Japan’s Taiji hunts are starting up this month and the rest of the year will see the slaughter of countless dolphins. In addition, dolphins are being captured (some under the pretense of rehabilitation) and then sold to businessmen who wish to train them and put them into dolphin shows. Taiji just happens to be one of the main suppliers for these sorts of activities and a healthy dolphin can bring in as much as $300,000 to the right buyer. One person is looking to combat this cruel treatment - a man named Ric O’Barry.
For those who have a good supply of dolphin lore, they may know O’Barry as a famous former dolphin trainer responsible for training the dolphins on the television show Flipper. He also happens to be the star of The Cove, the world-renowned documentary that exposed the horrors of the Taiji hunts. After 10 years of working on the side of the businessmen, O’Barry decided to switch and is now one of the most high-profile voices in defense of these creatures.
One place that sees Taiji dolphins being brought in for sale is the Philippines, so O’Barry has been spending time down among the islands spreading his message. He’s been urging people to stop spending money on dolphin shows and to stop buying their meat. If enough people can be convinced to stop being part of the problem, then dolphins may not remain profitable enough for businessmen to continue their activities. This, in turn, may bring about some real change.
O’Barry also visited the Misamis Occidental Aquamarine Park (MOAP) while in the Far East. This is a supposed dolphin rehabilitation center, but as it turns out MOAP may not have rehabilitation as their first priority. Healthy dolphins have been kept in captivity there for a half-dozen years, about half of those brought to the park have died and there are reports of both fishermen selling dolphins to MOAP and of MOAP in turn selling them to marine parks.
O’Barry’s next task is to investigate further the goings-on at MOAP and see if he needs to spread the word about this illegal activity in addition to all his other work. It’s good to know that people like him are out there being so active about the problem of dolphin abuses, especially considering he’s been on the other side of the debate before. No one fights so hard as the one who has seen the evils of a thing close-up and face-to-face.