the health of the public. Taiji City Council members have echoed these concerns as well. Mercury poisoning should concern all of us. "

For mercury contamination research results, go to:

"I am here not solely to express concerns for dolphins, but also for the health of the people of Japan and to see that the truth of what happens in Taiji is made public to the people of Japan."

"There is a bright future for Taiji without the killing of dolphins. Earth Island Institute and I hope Mayor Sangen has an open mind during this meeting and will see that we can work together for a better future for the dolphins and the people of Taiji."

Friday, October 29, 2010

I’m Back in Taiji

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

Lincoln and I have returned to Taiji on short notice, planning to attend an interesting (to say the least) meeting with the Mayor of Taiji and the fishermen next week. The meeting is not open to the public, but will be open to the media.

A local activist and nationalist in Wakayama Prefecture organized the meeting, persuading Taiji Mayor Kazutaka Sangen that dialog was important with Westerners. We have sought a meeting with the Mayor for several years, most recently when I returned to Japan on September 1st of this year. The Mayor has continually turned us down.

On one of our first visits to Taiji back in 2004, my wife Helene and I held a meeting with the fishermen (this meeting is alluded to in the film The Cove). We had an open discussion about the dolphin slaughter – I even asked the fishermen to tell us what it would cost us to pay them to stop killing dolphins. They came back with the astonishing answer that they were engaged in “pest” control, convinced by the notorious Japanese Fisheries Agency that the dolphins were eating all their fish! It is remarkably sad when the Japanese fishermen start believing their own propaganda to be true.

Now we will need to convince the skeptical Mayor and fishermen of Taiji and the Japanese media, which is sympathetic to the fishermen, that we want to help, that we are not here to confront the fishermen, and that we believe the people of Taiji will benefit from stopping the dolphin killing.

Joining me in Taiji is author Leah Lemieux and her filmmaker friend, Suzanne Chisholm, visiting Taiji for the first time as volunteer observers and chroniclers. Leah is the author of Rekindling the Waters, a description of what it is like to be with dolphins in captivity and an indictment of the captive industry. I highly recommend it. She has also gone around Canada and the United Kingdom giving talks about The Cove and her efforts to protect dolphins. Now she is here at the proverbial ground zero – I quote from her first two blogs:

“Oct. 27th: I arrived in Taiji today with film maker Suzanne Chisholm around noon. Only a few hours earlier, nearly 60 pacific spotted, bottlenose and Risso’s dolphins, including tiny babies, were murdered by the infamous Taiji dolphin killers. Today was their last sunrise. The dolphin killers have been going to increasing lengths to hide this profane practice behind tarps and closed doors trying to keep the blue waters from obviously running red.

Bloody chunks of cetacean meat for sale.
Photography by Leah Lemieux.

“Over and over it strikes you, how beautiful this place is and how the killing of dolphins stains this beautiful place. Our tour ended with a visit to the Dolphin Resort Hotel. We arrived just in time to see a group of school kids, who had all paid to play at ‘being a trainer for a day’. We stood, over-looking the floating pens where around 22 dolphins taken from the cove are held captive to perform and for tourists to swim with.

“Today these dolphins had to listen as others of their marine community were murdered… I was shaking and struck silent, looking at these dolphins, restlessly pacing and circling in the tiny pens and watching all these school children, being fed lies. These dolphin trainers know full well that the families of all these captives were cruelly killed a stone’s throw away. And they must know it’s the money coming from the pockets of tourists that goes straight into the pockets of the dolphin killers and thus perpetuates the dolphin slaughter. Yet with smiles on their faces, surrounded by cartoonish depictions of ‘happy happy dolphins’, they ignore their essential part in this chain of pain and death.

Wild Taiji dolphins condemned to captivity for the rest of their lives.
Photography by Leah Lemieux.

“This natural beauty is shamed and stained and marred by what happens here. This place represents a microcosm of the same battle being fought all over this Earth by those who value life and the living world and those who kill and destroy and turn living beings into dead blood money.

“If there is any hope for the future of all and any of us, this has to change. If we cannot change what happens here, what hope is there?”

Leah and Suzanne and many others are making a difference for dolphins by their volunteer efforts. They deserve our grateful thanks. You can read more of Leah’s eloquent Blogs on her website:

The good news is that the weather today and yesterday is preventing the dolphin-killing boats from going out to sea. Bad weather is good news for dolphins off the coast of Taiji.

There is more to come as we prepare for our meeting next week with the fishermen of Taiji.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ric O’Barry Of Earth Island Institute to Participate in Public Discussion with Mayor of Taiji about Dolphin Hunts


October 27, 2010

Ric O’Barry Of Earth Island Institute to Participate in Public Discussion with Mayor of Taiji about Dolphin Hunts

Ric O’Barry, long-time dolphin activist for Earth Island Institute and subject of the Oscar-Winning THE COVE, has accepted an invitation to participate in a public discussion about dolphin hunting with Taiji Mayor Kazutaka Sangen, members of the fisheries union and other anti-dolphin hunting groups.

The event, which will take place at 10 a.m., Nov. 2 at the Taiji Community Center, is being organized by a leader in the conservative Nihon Yonaoshikai and founder of the newly formed Association to Contemplate Taiji’s Dolphin Hunt. The purpose is to bring together city officials and the groups who oppose dolphin hunting with the hopes that they can find common ground. The event is open to the media.

Earth Island has a long track record of working with local communities to develop viable alternatives to killing dolphins. Most recently the Earth Island team, led by O’Barry, worked with tribes in the Solomon Islands to end their drive hunts. Primitive and remote, dolphin teeth are so engrained in the local culture there that their teeth are used as currency. But now, after 450 years, the majority of tribes have agreed to stop.

“When we first went to the Solomons, we didn’t know what to expect. For so many years, these local villagers have subsisted on dolphin meat,” explained David Phillips, Executive Director of Earth Island Institute. “Many people there didn’t know how toxic the meat was. After all, it’s a relatively new phenomena brought on by industrial pollution. Much like Taiji, the meat they were eating just 50 years ago didn’t contain the same levels of mercury.”

In fact, its Japanese researchers who have done extensive testing on this issue - in Japan, and Taiji specifically - showing that the mercury levels present a serious danger to the health of the public. For research results, go to:

“However, in the Solomon’s they don’t just rely on dolphins for sustenance, they are significant part of their traditions and economy,” continued Phillips. “So we talked, we listened, and in time – working hand in hand with the villagers – we came up with solutions that are not only workable, but enable them to thrive. For instance, we are helping them develop an artisanal fishery and other steps for clean water and power for their villages.”

It’s Earth Island’s hope that we can find a similar spirit of collaboration in Taiji.

“There is a bright future for Taiji without the killing of dolphins,” Ric O’Barry added. “We hope Mayor Sangen has an open mind during this meeting and will see that we can work together for a better future for the dolphins and the people of Taiji.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

Another Dolphin Slaughter in the Cove

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

Leilani Münter has been hanging in there in Taiji, following the dolphin killers. While many days have resulted in the drive hunt boats returning empty-handed to the harbor or not going out at all, on Oct. 16th, Leilani witnessed another heart-breaking slaughter of eight Risso’s dolphins in the Cove.

You can see her YouTube video report here:

On October 14th in Taiji, Leilani was not going to pass up an opportunity to recognize the international Save Japan Dolphin Day demonstrations that were going on all around the planet.

So, she got a bunch of roses and spread them on the Cove in honor of the many dolphins whose blood was shed in these waters through the years.

But the local policemen intervened. They said she was littering with her roses!

Leilani had to wade out into the Cove with another volunteer, Elora Malama, to retrieve the terrible roses. Leilani offered the soggy roses to the police and the Japanese Coastguard personnel there, but they refused to take them from her.

Leilani Münter (right) and Elora Malama gather back up the roses they had scattered in the Cove in remembrance of the dolphins – the police insisted roses are litter and pollution, but dolphin blood appears to be OK.

See her YouTube video of this act of defiance with roses:

Leilani is on her way back home now, having done double-duty in Taiji. I thank her for her efforts for the dolphins – she and many others are making a real difference! Leilani says she is coming back to the Cove soon. Like our Save Japan Dolphins Team and me, Leilani is not going to give up until the killing stops.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Around the World, Millions of People Want to Save Japan Dolphins!

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

On October 14th, demonstrations were held in dozens of cities around the world, in front of Japanese Embassies and Consulate offices, urging the government of Japan to “Save Japan Dolphins”!

I want to thank each and every one of the people who helped organize and who showed up at these events. The turnout was higher than any previous Save Japan Dolphins Day.

A fun time was had by all. Here are some photos:


A hundred demonstrators joined Ric in Miami to protest the dolphin slaughter.


Toronto’s event went on, despite the rain.


Jacob (center of photo, behind photographer) organized his first demonstration ever in Israel. (Jacob has also just completed a website for Save Japan Dolphins in Russian and is working on one for Israel.)

A young demonstrator in Israel and her sign.


Led by Earth Island’s Trixie Concepcion, demonstrators in Manila were covered by several newspapers and television stations.


Cars in Portland honk for demonstrators:


Japanese Embassy protest in Vienna, Austria. Copyright Meik Ahmadian.


Geisha girls with tears of blood led the march in Ottawa to the Japanese Embassy.


Enthusiastic demonstrators in the mile-high city.


The Aussies demonstrating in Melbourne.

A homemade sign in Australia for the Japanese government.


Where else but in Seattle would protestors decorate umbrellas? A big turnout, with representatives of the Japanese Consulate coming out to view the protest.


A nice PSA was produced from the interesting Capetown demo:


Arizona dolphin-lovers gather to protest at the Japanese Friendship Park.

Red roses for the dolphins in Phoenix.


The Scots make up for small numbers with BIG signs.


Demonstrators at the gates in Honolulu on Oct. 14th.


The Motor City shows how it’s done!


Our friends in Holland outside the Japan Consulate in Rotterdam.


Our friend Hans Peter Roth, recently in Taiji, demonstrates in Switzerland with a few friends.


Simple signs, but profound message in Indonesia.


Earth Island’s big blue inflatable dolphin makes its annual appearance in downtown San Francisco. Photo by Michael Reppy.

Young Adam presents a scroll to the Japanese Counsel in San Francisco representing 1.8 million signatures on our petition.

You can see more video of the San Francisco event (thanks to Melissa Gonzalez of In Defense of Animals) here:

Once again, a big THANK YOU to all!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A First: Japan Dolphin Day in Tokyo

By Kyoko Tanaka
Tokyo, Japan

In Tokyo, my colleague Tosh and I visited Nagata-cho, the national government office area in Tokyo, Japan, to submit petitions to the Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, and the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. In a short time, we collected 163 people's names. The important thing is that 150 of them are from the Wakayama region, which includes the town of Taiji. One Wakayama local is helping us. He will hand in this petition to the Governor of Wakayama Prefecture later this week. (The Governor approves local dolphin catching permits for Taiji.)

After we handed in our petition to the Japan Fisheries Agency, Tosh and I were curious to check with the Whaling Department to ask the number for dolphins captured in Taiji this year. As soon as I said the word "Taiji", the whole floor's atmosphere changed immediately.

We were soon escorted to a guest room. We had intended to ask question casually – Tosh and I have been gathering information on the numbers of dolphins involved in the drive hunts – but the staff prepared thick books of records and all the research papers.

One person showed up whose name was Mr. Takaya -- he is the successor of Mr. Moronuki of the Fisheries Agency. He questioned us about why dolphins are so special, and started in again on the cows and pigs issue...sigh...(I have heard this argument a zillion times already...).

But we had a good discussion with him for about an hour. We were surprised how much time he spent with us despite that fact that we did not make any appointment.

Although the Fisheries Agency people have so much knowledge, their stance is strictly pro-whale hunting. They have already decided their stance.

Kyoko (Kiki) Tanaka hands in her petition to save Japan dolphins to the Cabinet Office for the government of Japan in Tokyo, Oct. 14, 2010.
Photo by Tosh.

The only thing we can do is to educate people who have the potential to understand. Mr. Takaya said if there is no demand for dolphin meat, then the dolphin hunt will go extinct.

To see that come true, we have to keep educating people here in Japan and around the world.

Ric O’Barry Comments:

This is great work by Kiki (as we know Kyoko), Tosh and her friends in Japan. This could be the start of a grass-roots movement in Japan!

We do not have to persuade government officials or anybody else. The cow and pig/cultural argument is a non-starter. It's a diversion from the one and only issue: The scientific FACT that the dolphin meat is contaminated and not fit for consumption cancels out all excuses for killing dolphins and other whales for their meat.

The meat is poison and it's being sold to Japanese people. End of argument.

Kiki has been a great help to our campaign in Japan for some time, often keeping a low profile but being very industrious. Her insights into Japanese culture have been extremely useful, and we consider her a good friend.

We are proud of Kiki and the many Japanese people who are willing to oppose the dolphin slaughter under very difficult conditions.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From Leilani: Up Close at the Slaughterhouse in Taiji

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

See Leilani’s YouTube video and stills:

Leilani Münter, race car driver and volunteer for the dolphins, called me yesterday. She is in Taiji with a camera crew, checking out the Cove in Taiji as well as promoting eco-tourism in Japan. She is my personal representative for the dolphins at the Cove this week.

By helping the local economy, we can help end the slaughter of dolphins – no one will want to visit Taiji if dolphins continue to be subject to the drive fishery. Taiji can be notorious for its dolphin slaughter, or it can be world renowned for the protection of dolphins and their ocean environment. It should be an easy choice.

I spoke with Leilani via Skype on camera. We discussed the current status of the Cove and what Leilani was planning to do. We discussed the dolphins – the Taiji Four -- sent from Taiji to Egypt, and the horrible conditions under which they were kept there. I urged Leilani to go to the Taiji Whale Museum (which brokers the wild-caught dolphins) with her laptop to show the Museum the conditions under which these dolphins are now languishing, and how shameful the leadership of the Taiji Whale Museum should feel about being a party to this inhumane action. No self-respecting animal organization would ever let these kinds of conditions prevail, yet they are typical for Taiji’s dolphins!

The Japan Times quoted the Taiji Whale Museum’s Hiromitsu Nambu, who arranges exports of live dolphins from Taiji: "Dolphins in Taiji are popular around the world because they are smart, and I personally think they have cute faces."

The Taiji Four dolphins were sold to Egypt for $300,000 each! And they wound up in a filthy swimming pool that came close to killing them in Hurghada. For more on the story, go to:

Did I mention that Leilani is fearless? On Monday, the fishermen of Taiji herded a small pod of Risso’s dolphins into the Cove. They were slaughtered the next morning. Leilani braved the local slaughterhouse in Taiji to get some remarkable photos of these poor Risso’s dolphins. Let her tell the story:

“I just got close up photos of them cutting up the dolphins inside the slaughterhouse,” Leilani reports. “They left a door slightly open, and I stuck my camera under it. One of the fishermen eventually spotted me from the grocery store across the street and shut me down, but I got them cutting off the dolphins’ fins and chopping up the torsos. Was one of the hardest things I have ever seen.”

See Leilani’s YouTube video and stills:

“It was absolutely horrific; I will never be the same,” Leilani concluded.

Leilani is planning on being in Taiji for the rest of the week. You can follow her blog on her website:

We will be posting her reports here, too.

Leilani is working to make a difference in the world. We can all help her and help the dolphins. Not everyone can go to Taiji, but everyone can watch The Cove movie, share it with their friends, and bring friends to our website to take action:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What: October 14th: International Save Japan Dolphins Day

A worldwide peaceful and lawful protest of the annual dolphin slaughter in Japan, as depicted in the Academy Award winning documentary The Cove and the Animal Planet series Blood Dolphins. The Japanese government issues 23,000 permits annually to coastal communities to kill dolphins of several species. A few are sold, at great profit, to aquariums and swim-with-dolphins programs around the world. The captive dolphin industry subsidizes the slaughter. The majority of the pod is then slaughtered for meat. But the meat is contaminated with outrageous amounts of mercury and other pollutants, exceeding the Japanese government’s own health limits. This is a human rights issue as much as an animal welfare issue.

Demonstrations will be going on throughout the world in front of Japanese embassies and consulates on October 14th. Please join your fellow environmentalists and animal activists in protesting the hunts and urging Japan to switch to more sustainable and benign methods of profit, such as eco-tourism and dolphin-watching cruises.

When: Thursday, October 14th, Noon to 2 PM.

Where: In front of Embassies and Consulates of the Government of Japan around the world. Below is a list of cities where events are planned along with contact information. If you don’t see your city, start your own event! Contact Shelby Proie,, for more information.

If you can’t attend, please consider calling. Here is a list of all Embassies and Consulates with phone numbers:

Participating Cities and nonprofit organizations::



David Drolet-

Lisa Yee,
(NOTE: Boston will be having an alternate Japan Dolphin Day rally on 10/7 sponsored by WDCS, WSPA, CSI, and MARC from 12-2PM in front of the Japanese consulate)

Allie Presas,; Cynthia Perez,


Animal Rights Action Network and Emily Wolf

Courtney Vail,
Wild Dolphin Foundation:

Houston Animal Rights Team (H.A.R.T.), vegan world radio
Contacts: Kara,,

Los Angeles
Contact: Julia Ramsey,

Save Japan Dolphins and Oceanic Defense
Mary Jo Rice,

New York City

San Diego

San Francisco:
Earth Island Institute, In Defense of Animals, Orca Network,
Contact: Mary Jo Rice,

SaveJapanDolphins, EcoElements

Kevin Starbard,


Tempe, AZ
Rockstar Rescue; For The Whale Of It

Washington DC:
Animal Welfare Institute and Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society International


Joanne Clarke

Ottawa Animal Defense League
Contact: Sue Manns,

Ocean Activists United
Contact: Sarah Patrick,



Barcelona, Spain
Coordinadora Proyecto Cetaceo Libre
Contact: Diana Morales,

Berlin, Germany
Tom Hernan, Elisa Brongers

Ocean Activists United - Zagreb Chapter
Mariana – Prijatelji zivotinja

Edinburgh, Scotland

London, England
Marine Connection and Karen Page,

Libson, Portugal

Paris, France
Vivamar Society-Ljubljana and Slovenija

Rome, Italy
Ente Nazionale Protezione Animali

Rotterdam, Netherlands

Stockholm, Sweden
Izabelle Maelan,

Vienna, Austria
“Resistance for Peace” and Angelique Hackl and


Jacob Berelman,


Taiji, Japan
Save Japan Dolphins
Leilani Munter,

Auckland, New Zealand

Bangkok, Thailand

Brisbane, Australia
Robyn Price

Christchurch, New Zealand
Aaron Nolan,

Canberra, Australia
Karin Klaus,

Hong Kong, China
Jess Chan,


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Melbourne, Australia
Haans Silver,

Perth, Australia
Melinda Reilly,

Trixie (EII)-,

Sydney, Australia
Naomi Wong,

Wellington, New Zealand
Jarna Hamilton,


Wild Earth Foundation


Mexico City

Sao Paulo, Brazil
Jorge Perez and Aliança International do Animal ”AILA” and


Cape Town, South Africa
Bahia Fitchen-

Nigeria, Africa
Nigeria SPCA (Emmanuel Eyoh),

Monday, October 11, 2010

Egypt’s Taiji Four in a New Tank; Fight Continues Against the Dolphinarium

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

Wagby Saad, the owner of the four dolphins imported from Taiji (“The Taiji Four”) to Hurghada, Egypt, has finally transferred them to a somewhat bigger new tank (as opposed to his backyard swimming pool). It remains to be seen whether they will survive, as we believe they are not very healthy. The new tank is literally in the middle of the Eastern Sahara desert, open to dust, heat and UV radiation.

New dolphin tank in the Egyptian desert, under construction.
Photography by Kate Tomlinson.

Lincoln O’Barry and photographer Kate Tomlinson stayed up all night on the roof of a villa near the dolphin owner’s home, to capture the transfer of the dolphins to the new tank (and make sure the owner did not pull some trick). I was allowed inside the owner’s home to observe and represent HEPCA. Besides two disgruntled Mexican dolphin trainers and a vet, there was an ex-military Russian dolphin trainer (who seemed to be in charge) and a Russian vet. Dolphin trafficking is truly an international scam.

The three thugs who attacked us on two separate occasions were also present. Their attack pit bull was missing. When I asked about the dog, they all insisted that they never had a pit bull! I was banned from taking photos inside the dolphin owner’s villa.

One of the Taiji Four in a swimming pool in Hurghada, Egypt. It’s fate and the fate of its pool mates is unknown.
Photography by Kate Tomlinson.

At the same time, new construction in the desert suggests that the owner is now building his new dolphinarium, which we strongly oppose.

HEPCA, the local Egyptian environmental organization that has been in the forefront of efforts to stop the dolphin imports and the dolphinarium, is working hard to see if they can get local authorities to halt the construction. The Taiji Four should be the last dolphins ever shipped to Hurghada, given the very strong opposition from the local community, the mayor, and the governor of the Red Sea.

Amr Ali, Executive Director of HEPCA, gave me a Red Sea Defender award for my help to them in opposing the dolphinarium and looking to the welfare of the Taiji Four.

Amr Ali, ED of HEPCA, gives Ric an award for his dolphin work in Egypt.

You can see my speech to HEPCA on YouTube:

I have to leave for now, but HEPCA will continue the fight in Egypt. They have done a tremendous job for the dolphins. As I noted in a earlier blog, they have already gained a decree by the local government banning further imports of wild-caught dolphins to this area. If you would like to help the effort, you can sign their online petition:

This will be an ongoing story, as we do not know the fate of the Taiji Four who are now part of the Sahara desert landscape. Our hope is to see them returned to Japan and set free one day. Not in Taiji, but in a place where dolphins are respected such as Mikurajima Island.

And finally, SHAME on WAZA, (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums) for not policing their own industry. You can sign on to the WAZA petition here:

Thanks for all your support. Your donations to our Save Japan Dolphins Campaign helps me go to places all around the world, including Japan and the Solomon Islands, to fight for the protection of dolphins and whales.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Good News and Not So Good News in Egypt

By Ric O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

The local Hurghada Environment Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA) and I have scored a great victory here in Egypt, but the fate of four captive dolphins is still up in the air.

The good news is that the Governor of The Red Sea district of Egypt has issued a ban on all future import of dolphins, cutting off the expected import of five more Taiji dolphins to a local business building a new dolphinarium here.

Four dolphins from Taiji in small backyard swimming pool in Hurghada, Egypt.
Photography by Kate Tomlinson.

He also issued an ultimatum to the owner of four dolphins that had been imported from Taiji back in August: the dolphins must be moved to a new location that complies with national and international standards for care. We had hoped, of course, to somehow help these dolphins that are in poor health back into the wild, but so far that does not seem to be possible. The owner is now busily building a new dolphin pool in the middle of the desert to accommodate these dolphins. He has 48 hours to comply with the governor’s directive.

Ric and Lincoln O’Barry in Hurghada, Egypt.
Photography by Kate Tomlinson.

My son Lincoln and I, and our Animal Planet cameras, have been checking out the construction site. We also tried to check up on the health of the dolphins, but were stymied by the owner and his cronies. HEPCA, Lincoln, photographer Kate Tomlinson, and I were subject to threats by hired thugs – they even tried to steal our camera and set a pit bull on us!

A thug reaches for our camera in front of the home of the owner of four dolphins from Taiji.
Photography by Kate Tomlinson.

A pit bull is set on Ric in front of the home of the owner of the four dolphins from Taiji.
Photography by Lincoln O’Barry.

Ric O’Barry inspects the new dolphin pool construction in Hurghada, Egypt.
Photography by Kate Tomlinson.

HEPCA received similar treatment when they tried to visit the dolphins to have them inspected and diagnosed by Dr. Pierre Gallego. When let in alone without HEPCA support, Dr. Gallego was unable to see the dolphins in the turbid swimming pool water (essentially these dolphins are swimming in their own excrement), nor could the dolphins be caught for blood samples. HEPCA’s representatives in their cars were surrounded by the thugs and threatened with violence.

Ric O’Barry diving in the Red Sea, Egypt, checking out a potential site for dolphins with clean sea water – unfortunately, the dolphinarium company rejected it.
Photography by Kate Tomlinson.

Things are changing rapidly here, so who knows what will happen next? One thing for sure, I will file a formal complaint with the local police. We cannot allow the dolphinarium thugs to get away with these violent attacks!

HEPCA continues the fight against a long-term dolphinarium, enlisting the support of the local community, hotels, dive shops, and other tourism businesses along the Red Sea, a premier dive area. Their grassroots activism is a good model for other places around the world fighting back against keeping dolphins in captivity. I salute them and thank them for their efforts.

Tell your friends, family and neighbors to join the effort! As HEPCA has shown, the local governments can be made to listen to the public, and that is what our Save Japan Dolphins Campaign is all about – bringing grassroots pressure and education to bear against the government agencies that allow these travesties to happen.

The dolphins depend on us to protect them! I hope you will join me in supporting our Campaign efforts.