Flipper’s trainer Ric’ O’Barry was deported today after spending 19 days in a Tokyo jail.
In a breaking news update, The Dolphin Project reports that immigration officials cited O’Barry’s trip to Futo on August 27, 2015 as the official reason for his deportation, claiming he did not inform them of his travel plans. O’Barry claims this to be a trumped-up reason, and that he was held for political reasons.
“It is ironic that they are deporting me to keep me quiet, when they themselves have brought more attention to the dolphin slaughter than ‘The Cove’ movie.”
Last August, O’Barry, on his way to Taiji to mark the start of the 2015/16 dolphin hunting season, decided to make a side trip to Futo to support former dolphin hunter Izumi Ishii’s whale watching tours. Although the decision to go to Futo was made after he was in Japan, officials claimed that O’Barry hid his intentions prior to his visit.
O’Barry’s son Lincoln is convinced that his father has been forced out of the country to prevent him from reporting on the 2016 Taiji slaughter.
“This is a desperate attempt by the Japanese Government to hide the atrocities in Taiji. My dad was being held as a political prisoner. They have run out of excuses on why the slaughter and sale of mercury-contaminated dolphin meat continues.”
With a tenacity that seems typical of him, O’Barry states that there are other ways to protest the Taiji hunt. Dolphin Project’s legal team has already filed an objection.
“This is the beginning of something, not the end. The deportation is the green light to sue the government, something we have never had before.”
Flipper, the famous bottlenose dolphin of the 1964 TV series, is fondly remembered by most baby boomers. But many don’t realize that his trainer was Ric O’Barry, who later went on to star in the blockbuster documentary, The Cove, which peeled away the cloak that covered the bloody Japanese dolphin industry.
Flipper was actually played by a group of five dolphins, all who had been captured and trained by O’Barry. At that time he worked for the Miami Seaquarium. He told PBS in an interview that dolphins are captured by chasing them down until they are exhausted. Mothers and babies are separated, and training begins by starving them so they will learn to eat dead fish instead of live ones. O’Barry bonded with the five Flippers. When the show ended in 1967, he said one dolphin that he had named Kathy became so depressed in solitary confinement that she gave up on life. He watched her sink to the bottom of the tank and die.
That was a life-changing moment for O’Barry.
From that point on, he became a self-proclaimed “abolitionist.”
“This issue for me is not just about the dolphins. There’s about a thousand in captivity and it’s more about the millions of people who go and see the show, go and see Shamu. They’re learning, it is educational, they’re learning, however, that it’s okay to abuse nature…”
“To teach a child not to step on a caterpillar or a butterfly is as important to the child as it is the butterfly. And that’s what’s wrong with it.”
In 1970, he founded The Dolphin Project, an organization whose mission is to end the captivity and exploitation of dolphins. In 1991 he received the ‘Environmental Achievement Award’ presented by the United States Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program (US/UNEP).
O’Barry has spent years trying to bring public awareness to the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. He teamed up with director, Louie Psihoyos, who was an avid diver and a respected photographer for National Geographic. His first film, The Cove is described as “a cross between Flipper and The Bourne Identity.“
The Cove synopsis describes it best.
“Academy Award® Winner for Best Documentary of 2009, THE COVE follows an elite team of activists, filmmakers and freedivers as they embark on a covert mission to penetrate a remote and hidden cove in Taiji, Japan, shining a light on a dark and deadly secret. Utilizing state-of-the-art techniques, including hidden microphones and cameras in fake rocks, the team uncovers how this small seaside village serves as a horrifying microcosm of massive ecological crimes happening worldwide. The result is a provocative mix of investigative journalism, eco-adventure and arresting imagery, adding up to an unforgettable story that has inspired audiences worldwide to action.”
Despite public opinion and shaming comments voiced by everyone from Caroline Kennedy to Arsenio Hall, the Taiji killings continue. Six months out of each year, a group of fishing boats go out into the ocean, round up a pod of dolphins and herd them back toward shore, eventually trapping them into the cove with nets. The panicked mammals are bludgeoned and stabbed until the water of the cove is frothy and cloudy scarlet. Some of the younger dolphins are trapped and put into slings, kept alive to be sold to seaquariums. The rest are slaughtered and taken to be sold for meat.
The irony is that the dolphin meat is loaded with toxins and unsafe to eat.
— BLACK COVE (@CoveBlack) February 2, 2016
O’Barry, who says he has no quarrel with the Japanese people, has been visiting Taiji for 13 years to report news of the dolphins. His crew maintains that he has been careful not to break any laws. As The Inquisitr reported, this year he was detained in Tokyo on January 18th, questioned repeatedly, and he remains there in a formal detention facility. His wife reports that Ric, at age 76, is beginning to show signs of failing health.
— clicks n’ whistles (@oceanCRIES) January 31, 2016
O’Barry’s attorney Takashi Takano reports a lack of response from the Department of Justice.
“The delay in responding to Ric’s case is a very bad situation, and is not normal. I am concerned because this situation is so unusual. He is getting weak and is unable to eat. Ric has already suffered a health scare, having chest pains which required a trip to the hospital.”
Through this petition, with over 25,000 signatures, Dolphin Project is demanding international action and calling for O’Barry’s freedom to resume his reporting in Taiji.
Dolphin slaughter has continued every day since O’Barry was detained.
[Photo by Kamil Macniak/Shutterstock]