Sunday, January 2, 2011

Misty the Dolphin

Sometimes one person or one image is timeless and will forever represent a historical moment or cause.
The image of the war in Viet Nam that is indelibly etched in my memory is that of a naked child running down a road after she was burned by napalm.  What I now know is that her name was Kim PhĂșc.   The Pulitzer Prize winning photo was taken in 1963 near Trang Bang, South Vietnam when she was 9 years old, but those are details.  It is the image that will be remembered forever.
Sometimes an event will be as clear today as it was decades ago. During a rehearsal in Toronto, one of the actors arrived with the sad news that Terry Fox had died. I remember the moment as if it were yesterday.  We all thought that with his strength and determination, Terry could beat cancer. Terry Fox will always be a symbol of courage and he is a powerful force in the fight against cancer.
Michael J. Fox put a face to Parkinson’s disease and Christopher Reeve’s tragic accident created awareness of spinal cord injuries and raised millions for the cause.
Thousands of dolphins have been brutally murdered in Taiji and others are sold into captivity, but Taiji’s dolphins are nameless and faceless. Now there is Misty.
We have learned that Misty is male, not female as was initially presumed.  The trainers at the Dolphin Base in Taiji might have a name for him and perhaps his dolphin family had a name for him, but the world will only know him as Misty.
He was separated from the other dolphins because he was sick. Misty floats listlessly in a shallow pool overrun by algae and he clings to the only thing that has not been taken away from him.    This dolphin with the yellow float in his mouth has become an iconic image and the symbol of everything that is evil in Taiji; the dolphin slaughter and sale of live dolphins to aquariums.  
Sometimes there are good news stories.   Kim PhĂșc, is now an author and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. She is a Canadian citizen and is married with two children. Michael J. Fox lives a very full life and he is a self-proclaimed eternal optimist.
Perhaps it will not be the horrific images of death and brutality that will put an end to the Taiji dolphin slaughter.  I hope the only final image the world needs to shut down the Killers of Taiji and the Dolphin Base is that of this sick, lonely dolphin with the yellow object in his mouth.
For the Oceans,
Misty the Dolphin  - photo by Andy Romanowski

Please insist on better living conditions for Misty.  Email the Dolphin Base,, or from the Unites States or Canada call 011-81-0735-59-3514.   As always, you can register your objection to the Taiji dolphin slaughter with the Japanese Embassy. Clear, polite messages carry the most weight.