About Us


Ric O'Barry is the director of SaveJapanDolphins.org, a campaign conducted by the International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute. SaveJapanDolphins.org was formed to put an end to the Japanese drive fishery slaughter of dolphins and stop the capture and live trade of dolphins to zoos and aquariums around the world.

  • The work of Ric and the Save Japan Dolphins team was featured in the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove as well as in  Animal Planet Channel's  Blood Dolphin$  series. 
  • Save Japan Dolphins is active in creating worldwide pressure against the Japanese dolphin slaughter, generating petitions with more than 2 million signatures from 151 countries.  The team is also involved in investigations and monitoring at the Cove and in exposing the toxic mercury in Japanese dolphin meat products.

Earth Island Institute

Save Japan Dolphins is a proud part of the Earth Island Institute, a non-profit, tax deductible organization founded in 1982. The Earth Island Institute has a long and active history in dolphin-related causes. In 1986, through the International Marine Mammal Project,  EII organized a campaign to urge U.S. tuna companies to end the practice of intentionally chasing and netting dolphins with purse seine nets, and to adopt "Dolphin Safe" fishing practices to prevent the drowning of dolphins in tuna nets. This campaign included a consumer pressure, litigation, and revisions of the US Marine Mammal Protection Act.  In 1990 a major breakthrough was achieved and the first companies pledged to become dolphin-safe.  Today 100% of American tuna have become verifiably dolphin safe. Through the International Monitoring Program, the Earth Island Institute regularly inspects tuna companies to insure consumers that the tuna they buy is truly "dolphin safe."
Earth Island Institute is an umbrella organization with has more than 60 projects working for the conservation, preservation, and restoration of the Earth. For more information, please visit: www.earthisland.org

The Save Japan Dolphins/ International Marine Mammal Project Team:

Ric O’Barry – Campaign Director, Save Japan Dolphins
Marine mammal specialist and Earth Island Institute staffmember Richard (Ric) O'Barry has worked with dolphins for the vast majority of his life. He spent the first 10 years of his career in the dolphin captivity industry and the past 38 years fighting against it. Most recently, Ric's biopic, The Cove, won an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary in 2010.
Working for Miami Seaquarium in the 1960s, Ric was responsible for capturing and training dolphins, including five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American television series of the same name. When one of the famed dolphins, Cathy, died suddenly in his arms, Ric decided that taking dolphins out of their natural habitat and training them to perform tricks is wrong.
From that moment on, Ric knew he must rededicate himself to a new cause. On the first Earth Day in1970, Ric founded the Dolphin Project, an organization that aims to free captive dolphins and to educate people throughout the world about the plight of dolphins in captivity. Ric believes that this campaign exposes the public to what really goes on at dolphin shows and urges people not to support such forms of entertainment. By stopping the flow of money, Ric hopes to put an end to the captivity industry. This created much hostility toward him by those who stood to profit from the continued exploitation of dolphins.
Ric has rescued and released more than 25 captive dolphins in Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Bahamas Islands and the United States. With more than 45 years of experience, his firsthand knowledge about the methods used to capture and train dolphins has taken him all over the world to participate in lectures and conferences about the controversial dolphin captivity issue.
To recognize his contribution, in 1991 Ric received the Environmental Achievement Award presented by the United States Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program (US/UNEP). Ric received the ASPCA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.
Ric authored Behind the Dolphin Smile, which was published in 1989. Based off of that success, a second book, To Free A Dolphin, was published in September 2000. Both books illustrate Ric's work and dedication. A third book is in the works.
Ric is a Fellow National in The Explorers Club, a multidisciplinary society that links together scientists and explorers from all over the world. Each member is an accomplished individual with at least one fascinating story to tell.
David Phillips  -- Executive Director
Biologist David Phillips  serves as Executive Director of the Earth Island Institute, an international non-profit conservation organization founded by David R. Brower and headquartered in Berkeley, California.  From 1978-1984 David was Director of Wildlife Conservation for Friends of the Earth.  In 1982 he co-founded Earth Island Institute, serving as Co-Executive Director and specializing in international marine wildlife conservation.  He directs the Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project, with staff in the US, Thailand, Philippines, Costa Rica, United Kingdom, Mauritius, and Italy.
David has been a non-governmental representative to numerous international marine conventions, including the International Whaling Commission, and has testified before the US Congress on marine mammal protection, endangered species conservation, and the impacts of trade on the environment.  His direction of the Institute was acknowledged by the United Nations Environment Programme, which granted their Leadership Award in honor of his efforts to protect dolphins from indiscriminate fishing techniques.  The Earth Island Dolphin Project's success in negotiating an agreement with the world’s largest tuna companies to adopt fully "dolphin-safe" policies was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the most significant environmental victories of the decade.
In 1995, David founded the Free Willy - Keiko Foundation, successfully overseeing a five nation, $8 million international campaign to attempt the first rescue, rehabilitation, and release of orca whale to its native habitat in Iceland.
In 1995 David was awarded the Joseph Wood Krutch Medal by the Humane Society of the US for his efforts on behalf of marine mammals.
Mr. Phillips has been involved in the development and implementation of numerous pieces of legislation pertaining to marine conservation.  These include the Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act of 1990, the International Dolphin Conservation Act of 1992, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. 
Mark Palmer – Associate Director
Mark J. Palmer focuses on protecting whales and dolphins, with emphasis on strategic planning, legislative advocacy, legal research, grassroots organizing, and media relations. He is also Director of Earth Island Institute’s Wildlife Alive Subproject, dedicated to protecting wildlife and wild places throughout California and the West.
Mark graduated with a BA in Zoology from the University of California at Berkeley, and spent two years of graduate work at San Francisco State University in the Department of Biology. While at UC Berkeley, Palmer founded and led the Endangered Species Committee of California.
Mark has since served as Regional Vice President for the Sierra Club for Northern California and Nevada; Chairman of the Sierra Club’s National Wildlife Committee; and Chairman of the Sierra Club’s Arctic Campaign Steering Committee, which successfully blocked oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush Administrations. He has been Executive Director of the Whale Center (1986-1990) and the Mountain Lion Foundation (1990-1995), before coming to Earth Island Institute. His articles have appeared in several national publications, including Sierra Magazine, Pacific Discovery (now Wild California), USA Today, and Earth Island Journal. He has edited and contributed to several books, including Friends of the Earth Whale Manual, Cougar: The American Lion, and Behind the Dolphin Smile.
Mark has more than 40 years of experience lobbying in the California State Capitol in Sacramento and in the U.S. Congress in Washington DC on wildlife and wilderness issues, as well as international experience with the Japanese-American Environmental Conference, the International Whaling Commission, and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. He is editor of the daily newsletter ECO distributed at International Whaling Commission meetings. He was a consultant for the Academy Award winning documentary The Cove, and appears in the Animal Planet series Blood Dolphin$.
Mark Berman  -- Associate Director
 Mark Berman joined Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project in 1991. He previously worked as a volunteer advocate for Dolphin Safe tuna and to advocate for the ban on the captivity of cetaceans in marine parks in South Carolina. Mark led the successful campaign to halt construction of a large dolphinarium in South Carolina in 1990, and was instrumental in passage of a law in the state to ban the captivity of cetaceans. South Carolina is currently the only state with such a law in effect.
At Earth Island Institute, Mr. Berman assists in the direction of the International Monitoring Program for Dolphin Safe tuna, supervising staff in 15 countries. He also was a founding staff for the Free Willy Keiko Foundation in 1994 with David Phillips. Mark helped lead an unprecedented, five country program to rescue, rehabilitate, and release Keiko, the star orca whale from the hit movie Free Willy
Mark also works with the European Dolphin Safe Monitoring Organization to promote and license the registered dolphin safe logo for the canned tuna processors, retailers and importers in the EU. In addition, Mark has recently worked on campaigns to end the drive fishery of dolphins in Japan, to halt the expansion of Ocean Adventure in the Philippines and the mass capture of live dolphins in the Solomon Islands for export to marine parks worldwide. 
Mark graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Connecticut State University.
Mary Jo Rice – Associate Director
Mary Jo Rice works primarily with the Save Japan Dolphins Campaign in the areas of educational outreach, volunteer and internship management, fundraising, event planning, grassroots organizing, and campaign planning and implementation.

She has extensive experience in the non-profit world as a professional teacher and innovative administrator. Mary Jo tailors educational programs to the needs of specific organizations and builds engaged grassroots communities, offering pro bono professionals and volunteers a place to utilize their talents to serve the mission.
Mary Jo is the former Executive Director of Seaflow, the California organization that publicized the dangers of ocean noise to marine life. She organized the North American Ocean Noise Coalition, bringing together more than a dozen national and regional environmental organizations to collaboratively address pressing ocean noise pollution issues. 
A grassroots organizer for more than 25 years, Mary Jo assumes key roles in local campaigns for successful environmental candidates and ‘green’ initiatives. She led a major open space acquisition effort in Marin County, which won her the designation of “Environmental Hero” in Barry Spitz’s book, Open Spaces. For her successful leadership roles in various environmental campaigns, particularly in protecting ocean life, she received the 2006 Resource Conservation Award from the Sierra Club’s Marin Chapter. 
Mary Jo received a B.S. degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1974, graduating summa cum laude. She and her husband live at the edge of open space in the Marin County, CA hills, where they raised their two children.