We Remember Barry Horne

Here’s just one account of his activism – Rocky The Dolphin and why there are NO dolphinariums in the U.K today.

tumblr_mok18awt9x1ry18lko1_400Horne first came to public attention in 1988, when he tried to rescue Rocky, a bottlenose dolphin captured in 1971 off the Florida Panhandle then kept for 20 years, most of the time alone, in a small concrete pool at Marineland, in Morecambe, Lancashire. Horne and four other activists planned to move Rocky, who weighed 650 lb (290 kg), 200 yards from the pool to the sea, using a ladder, a net, a home-made stretcher, and a hired Mini Metro.

Horne and his friends had already been visiting the dolphinarium secretly at night, getting into the pool with the dolphin in an effort to get to know him. On the night of the action, after arriving at the poolside with their equipment, they realised the logistics of the operation were beyond them, and they left without Rocky. A police car stopped them on the way back to their car, which contained a large dolphin stretcher for which, as one of the activists put it, “we had no legitimate explanation.” After a five-day trial, they were convicted of conspiracy to steal the animal. Horne, Jim O’Donnell, Mel Broughton, and Jim Buckner were fined £500, and Horne and Broughton were given an additional six-month suspended sentence.

Horne and the others continued with their mission to free Rocky, and in 1989 launched the Morecambe Dolphinarium Campaign, picketing the dolphinarium, handing out leaflets to tourists, organising rallies, and lobbying the local council.

Losing ticket sales, the management ofmarinelandrocky-2 Marineland eventually agreed to sell the dolphin for £120,000, money that was raised with the help of a number of animal charities, including the Born Free Foundation, and supported by the Mail on Sunday, which launched the “Into the Blue” campaign to free Britain’s captive dolphins.

In 1991, Rocky was transferred to an 80-acre (320,000 m2) lagoon reserve in the Turks and Caicos Islands, then released, and within days was seen swimming with a pod of wild dolphins.

Peter Hughes of the University of Sunderland cites Horne’s campaign as an example of how promoting an animal rights perspective created a paradigm shift in the UK toward seeing dolphins as “individual actors” who should be viewed in the wild if tourists want to interact with them. As a result, Hughes writes, there are now no captive dolphins in the UK.

Marineland 1966

Rocky the dolphin


“I remember all the campaigners from Morecambe, Flamingoland, Brighton and Windsor with great fondness – we had a hard job to do but were all there rain, hail or sun every weekend for several years. Being involved in closing down the last UK dolphinariums, both via protest and lobbying for greater legislation, planted the seed for Marine Connection and we still campaign for dolphins and whales around the world today.”
Margaux Dodds

Pic Credit – Marine Connection