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Dolphin Tales: Flipper, faster than lightning

By Capt. Cathy Eagle - | Oct 28, 2020

Most of us remember our beloved Flipper and the song of the same name.

The television series ran from 1964 to 1967. There were actually five dolphins that portrayed Flipper. Richard “Ric” O’Barry captured and trained the five dolphin who resided in the Miami Seaquarium. All five dolphin were born in the wild.

The producers favored female dolphin because males tend to be more aggressive and collect more scars on their bodies. That same aggression can make male dolphin harder to train.

One of the female dolphin that O’Barry became particularly fond of was named Kathy. When the show was cancelled after three years, Kathy was kept in an enclosure all by herself in the Miami Seaquarium, without contact with other animals. This had a huge impact on her. She was a social creature that had been born free. O’Barry was convinced she became depressed. When her condition worsened, O’Barry came to assess her. Kathy refused to surface to breathe. She swam into his arms and died.

Could she have died from depression? Researchers are continuing to study depression in animals. O’Barry is now an animal rights advocate and founder of The Dolphin Project, an anti-captivity dolphin welfare organization celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Capt. Cathy Eagle has spent over 40 years boating in our local waters. As a professional charter captain she specializes in dolphin and nature tours. Visit CaptainCathy.com or call 239 994-2572.