The Oceanic Preservation Society
Recent stories about Orcas killing their trainers in Sea World and shark tanks cracking in Dubai reminded me of this man. Ric O'Barry was one of the principle trainers for Flipper, the famous TV dolphin. For years Ric's livelihood was training these wild animals to 'act' and perform. He obviously loved them but as he now says 'be careful what you mean by love.' One day one of Ric's favourite dolphin swam up to him and simply stopped breathing and died. Unlike humans, breathing is not automatic, dolphins can choose not to breathe. Ric was convinced this dolphin was so depressed with her captivity she opted for suicide. Just ponder that, an animal choosing to die. Ric there and then knew that he had to undo everything he had created. He has spent his life since working towards liberating dolphins from captivity. He risks his freedom and his life, serving penance for his role in establishing the horror show that are 'marine sanctuaries.'
Ric says humans spent years trying to get dolphins to behave like humans, using hand signals to try and 'teach' them. But dolphins don't have hands. And he eventually realized that they might well have more to teach us than us them, but not in captivity. One thing is clear, captive marine animals suffer mental illness. Removing them from the wild causes psychosis.
And this is perhaps where they can teach us what we are just beginning to understand, our own collective insanity is in large part due to our own removal from the wild. The atrocities we commit against each other and other inhabitants of this planet are perhaps not as 'natural' as some pessimists like to view human nature. You can't expect to understand a whale or dolphin's natural behavior while it is deprived of its primary sense (sound) and locked in a tank. And you can't expect to understand humanity's potential while we are trapped within our own cages.
Ric O' Barry's atonement is one effort to tear down the cage for us all. One day we'll leap out.
Now watch The Cove