Behind the Dolphin Smile: One Man's Campaign to Protect the World's Dolphins

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Behind the Dolphin Smile chronicles Richard O’Barry’s extraordinary journey from dolphin trainer to world-renowned advocate for dolphin freedom. In his early years, O’Barry trained dolphins to entertain audiences for shows at aquatic theme parks and for roles in movies and television shows, most notably Flipper. His career as a trainer came to an abrupt halt when one of the dolphins that played Flipper on television died of stress in his arms. At that moment, he realized that keeping dolphins in captivity and ...

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Behind the Dolphin Smile: One Man's Campaign to Protect the World's Dolphins

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Behind the Dolphin Smile chronicles Richard O’Barry’s extraordinary journey from dolphin trainer to world-renowned advocate for dolphin freedom. In his early years, O’Barry trained dolphins to entertain audiences for shows at aquatic theme parks and for roles in movies and television shows, most notably Flipper. His career as a trainer came to an abrupt halt when one of the dolphins that played Flipper on television died of stress in his arms. At that moment, he realized that keeping dolphins in captivity and teaching them to do tricks was cruel and morally wrong. He began to understand that dolphins were easy to train not because of his gifts as a trainer, but because they are remarkably intelligent, and he vowed not to rest until he freed every last one of them.

O’Barry’s first arrest in the 1970s for trying to free a caged dolphin in the Bahamas eventually led to his starring role in the 2010 Academy Award®–winning documentary The Cove, which exposed to the world Japan’s horrific annual dolphin slaughter. Included in this new edition is a preface on O’Barry’s role in this riveting documentary, which has garnered more awards than any other in its genre, as well as information on his campaigns to stop the slaughter of dolphins.

Share and rejoice in O’Barry’s adventures, from Flipper to The Cove, and discover how the one-time pride of the billion-dollar captivity industry became the tireless dolphin advocate we know and love today.

A dramatic case for keeping dolphins in their natural environment by the man who trained Flipper.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
He attracted worldwide attention in 1970 when he was arrested in Bimini, the Bahamas, for cutting the wires of a dolphin's pen. That act was a remarkable turnabout for O'Barry, who had collected, trained and exhibited dolphins for the Miami Seaquarium. He trained all five ``Flippers'' for the successful television series; the death of his favorite, Kathy, convinced him that commercial exploitation of these intelligent, sensitive creatures must end. O'Barry recounts his adventures with dolphins, sea lions, sharks and other sea mammals in making films for television. After several attempts at organizing a group to protect dolphins, he now works with the Oceanic Research and Communication Alliance (ORCA). On a marshy island off the coast of Georgia, O'Barry is retraining dolphins to live in their natural environment. His story will have wide appeal. Photos. (April)
No one is more familiar with dolphins than ex-trainer Richard O'Barry. That he is an ex-trainer is the crux of Behind the Dolphin Smile, as the man who trained the dolphins who played Flipper on the television series has since become a most ardent advocate for the rights of dolphins to be free. O'Barry's epiphany came when one of the dolphins died of stress, in his arms, and left him changed forever. "If dolphins made contact with alien beings who made the right kind of sounds and if dolphins were enlightened enough to understand what was going on, they might very well treat the aliens the way they, the dolphins, would like to be treated themselves: with respect, kindness, patience and love. Indeed, they would treat the alien beings just as they have treated us." O'Barry has been arrested for trying to free a dolphin but has also been awarded the United Nations Environmental Achievement Award for his work in dolphin re-adaptation. This book is his story of how he reached this point in his life. It is not a great memoir, but it is a good story and an interesting one. It is also bound to add to the discussion about what is just and right for lives other than human ones. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1988, Renaissance, 299p, 23cm, 00-103894, $15.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Katherine E. Gillen; Libn., Luke AFB Lib., AZ, November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)
Library Journal
This autobiographical account of the author's work with dolphins includes his unique experiences capturing and training them at Miami's Seaquarium for filming in the Flipper television series. It also reveals his deep respect for the dolphin's natural dignity; O'Barry describes his involvement in research projects in which the mammals were studied in captivity and then returned to the wild. His Flipper tales are interesting, but for the most part his storytelling is too self-centered; he spends more effort examining his own personality than that of the dolphin. Samuel Ridgway's The Dolphin Doctor ( LJ 9/1/87) or Don Reed's Notes from an Underwater Zoo ( LJ 6/1/81) more vividly capture the excitement of working with these fascinating sea creatures. Susan Klimley, Columbia U. Libs.
School Library Journal
YA O'Barry's lifetime involvement with dolphins is the subject of this engaging autobiography. As trainer of the television star, Flipper (who was really five different female dolphins), his skills were crucial to the series' success. In 1970, O'Barry became aware of how his work had often exploited the friendly sea mammals and founded Dolphin Project, Inc., which is dedicated to the rights of dolphins to swim freely, except for purposes of legitimate scientific research. His work in returning dolphins to the wild was recently featured in a National Geographic television special, Back to the Sea. Although the time frame, littered with flashbacks, is sometimes confusing, this book succeeds in expressing O'Barry's deep bond with dolphins and his commitment to their rights. His worldwide adventures should appeal to many readers. Keddy Outlaw, Harris County Public Library, Houston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608871056
  • Publisher: Insight Editions LLC
  • Publication date: 1/3/2012
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 285
  • Sales rank: 449,104
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard O’Barry, founder of the Dolphin Project Inc. and director of Earth Island Institute’s Save Japan Dolphins campaign, is a world-renowned advocate for dolphin freedom. He starred in the Academy Awarding®–winning documentary The Cove and in his son Lincoln O’Barry’s television series, Blood Dolphins, on Animal Planet and Planet Green. He lives in South Miami, Florida.

Keith Coulbourn is a mystery writer and former newspaper journalist. He lives in Miami, Florida.

Susan Casey is the author of The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean, and The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks. She lives in New York City and Maui.

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Table of Contents

Preface    xi
Mission to Bimini   13
The Bimini Jail   28
Summer, 1944   42
Treasure Diving   55
The Hunt   78
Glory Days   92
Seaquarium Show Biz 103
The Lilly Factor 111
Going Hollywood 124
Thirteen Weeks a Year 134
Alone 151
The Bamboo Trick 160
Of Oyster Stew and Interspecies Communication                          185
Shooting in the Bahamas 201
Fun and Games 217
The Trouble with Susie 231
When the Wheels Fall Off 241
Working Without a Net 251
25.05° North, 76.40° West 266
Epilogue: The Journey Home 280
Afterword: The Dolphins of War 292
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 29, 2012

    Book Review: "Behind the Dolphin Smile" by Richard O&r

    Book Review: "Behind the Dolphin Smile" by Richard O’Barry with Keith Colbourn (2012 Earth Aware Editions, US, 285 pp)

    By Mark J. Palmer
    Associate Director
    International Marine Mammal Project
    Earth Island Institute
    Berkeley, CA

    Richard (Ric) O’Barry has issued a new edition of his 1988 book "Behind the Dolphin Smile", an autobiography of how he started as a dolphin trainer, including training the dolphins used in the hit 1960’s television show "Flipper", and became the world’s best known activist for dolphin protection and freedom from captivity.

    (Full disclosure: I am an employee of Earth Island Institute and work with Ric O’Barry on dolphin protection issues. I also helped edit this new edition of "Behind the Dolphin Smile".)

    This edition includes a new Forward by adventure writer Susan Casey, author of "The Wave" and "The Devil’s Teeth", and editor of Oprah Winfrey’s "O Magazine". O’Barry has also added a new Preface about the Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove", which stars O’Barry, and his campaign to end the largest slaughter of dolphins in the world in Japan.

    "Behind the Dolphin Smile" is well written with O’Barry’s straightforward and very personal style, as if you were having a conversation with him over beers. And his life has been quite a roller-coaster ride.

    While still in the Navy, O’Barry went on leave one day to the Miami Seaquarium, where he decided he wanted to “be the guy feeding the fish” in the large tank. And that is what he did, using his Navy training in diving in good stead at the Seaquarium for many years.

    He participated in capturing the five female dolphins that were to play the part of Flipper in the television show, following two hit movies. O’Barry became the trainer for the various Flippers during the five-year run of the show, including his favorite, Kathy. After the show’s end, Kathy wound up back in a tank, and, as O’Barry movingly describes, she died in his arms, committing suicide by refusing to breath anymore. This incident resulted in O’Barry flying to the Bahamas island of Bimini to try to free a dolphin there. It did not work; he wound up sitting in the middle of the sea pen in his boat with the captive dolphin refusing to leave. He was arrested, which began a long history of his campaigning against keeping dolphins in captivity.

    Captivity, O’Barry tells us, robs dolphins of the two most important things in their lives: Their extended families and their use of sonar, with concrete tank walls bouncing off echoes, rendering their sonar ineffective.

    Among his many adventures, O’Barry relates efforts to rehabilitate and release captive dolphins back into the wild and his often Don Quixote-like protests against the keeping of dolphins in captivity. The aquarium industry that spawned him, of course, now sees him as a major antagonist, for good reason. O’Barry would shut down dolphin and orca “shows”, rehabbing and releasing captives back into their ocean homes if possible, or retiring them to sea pens, where they can live out their lives in quiet and experience the ocean in real seawater, instead of doing dumb tricks. As O’Barry says in "The Cove", he spent his first ten years of his life building up the dolphin captivity industry, and he has spent his last 40 years trying to tear it down.

    "Behind the Dolphin Smile" is both very funny and very poignant. It is the story of one remarkable man who is, in his own words, “a dolphin guy.” I think you will enjoy reading about this dolphin guy and his love for marine mammals. You will think twice about buying a ticket to a dolphin show.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted October 18, 2012

    W Seth


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    Posted July 14, 2012

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