A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. (October 2018)
Richard "Ric" O'Barry (born Richard Barry O'Feldman; October 14, 1939) is an American animal rights activist and former animal trainer who was first recognized in the 1960s for capturing and training the five dolphins that were used in the TV series Flipper. O'Barry transitioned from training dolphins to instead advocating against industries that keep dolphins in captivity, after one of the Flipper dolphins died. In 1996, a dolphin was seized from the Sugarloaf Dolphin Sanctuary, a corporation O'Barry worked for, for violating the Animal Welfare Act of 1966. In 1999, O'Barry was fined for violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act as the result of illegally releasing two dolphins that were not able to survive in the wild. The dolphins sustained life-threatening injuries.
October 14, 1939
|Occupation(s)||Founder and director of Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project|
In 1970, O'Barry founded the Dolphin Project, a group that aims to educate the public about captivity and, where feasible, free captive dolphins. He was featured in the Academy Award-winning film The Cove (2009), which used covert techniques to expose the yearly dolphin drive hunting that goes on in Taiji, Japan.
Richard O'Barry started out capturing and training dolphins for the Miami Seaquarium and through the 1960s became the head trainer for the five dolphins who collectively played Flipper on the popular American TV show, while also serving as stunt double for show cast member Luke Halpin. O'Barry also trained and performed with the orca Hugo at the Miami Seaquarium. When, in early 1970, a few years after production of Flipper had ended, Kathy, the dolphin who most often played Flipper, did not resurface for air, O'Barry considered the possibility that she had committed suicide and concluded that capturing, displaying, and training dolphins to perform tricks is wrong.
On Earth Day in 1970 he founded Dolphin Project, an organization dedicated to educating the public about the plight of dolphins in captivity. He also pioneered work to demonstrate rehabilitation and release as a viable alternative for captive dolphins. O’Barry has since released over twenty-five captive dolphins in Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, The Bahamas and the United States.
For the last 40 plus years O’Barry has spoken about the harmful effects of captivity on dolphins at lectures and conferences around the world. In 1991 in recognition of his contribution to the protection of dolphins, O’Barry received an Environmental Achievement Award, presented by the US Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program. In 2007, Ric and Helene O’Barry became consultants for the Earth Island Institute's International Marine Mammal Project.
O'Barry resigned from his position at the Earth Island Institute in September 2014, due to disagreements with its management regarding the acceptance of funds from the tuna industry, and its use of Fish Aggregation Devices.
Working with Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project, he leads an international effort to stop the killing of dolphins, end the trafficking in live dolphins to theme parks and captive swim-with-the-dolphins attractions and continues to lecture and speak out against the captivity industry.
O’Barry is co-author of three books, Behind the Dolphin Smile, To Free a Dolphin (both with Keith Colbourne) and most recently Die Bucht about dolphins and the making of The Cove published in Germany with Hans Peter Roth. Richard O’Barry is a Fellow National in the Explorers Club.
In 2018, O’Barry was noted in the book, Rescuing Ladybugs  by author and animal advocate Jennifer Skiff as “the man leading the global fight to protect dolphins” after being moved to action after witnessing the death of a dolphin named Kathy who he had trained while employed by the Miami Seaquarium.
Violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act edit
In 1996, O'Barry and Lloyd A. Good, III, working on behalf of Sugarloaf Dolphin Sanctuary and The Dolphin Project, violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act, a federal law that prohibits harassment of marine mammals. O'Barry violated federal law by releasing two dolphins that formerly participated in the U.S. Navy's marine mammal training program without properly preparing them for life in the wild. The dolphins, "Luther" and "Buck", were illegally transported without a permit from the U.S. Navy facility in San Diego, California to Key West, Florida despite their lack of skills that O'Barry and Good acknowledged were necessary for survival. As a result of this, Buck and Luther sustained life-threatening injuries and were found emaciated, begging for food, with deep laceration wounds by biologists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and required capture to nurse them back to health.
O'Barry and Good were found guilty and charged civil penalties of $59,500 in 1999.
The Cove edit
O'Barry was featured in the Academy Award-winning feature-length documentary The Cove, directed by Louie Psihoyos which investigates links between the killing, capture, trade and display of dolphins all over the world. The 2009 film centers on Taiji, Wakayama, Japan, drawing attention to the hunt of about 2,000 dolphins taking place there every year. O’Barry and his son Lincoln O'Barry are also behind the Blood Dolphin$ TV show for Discovery's Animal Planet, which continues on where The Cove left off.
- O'Barry, Richard; Keith Coulbourn (1988). Behind the Dolphin Smile. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. ISBN 0-912697-79-2.
- "The Legacy of Flipper". NYMag.com. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
- "Interviews - Richard O'barry | A Whale Of A Business | FRONTLINE". PBS. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
- http://www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov/pr96/jun96/noaa96-r144.html | Dolphin Removed From Unsafe Conditions at Sugarloaf
- https://www.animallaw.info/case/matter-richard-obarry | In the Matter of: Richard O'Barry, Lloyd A. Good, III, Sugarloaf Dolphin Sanctuary, Inc., The Dolphin Project, Inc., Respondents
- Colby, Jason M. (2018). Orca: how we came to know and love the ocean's greatest predator. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 311. ISBN 9780190673116.
- "About Ric O'Barry". Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project. 2023. Retrieved August 19, 2023.
- http://www.earthisland.org/assets/2007AnnualReport.pdf[bare URL PDF]
- "Fundraising, FADS, "dolphin safe," & why Ric O'Barry left Earth Island Institute". Animals 24-7. December 23, 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
- "An Urgent Message From Ric O'Barry | Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project". dolphinproject.net. January 3, 2015. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
- "International Marine Mammal Project - Earth Island Institute". Earthisland.org. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
- Gonzalez, David (July 3, 2001). "Santa Lucía Journal; Flipper's Trainer in Crusade Against Dolphin Exploitation". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
- Jennifer Skiff, Rescuing Ladybugs: Inspirational Encounters with Animals That Changed the World, New World Library, 2018
- Ibid. pages 188,191
- https://marineanimalwelfare.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_19.html | The Sugarloaf Dolphin Releases
- https://dolphins.org/marine_mammal_law?aid=2 | Marine Mammal Law - Dolphin Research Center
- Toshihide Iwasaki and Hidehiro Kato. "Japan Progress Report on Small Cetacean Researches; May 2000 to May 2001" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- Toshihide Iwasaki. "Japan. Progress report on small cetacean research; June 2001 to April 2002" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- Toshihide Iwasaki. "Japan. Progress report on small cetacean research; May 2002 to March 2003" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- "Japan. Progress report on small cetacean research; April 2003 to April 2004" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- "Japan. Progress report on small cetacean research; May 2004 to April 2005" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- Toshihide Iwasaki. "Japan. Progress report on small cetacean research; May 2005 to April 2006, with statistical data for the calendar year 2005" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- Toshihide Iwasaki. "Japan. Progress report on small cetacean research; May 2006 to March 2007, with statistical data for the calendar year 2006" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- Toshihide Iwasaki. "Japan. Progress report on small cetacean research; April 2007 to March 2008, with statistical data for the calendar year 2007" (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
- Emami, Gazelle (March 8, 2010). "'The Cove' Oscar Speech Gets Cut Off For Activist Message" (PDF). The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 17, 2011.