New plate to support S.C. wild dolphins 

Part of coastal drive by Cousteau nonprofit

Barely two months after visiting Charleston at the behest of the S.C. Aquarium, Philippe Cousteau is poised to make a significant splash on behalf of the state's offshore wild dolphin population.

Beginning July 30, the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles will begin selling a new "Protect Wild Dolphins" specialty license plate, with proceeds expected to help care for stranded dolphins, study the state's wild dolphin population, and assist scientific and educational programs sponsored by Cousteau's Earth Echo International, an environmental nonprofit.

"In short, we will be working with local organizations that have established programs related to restoring and protecting the ocean environment and fresh water system, as well as those devoted to sustaining and protecting a sentient species — the wild dolphin," said Michael Towner, a spokesman for Earth Echo and its subsidiary, protectdolphin.org.

The idea for the plate came from Steve McCulloch, a Florida researcher whose work has been funded through a plate in the Sunshine State.

All money raised in South Carolina will benefit South Carolina-based programs, Towner says. Earth Echo is also working with other coastal states, including Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama. They hope to have a Virginia plate as well next year.

"Dolphins don't have state boundaries," Towner says.

Cousteau, the grandson of the iconic oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and son and namesake of Philippe Cousteau Sr., will be in Charleston in late August for events to promote the sale of the plate.

Protectdolphin.org is also working to have the multiple award-winning documentary The Cove released in Charleston around the same time.

The film, described by Variety as "an impassioned piece of advocacy filmmaking," follows Richard O'Barry, the man who caught and trained the five dolphins that played Flipper in the popular 1960s television show as he tries to end dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan.


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