I was originally asked to do a guest blog about the Faroes, as I’m known for my hatred towards wannabee Vikings that like to kill cetaceans and abuse unarmed protestors, but only if they can hide behind the illegal protection of the Danish navy. Beyond that, what more can be said about these pathetic sub-humans?
This started me thinking about the current state of the environmental organisations - and boy was it depressing!
A few years ago, the big names were taking risks – protecting seal pups from being clubbed to death, obstructing whaling ships and even sinking them. And they needed funds to finance this, which is understandable.
But what do they do now?
Well, they still ask for money – some using heart-breaking tv adverts, showcasing a few animals they claim to be protecting. But some are actually supporting the Canadian seal pup clubbing - the very same seals they were once fighting to protect. Others say they support only traditional seal hunting that is done with respect. And they support trophy hunting. How many people making regular donations realise that?
To quote: “WWF is not an animal welfare organization. We support the hunting and consumption of wild animals provided the harvesting does not threaten the long-term survival of wildlife populations. WWF has never opposed a sustainable seal hunt in northern or eastern Canada.” I’m not sure how that sits with the adverts.
According to an article in The Guardian: “In a move that took many people by surprise, three of the world's largest international non-government groups, Greenpeace, WWF and the Pew Environment Group, today said they were prepared to see commercial whaling resumed if six conditions were met.” I would think that most animal lovers are opposed to all whaling, especially in light of the agonising killing methods used.
And then there is support for “sustainable” seal hunting, whatever that is. I wonder how many donors know about that?
For years, I have been cynical about the activities of these organisations and regarded them as money-making machines. I regarded Sea Shepherd as the only real organisation fighting for wildlife. But, sadly, that belief is now demolished. What do Sea Shepherd do? Film the illegal Icelandic whaling, film the Faroe wannabee Vikings, harass the Japanese whalers … Oh no, my mistake! They don’t go near the Japanese anymore.
I cannot believe that filming something of which governments are already aware, but choose to ignore, is going to change anything. Even more amazing are the whale conservation organisations that promote tourism to Iceland – trying to justify it by talking about supporting whale tourism instead. Go on a whale-watching trip and see an illegal whaling ship dragging an illegally-killed whale behind it! No thanks – complete tourism boycotts should be called for.
Sadly, I recently encountered Paul Watson in an online “discussion” about the recent Norwegian warship sinking. I was in total disagreement with one of Watson’s cronies. I said that the Norwegians deserved the massive cost of the loss due to their massive illegal whaling programme. The Norwegian Sea Shepherd crony was brutal in his replies. Shortly after, Paul Watson made an announcement that practically matched my feelings word for word. Then, he joined the discussion and blanked me, whilst being chummy with the same Norwegian who had been venomous about our shared opinion. Watson did not even have the conviction to stand up for his announcement. Hero to zero springs to mind!
So, what have they achieved apart from selling gullible animal lovers vastly overpriced bags and tee-shirts? (Yes, I have those, but am ashamed to wear them now!) Faroes, Japan, Norway, Iceland and, of course, the Vaquita. Have there been any major breakthroughs recently? A few minor ones, sure, but I wonder if it’s now all getting to be a holiday using other people’s money.
They have started on a ghost fishing campaign, but surely that’s just tagging onto an already well-established effort, so not a high-risk, ground-breaking new venture?
It’s not just the big international atrocities, either. Take fox hunting – now illegal in the UK, but what has changed? Nothing! Despite its illegality, it continues as before under a false name, with hunters beating up opposing saboteur heroes. And it’s likely to be the sabs themselves who get arrested.
Also in the UK: gamekeepers using illegal traps; the mass killing of hares; and protected birds of prey that just happen to die near shooting estates. Shame the police don’t seem to care about wildlife crime!
There is also talk about other UK organisations – speculation about the RSPB killing large numbers of wildlife, yet terrified to comment on the massive slaughter of protected birds by cats.
Wildlife cull is popular now – usually with tenuous attempts at justification. Badgers killed en masse, whilst hunts with hounds rampage on the same ground. The Scottish Natural Heritage allowing a mass cull of geese, and now a mass slaughter of stoats. This may be justified, considering the ability of the stoat to wipe out native ground-nesting birds; but they seem to be blind to the issue of birds killed by the non-native domestic cat and feral cats.
Sadly, SeaWorld continues. Travel groups make bold anti-SeaWorld statements, but omit to mention that they have involvement in captive cetaceans elsewhere.
Balloon releases continue unchecked, but beware of criticising. Apparently, it is in order to celebrate the loss of one person by mass littering that has the potential to kill wildlife. If you dare politely request that they use a different, not-so-damaging memorial, not only do the offending group “go” for you, but you are also branded a heartless monster by your so-called fellow animal lovers.
Another issue is the fear of not being politically correct. It’s got to the point that you cannot criticise anyone, no matter what they do, in case they are offended.
And that brings me to public involvement. Sadly, social media is overrun by ‘PC prudes’. In their eyes, it’s more offensive to call someone an unpleasant name than to illegally fire an explosive harpoon into a whale. What sort of logic is that? I would rather someone call me names than shoot me with a harpoon. Apparently, criticism is wrong, so we must be polite and understanding towards lowlife scum. Well, that’s been tried for years and nothing has changed. Such people should be outcasts. After all, the UK government was once happy to go to war with Iceland, but now it is too spineless (or, is it corrupt?) to offer any meaningful opposition to its illegal whaling.
It’s a sad state of affairs when barbaric and illegal activities are considered to be less of a problem than a bit of bad language and, to me, the sad reality is that if you say anything slightly rude or non-PC, you get stabbed in the back by the very people who should be supporting you. I have now withdrawn all connections with what I consider to be fraudulent organisations, as all I get is infuriating news that I am not allowed to comment on for fear of getting savaged by people claiming to be on the same side as me.
Until animal lovers have the intelligence to realise that, despite our relatively minor differences in approach, we need to unite and focus on the common enemy rather than fight between ourselves, then the activist movement is a waste of time. Nothing will change. The whalers, hunters, hare coursers and other assorted nutcases that enjoy killing know this and use it to their advantage. To be blunt, they regard wildlife protection as a joke – fragmented groups bitching about one another. What we really need is for all barbaric abuse to be graded as to severity, and then attacked with a combined effort and wiped out before moving on to the next atrocity. A war will never be won by fighting 50 subjects at once. Animal lovers need to be organised and co-ordinated, or they are useless.
I am sure I will be regarded as yet another armchair warrior, but as someone involved in practical wildlife rescue for many years - as well as rehab and other activities, all self-funded, I am far from that. But no matter what you do, you are considered worthless unless you are a vegan. But that’s another story! It sometimes amuses me when I am criticised or stabbed in the back by some who do nothing but shout their big mouths off. Especially as they have no idea just how active and devoted to wildlife rescue I am.
Finally, let’s talk about parents. I think that all the combined efforts of recycling, renewable energy, etc would be overshadowed if one other logic could be drummed into people’s mentality - the insane over-breeding obsession. The world is massively overpopulated by the worst possible species and, insanely, even those who claim to want to save the planet seem oblivious to this, breeding to excess.
In my opinion, the most valuable work is done by individuals and small charities, largely underfunded due to the big charities fraudulently winning the majority of charitable donations. I’d be interested to see the wages of their top people. I was recently offered a £50 donation from someone who reported an injured corvid that I rescued. I politely turned it down as I was not comfortable getting money from someone who couldn’t afford it. I later found out that the money was paid to the veterinary surgery I use towards my ongoing bills. That kindness reduced me to tears, but it at least proved that there are some decent people left.
To finish, I have given up campaigning to concentrate on rescue and rehab work. I consider this to be important, because I can see the results of my efforts. Rescue and rehab may not change the world, but it changes the world for each particular animal rescued, and if I can improve the world for just one animal, I will have achieved far more than so many of the gobby armchair experts out there!
RESCUE AND REHABILITATION ACTIVIST
Due to this activist's ties to several environmental organisations, he has asked to remain anonymous.
THE PERFECT PAIR DOLPHIN TRILOGY PUBLISHES QUORA BLOG BY journalist and author MALCOLM J BRENNER - ARE DOLPHINS TELEPATHIC OR NOT?
Well I say they are, and I’m trying to demonstrate, if not prove it. The reason I do is I received what seemed like telepathic communications during a 6-month-long relationship I had with a dolphin in 1971, the subject of my novel “Wet Goddess.” I thought I was going crazy (or taking too many drugs) until I learned of Frank Robson, a very straight old NZ fisherman who claimed in his book “Thinking Dolphins, Talking Whales” that he trained all the dolphins for the Taranaki, NZ Marineland by telepathy!
Since then I’ve become acquainted with several others who make similar claims, including one who collaborated with two writers on a trilogy called “The Perfect Pair” which I highly recommend.
I can’t begin to explain how this phenomenon happens, or how our minds manage to translate between our different modalities of thought, but it does happen and it’s very real. Why does it happen with dolphins and not so much other animals?
Well, dolphins, like us, are self-aware: When a dolphin looks in a mirror, it knows it’s seeing a reflection of itself! They have been this way for at least 12 million years, whereas we modern humans appeared on the scene about 150,000–200,000 years ago. It stands to reason the dolphins have had a lot longer to explore the way consciousness works, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they know a thing or two about the nature of reality that we, for all our vaunted science and technology, don’t!
How does the captive cetacean industry work?
Applications for aqua circus attractions, ie dolphin/orca/beluga shows or swim-with-dolphins programmes, entail getting the relevant local officials on board - a process that takes many months to put into place.
So, by the time public meetings occur, deals are, in most cases, already done and dusted – favours accepted, contracts signed and planning applications well under way.
So, why have these meetings in the first place?
A purely cosmetic exercise to placate the locals and remove any time-delaying obstacles from the proposed aqua circus project.
Where do the captive dolphins come from?
The vast majority are sourced from the notorious Japanese killing cove of Taiji – a black stain on the planet that quite literally drinks the blood of Atlantis. It is here that young, unmarked dolphins are enslaved into global dolphinaria by gangster overlords. The rest (parents and older, craggier-looking dolphins) are barbarically slaughtered by hammering steel rods through their spines - a heinous act that inflicts a slow and torturous death on those super-intelligent beings rejected by the aqua circus.
How quickly is a dolphin made ready for shows?
With expert trainers, a basic show can be cobbled together within 6 months. It is achieved by 15-hour days and sleep deprivation … food for thought for all those officials who gave the thumbs-up to this ill-advised venture.
What happens to the dolphins’ bodily waste?
A dolphin is a mammal, which means – like humans – it discards urine and faeces.
In a chlorinated show pool (or ‘concrete box’, as I prefer to call it), the waste is broken down using chemicals – a process which not only demands first-class filtration facilities but also regular and costly pool dumps … the latter regularly dodged by dolphinaria company owners due to high costs, which means that by the time they are forced to act, the water is toxic.
So, what happens to this toxic water?
It is dumped into the drainage system or the sea … in this instance, your beautiful bay.
If the facility, however, is situated in the waters of the bay itself, dolphin waste will flow freely around the area, which could - if tidal movements are limited - affect coral reefs and other aquatic life.
And so, to finish - the problems I’ve outlined in this blog are only the tip of the iceberg as I have not dealt with the many injurious effects inflicted on the dolphin performers themselves. Abused, broken Atlanteans, suffering from deep psychological problems, doomed to spend the rest of their days languishing in an alien world.
However, I am sorely aware that Atlantean welfare always comes a very poor second to profiteering. Like many ex-trainers, I am not so naïve as to believe that my words will alter the course your elected officials have embarked on. However, I implore all concerned residents to remember this poisonous decision come polling day.
Thank you for listening.
David Capello – Former Head Trainer
Lies, deceit, corruption – to say nothing of cruelty. All facets of the lucrative captive cetacean industry. And I should know, because I was once a big part of it.
So, who am I?
I have several pseudonyms, my most popular being ‘Capello’, the most colourful being ‘The Psychic Trainer’. But there is another handle – one I’d rather remain unwritten, as my whistle-blowing return was never intended as self-promotion. Either way, I am the trainer featured in The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy exposé, three books written under the fiction banner to avoid legal problems. A story now described by one discerning reviewer as ‘… fact stranger and more brutal than fiction!’ Yet, incredibly, all events chronicled are true, facts authenticated by original dolphin logbooks, long since thought destroyed. (A common Company practice on the death of a show dolphin.)
As you can imagine, my emergence with these logs has severely rattled the conglomerate and animal celebs involved in the story, resulting in a national UK media blackout. A cover-up that appears to have infiltrated the USA, after this award-winning exposé was controversially pulled from an over-subscribed summer reading programme by an unnamed US official. Desperate actions that beg the question, ‘Why are so many organisations, people and – now it would appear – governments so afraid of my story? Why are they so anxious to shut me up?’ Questions that can only be answered by reading the exposé itself.
As for me, my involvement with the aqua circus began at the tender age of 17, when I landed what I believed to be my dream job – a naivety that saw me whisked away from family and friends, and deposited in the harsh confines of the UK dolphin training pens; a facility breaking raw dolphins for the commercial dolphinaria.
Always held in high esteem, trainers graduating from this establishment were known for being ‘hard-nosed’. Not surprising considering the daily horrors they inevitably witnessed - botched transports that left countless dolphins injured and even maimed. I personally witnessed air burns, a blinding and much, much worse, devastating for the dolphins that survived, because - as my pen colleagues always reminded me - many Atlanteans didn’t.
Working the pens was physically and mentally gruelling. Early training was always conducted lying belly down on wet platforms, so we could interact with our dolphin captives eye to eye. Fifteen-hour days were commonplace. Depriving the dolphins of sleep was an important method used to secure the quickfire results that management demanded.
It was here that I witnessed my first suicide dolphin – a phenomenon that the captive industry vehemently denies. It was also here where I learned to hand-catch in preparation for transports, veterinary treatments or force-feeds - the latter, horribly distressing.
The force-feeds consisted of wrapping disinfected towel gags around the upper and lower jaws of the manually pinned-down dolphins, followed by physically pushing lubricated herring down into their throats to activate their swallowing mechanism. This nightmare was normally performed five fish at a time, punctuated by brief rest periods. Even so, this was not always successful, as the dolphins often vomited back their forced feed.
Much worse than the vomiting, however, was the unseen damage inflicted on the dolphins’ psyches, because once they’d undergone this torturous procedure, they were left vulnerable to what many pen trainers refer to as the ‘dolphin mind-set’, a mental condition that, once activated, proves difficult to reverse … suicide by self-starvation.
In fact, my only fond memory of the pens was Duchess and Herb’e (Flippa), my beloved Perfect Pair, for it was their brilliance that allowed the three of us to escape that hellhole and head to our first purpose-built dolphinarium.
The rest, as they say, is history. Over the next three years, my two magnificent show dolphins took the aqua circus by storm, achieving the much-revered shadow ballet. Their story has been lovingly chronicled by the Holroyds in The Perfect Pair Dolphin Trilogy book series - a warts-and-all exposé that I pray will help bring down this horrendous industry.
As for me, once I’d made my decision to walk away from the aqua circus, I was never tempted to return, despite a lucrative offer to train Europe’s then only captive orca. My reason? I viewed my achievements not with pride, but with shame. Nevertheless, despite the attempted cover-up, my experiences are now a documented part of UK dolphinarium history - a tool to shine a light into the sinister and murky world of captive cetaceans.
Thanks for listening and thank you, Paul (Protect All Wildlife), for giving me this platform. For more info, visit www.theperfectpairdolphintrilogy.com.
Only together are we strong
MALCOLM J BRENNER, AUTHOR, JOURNALIST AND EX-DOLPHIN HANDLER, REVIEWS THE PERFECT PAIR: SHARDS FROM THE MIRROR
Book Review: The Perfect Pair, Book III: Shards from the Mirror
By David C. Holroyd and Tracy J. Holroyd. 2016, Matador Press.
In the mid-1950’s, Leon Festinger, an American psychologist, infiltrated a UFO cult. The leader channeled a warning of the end of the world – but the cult’s members would be saved by a flying saucer. When the expected deadline passed, the Earth endured and no saucer materialized, the leader issued a revelation: Their faith changed the aliens’ minds! No Earth cataclysms! The members of the previously media-shy group went out… and began to proselytize.
What does this have to do with dolphin-training and Shards from the Mirror, the final volume of David and Tracy Holroyd’s The Perfect Pair trilogy?
Festinger labeled the mental anguish that comes from holding two mutually-exclusive concepts “cognitive dissonance,” and those two words popped to mind as I read about “David Capello’s” downfall. That was the stage name of an English dolphin trainer who shot to fame in the early 1970’s for his “perfect pair,” two dolphins who performed in flawless synchronization.
Because, by the time this book opens, Capello is experiencing growing cognitive dissonance. On one hand, his dolphins’ act wows audiences, makes him famous and makes a lot of money for the entertainment conglomerate he works for. On the other, he knows a concrete tank is no place for dolphins, he’s seen them suffer and die and he’s totally fed-up with bottom-line managers who have no fondness for them.
Volume I, The Enchanted Mirror, chronicles how young Capello falls into the job and succeeds beyond his wildest dreams. The first dolphins he meets, Duchess and Herb’e, are not only a perfect pair, but can communicate with him mentally!
As its title suggests, The Mirror Cracks recounts not merely Capello’s increasing success as a trainer but his growing frustration with the callous corporate bureaucracy. Particularly troublesome is his general manager Tommy Backhouse, a besuited corporate suck-up more concerned with the dolphinarium’s profits than the welfare of his performers, dolphin or human. Backhouse’s attitude is best summed up by his oft-repeated remark “Anybody with a whistle and a bucket of fish can be a dolphin trainer.”
This rather grates on Capello, who not only slaves to make his dolphin show the best in Europe but teaches Scouse, a blind dolphin, to perform using his unique “psychic training” method!
Backhouse, who fancies he knows everything about dolphins, isn’t impressed with Capello’s Jedi mind-tricks, and his requested raises (he’s a “presenter,” not a “trainer,” Backhouse reminds him) keep getting denied by the main office.
Worse, Backhouse pinches pennies by physically endangering the dolphins, like refusing to dump the dirty tank water, or expecting them to perform to exhaustion. And Capello suspects his boss is just waiting for the right moment to grab all the credit for his achievements.
When Shards opens, Capello is wondering if he hasn’t gone too far. He’s thrown his weight around trying to get what his performers need, and now the head office is talking about his mysterious way with dolphins… dolphins who won’t work for anyone else!
Even with all this hanging over him, Capello pushes forward, trying to train Duchess and Herb’e to do a double forward somersault. It proves difficult for an unexpected reason: Herb’e gets the trick, but wanting to perform solo, he won’t teach Duchess how it’s done! Duchess, in turn, has started courting Capello, and won’t allow a woman presenter he’s fond of in the pool! And earlier, Capello was freaked by the way his dolphins ignored a dying comrade.
These revelations mark Capello’s growing disenchantment with dolphin ethics. As marine mammologists are fond of reminding those of us who have dared read the late Dr. John C. Lilly’s scientifically embargoed books, “Dolphins are not little humans in wet suits!”
Like those of us who have been close to them need to be reminded! Once you’re in their environment, they appear quite large, and they’re happy to let you know they are now in charge!
Only something as dissociating as knowing you are harming the creatures you love could explain why, when Backhouse gets in his face once too often, Capello grabs a fire hose and blasts the man off his feet, then has to be physically restrained from pushing him into an empty concrete tank.
Backhouse, of course, tries to fire Capello, but the head office intervenes, instead transferring their golden-boy trainer to another dolphinarium far from Backhouse’s lair, a place called West Coast, where seemingly nothing ever goes right.
Reluctantly preparing to move his pair, Capello recounts one of the book’s strangest scenes. With the dolphins slung in canvas stretchers, the attending veterinarian notices that Duchess has outgrown hers, and he proposes to cut an eye-hole in the fabric to avoid a possible injury. Almost immediately, Duchess starts screaming in Capello’s head, projecting images of blood and pain. When the surgeon pulls out a scalpel and goes to make the cut, Capello, acting as if entranced, slides his hand between Duchess and the blade. Need I say he ends up at the local emergency room, bleeding profusely? The veterinarian, it seems, slipped.
What happens next becomes the crux of Capello’s disenchantment with the “magic mirror” of dolphin training. While he and the vet are tending his wound, Backhouse vindictively orders the helpless dolphins placed in an unheated truck on a cold night. When Capello returns two hours later with a few new stitches, he finds to his horror that his dolphins are freezing, and they have shut him out of their minds. Especially Herb’e, who has fled where humans cannot follow, a dark corner of the dolphin psyche that marks a fatal disengagement from life.
Having previously dealt with force-feeding other dying dolphins, Capello is determined not to give up on Herb’e, and to restore his perfect pair to their former glory.
It takes lavish care and a diagnosis of Herb’e’s illness, a viral infection, to bring the pair back from death’s jaws, and during this interval Scouse worms his way onto Capello’s center stage. Now the trainer must juggle not only human politics but the politics of his dolphins, too! (In defense of dolphins at large, I will ask the reader not to judge them by their behavior in captivity.)
In an odd twist of fate, the determined young trainer makes Scouse a star in spite of his disability. The dolphin is eager to perform, and while directing him through mental images, Capello has the bizarre experience of bi-location – of seeing both himself and Scouse performing their act from a remote point of view…
By this point, the reader may be granted some skepticism, and rightly so, if the reader has no experience with ESP or dolphins. However, some of us who have are sharing notes and rapidly approaching the conclusion that what Capello calls his “connection” with his dolphins and I call my “telepathy” with Dolly bear striking resemblances that can’t readily be explained by chance alone. It was even investigated by the U.S. military at least 31 years ago, yet it’s still classified! What did they find, and what methods did they use? While I have no ready explanation for this, I am working to make it a recognized phenomenon.
In this final volume, Capello at last muses about the dolphin behaviors that have puzzled and infuriated him, something he’s only given passing thoughts to before:
What if dolphins view life and death differently from us humans? That would explain why your Atlanteans constantly show indifference when in the presence of a dying colleague – a phenomenon you’ve never been able to get your head around.
What if they view their bodies as a mere conveyance – temporary vessels to be discarded when deemed no longer of use? An ethos that could well explain their suicide beachings in the wild. A view of death not as an end, but as a new beginning… in which case, you’ve been totally wrong in your previous evaluation of their attitude…
It’s not that they are uncaring; it’s simply that they have a different set of beliefs.
Blimey, Capello, what an idiot you’ve been – some expert you turned out to be!
As is often the case, dolphins are full of surprises, and Capello, unlike some people, is humble enough to admit it. For a while he’s finally able to concentrate on training the mostly rehabilitated perfect pair for the double forward flip, the culmination of a “shadow ballet” performance that will win them (and their proud trainer) a permanent gold star on the Dolphin Walk of Fame. But he can’t get Herb’e back to his old self, and soon Duchess is battering her former partner and showing an unwelcome interest in teaming up with Scouse for work and play.
When his latest request for a raise is rudely refused, Capello realizes he’s being played, that Backhouse and his people have out-maneuvered him. He has two equally repugnant choices, to remain in the sub-par trainer position under the thumb of a man he hates, or to quit and cut his telepathically-trained performers loose with the same man. Reluctantly, he decides to deprogram the dolphins for his inevitable departure. Cognitive dissonance seems to be the inevitable fate of any dolphin trainer stupid enough to care.
But the next blow is fatal: bad fish. Not just a few, but a prime supplier sending its good fish to restaurants and the rest to the dolphins, who only rate “animal feed.” This disruption is too much for the barely-recovered Herb’e, and Capello realizes to his shock that his beloved performer is slipping away. When management learns they’re about to lose half their top money-making duo, they do what any sensible executives would do: they throw gas on the flames. They send Backhouse to manage West Coast.
The confrontation, as inevitable as a Main Street shootout in an old western movie, takes place with Capello in the water supporting Herb’e, who is clearly on his last legs (pardon the meaningless expression). Distracted, Capello loses track of him, and the dolphin sinks. He somehow drags the 180-kg creature back to the surface, but it’s too late. Shattered, Capello stalks off, leaving Herb’e’s lifeless body for the others to deal with. He makes the last entry in the dolphin’s logbook, and in a final act of defiance, steals all of Herb’e’s logs from the company.
But like the inevitable resurrection of an immortal monster in a horror movie, things aren’t quite over yet. Capello goes home, where his dolphin odyssey started four years before with his mother’s innocent suggestion he answer a classified ad. And for several nights, he’s bothered by dreams where he violently attacks the props and scenery at West Coast. And early morning phone calls, which his mother answers, asking what he’s doing there when he’s been banished from all the company’s dolphinariums?
The dolphins have apparently taught Capello how to astral project, or create what Tibetan Buddhist monks would call a tulpa – a copy of a person composed of mental energy but capable of acting in the real world. And one last frantic “call” from an agonized Scouse sends him rushing back to West Coast in person, where he finds the dolphin just deceased. A nameless caller later informs Capello that an autopsy showed Scouse was horribly murdered, and that Duchess has followed her partner Herb’e into depression and death.
This being a true story, nobody gets what they deserve in the end. Capello goes back to his father’s sign business and tries to forget he ever trained dolphins. Backhouse buys the first dolphins sold by the notorious Taiji drive hunts, and winds up a celebrity dolphin expert and honored naturalist on a popular English TV show.
Years later, Capello visits an American uncle who drags him to a dolphin show at the local zoo. Capello reluctantly attends, only to find his fame precedes him: his success with the perfect pair hasn’t been forgotten after all. Capello closes with every ex-dolphin-trainer’s powerful suggestion: Don’t buy a ticket!
And now, after four decades of silence, he is sharing this tale with everyone. It is a truly remarkable story as much for his achievements and perseverance as any paranormal content, but my high praise for Capello’s telling of it doesn’t change the fact that, at 350 pages, Shards is not only the longest of the three volumes, but the weakest stylistically.
In contrast to the first two books, which open with vivid flashbacks, the beginning of Shards is scattered and unfocused, which leads to confusion about where Capello is and what’s happening.
When the narrative finally settles down around page 10 and the paranormal themes emerge, the Holroyds, an unusual brother-sister writing team, seem determined to spin out Capello’s descriptions of his astral encounters by employing every ellipsis (you, know, those three dots…) in the United Kingdom! I know they’re trying to capture the disoriented, shifting feeling of an interspecies mind-meld, but the scene where Capello saves Duchess’s eyesight goes on with ellipsis after ellipsis for four bloody pages, and we get the point, already!
I can’t blame the Holroyds too much, because I tried the same literary tactic in my novel Wet Goddess for exactly the same reason, and concluded there were better ways to achieve the same result without annoying the reader. Compared to the first two volumes, Shards feels a bit rushed and padded, in need of some good stiff editing. Perhaps if the Holroyds do another printing, they will consider this suggestion.
But in relation to the importance of Capello’s moving and momentous story, this is minor carping. I’m thankful that he’s finally chosen to share his saga to create the perfect pair with us, not only because it validates my own strange experiences, but because we cannot have too much truth about how the dolphin enslavement industry destroys and consumes the self-aware beings it employs. Along with the revelations of Frank Robson and the confessions of Ric O’Barry and John Hargrove, The Perfect Pair trilogy deserves a space on every true dolphin-lover’s bookshelf.
(Malcolm J. Brenner is the author of the 2010 novel Wet Goddess: Recollections of a Dolphin Lover and two other books. He lives in Punta Gorda, Fla.)