The Dolphin Defender
Interview: Hardy Jones

Hardy Jones, the Dolphin Defender

Hardy Jones, the filmmaker behind NATURE’s The Dolphin Defender, is a former journalist with CBS News and UPI. He has been making documentaries about oceans, and marine mammals in particular, for more than 20 years. He has also founded a conservation group,, that seeks to publicize the threats facing dolphins and other sea life through films. Jones spoke to NATURE Online from his office in California in May 2005.

How did you become interested in dolphins?

Originally, I became interested in human consciousness, and that led me to a bunch that studied consciousness. One of the things they were fascinated by was this other animal on earth that had a brain as large as our own: the dolphin. Also, I’d been a diver all my life. But I hadn’t really had contact with dolphins until I met this incredibly brilliant group of people in the late 1970s.

How did you decide to make your first film about dolphins?

Well, at the time, dolphins were being killed by the thousands, so I was very concerned. Everybody said that you couldn’t make a movie about dolphins in the wild. But a treasure diver told me there was a place in the Caribbean where you could find dolphins and dive with them. That was 1978 … and it was miraculous. There we were, 40 miles from land in this cobalt-blue water … dolphins swarming around us with this intense curiosity. It was the opportunity of a lifetime.

Do you have a favorite species?

There are over 40 species, and I’ve probably seen about half of them in the wild. But spotted dolphins that I know so well are the ones that I feel closest to.

You have some strong feelings about how dolphins should be protected. …

Yes. The message that I’m trying to bring forward is that dolphins are intelligent, individual creatures just like us. They deserve an unusual level of protection because they are sentient creatures. Increasingly, people are saying they don’t want dolphins killed needlessly, any more than you would want a person killed. It’s not right. The state of the oceans is precarious, and [of] the dolphins even more so … pollution, over-fishing … we’re in a dangerous situation and have to do something about it. Dolphins are called an umbrella species because, to save a dolphin, you also have to save their habitat and their prey — everything. So when you tell a story about a dolphin, you are really telling a story about the whole ocean.

In the film, there is some remarkable footage of dolphins apparently protecting you from a hammerhead shark during a dive.

Oh yes. When they went after that shark, it surprised and relieved me enormously. That hammerhead was really huge. But the dolphins can be quite aggressive. And the sight of these four young dolphins dive-bombing that shark was wondrous. Every once in a while you get a bit of insight into what happens out in the ocean when we are not there.

Hardy Jones   

Hardy Jones

You’d also like to communicate with dolphins, and have worked with a computer that plays back their sounds, etc. …

It can be frustrating. I want to be able to talk to them. You get this feeling that, at the end of the day, they are as interested in meeting us as we are meeting them. … That’s why it is so tragic that dolphins are being captured and killed in so many parts of the world.

One thing I’d like to have people come away from our film [with] is how wonderful and curious dolphins are. When they haven’t been harmed, they welcome contact with humans. It’s just an incredible experience to swim and interact with these animals in the wild. So my dream for the future is to keep learning. I think we can learn a lot about ourselves just by learning about dolphins.

  • Harrison Dahabi

    Im 10 years old and someday hope to do what you do. I love the ocean and Im very interested in all the amazing life within it. I would love to study whales and dolphins. I live in Mount Pleasant SC just outside of Charleston, so Im nice and close to the ocean. I would love the oportunity to learn more. If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them. Maybe someday I will get to study with someone like you. Harrison Dahabi

  • Kara

    Hi Mr. Jones my name is kara and im 19. I would really love to learn more about how you became th person you are today. You do what i wish i could do. As of right now the miltary has put a slight halt into my educational dreams but i was wondering if you could tell me how long it took you and what classes you took to get to be were you are today. Thank you sir for your assistance.

  • Tracy Zakoor

    Hi Mr Jones

    My husband and I loved the show last night and have been moved by it ever since. You are such an amazing person. If you ever come down to the Florida Keys we would love to meet you. We are both certified divers and shoot often Underwater with my Husbands Amphibico housing and camera. We both love and adore dolphins and had the privilege in June to swim with them in mexico. They were treated very well. Hope top hear from you.xx

  • Lois

    Thank you Mr. Jones, for your dedication to these wonderous creatures. I really do believe animals have so much more empathy and mind power than humans give them credit for.

  • Debra

    Your reunion with the dolphin in the tropical waters at the end of the film brought tears to my eyes. I believe special human beings are singled out for this kind of contact and perhaps even bonding over the years. That moment in the film gave me hope.

    But I was extremely sad to learn that the males in the resident pods of Puget Sound are indeed dying. Those whales brought me here from Iowa over a dozen years ago. Martine Springer introduced me to the K and L pods, as well as the beauty of kayaking with them. They are a treasure we will surely lose if there aren’t some major changes . . .

    If the whole word only knew what it is to exchange looks with a great whale . . .


    HOW TO HELP ??

  • Kyle Gardner

    Mr. Jones, I recently had the good fortune of watching “The Dolphin Defender” on my local PBS station. I must say I was overcome with emotion during some of the scenes, both positive and negative. As terrible as marine mammal slaughter and capture are, your work has been instrumental in bringing important stories into the public realm and protecting the wild. To think of what might otherwise be lost is heart wrenching. Thank you for your talent and skills as a film maker, and for your passionate devotion to the wild!

  • makinly

    mr. jones are class just got done reading superhero of the sea. i cant beleave that you saved those dolfins nica and blue field did you ever have a fealing that before you got to the spot where the dolfins were that the would be dead? and how did you reacked to the japan taking tuna boats and killing 100 dalfins a trip?you are the the super hero of the sea.

  • bethany hayes

    Mr. Jones why do you rescue dolphins is it because you love them? or is it because they are Gods animals and you should take care of them!

  • Debbie Crispin

    I thought this video was just remarkable. I’m 16 years old and someday I plan to learn more about dolphins and their habitat. I wanna learn more about them because they’re such beautiful creatures and everytime I learn more about them they continue to fascinate me. I’ve learned to love dolphins:) I want to help protect them. Mr Jones, your video was very inspiring to me. It’s sad to see that some people are selfish and use dolphins for their own greed. thank you. Debbie Crispin.

  • A Fifth Grader

    Dear Hardy Jones,I just wanted to say, YOU ROCK!!!!!!!
    Well anyway our group just finished reading “A Superhero of The Sea” and it was redonkulous.(that means wicked awesome)Also I would like to ask you if dolphins are your fav animal or not.Well I guess that’s all so bye,aloha,adios amigos!!!!!!!

  • michael

    dear mr jones

    i think you are a very important person,to the dolphins.i read a story about you at my school its pretty cool that you do that.

  • Olivia

    HI!! It is so amazing what you do. i love saving things. Mostly trees. I have always wanted to interact with dolphins up close. It would definatly be amazing.
    Anyways…..I am going to go because I am going to get in trouble….but I am definatly going to do research on this.

  • Katie

    Hi Mr. Jones,
    My name is Katie and I am 10 years old! Just by reading this I have been very inspired! The things that you do for dolphins is absolutely amazing. Now I want to learn even more about dolphins! In my class at school we read a story about you in a Storyworks magazine. As I was reading the story in my magazine at school I just kept wanting to hear more and more! One day I would love to do what you do! What you do is remarkable!

  • eppie7788

    I’m a Hongkonger. Tonight, the local TV channel (ATV) has presented the documentary telling your lifelong dedication for Dolphins & Killer Whales. Under your shot, the creatures are stunningly beautiful. Also, under your shot, those humans are insatiably avaricious. How ugly to be! The scene of bloody seashore in Japan was terrific. In HK, the theme park (Ocean Park) has the everyday show being performed by Dolphins & Killer Whales. Not until I had watched your film did I realize these “performers” virtually being placed in confinement out of their original wild dwelling ocean. Mr. Hardy Jones said so right! We should have a say for them (from time to time, having heard the news of how the dolphins rescue human life). At the end of the programme, Mr. Jones made the remarks that it is no longer the matter of Dolphins, ocean & humans being involved as well. The film is really educational & meaningful!

    Tks for Mr. Hardy Jones~
    Pollution has invaded in all zones~
    As humans are unscrupulous produce pollution~

    Poison and contamination~
    Pouring with toxin to the environment~
    We are being repaid to eat toxic prey origins~

    Keep going with ignorance~
    Let see humans make all these nonsense~
    Not until ordeal to come, no actual repentance~

    The plunderer names human~

  • Gladis Basilio

    Hello Mr. Jones, I’m proud that there are people like you dedicated to care of dolphins and whales, beautiful and intelligent animals is very sad to see people who are unaware of their actions and not see the suffering of these animals going to spend this information to friends and family, many people ignore this reality. Thank you and happy holidays!!!

  • Jonathan

    I have only recently viewed the video taken by the Dolphin Defender.

    I am anxious to learn more about dolphins and I hope another video is forth coming ASAP

    Please advise


  • Andy Matt

    I am hoping that you will update your info on the dolphin and whale activities around the world.what is the latest in japan?Hardy jone you are one of my heroes and i haven’t heard any thing on the web site in a while.i hope all is well, you are a awesome human being!
    take care
    peace out
    Andy Matt LAS VEGAS NV

  • Vicki

    Thank you, Hardy Jones, for your work and your love for the dolphins,

  • Yelena Mezheritsky

    Dear Hardy,
    Recently I’ve watched the movie “The Dolphin Defender”, translated into Russian. I moved from Russia 20 years ago and now I live in NJ, USA. This movie really touched my heart and I wanted to share it with my friends. I also have read the book on that subject “Before We Leave You: messages from the Great Whales and Dolphin beings”, written by Patricia Cori, who can channel these beautiful beings.
    I’m a light worker and me and my friends decided to organize a Worldwide Action for protection Flora and Fauna on Earth, including our beloved Cetaceans. These Actions are conducting on the 12th of each month and every time more and more people join us. I address to all whale’s and dolphin’s lovers, those who want to see our beloved brothers and sisters free, happy and healthy in clean oceans, join us for these Actions.
    The text in English for these Actions you can find here:

  • John Smith

    Thanks Mr.Hardy for doing all this great stuff for dolphins! :D

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