The sun has set on yet another appalling day of brutal capture and slaughter of dolphins off the coast in Taiji, Japan. As dolphin pods, or families, are split apart and murdered, calves heart-wrenchingly taken from their mothers, scarred dolphins throwing themselves at the feet of journalist activists, as if they are begging for mercy before being brutally, fatally hunted, it is more apparent than ever that mainstream public awareness is crucial to the survival of these innocent, peaceful guardian creatures of the oceans.
While human history is highlighted by many examples of brave leadership, innovation, scientific breakthroughs, it is also marred by modern day slavery and age old genocide. Civilization has since become enlightened to the horrors of slavery and the atrocities of genocide, lets not allow these ruthless acts continue against the world's dolphin population.
We literally steal animals now from its own free environment and we get them to work for free providing food and some small housing just like we did back in the days with Jewish people and with African American people. And, after capturing them, if they do not fit that physical ability to do that manual labor, the people enslaving others would kill them.
This practice is not limited to dolphins. Whales, elephants, rhinos, tigers, lions, apes - animals people pay to watch for entertainment were taken from their natural habitat and enslaved for the purpose of corporate profit. This type of slavery must end. It's time is overdue.
Some of these magnificent creatures are killed for their meat, for a tusk of ivory, for a horn or, as in the case of dolphins, no reason at all. Dolphin meat is not consumed by people outside of Taiji, parts of their anatomy are not used for art, jewelry or display.
These acts can be likened to Europeans and Americans forcing Africans from their families and their homeland to become slaves, the property of others, forced to perform as their master's commanded. Shame on corporations, such as Sea World, paying for the capture and enslavement of creatures from the sea for human entertainment.
It is not limited to SeaWorld, the same goes with any place that uses animals and wildlife to make money for human entertainment.
The annual dolphin hunt season in Taiji, Japan runs from September to March. International conservationists and activists travel to Taiji to broadcast the slaughter each day of the season each year. The locals in Taiji, Japan consider the broadcast harassment. I consider the hunt barbaric and, just as human slavery is illegal, I believe it should be illegal to slaughter dolphins and to steal animals from their habitat to be used for human purposes or corporate profit.
The slaughtering and capturing of dolphins began in Taiji, a small Japanese village with a population of 3500 residents. Taiji is located within the Wakayama area of Japan. The Taiji locals corner the defenseless dolphin pods into a corner of a cove and use harpoons, repeatedly, fatally stabbing each dolphin and turning the once aqua waters a murderous red. The Taiji locals consider this a "traditional hunting practice." In spite of the 2009 Academy Award-winning documentary film "The Cove," and tremendous conservation efforts by individuals such as Ric O'Barry and a group called The Cove guardians, it appears, more is needed to bring this issue to mainstream public consciousness.
After having many conversations with family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday, it appears that many have engaged in a sort of group think and seem to block out the atrocities that must be involved in bringing these 'adorable Shamus' creatures to SeaWorld to delight the grandchildren. Others seem completely unaware of the issue.
Regardless of perception, the Wakayaman government has passed laws that violate international law. International Law forbids hunting dolphins and porpoises except when such hunting is in accordance with "Traditional hunting practices." The Taiji dolphin hunt began in 1968. The Wakayaman Perfectural Government falsely claims the practice of this hunt has been going on since the 17th century and falls within the exclusion of the international law forbidding the hunting of dolphins and porpoises. They are not acting out of tradition, they are acting out of bloodthirst and greed.
In so doing, the Wakayaman government allows the brutal slaughter of 2000 dolphins and porpoises each year in violation of international law.
Other than an element of people in a tiny market in the town of Taiji, dolphin meat is not exported to anywhere else in the world.
Just stated that in recent years, the Taiji dolphin hunt has become an active place for activists. I personally found out about it when I saw that Academy Award-winning 2009 film The Cove, which documents the hunt and raised awareness of Taiji's dolphin hunting industry internationally. I contacted the film makers during the film in disbelief that happened every year, let alone every day during it.
Conservationist group The Dolphin Project which is organized by Ric O'Barry has had a presence during every season, broadcasting live video feeds of it while protesting on land in the village with its' live Internet feed, and has helped gain great awareness about it every year. They have also mobilized protests at Embassy's and have garnered many kids to protest against the practice.
On January 19, 2014, many organizations like the Sustainable Action Network (SAN) and the Dolphin Project helped to organize and execute a large social media campaign. This campaign garnered the attention of US Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy. Ambassador Kennedy wrote an open letter in opposition to the dolphin hunt to the Japanese Prime Minister. Other high profile people have become concerned about the dolphin hunt and traveled to Taiji, japan to witness the hunt in person. These people include comedian Ricky Gervais, actress Shannon Doherty and pop singer Harry Stiles.
This has been a hard year. Pods of Risso dolphins have been captured. One that included 20 individual dolphins were captured just today. A group of pilot whales were captured, abused, starved and then, eventually killed last week. Anywhere between 150-200 have been killed or captured over the last three months. I continue to document these kills daily at my blog and at Sunset-Daily when writing up the Morning Joe Recap every week day; however, again this year, the task has become daunting.
Time-lapse footage with a counter showing the death process over a seven minute period (again a warning, this is extremely graphic).
This other video shows a large pod of maybe 80-95 Pilot Whales taken from their home in the ocean and driven to the Cove in Taiji to be slaughtered the next day. A pilot whale captured in a drive hunt can now be seen floating upside down in a pen in Taiji’s harbour. The pen is too small for the whale to swim around and submerge itself, so it is overheating under the hot sun. This pilot was observed over several days. The dolphin trainers did not bother to move it to a larger pen or release it, and the pilot whale eventually died.
Perhaps one of the most distressing aspects of the dolphin hunt to witness is the confused reaction of the dolphins. Dolphins instinctively are trusting and protective creatures. They literally trust their captors as they are led into a corner of the cove and slaughtered. Have you ever seen a dolphin guide a sea lion, seal or even a drowning dog to safety? Videos of just that depicting this nurturing dolphin behavior can be viewed on YouTube. The reaction of the dolphins as they realize they have been betrayed is hard but important to watch. They are tired, they stare, bewildered above the water, scratches and cuts apparent all over their magnificent bodies. The dolphins appear so very confused as if they are wondering why this is happening as they are stabbed over and over as they slowly and painfully die along with the rest of the adults in their pod.
To add to this cruelty, the hunters separate the calves from their mothers and release the calves, unable yet to fend for themselves, into the great ocean waters. Hence, the hunters seal the calves fate: to become food for larger ocean prey.
Even with the hype around it, Japan officials defend dolphin hunting atin the Taiji Cove. And, like I said above here, the locals defend the practice.
The hunt also drew publicity in January 2014 when a rare albino dolphin later named "Angel" was caught, captured and sentenced to a life swimming in small circles in a museum in Taiji, Japan. The Wakayama Prefectural Government declined CNN's request for an interview about their practice of hunting and capturing dolphins. Instead, the government referred CNN to it's website that contains the stock position that "residents viewed dolphins and whales as legitimate marine resources and that the hunt, a local tradition, was integral to the town's economic survival." This argument is very familiar. The southern states also argued that slavery was integral to economic survival. In a civilized, humane society, there MUST be a moral line that can not be crossed for the purpose of economic profit. Taiji Japan crosses that line.
Besides, that is not a true statement. This town is not going to be starved to its deaths if they do NOT eat Dolphin meat. The claim made by Government officials is that the town is "located far away from the centers of economic activity, the town has a 400-year history as the cradle of whaling, and has flourished over the years thanks to whaling and the dolphin fishery," is what the statement said verbatim. It went on to state that "the dolphin fishery is still an indispensable industry for the local residents to make their living.”
Only a person completely lacking compassion could have knowledge of the methods used in this annual hunt and not feel a sense of indignation. Drive Hunting, the technique used to guide, trap and capture or kill the dolphins is well documented in the Academy Award-winning Documentary "The Cove.' Drive hunting is performed with a weapon called a metal banger pole. The metal banger pole is used to create a wall of sound meant to disorient and deafen the dolphins. In this state, the dolphins are driven to swim away from the sound and into the shallow waters of the infamous cove.
The cove hunt has become so well known that it was referred to in the latest Ben Stiller film, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb." In the film, the character Atilla the Hun is portrayed abusing a dolphin. Ben Stiller's character reacts and exclaims: “Atilla, you don't beat up dolphins! They're gentle creatures, but you were hacking away at him like it was 'The Cove' or something."
Once driven into the cove, the dolphins become ensnared in nets placed by the hunters. The killers use large metal rods to probe and puncture the spinal cords of their victims. The dolphins and pilot whales finally die by either blood loss or suffocation by drowning in their own blood. When the killers have a successful, murderous day, the term "Red Cove Day" is announced because they have succeeded in the barbaric act of turning the once beautiful blue water of the cove a blood red coat of color. Conservationist activists use the term "Blue Cove Day" on the rare days when no dolphins or pilot whales are killed or captured.
You can watch that happen every day on live feeds at Ric O' Barry's “The Dolphin Project' web site.
Taiji fishermen's union representatives have told CNN reporters that their methods of spine-severing is a humane method of killing the dolphins.
These hunters are cowards. When filmed transporting live dolphins for their meat, they sought cover to hide when approached by cameras. They block activists from filming it as much as possible.
As a matter of fact, this form of activism, recording and speaking to the hunters has been labeled harassment by the Japanese government. Several individuals have been arrested for attempting to help the dolphins or record the activities of the hunters. The Japanese government is condoning this activity by allowing the hunters to hide and by attempting to shield this behavior from public awareness. In fact, Taiji's mayor, Kazutaka Sangen, told the Associated Press "we are hunting under the permission of the Japanese government and prefecture, and so we will continue to protect our fisherman and the methods. We will not quit." Do these officials in Japan have any shame? Why do they want to hide their "traditional practices" from cameras?
I maintain that there should be an amendment to the current international law about protecting sea life from international waters. I feel that they should not be able to guide them into their shores and eventually into the Taiji cove. The Japanese laws allowing this 47 year old barbaric method of hunting dolphins and whales can not legally not supersede the international laws protecting them. The international community must not lack the will to stop this practice.
A simple review of the money trail reveals the motive of the dolphin and whale hunt in Taiji. The motive is not tradition, it is greed. Ric O'Barry, former dolphin trainer and documentarian said in that same interview, "while many of the dolphins were killed and sold for meat, the most attractive specimens were (are) rounded up during the drive hunting were (are) taken alive and sold to aquariums for sums in excess of $100,000 an animal. These captures were the real "economic underpinning" of the annual hunt." "You'd get $400-500 for a dead dolphin's meat, but there's a lot of money for a live one, and that's what keeps this thing going," he goes on to say about the practice.
Besides, the young, beautiful and more suitable ones selected for human entertainment and for private companies to make money that way, are forced to be with their families while they are killed in this netted pen area inside the cove in Taiji.
About 700 to 1,000 dolphins are killed every year during seasons, and about 150 to 200 are taken into captivity every year and during every season.
Those numbers are down from 2010 and 2011 when 2,252 dolphins were caught by Taiji's hunters and when 302 were sold to marine parks (according to Ceta-Base). During those years back in 2010 and in 2011, 177 Dolphins were exported which if you use easy math, 125 dolphins (41%), were sold in Japan.
The true motivation for it is greed. Everyone can do that math rather easily because since the practice begun back in the late 1960's, more money is made by using these animals for the sake of human entertainment. They are stealing these animals as a way to make a lot of money. Just like people have done with their human slaves. It shifted from humans to animals.
Several Japanese zoos and aquariums voted this year to stop buying and selling dolphins taken during the notorious Taiji hunt. However, it does not seem to be letting up at all this year. The Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums has banned the buying and selling of dolphins with the animals taken from the annual hunt off the coast in Taiji. The organization that oversees 37 Japanese marine parks, voted for the measure this year after a threat of being cast out from the organization by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums opposes what are considered to be drive hunts, in which these animals are driven into a confined space to be killed or to be carted off to a place to perform for human entertainment
The ban happens to be what is considered "a big step because it's a statement from within the industry," says Courtney Vail, campaign and programs manager at the United Kingdom-based group Whale and Dolphin Conservation. But Vail also said in that interview that she highly doubts that the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums step actually would put an end to the annual hunting season. "I do believe that the drive hunts will not end until the overall ethic towards whales and dolphins that permeates Japan's political and social culture evolves," she says.
That ban should affect dolphinariums that have depended on the hunting season in Taiji as its "a quick and easy source of the marine mammals." According to the 2013 Elsa Nature Conservancy survey, about 600 dolphins live in 54 marine parks in Japan, 37 of which are members of the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Japanese association's secretary-general, Naonori Okada, has said that the group's members keep upward of 250 dolphins, and that Japanese aquariums have purchased an average of 20 Taiji dolphins a year. Export data indicates that Japanese marine parks have been more reliant on Taiji dolphins than the reported 250.
According to Japan Times survey, five members of the Japanese association say that they will quit the organization as its way to continue buy dolphins caught off the coast in Taiji. Another two entities also say that they could feasibly quit too, leaving 16 companies in it that state that they will remain members.
What I am seeing happen more often today is also what I call to be 'smoke and mirrors' because let us take SeaWorld for example. They state now that they will not use any more animals caught or captured, however, they merely breed the ones already in captivity. Some are used as breeding machines.
The town of Taiji has considered tying off a section in the cove used to snag these dolphins to create a breeding center.
Being bred to die or bred to entertain for humans while being in captivity is no answer to this problem.
"We will have a small team on the ground [in Taiji] for the [season]," again this year says Ric O'Barry. "This year we have to pay attention to who is capturing dolphins. The main dealer is the Taiji Whale Museum, and they are a member of JAZA." I must assume Ric means who is buying them from the people capturing them but the people at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation are also paying serious attention to how the World Association Of Zoos and Aquariums and how the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums respond to how these animals are actually purchased and gotten outside of Taiji.
The overall issue is the demand (or lack there of) to view Dolphins and all animals in live performances for human entertainment. The problem is that it is like a 'whack a mole' game in the sense that maybe its being reduced a bit in America, however, in places like Russia and in Abu Dabi, are the new markets. For instance, the CFO at Sea World was fired this year and the new one makes no bones about creating revenues in International markets. We now have to depend on the people in those countries to get that uncomfortable feeling (like I get) when they see an animal swimming in a pool the size of the one in our back yards or when they see one in a cage the size of our bedroom. But that is where the money is at for the hunters in Taiji, Japan.
This video shows “Misty”, a dolphin kept at the Dolphin Base dolphinarium in Taiji. Misty is easily identified by his only toy, a yellow fishing buoy he carries constantly in his mouth. Misty sometimes plays with his buoy, but usually floats lifelessly in his tiny and overcrowded tank.
There has to be a global effort to not use these animals and wildlife as a way for its companies to make money.
Like I said many times here, it is modern day slavery. It is slavery but with animals. And, that we have shifted from enslaving humans in this same exact way, to animals. (Jodi Block Paisner contributed to this article).
Song ('The Sea') by Richtaste is Produced by Pat Aeby (Krokus, etc.), Music Video Produced by Don Lichterman c/o Sunset Pictures Music Videos
Thanks especially to the tireless and what is endless work of the people that are trying to stop all Dolphin Hunting and Capturing in every way, and thanks to any participants who please, if you want to be credited in any way, contact us now at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will do it that minute.
Also, this video is monetized in some way (ad shares, amounts of plays, amounts of views, etc.) and therefore any and I mean 100% of all revenues made from it, will go to the Oceanic Preservation Society (makers of the COVE) and to the Dolphin Project. As a matter of fact, we have set up an automated monthly payment which I am matching BTW, every month. Thanks for the help and for your participation in stopping all wildlife crime. Your tax-deductible donation helps the Oceanic Preservation Society often receives requests from supporters of our organization inquiring about their ability to raise money for OPS. Past request have included charitable fundraising programs by students, individuals doing charity walks or hikes, or individuals who were moved by our work and who just want to help us raise funds. Such independent fundraising activities are possible and greatly appreciated. The following is background information on OPS and how that independent fundraising should be conducted:
• Oceanic Preservation Society is a registered 501(c)(3) Public Charity, Tax ID 38-3891081
• Donations from individuals in the form of cash or check can be tax deductible to the donor as a charitable income tax deduction;
• Donations in the form of checks is preferable to donations in cash;
• If a fundraiser is soliciting funding, then any checks should be written to Oceanic Preservation Society, rather than to the fundraiser;
• The fundraiser should provide OPS with the name and address of each donor so that OPS can provide each donor with a letter acknowledging the donation for income tax purposes; and
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10 Facts You Didn’t Know About The Taiji Dolphin Slaughter (the following list was compiled by Alexandra Piotrowski at RYOT)
If you’re at all interested in the dolphin slaughter, you need to know these ten facts about it:
1. THE DOLPHIN SLAUGHTER ISN’T ACTUALLY A TRADITION.
Proponents of the practice are quick to call it a “cultural tradition,” but the practice of en masse dolphin killing truly started when the motorboat engine was invented and adopted into the mainstream. “This is like one generation, and that’s not ‘traditional,'” says Lincoln O’Barry of the Dolphin Project. “[The Japanese] could go kill with traditional whaling and go in big 20 man canoes and paddle out and kill a whale, but they’d never slaughter 100s of dolphins before.”
2. . . . BUT EVEN IF IT WERE A TRADITION, IT COULD CHANGE.
The Soloman Islands are one of few remaining indigenous and tribal areas on Earth, and they used to hunt dolphins for food and cultural reasons. When O’Barry visited them, they were using dolphin teeth as currency. After several months of living with the native people, O’Barry was able to educate them about dolphin conservation enough for them to alter their practices. “They stopped after a thousand years of tradition. It shows people can change.”
3. THE ENTIRE LOCAL FISHING INDUSTRY ISN’T BASED ON THE DOLPHIN SLAUGHTER.
Taiji’s fishing industry isn’t entire contingent on the relative success of the dolphin slaughter. Stopping the slaughter would put “50 people out of business,” says O’Barry. While 50 out of 300 is still a considerable percentage, those 50 happen to be the richest people in the small town who make most of their profits specifically from the slaughter. “There are 300 other fishermen in Taiji that fish for other things, not dolphins.”
4. THE HIGHLY LUCRATIVE DOLPHIN CAPTIVITY INDUSTRY IS TRULY WHAT MOTIVATES THE SLAUGHTER.
“A dead dolphin… is worth about $500 in meat. A wild dolphin,” like those captured in Taiji during the slaughter, “to keep in an aquarium alive can be worth over $130,000.”
5. A SMALL GROUP OF PEOPLE, NOT THE ENTIRE COUNTRY OF JAPAN, IS RESPONSIBLE.
Many Japanese citizens aren’t informed of the practice, motivation and effects of the dolphin slaughter — not even the people in Taiji. “We printed copies of The Cove in Japanese, and actually put them in every mail slot in every house in Taiji,” O’Barry says of Dolphin Project’s on-the-ground efforts to change this horrific practice. “I would personally relate the numbers of slaughtered dolphins dropping to this.”
6. THE DOLPHIN SLAUGHTER ISN’T IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE JAPANESE.
Aside from a small group that profits immensely from the practice, most Japanese people don’t benefit at all from it. “No one in Japan mentions the word ‘mercury,'” laments O’Barry. Dolphin meat has some of the highest concentrations of the element, and consuming it can lead to severe neurological problems, from migraines to impaired motor skills.
7. THE JAPANESE ARE ALSO TAKING ACTION AGAINST THE SLAUGHTER.
2013 was the first year there was a Japanese activist standing up in protest at the cove. “This is about identifying and showing that it’s not all Japanese people,” says Lincoln. “There was a lot of anti-Japanese sentiment during the big whaling movement in the 1970s. All that really accomplished was that Japanese-American kids would get beat up on the playground. You can’t boycott a race of people just because of what a handful of people are doing in Taiji. That’s insane.”
8. LESS DOLPHINS ARE BEING KILLED EACH YEAR, THANKS TO AWARENESS AND GLOBAL PRESSURE.
In 2009, 2,500 dolphins were slaughtered. In 2010, 2,000. In 2012, only 800 were killed. That’s still 800 too many, but it proves that change can happen when passionate people take action.
9. THE WAY TO SUSTAIN CHANGE IS BY CHANGING HEARTS AND MINDS.
Getting mad doesn’t solve anything, and blaming a group of people doesn’t help either. The methods that have worked over the years and reduced the number of murdered dolphins are education and communication. O’Barry tells a powerful story about a Taiji dolphin hunter he knew: “There was a 3rd generation dolphin hunter that one day had a moment of epiphany that he couldn’t do it anymore. He’s now converted his dolphin hunting boat into a dolphin watching boat.”
10. YOU’RE NOT POWERLESS IN THIS SITUATION.
From signing petitions to sharing the facts on social media, there is a lot that you can do to help change this situation. The strongest weapon you have is your voice — use it to speak out against this atrocity and inspire change.
Footage courtesy of "The Cove", AtlanticBlue.de, Martyn Stewart, Whale Dolphin Conservation and BlueVoice.org.
Footage courtesy of "The Cove", AtlanticBlue.de, Martyn Stewart, Whale Dolphin Conservation and BlueVoice.org.