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A dramatic case for keeping dolphins in their natural environment by the man who trained Flipper.
|Mission to Bimini||13|
|The Bimini Jail||28|
|Seaquarium Show Biz||103|
|The Lilly Factor||111|
|Thirteen Weeks a Year||134|
|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|
Posted May 29, 2012
Book Review: "Behind the Dolphin Smile" by Richard O’Barry with Keith Colbourn (2012 Earth Aware Editions, US, 285 pp)
By Mark J. Palmer
International Marine Mammal Project
Earth Island Institute
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.
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Posted October 18, 2012
Posted July 14, 2012
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