Ric O’Barry, the 75-year-old activist featured in the Academy Award-winning documentary “The Cove,” was arrested near the site of the dolphin hunt featured in the film, Kyodo News reports, citing local police.
Kyodo said the American was taken into custody Monday in the southwestern prefecture of Wakayama near the town of Taiji, after failing to produce a passport. Taiji’s dolphin hunt, which starts today, follows a traditional practice in Japan but is heavily criticized in the documentary.
A tweet added to O’Barry’s Twitter account around 6 a.m. local time said he has been arrested, without elaborating.
O’Barry used to capture dolphins for business purposes and trained dolphins for the popular “Flipper” television series. He turned against the practice after the death of a dolphin used in the program and has been an activist fighting to end whaling and dolphin hunts ever since.
The Cove, which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2010, brought much attention to the small coastal town, which also claims to be the origin of traditional whaling. Taiji’s fisherman have held “drive hunts” in which dolphins are corralled into a bay and slaughtered.
Wakayama prefecture has criticized the “The Cove” as one-sided and said it is “designed to excite outrage.” The prefecture also criticized “aggressive” foreign animal protection organizations for harassing and interfering with the local fishermen.