Skip to main content

Dive Tribe Meet Ric O'Barry & Talk Dolphin Conservation


On the 28th September the Dive Tribe team made a trip to meet Ric O’Barry (Flipper-The Cove documentary) in Bangkok.
Ric has been campaigning hard to stop Dolphin slaughter in Taiji and to systematically stop dolphin trade & shows around the globe. 
The group that attended the screening of the awarding movie the Cove were then offered to put forward questions that were answered by a panel which included Ric, Mark Berman from Earth Island Institute and Edwin Wieks from the Wildlife Friends Institute.
Ric himself feels guilty for the trade in dolphin which he believes he set up and made popular with the TV show Flipper and he himself was a dolphin trainer at the Miami sea aquarium for 10 years. When he started there were just 2 dolphinariums and since then this has become a “Multi Billion Dollar” industry that wrongfully inprisons dolphins and asks them to perform tricks for the amusement of the public.
For approx 35 years Ric has now been trying to stop the trade in live dolphins and the dolphin slaughter that happens in Taiji Japan. 

Dolphins In Captivty
The majority of dolphins held in captivity are Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins. (Tursiops truncatus) They live in temperate and tropical waters worldwide, weigh from 300 to 600 pounds and grow to more than eight feet in length. They live in groups called "pods," made up of from several individuals to several hundred - males usually hanging out with males, females with females and their calves - and they swim up to 40 miles a day, navigating, socializing, mating, and foraging for schools of fish.

But when we see them at a dolphin show, what do we see? I'll tell you what I see. I see a dolphin eager to please and ready to do whatever the trainer wants him to. And why? Because he's hungry. Yes, dolphins perform tricks because that's when they're fed. One of the first things a trainer learns about dolphins is that they do not perform immediately unless they're hungry. This is why dolphins are fed during the show. You see the trainer blow a whistle and toss them a fish every time they do something right. And they know what they're supposed to do because they've been trained to expect a fish when they get it right. In fact they often start the show themselves when they get hungry. The trainers call their training method "positive reward." From the dolphins' perspective, however, it's food deprivation. If the dolphins get it wrong and the whistle is not blown, that means they won't be getting any fish reward.

If you understand the life of captive dolphins, you also begin to see the dolphin show with all its clowning around in another way. It's not clever anymore. It's abusive. When we understand that the dolphins are doing this because it's their only way of staying alive, we see it clearly for what it is: dominance. We're making dolphins do silly things, they would never do in nature, because we're amused by dominating helpless members of another species. The worst part is that it teaches children that it's okay to mock and disrespect one of nature's most fabulous of beings. The law permits this only because it's supposed to be educational. Its a Sick Joke !  (Ric O’Barry)

Whales and dolphins are highly intelligent social animals. In captivity they are forced to live in relatively dull, cramped, noisy and chemically-treated environments that cannot possibly accommodate the mental, physical and social needs of whales and dolphins.  
Confinement in captivity, which often follows capture from the wild, can seriously compromise the welfare and survival of whales and dolphins. In captivity, these animals often suffer from stress & reduced life expectancy. Surely we owe an intelligent creature such as this a better life don’t we ?

Your Role 
The Cove movie is as Ric says not his movie but details the dolphin slaughter that takes place in Taiji Japan and brings to light issues like highly toxic mercury content that is associated with
large cetaceans meat, which is sold in the supermarkets of Japan and consequently poisoning their population. Its an exciting documentary on many levels , and I would suggest everyone see this and shares with friends.

Dive Tribe also made a number of contacts at the presentation and with other NGO’s we will be supporting the complete ban on Dolphin shows in Thailand and asking our 11,000 member to help campaign and make the public aware of what dolphin shows really mean. 
“What can YOU do about it?”  The biggest impact you can make on this mindless slaughter of 23,000 dolphins per year is to boycott dolphin shows, dolphinariums and any tourist agency that endorses such places, and help bring awareness to the plight of these wonderful creatures.
Find Out More About Dolphin Conservation at Ric's website HERE.

Action Promo Image
Take a deep dive in the complex nature of the #GlobalSharkTrade
Think shark fin soup is responsible for the decline in shark populations. Think again!

From the My Ocean Community

My Ocean is a growing community of conservation leaders. Together, our actions add up to global impact for our ocean planet.

Want to Receive Monthly Ocean News and Action Alerts?