| Beyind the dolphin smile
It is this famous smile that allows humans to exploit dolphins for their own gains and carry on the fallacy that dolphins do indeed enjoy interacting with humans in captivity.
So when visitors pay for a ticket at an aquarium, they’re convinced that the dolphin they’re swimming with or having their picture taken with is actually smiling and therefore, radiate happiness.
Ric O’Barry was the trainer for the dolphins in Flipper, but filming stopped when the dolphins grew aggressive. At the time, few understood why captive dolphins would suddenly turn aggressive. After working with dolphins over a long period of time, O’Barry began to realize that there was something extremely tragic hiding behind their smiles, and it seemed that these animals were actually depressed.
This was the case for, Kathy one of the dolphins Ric O’Barry trained.
“She was really depressed... You have to understand dolphins and whales are not air breathers like we are. Every breath they take is a conscious effort. They can end their life whenever. She swam into my arms and looked me right in the eye, took a breath and didn’t take another one. I let her go and she sank straight down on her belly to the bottom of the tank.” From that day on, Ric O Barry turned from dolphin trainer to dolphin campaigner.
He truly believed that Kathy had taken her own life. She was one of the several dolphins that played Flipper, but towards the end of her career as an entertainer, she lived in an isolated chamber. Dolphins are highly social beings, so life in solitary confinement is understandably devastating.