2014: A Year In Review
As 2014 draws to a close, all of us at Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project would like to thank our supporters for their efforts in helping to protect dolphins across the world. Although our website has changed – we can now be found at DolphinProject.net – our mission remains the same: to protect dolphins worldwide. Amongst the good news for dolphins this year:
– SeaWorld stock devalued as a result of the “Blackfish effect.” On December 16, 2014, stock traded at $15.43, an all-time record low. Previously, the company admitted, in an earnings report, that a 5.2% drop in attendance at its theme parks was caused by negative publicity created by “Blackfish,” a documentary that traces the history of killer whales in captivity, leading up to the 2010 killing of a SeaWorld trainer. SeaWorld said company profits fell 28%.
– Speaking of SeaWorld, Southwest Airlines ended its 25-year marketing partnership with SeaWorld as a result of massive public pressure. As well, several musical acts including Willie Nelson, Heart and the Barenaked Ladies refused to perform during SeaWorld’s music series this past February.
– Ric attended several historic events, including a protest on July 5th in front of Kolmården Wildlife Park in Sweden. More than 150 people showed up to protest Kolmården’s captive dolphin spectacle. Dr. Mats Höggren, who is the zoological head of the park, noted that Kolmården is “not used to this kind of attention.” A huge crowd of 400 showed up to protest dolphinaria in Europe and urge the European Union, based in Brussels, to ban the import of dolphins and end captivity. On November 7th, the Japanese Embassy in Piccadilly, London was the site where an estimated 1000 voices were heard, representing the dolphins and whales of Taiji, Japan.
– Our Cove Monitors have been on the ground in Taiji, Japan since the dolphin hunt began on September 1, and will remain at the Cove until the hunt ends, in March of 2015. Many of our Cove Monitors are veterans who have been at the Cove several times. The father of them all is Ric, who is never more than a phone call away. “We always have Ric to call on, if and when we need his advice,” says Terran Baylor. “No other group has his experience here in Taiji to lean on and learn from.”
– Also in September, Ric was the guest of honor of former President of the Dominican Republic, Dr. Leonel Fernandez. On September 11, Ric received a special recognition from the Academia del Cine República Dominicana (ACRD), for his dedication and commitment to the eradication of torture practices to marine mammals, as well as the release into the wild of all dolphins and whales that are kept in captivity.
-One of the biggest stars in the world, One Direction’s Harry Styles, joined the Dolphin Project. He tweeted out to his over 23 million Twitter followers to “support the Dolphin Project like I do.” Harry also wore our Dolphin Project Crew shirt on stage in Miami to show his support.
– On October 26, a female bottlenose dolphin was set free in Indonesia by members of the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN). The dolphin was captured in Jepara, on the north coast of Java on October 22nd and held in captivity for five days. After receiving a tip about the animal’s capture, with the assistance of Indonesian officials and local fishermen, Dolphin Project’s Indonesian Coordinator /JAAN‘s Pram Harzani, safely released the dolphin back to the ocean, along with other members of JAAN.
As you can see, it’s been a very busy and productive year, with 2015 already promising to be filled with many exciting campaigns.
As the end of 2014 nears, and we soon move into 2015, I ask that everyone who has ever been graced with the smile of a dolphin, ever been touched by the sighting of a wild dorsal fin or fluke or ever been moved after watching a program about dolphins participate in an action to help bring peace to these blessed beings of the sea. Whether it’s organizing a film screening, composing a letter, participating on social media, Donating to Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, Volunteering to become a Cove Monitor, Purchasing a t-shirt or any other expression of solidarity to show your support against captivity and slaughter, I ask that you do it now. Please note that we are no longer connected to Earth Island Institute, so please switch your recurring and one-time donations to the new DolphinProject.net., not .org.
Remember, our work is completely funded by your support. Education equals empowerment. It’s time to change their world – and ours – for the better.
Peace to everyone in 2015!