Blood Dolphins, Episode 1 aired on Animal Planet Friday night featuring activist Ric O’Barry, who starred in the Oscar-winning film about Taiji, Japan called The Cove. This was the first hour of a three part series, that like Whale Wars, shows the Japanese in a negative light, this time over dolphins. Episode 1 of Blood Dolphins is another controversial foray into the issue of animal/mammal activism. No matter your stand on this, the show does have engaging moments.
Blood Dolphins, Episode 1 Featured The Cove Star Ric O’Barry Going Back to Taiji, Japan
The show opens in the village of Taiji, Japan, a place that seems outwardly good for dolphins, but it’s soon clear that it’s a place where the mammals are killed and selectively captured. Ric O’Barry used to capture and train dolphins, working on the TV show Flipper, but now he’s on a quest to free them because he feels that capturing dolphins leads to a “Captive Dolphin Depression Syndrome.” He first encountered this on Earth Day 1970, via a former Flipper dolphin Cathy, who allegedly died of this. O’Barry didn’t have a lot of fanfare for years, until the movie The Cove came out, which exposed the killing of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. Blood Dolphins, Episode 1 also discussed past work of the Ric O’Barry and his son Lincoln.
O’Barry charged that the Japanese use approximate 15 foot poles in the water, and crewmembers bang on them, which scares the dolphins into being herded into The Cove. Some are killed and others are sent to sea parks and aquariums. The killed ones are used for food, even though dolphins have high mercury content. O’Barry starts out in California at the Earth Island Institute discussing with his crew going back to Taiji, Japan. It’s feared he’ll be arrested immediately. Ric wants The Cove to be publicized by the Japanese media, and goes on a blitz starting September 1, when the dolphin hunting season starts.
When the activists arrive at The Cove, the police are soon there to shake them down for their passports, but Ric O’Barry talks his way out of trouble with the help of the Japanese media being with him. Later, they head to Tsunami Park, where the fishermen have allegedly put up barriers to keep people from seeing the killing of dolphins. Then Blood Dolphins, Episode 1, viewers get to see the “Whale Museum”, where the mammals are held in captivity, what Ric O’Barry calls “a torture chamber.” The gang of media and activists then go to a store that allegedly sells dolphin meat, but are kept out by angry shopkeepers. Their activities are aired on the media, and there’s been no killing in The Cove for three days so far.
Ric O’Barry Heads Back to The Cove to Verify Surprising Footage in Taiji, Japan on Blood Dolphins, Episode 1
Later, the activists go undercover at The Cove with their cameras to see what’s going on, but they spot a camera and a truck watching them. Sirens blare, sending them out of the area, fearing the cops. They don’t find any evidence of hunting about to begin, so Ric O’Barry heads to Tokyo. At Futo, Japan, O’Barry stops to honor his friend, who helped to stop dolphin killing there, after once being a hunter. Unfortunately, he gets a call saying the hunting boats in Taiji are on the move. Soon, a photographer gets some surprising footage from Tsunami Park: dolphins being released from The Cove on Blood Dolphins.
Ric O’Barry, his son, and another activist head back to verify this, and find dolphins there, but no boats or hunters on Episode 1 of Blood Dolphins. One dolphin is spotted dead floating in the water. Early the next morning, the activists go back to The Cove, but are harassed by hunters as they film while other hunters herd the dolphins out of sight. Later from another vantage point, Ric O’Barry and his crew spot blood in the water and dolphin guts being dragged about. The two week respite from killing ends and really puts the hooks into them.
It’s hard to imagine that mammals like dolphins are treated this way. This program is going to stir the viewers up, and make us ponder seeing dolphins in captivity, which can bring over $150,000 per dolphin sold for those purposes. Nonetheless, 70-plus dolphins were saved and the Japanese press covered it, so it’s netted some victories on Episode 1 of this show.
“Return to Taiji”, Blood Dolphins, August 27, 2010, Animal Planet