The activist joined with other organizations to file suit against the town of Taiji, in a bid to protect a young dolphin named “Angel.”

Anyone familiar with the Academy Award winning 2009 documentary The Cove will remember the tireless campaigner for the freedom and protection of dolphins, Ric O’Barry. The film caused quite a stir on its release, particularly here in Japan, focusing as it did on the brutal slaughter of thousands of dolphins every year in the small fishing town of Taiji, Wakayama prefecture.

O’Barry, who started his career as a dolphin trainer on the classic TV show Flipper and now works as the Marine Mammal Specialist at the Earth Island Institute and as Director of the organization’s Dolphin Project, has never stopped visiting Taiji and campaigning against the vicious hunts which take place there yearly.

Now back in Japan, Ric O’Barry has teamed up with Save Japan’s Dolphins and with Sarah Lucas, the CEO of Australia for Dolphins, to launch a lawsuit against the government of Taiji. The “Action for Angel” lawsuit focuses its attention on the plight of a rare albino dolphin calf, “Angel,” held in appalling conditions at the Taiji Whale Museum. This museum is currently denying entry to anyone of western appearance, and it is for this reason the lawsuit is being filed. The Japanese constitution asserts that it is illegal to deny law-abiding people access to public areas. The lawsuit should shed further light and scrutiny on the already globally condemned drive hunts.

At a press conference on Thursday to launch the action Ric O’Barry described Angel’s current living conditions as “a living hell” where “she’s being bullied constantly 24/7 and it’s that kind of stress that kills them. Frankly I’m surprised she’s survived [as long as she has].” Through the lawsuit he hopes to have Angel removed from these terrible conditions and he expressed his desire to see a dolphin sanctuary created for the benefit of captive dolphins. “It would send a powerful message to the world about Japan’s respect for nature if that would happen.”

–Christopher O’Keeffe

Image: Ric O’Barry with Sarah Lucas at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan

Ric O’Barry, Sarah Lucas, Taiji, Save Japan’s Dolphins