The Dolphin Dealer: Key Characters
Christopher PorterChristopher Porter
Christopher Porter is a former head trainer for the Vancouver Aquarium. In 2002 he partnered with a Greek resort owner and leased Gavutu, a 40-acre island in the Solomon Islands. Porter started building a dolphin resort, and caught over 100 dolphins with the help of indigenous hunters. These captures and his subsequent export of 28 dolphins to Mexico in 2003 triggered outrage in the media and among international environmental groups around the world. Though labeled as a poacher, Porter maintains that his project is actually protecting the Solomon Island dolphins by providing a live alternative to the traditional slaughter of wild dolphins.
Dr. John Hall
Dr. John Hall has a PHD in Marine Biology and has extensive experience studying wild dolphins as well as working with captive dolphins with Sea World Inc in San Diego. He also studied the impact of large-scale energy projects on marine mammals, especially gray whales, bowhead whales and beluga whales. After the disastrous Exon Valdez oil spill, Dr Hall researched the recovery status of killer whale populations in Prince William Sound, Alaska.
Dr. Naomi Rose
Dr. Naomi Rose is the marine mammal scientist for Humane Society International, specializing in international marine mammal protection issues. She has followed and opposed Porter's operation in the Solomons since 2003. Her areas of expertise include whaling, whale and dolphin watching and marine ecotourism, the dolphin-safe tuna label, marine sanctuaries, acoustic harassment, captive marine mammals (including swim-with-the-dolphin programs), the Marine Mammals Protection Act, and the sport hunting of polar bears, as well as the protection of walruses, seals, sea lions, polar bears, manatees, dugongs and sea otters.
Ted Turner is the Vice President of Operations for Ocean Embassy, the American company that partnered with Porter to export dolphins to Dubai. Turner served as President of the International Marine Mammal Trainers Association and worked as the Vice President/Curator for Seaworld Cleveland before teaming up with other Seaworld executives to form the companies Wildlife International Network and Ocean Embassy. After the export to Dubai, Ocean Embassy broke off their partnership with Porter, so they could set up their own dolphin operation in the Solomon Islands.
Ric O'BarryRic O'Barry
Credit: Eric Harwood Davies
Ric O'Barry is a former dolphin trainer on the TV show Flipper, who turned into a defender of dolphins when his lead dolphin suddenly died in his arms. Ever since, O'Barry has been trying to make amends for a dolphin-craze for which he feels partially at fault. All over the world O'Barry has organized campaigns, cut nets and educated the public about the realities of captivity. O'Barry's focus today has been in opposing the growth of swim-with dolphin facilities as well as raising awareness about the annual slaughter and capture of dolphins in Taiji, Japan.
Mark Berman heads the dolphin-safe tuna monitoring program for the San Francisco-based environmental group Earth Island Institute. He believes captivity is a fate worse than death for dolphins and since 2004 has been working alongside Ric O'Barry in an attempt to shut down Chris Porter's dolphin operation.
Lawrence Makili is a Solomon Island environmentalist who first alerted the world media about Porter's dolphin operation. He joined Mark Berman of Earth Island Institute to threaten a boycott of Solomon tuna, causing the Solomon government to temporarily introduce a ban on dolphin exports.
Robert Satuis Christopher Porter's business partner in the company Marine Exports Ltd. The local chief of a fishing village, Satu was once a dolphin hunter but now claims that he will no longer kill dolphins only capture them for Porter.
Dr. Baddley Anita
Dr. Baddley Anita is the only veterinarian in the Solomon Islands. Trained in Australia's top universities, he mostly worked with livestock until becoming involved with Porter's project and American veterinarians specializing in the care of marine mammals.
Dr. Rene Varela
Dr. Rene Varela is a marine mammal veterinarian who has worked on wild dolphin research programs in Florida. He now works for Ocean Embassy and oversaw the health assessments of the 28 dolphins shipped to Dubai.