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Chris Porter's 'Free the Pod' Seeks Safe Release of Entertainment Dolphins

When searching for news about dolphins, Miami is always front and center. This visual about the Miami Dolphin’s release of football player Chris Porter underscores man’s current relationship with dolphins.

Many of us regard dolphins as human play toys.

The photo is not Chris Porter, who says he will free his last 17 dolphins.

Chris Porter trained Tilikum, the orca responsible for the death of Dawn Brancheau, 40, at SeaWorld in Orlando last month.

For the last nine years Porter has operated a lucrative business, capturing animals in the Solomon Islands and selling them to aquariums. Mr Porter said his friend Dawn’s death shook him and proved that trainers and aquariums can’t meet the needs of such intelligent animals.

Porter says that he still believes that some animals must be captive educational ambassadors, but performing tricks at SeaWorld is not providing much of an education on the consciousness and planetary needs of these gifted creatures.

Chris Porter initially set out to save dolphins, worth only $20 when captured. Last year dolphins were worth $140,000, not only for their value as Japanese sushi but as performing animals in places like SeaWorld. 

These gorgeous photos of the Atlantis, the Palm-Resort on the Palm Jumeirah Dubai reflect the upscale price that people are willing to play to commune with dolphins. In my recent article about dolphin consciousness, I was surprised to discover all the spa-like, meditation-related vacations, and also therapy sessions, that now use dolphins in direct contact with humans.

Many people regard dolphins as beings with consciousness more elevated than humans’. I’m not clear about Porter’s views — or “The Cove’s” Ric O’Barry’s either — of just what nature of contact between dolphins and humans is acceptable. I have a strong hunch that the two men don’t approve of the Atlantis resort.

Frankly, the visual temptation of this experience exceeds any shopping tour I can image. Yet, such spiritual  luxury must be questioned if it’s fundamentally bad for dolphins. I don’t have the knowledge base to comment further.

I’ve searched the AOC website to see if I wrote about The Atlantis previously. It’s the type of project I would have orgasmed over a year ago. I’m still orgasming but with a guilty conscience.

Visit Porter’s website Free the Pod, which will now bring him into an alliance with one of fiercest opponents, Earth Island Institute marine mammal specialist Ric O’Barry, who originally trained Flipper for the TV series.

O’Barry directed the Oscar-winning best documentary film ‘The Cove’, which Porter says was the second major factor, besides the death of Dawn Brancheau, in his decision to release the 17 dolphins.

Reading now on Free the Pod, Porter has posted a position paper from The Humane Society of the United States on the subject of capturing whales and dolphins for shows like SeaWorld.


Capture is a violent affair. Animals are herded toward shore into shallow water, or chased by catcher boats. When driving the animals to shore, capture operators ruthlessly separate juveniles (those still swimming with their mothers but no longer dependent on milk) from frantic females, truss them in a sling, and carry them from the water to a transport vehicle. When chasing animals, capture operators either encircle them with nets or use specially designed lassoes on bow-riding individuals, before dragging them on board. In Canada, men actually jump on the backs of belugas in shallow water and “ride” them to exhaustion in a traumatic “rodeo.” The trauma is real; in an analysis of a U.S. government-maintained database, researchers found that mortality rates for bottlenose dolphins shoot up six-fold immediately after a capture. The rate only drops back down after about 35 to 45 days.

Most disturbingly, this spike in mortality occurs every time dolphins are transported. Each time they are confined and shipped from one place to another, it is as traumatic as if they were being newly captured from the wild. The experience of being removed from water and restrained is apparently so stressful to dolphins that they never find it routine. This is in marked contrast to other wild mammals (including other marine mammals such as sea lions), who eventually acclimate to the transport process.

Mr. Porter’s Free the Pod project is focused on the safe release and reintegration of 40 dolphins currently based at a 40 acre tropical pacific island in the Solomon Islands. Free the Pod also seeks to followup with dolphins released in the program, insuring that they’re not floundering and at risk because of man’s influence.

This video was made in 2008 at Solomon Islands Dolphins Paradise, who supports Free the Pod. Anne  

More Reading| Since writing this article I’ve become much more involved in conversations with Chris Porter and his intentions around freeing dolphins in the Solomon Islands.  We released a new article today June 29, 2010 Dolphin Release Update | Chris Porter’s 



Reader Comments (4)

The photo is not Chris Porter, the outstanding humanitarian who just set free his last 17 dolphins.

Humanitarian? are you kidding me, really?

The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Released a report on October 24 2008 titled "Dolphin Dealer"

I can assure you that if you take the time to watch this it will leave little dought as to the character of Mr Porter.

Humanitarion would not ba an adjective I would use to describe Mr. Porter.

Here is a photo of Mr Porter

And a link to the documentry

April 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJames Chief

I presume this message was left by a bot. I wrote that the photo wasn't Chris Porter and the real Mr Porter with dolphins acknowledges that he was a dolphin dealer and not well regarded by the save the dolphin community. I release the comment only because we only filter out purely commercial comments left by bots or truly inflammatory or false ones. A

April 13, 2010 | Registered CommenterAnne

Of course SOLOMON ISLANDS DOLPHIN'S PARADISE supports Free the pod! Christopher Porter is the owner and operator! He hasn't actually freed the dolphins yet as your article says. I read comments on his FB page and he says that he is installing bait lights that attract fish. He may be opening the gate to the dolphin holding pen so that they can come and go as they please but I bet you any amount of money that he is traing them to return to his lagoon everyday for a free and easy meal ticket. That way he can keep his DOLPHIN'S PARADISE business running with a lucrative ''swim with dolphins'' program. Why wouldn't he? After all, he is the one that captured and sold those dolphins to the ATLANTIS RESORT in Dubai. Don't let him fool you folks! He is not a humanitarian. He is trying to figure out a way to keep his business runnig now that dolphin exporting is no longer allowed in the Solomon islands and he's trying to come off looking like a good guy in the process. I hope that when he opens the gate all 17 dolphins swim as far away from his lagoon as they possibly can and never come back!

April 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNunya

You are absolutely right. I contradicted myself in the headline. Will rewrite this moment. I know he didn't release them and say that elsewhere but the headline is screwed up.

I appreciate your opinion and sentiments. I've also heard from Chris Brown personally.

It's not my role to judge people who have decided to make a change. One of the problems with life today is that we're put in a box and can never get out to become a better person.

So while I'll rip into the fisherman of Japan relentlessly, I will only support the changes that Chris Brown is trying to make now and also hold him responsible for keeping his word. Let me know if he fails to deliver and I'll crucify the dude in digital print.

I only know -- as I admitted -- that my own consciousness has been raised 10-fold by my friend Dave Head in New Zealand. Two years ago, I could have booked a room in Dubai and waxed poetically about communing with the dolphins.

Would I have sold dolphins ever? Probably not, knowing me. BUT, I could have checked into that hotel, for the wonderment of seeing the dolphins in such a private setting.

Thanks for your comment, and I'll change that headline pronto.

April 22, 2010 | Registered CommenterAnne

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