|2020 has been a year like no other. I’m not certain anyone could have predicted what the last ten months have entailed. Our lives have been changed, and no doubt, some of these changes will be permanent.
It’s not just humans that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Captive and wild animals alike have had to adapt to both an onslaught and the absence of human activity. And I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard the ensuing “lockdowns” compared to “being held captive”. Imagine if this was your life, day after day, month after month, year after year. It’s unimaginable, isn’t it? And that’s why, for over 50 years, The Dolphin Project has been spreading awareness about the plight of captive dolphins across the globe.
From establishing the world’s first permanent dolphin sanctuary in Bali, Indonesia to documenting the annual dolphin slaughter and captive selection in Taiji, Japan to advising grassroots activists on how to bring about positive change in their communities, despite the unprecedented challenges, Dolphin Project has continued to act as a defender for dolphins.
But none of this would be possible without your unwavering support. From graciously committing to recurring donations, where monies are used to help alleviate the suffering of previously-captive dolphins to sharing social media posts, to educating others on the plight of suffering dolphins to purchasing a t-shirt or other Dolphin Project-branded merchandise, and wearing your support, each and every action you take is greatly appreciated and urgently needed.
On behalf of everyone at Dolphin Project, I sincerely hope that the suffering endured by so many as a result of this pandemic will give rise to a new way of thinking, with a different set of values placed on those who continue to rely on us to act as their voice.
In safety and health,Ric O’Barry, Founder/Director, Dolphin Project
At the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center, Bali, Indonesia, dolphins can rehabilitate and retire in peace and dignityOur team is on the ground 24/7, caring for our three rescued dolphins, Rocky, Rambo and Johnny at the Umah Lumba Center, Bali, Indonesia
In 2019, Dolphin Project, in partnership with the Central Jakarta Forestry Department and the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) successfully confiscated many animals suffering in deplorable conditions at the Melka Excelsior Hotel in Bali, Indonesia, including four bottlenose dolphins – Rocky, Rambo, Johnny and Dewa.
Today, instead of swimming in filthy pools, destined to live out the rest of their lives as entertainment for tourists, Rocky, Rambo and Johnny can now live out the rest of their lives as nature intended: swimming in natural seawater, chasing live fish, and exploring an environment filled with sealife and other natural stimulation. Sadly, Dewa succumbed to his injuries as they were too severe for rehabilitation.
Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center, Bali, Indonesia
At present, the three dolphins are rehabilitating at the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center – the first of its kind in the world to care for formerly captive dolphins. While COVID-19 continues to cause untold suffering across the planet, our team has stayed together, caring for our three rescued dolphins while expanding our facilities in preparation for additional previously-captive or stranded dolphins in need. Dolphin Project is currently scouting for other suitable locations where dolphins can be retired and/or readapted.
Rocky, Rambo and Johnny rehabilitate and thrive in the healing waters of the Umah Lumba Center, Bali, Indonesia
Dolphin Project goes virtual!#SelfiesForCetaceans
In response to COVID-19, Dolphin Project’s two biggest events of the year, Empty the Tanks and Japan Dolphins Day went virtual.
On May 9, thousands of people from around the globe joined our #SelfiesForCetaceans online event. We are so grateful to everyone who took the time to participate, and share the message that marine mammals do not belong in captivity. Your photos and posts were creative, fun, and inspirational! On August 30 to September 2, thousands of people from dozens of countries participated in virtual Japan Dolphins Day events, marking the start of the hunting season in Taiji, Japan. Their message was loud and clear: the massacre of dolphins in Taiji is a crime against nature and must end immediately .Norway’s fjords would serve as a perfect sanctuary for beluga whale Hvaldimir and others in need
The world-famous beluga whale, who has been named Hvaldimir, was first noticed near Hammerfest in Northern Norway last spring.
Earlier this year, Regina Crosby, a resident of Norway and a filmmaker, asked Dolphin Project for help in identifying a solution for Hvaldimir, a beluga whale first noticed near Hammerfest last spring. He was wearing a tight harness, but local fishermen were able to remove it before it caused him any problems. They immediately noticed its inscription: “Equipment of St. Petersburg.” That set off speculation that he might be a trained Russian whale spy that had somehow managed to escape his human captors.
After spending time with Hvaldimir in Norway, we agreed that Hvaldimir is vulnerable and needs protection before tragedy strikes. We believe the solution lies in establishing a large protected sanctuary for Hvaldimir in one of Norway’s fjords. In the sanctuary, Hvaldimir would be safe from fishing nets, fish farms, and boat propellers.
An all-Japanese team comprised of volunteers and nonprofit organizations continues to document the dolphin slaughters and captive selections, Taiji, JapanSay NO to dolphin captivity!Every year from September through March, a notoriously cruel hunt of some of the most sentient creatures on the planet takes place in Taiji, Japan, made famous by the 2009 Academy award-winning movie ‘The Cove’. During this period, dolphin hunters, “drive” the mammals to their capture or deaths via means of physical violence and acoustic torture.
Dolphin struggles in nets during captive selection, Taiji, Japan
For the 2020/21 dolphin hunting season, Dolphin Project is collaborating with Life Investigation Agency (LIA), a Japanese nonprofit organization dedicated to investigating, exposing and campaigning against the abuse of animals, along with other Japanese-based activists. The program is headed up by LIA campaign director Ren Yabuki, and is open to all Japanese citizens curious about the Taiji dolphin drives and the captivity issue. We are pleased to report this is the first time events at the Cove have been documented solely by an all-Japanese team made up of volunteers and nonprofit organizations.
O’Barry versus Japan: deportation order revoked!
Ric O’Barry at the Cove, Taiji, Japan
Nearly five years after I was wrongly deported from Japan, the decision of the Tokyo High Court to revoke the deportation order by the Ministry of Justice is now effective. I am free to return to Japan. In a judgement for the case of O’Barry versus Japan, the court ruled in my favor, citing that both my denial of entry (dated January 20, 2016) and deportation (dated February 5, 2016) were without legal merit. The Japanese government attempted to appeal this decision, however, the Supreme Court did not accept the appeal. Thus, case closed!
It is very rare for a Westerner to beat the Japanese government in a court of law. The reason we did is simple: these were trumped up charges. It was yet another attempt to silence me for speaking out against the annual Taiji dolphin slaughter. It’s a huge victory and could very well help others in the future.
Indonesia’s traveling dolphin circus shut down
Indonesia’s traveling circus shut down!
After a decade of relentless campaigning against Indonesia’s traveling dolphin circus, the world’s cruelest dolphin show was shut down.
On February 5, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Indonesia chose not to renew the permits of the traveling dolphin circus. Wersut Seguni Indonesia, the company responsible for the endless suffering and trade in wild dolphins for the purposes of supplying dolphins for traveling “entertainment” finally closed their traveling circus tents. Dolphin Project’s campaign in Indonesia to close these exploitative operations includes a graffiti & mural art initiative, electronic billboards throughout Indonesia, digital ads at the Bali airport and a traveling educational puppet show.Progress for dolphins in France; GreeceHelene and Ric O’Barry say NO to the Attica dolphin show!
On behalf of our colleagues at the French animal rights organization C’est Assez!, we are happy to announce that on September 29, the French Minister of Environment, Barbara Pompili, announced a ban on the captive breeding of marine mammals. This means there will be no more breeding of captive dolphins, including killer whales, in France, and dolphin captivity will be phased out. The import of captive dolphins will also be banned.
A Dolphin Project team visited the Attica Zoological Parc in Greece in 2018 in order to evaluate the dolphins’ living conditions. We found several dolphins confined in small tanks with no access to shade. Even though Greece in 2012 implemented legislation that bans the use of animals in shows, the dolphins performed for crowds several times a day. Fast forward to this year, on March 13, government authorities finally evoked the dolphinarium’s license to operate.People of all ages can learn about the importance of marine life and conservation at the Umah Lumba Education Center, Bali, Indonesia
Education equals empowerment!Across Indonesia, Dolphin Project has been educating on the importance of marine conservation, and of leaving wildlife wild! With the construction of the Umah Lumba Education Center, we can continue reinforcing that dolphins are not entertainment, nor should marine environments be exploited.COVID-19 reliefOur team helps to distribute masks and food to local villagers in need, Bali, Indonesia
With so many people struggling as a result of the pandemic, Dolphin Project’s team in Bali, Indonesia stepped up to help in any ways that they could. We helped distribute masks and survival packages containing food for those most in need. We helped rehabilitate wild animals which had been kept as pets. We even built a home for a resident needing safe shelter.
We also collaborated with Bali Pet Crusaders to help sterilize animals. Bali Pet Crusaders is an Australian and United States registered charity that provides a mobile sterilization nonprofit program for stray and rescued local Bali dogs and cats, and for those owned by a low income community who can’t afford veterinary care.
Dolphins at the Umah Lumba Center will be able to live a life of peace and dignity