Activist Ric O'Barry: Dolphin Smile Is 'Nature's Greatest Deception'

The star of The Cove continues his quest to end dolphin slaughter in Animal Planet's Blood Dolphins

Ric O’Barry spent a decade of his life capturing and training dolphins that he would work with in the 1960s TV series Flipper. But he has spent the rest of his life trying to do exactly the opposite, and has for 40 years been fighting for dolphins’ lives.

The dolphin trainer turned activist starred in the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove, which showed the annual capture and slaughter of dolphins in a Japanese village called Taiji. Now, working with his son Lincoln O’Barry, Ric continues where The Cove left off, in a new series with Animal Planet called Blood Dolphins.

“We’re trying to show where dolphins come from,” Lincoln tells “That’s one of the questions people don’t ask. A lot of these countries where there’s the slaughter of dolphins, they also export dolphins for captivity.”

In addition to revisiting Taiji, Ric, Lincoln and their crew went to the Solomon Islands, where dolphin trading is still legal and where they had a chance to negotiate with dealers to stop the hunt. But for Ric, the cycle can only really be stopped if the public understands that dolphins in captivity are not happy.

“The dolphin smile is nature’s greatest deception,” Ric says. “It creates the illusion that they’re always happy. I think this multi-billion dollar captivity industry is built on that optical illusion.”

Tune into Animal Planet on Friday, August 27 for the Blood Dolphins premiere at 9PM ET/PT.

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