Best Local Boy Made Good (2010)

Ric O'Barry

Anyone watching the Oscars in March would have seen the normally staid Best Documentary speech shaken up by the unfurling of a sign reading, "Text DOLPHIN to 44144." It's no surprise that Ric O'Barry, a Coconut Grove native, pulled a stunt like that. Not only was he featured prominently in the film The Cove, but also the dolphin activist has become synonymous with the movement to free these intelligent sea creatures from aquariums and other unnatural habitats all over the world. Ironically, O'Barry actually worked for the entities he now decries, such as Miami Seaquarium. His brief stint there in the 1960s, and as a dolphin trainer for the popular TV show Flipper, made him aware of the horrors of keeping these mammals in captivity. Since then, O'Barry has founded the Dolphin Project, freed more than 25 dolphins, written two books, spoken at countless international conferences, and become a celebrity in his own right. His latest cause, to stop the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan, resulted in the documentary The Cove, which won an Academy Award. After that coup, O'Barry was given a show on Animal Planet called Dolphin Warriors, which is being produced by his son, Lincoln. Dolphin Warriors is set to premiere this fall. Despite his fame, O'Barry has not forgotten his roots. The 70-year-old was recently spotted on a sweltering sunny Saturday on Key Biscayne protesting keeping Lolita, the Seaquarium's killer whale, in captivity.


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