The documentary The Cove won an Academy Award and highlighted the plight of dolphins in the Japanese fishing village of Taiji, but the activist featured in the film says his work is far from done.
It continues in Animal Planet's new series Blood Dolphins (premiering Aug. 27, 11/10c), which follows Ric O'Barry, Flipper trainer and The Cove's lead activist, and his son, filmmaker Lincoln O'Barry, as they continue their mission to save dolphins from slaughter in Japan.
The three-part series chronicles their return trip to Taiji, where they discover that in spite of the success and international awareness of The Cove, the dolphin hunting continues.
"Having a higher media profile is a tool," Ric said Friday during the show's Television Critics Assocation summer session. The drawback is that in Japan "I am a marked man." Ric said there are four major dolphin trade groups from which he has to stay away. "Two of my associates have been murdered," he said.
Still, Ric said, he'll continue the work of education. "In some ways, the Japanese people are victims because they don't have the information," Ric said. "But we're here to listen and learn... We're not cultural imperialists."
Even with considerable losses, the O'Barrys say they remain undeterred in revealing what Lincoln calls "the dirty business" of captive dolphins, "which usually involves slaughter."
The animals you see at theme parks are part of the problem, Lincoln said. Viewers who watch the show, "hopefully, they won't buy a ticket, and it will faze out."
"It's not conservation," Ric said. "Flipper was a blood dolphin."
Elsewhere at Animal Planet, President Marjorie Kaplan announced that a one-hour Whale Wars special will air Sept. 17. The network has also ordered 10 additional episodes of Confessions: Animal Hoarding.