He’s been called the Darth Vader of dolphin brokers, but Chris Porter no longer wants to be a villain — thanks to "The Cove", a documentary about dolphin exploitation.
The National Post reports that Porter, a controversial dolphin broker and former marine mammal trainer, has decided to give up his business capturing dolphins in the Solomon Islands and selling them to aquariums after watching the Oscar-winning film.
"The Cove" exposed the brutality of dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan, with ghastly footage from the village’s annual dolphin hunt. Activist Ric O'Barry and his film crew broke into the restricted area where the hunt takes place and secretly filmed the bloody proceedings.
But it wasn’t just this jarring look at dolphin slaughter that prompted Porter to shut down his lucrative operation, which has sold 83 wild dolphins to buyers around the world over the past nine years. It was the sudden realization that perhaps these animals shouldn’t be held captive.
Porter was shocked at the news that Tillikum the killer whale — an animal that he had trained during his tenure at Sealand in Victoria — had drowned trainer Dawn Brancheur at SeaWorld Orlando.
“It's driven by the incident with Tillikum and I'm disillusioned with the industry,” Porter told The National Post.
Porter says he is now questioning the value of using such animals for entertainment purposes and keeping them in artificial environments that are a far cry from their native habitat.
He has made plans to release his 17 bottlenose dolphins into the wild through a program he’s calling “Free the Pod”, which may be filmed for the Animal Planet. The dolphins are currently being held in a protected cove.