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I went to a marine mammal conference down in San Diego. There was 2,000 of the world’s top marine mammal scientists, and Ric O’Barry was supposed
to be the keynote speaker, and at the last minute, the sponsor of the program pulled him from the ticket. I thought, oh God, that’s interesting. Well, who’s the sponsor? They said, “Sea World.” A lot of marine mammal scientists get their money from Hub Research Institute, which is the nonprofit arm of Sea World.
A dolphin in the right spot can make a million dollars a year. There’s a lot of money in it. If you get in their way, and I get in their way, it can be very, very dangerous. Jane Tipson, she was murdered. She’s the second colleague I’ve worked with that was murdered. The other one was Jenny May. We were trying to stop the traffic in Russian dolphins, and it involved a hunger strike. About the tenth day, I passed out, and I went to a hospital there, so Jenny became a target, and they followed her down the beach and strangled her with her own belt.
I feel somewhat responsible because it was the Flipper TV series that created this multi-billion-dollar industry. It created this desire to swim with them and kiss them and hold them and hug them
and love them to death, and it created all these captures. There were five female dolphins who collectively played
the part of Flipper. I captured the five dolphins myself.
At the National Aquarium in Baltimore, when it first opened, dolphins were dying left and right. They couldn’t keep dolphins alive, and they finally figured out it’s because the filtration system
was making a lot of noise. It’s the stress that kills them. So they’re very sensitive to sound. That’s their primary sense, and that’s their downfall in Taiji.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7… There’s 12 of them. This is a classic drive, what you’re watching here. There are migratory routes that dolphins have been using for thousands of years, and they just wait till the dolphins come by. The boats then put these long poles in the water which have a flange on the bottom, and they just bang on these poles
with hammers, and they create a wall of sound which frightens the dolphins. There were several hundred dolphins being driven ashore. I’d never seen so many dolphins before, and they were all running for their lives, running from this wall of sound.
The next morning, all of these dolphin trainers will be lined up selecting the ones that they want for the dolphinariums. They’re looking for bottlenose dolphin, primarily. They’re looking for Flipper, and so they collect young females, just like we did for the Flipper show. And they’re flown to different parts of the world. I could have my own dolphin facility somewhere in the Caribbean and be making 2 or million dollars a year like these guys, if I wanted to. But I walked away from that. The thing that turned me around was the death of Flipper, of Cathy.
It is clear that the fisheries of the world are on decline, and the obvious culprit is people, and we don’t want to acknowledge that. We look at the ocean as a source of infinite quality seafood,and I think we’re learning some hard lessons that this isn’t true. We’re pulling the fish out of the ocean at such a rate and eroding and diminishing our marine ecosystems so bad that the whole thing could collapse. 70% of human beings, seven out of ten people, rely as their principal protein on seafood. If we lose access to fish in the sea, we will be causing the biggest public health problem human beings have ever faced.