Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Letter to Ric O'Barry: No More Fish Stories Please!

No more hyperbole please

All Eyes are on Ric O'Barry.
There are 40 synonyms for exaggeration.

The latest biggest Taiji news we see is not that Ric was NOT arrested, it's that, the prick from Texas, was right: Ric's statements on Dolphin Project's Blog were false. It hurts when friends lie. It makes you wonder why.

Contrary to Ric's statements, Ric was never offered the title of Ambassador of Ito City last week for his Dolphin work or ANYTHING else by Mayor Hiromi Tsukuda or ANYONE else.

When we investigated Ric's similar claim in The turns out that Ric was never given the "Keys to the City of Taiji" either, as stated in the film.

Maybe they were both just figures of know, "having the keys to the city" and being the “Ambassador of Ito City” are like saying that we are like "best buds". That could be, but unfortunately for Ric, Ito City Mayor took the twisting of his words at face value, meaning a lie and complained to everyone who would listen, which thankfully included Cara Sands, the Dolphin Project .net web manager, and the falsehood has been taken down, but there is an uncomfortable accumulation that has prompted our letter to you today.

Dear Ric:
We love you as the tough Dolphin loving warrior you chose to be when one of the Flipper Cast, became the only Dolphin in history fully documented by you to choose to stop breathing. We know the Japanese in power may not like you. We are now reasonably certain that the Taiji police have it in for you...but you have a good team there in Taiji and 1000's of people standing with you to keep on keeping don't need to exaggerate your titles or police brutality (torture for a night in jail) for us to keep loving you...You don't need to lose your passport or drink before you drive or drive your car off the road to get attention.

You don't need to hype the radiation in dolphin meat before you test it either. The Tesla-Drive-to-DC-to-Deliver-a-Million-Signatures-to-Obama-to-Announce-a-Cove-Japanese-Rights-Buy-Back-Paid-For-With-New-Donations Event so the Japanese will finally see the truth, was a boast beyond reason or reality with no apparent follow-up...No tall tales! No lies please! Just you. We love you just the way you are.

What the world needs is good people observing the hunt and reporting it in photos and videos, tweets and posts to the world. That's the base. From there we need increased international pressure like with the Australia for Dolphins WAZA Lawsuits. Let's put more money into real pressure. 

We also need real negotiation if we are actually going to see an end of the Dolphin hunt. Next time we have an actual negotiation with people on the side of the hunters and people on the side of the activists, please support it instead of ending it. With great media attention, comes great responsibility. We need solutions. We need you there in Taiji.

The more you are there, the more the "Eye of Sauron" will not be on the Sea Shepherds, for they are doing the heavy lifting every single day of the season, year after year, without the drama. Dozens really have gone gone through regular Taiji police interrogations for years. They have even stoically gone to jail in Taiji and been found innocent.

If the police do arrest you, we are confident that you too will be found innocent of whatever crime the Taiji Keystone Cops can dream up. You are a better man than this. Your cause...our cause...the Dolphin Cause is just. The hunt will end. You don't need to try to do it alone.

We can do it together.

Steven Thompson

The opinions expressed here are mine alone based on my own research and experience. The intent here is to improve Dolphin activism with constructive criticism.

There are at least 40 synonyms for "exaggeration". One in this list need not be.
They are: baloney, excess, fabrication, falsehood, fantasy, hyperbole, misjudgment, misrepresentation, untruth, aggrandizement, amplification, boasting, caricature, coloring, crock, elaboration, embroidery, emphasis, enlargement, exaltation, extravagance, fancy, hogwash, inflation, jazz, line, magnification, overemphasis, overestimation, pretension, pretentiousness, rant, ric o'barry, romance, stretch, whopper, yarn, figure of speech, fish story, flight of fancy, and tall story.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The New Taiji Games 2015-2016

Find all the hidden cameras and win a prize!

The Pre-Opening discussion is done. The Taiji Dolphin Hunting season opens tomorrow, in about 8 hours.

All who have planned to be in Taiji are here, all checked in and ready to go. The film makers, the activists including all the groups and all the independents, the reporters, the police, the hunters, the managers, the politicians. THE WORLD IS WATCHING.

And while we watch, they watch.

Pre-Season research has identified a new aspect to the Dolphin Activism in Taiji. There is now something to do while we wait for the Blue-Cove, Red-Cove verdict.

Introducing the new game for all Dolphin activists who are actually in Taiji. The name of the game is: WHERE'S THE CAMERAS?

It looks like the police and town officials have actually taken a page out of our guide, The Cove Film Play Book: How to Be a Dolphin Activist, and installed rock cameras or others at up to $549usd a piece.

Can you find the new hidden cameras? The police appear to have installed wireless cameras and built a whole room at the back of the Police Cove Office to monitor the usual places: The Point, The Hill, The Union Office, The Parking Areas, The Super Market, and of course The Boats.

While it may have cost a bundle to get together and install and of course to keep up to date with full battery power, they will probably save on their payroll unless this game begins in earnest. Then they will have to monitor the gamers. They may have inadvertently started a whole new game for the hundreds of activists coming to play, just like "Where's Waldo?"

It's going to take imagination and creativity to play. You'll have to imagine you are a Japanese Taiji Police Officer who is set on trapping Dolphin Activists doing bad deeds. Do not take this lightly. It is no easy task to slide down the rabbit hole of Japanese Dolphin Activist Law-enforcement. First you have to accept that right or wrong, you will enforce a law that legitimizes the murder of some of the most intelligent, beautiful beings on the planet. Then, you just do your job. Just think: where might those foreigners go where they are not supposed to go and where won't they look for a camera?

If you find all 14 cameras, you win the prize, the right to gloat that the Taiji Police are following you personally and have your photo pinned to their wall.

Who will find them first?
It could be you.

Just get a ticket to Osaka, and take the train straight to Taiji. Remember to please hide your Sea Shepherd gear if you are not yet prepared for the game at the professional level, "The Deportation Game".

Here is a hidden camera website. Please shop here so that you can practice at home before you come.
Buy your own!

Please post photos of cameras hidden in the Taiji hills or town and include your method of detection. These now un-hidden cameras will then become a tourist draw to line up and pose in front of. The person who finds the camera has the right to name the site. There is really no limit to what can be done once a camera is actually found.

Where else in the world can gamers go to pit their wits against actual police carrying guns in a high stress international-conflict location and have the game itself funded by the police themselves! 

Furthermore, the risks are real or somewhat real because the police are such pussy cats here and not known to be prone to violence. Yet won't the police be motivated to arrest you or threaten arrest for posing in front of the camera? Maybe...maybe not, but this is about as real as gaming can get.

Caveat: the rules have not been fully accepted by all parties. Whether the police know of the myriad ways, including phone apps to find a hidden camera, as evidenced by a quick Google search, has yet to be seen.

For the Dolphins and for Us,
Steven Thompson
In Japan, part of an awesome team, supporting independent activists to Taiji
Taiji Dolphin Action Group

The game, "Where's The Cameras", is brought to you by Wakayama Dolphin Governor Yoshinobu NISAKA. The word is that no one is quite sure why he supports the killing so strongly or why the Japanese Government offers so many killing permits to him, but he sure does give otherwise ne'er-do-well activists something creative to do with their time.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


US contact : phone : 760-840-0414
European  contact :  phone : +353 851 880 138

 Mar 12, 2015
The tragic death of former Marineland Mallorca dolphin trainer Jose Luis Barbero has highlighted an important limitation in transparency and accountability for the training and holding of dolphins in captivity.  A WSB-TV news story revealed the shock of Georgia Aquarium visitors at seeing a video of trainers kicking, hitting and yelling at dolphins during training sessions. The public's shock comes from its expectation that those in control of captive dolphins are ensuring their well-being and that the types of acts illustrated in the video would not occur out of public view.The public’s expectation of dolphin well-being may not, however, be a reasonable one; without aquarium protocols to encourage the reporting of dolphin mishandling or even abuse, like the ones shown in the video, their well-being cannot be ensured. Neither the Georgia Aquarium nor Marineland Mallorca has made any statement that it provides to its employees and volunteers a mechanism for the reporting of abuse or mishandling of the marine mammals in their care. One volunteer at the Georgia Aquarium stated that no such reporting protocols were identified during the extensive, multi-day training for volunteers. Georgia Aquarium CEO Mike Leven’s statement that it has a “zero tolerance policy” against the mistreatment of any of their animals is encouraging, but policy, to be credible, is supported by protocol, not just words spoken during an interview.Meanwhile, it has been over a month since the release of the first video taken of dolphin maltreatment at Marineland Mallorca, and the Georgia Aquarium has not released the forensics evaluation of the videos that it committed to performing, leaving with the public its suggestion that the video was “doctored”, even though it stated that it had preliminary results as early as March 8.   The advocate community joins the public in extending continued condolences to the family of Mr. Barbero.  This community recognizes that marine animal trainers must have ready access to mechanisms for reporting instances of inappropriate training.  The tragedy of Mr. Barbero’s death must not be compounded by ignoring the clear need for reporting and, perhaps, counseling for members of the training community.VIDEO:

Saturday, March 7, 2015

HOW WE GOT HERE - The Death of Jose Luis Barbero

Prepared by Thomas Gainard, Michele Bollo, Steve Christianson
US contact : phone : 760-840-0414
European contact (french/english) :  phone : +353 851 880 138
Dolphin trainer identified in abuse video found dead in Mallorca of apparent suicide.
07 March 2015

José Luis Barbero, a senior dolphin trainer, was identified by a group from around the world who intended to expose the truth of what occurs “behind the scenes” between dolphin shows at Marineland Mallorca.  
It has been brought to our attention that lawyers and an investigator from the Atlanta-based aquarium were sent to Mallorca to investigate and were given information last weekend that a new video existed, which was released 2 days ago  Please see our previous press release for more context on the video. We believe Mr. Barbero was made aware of the second video before he went missing on Tuesday morning. 
Spanish media has reported that Mr. Barbero has been found today, deceased in his car at Mallorca Airport.
We view the death of Mr. Barbero as a terrible tragedy, and extend condolences of the most sincere kind to his family and friends. It should be clear that our effort is not focused on Mr. Barbero, but with Aspro Occio’s Marineland Mallorca, which has allowed the mistreatment of dolphins by not one trainer, but several.  

Mr. Barbero resigned from his position in Marineland with the prospect of becoming the new Senior Vice President at Georgia Aquarium in February.  

The first video provided to and released by the Spanish organisation 
SOSDelfines quickly made the rounds on the internet, which prompted Georgia Aquarium to launch an investigation, while putting Mr. Barbero’s hire on hold.  IMATA (International Marine Animals Trainer’s Association) also launched their own separate investigation, after making a video statement. [since removed from their website]
The question that begs to be asked in the coming weeks is how could this happen and what are the events that led to such tragedy?
The  focus on the unfortunate nature of the story points to the need for transparency and accountability from within the industry.  
  • Did Marineland Mallorca know about the negative training sessions, and the creation of a hostile work environment?  What measures did they take to modify that situation? Were they aware other trainers had adopted the same methods that Mr. Barbero utilized?  
  • If Marineland knew, via complaints or otherwise that there was a problem, how could that not be conveyed to the Georgia Aquarium during their “exhaustive vetting” process?  Ironically, GA is conducting an investigation now, too late to impact the situation.
  • How does IMATA pave the road to reporting misbehavior, protecting those that report situations from retribution?   How does IMATA become a penetrating and effective organization for acting on behalf of the humane treatment of dolphins that exists within their protocols and mission statement?   How do they plan to protect those reporting situations of dolphin mistreatment?