Sunday, March 5, 2017

Dolphin Outlook: Taiji's Drive Season Over

Officials have confirmed the end of the 2016/2017 drive season in Taiji, Japan. For six months, our Cove Monitors have stood on the shores of the cove to observe and report the hunts, while you have been by our side in unity. Together we have seen dolphins manhandled, injured, captured and slaughtered. Pods have been decimated, all in the interest of profit.

This season, a total of 34 drives took place, involving six species of dolphins. We estimate approximately 569 dolphins were slaughtered, while 235 were taken captive. Many more may have died as a result of the drives  themselves, their numbers never recorded.  
Dolphin Project Cove Monitors, Taiji, JapanDolphin Project Cove Monitors at The Cove, Taiji, Japan

Those taken captive now face a lifetime of suffering, trapped in tanks and forced to entertain in exchange for dead fish. While the hunts have technically ended, the aftermath of misery continues for those held prisoner in Taiji’s pens and for the ones shipped to marine parks around the world. 

Dolphin Project extends a huge “THANK YOU” to those who watched our broadcasts, shared this information and took the pledge NOT to visit a dolphin show, or participate in swim-with programs. We are grateful to each of you who lent your voices in support. We vow to continue our efforts to protect dolphins from abuse and slaughter, and hope you will continue to stand by our side.

Read our full recap here.

Dolphin Desperately Trying to Escape Holding Pen in Taiji Shows Captive Animals Aren’t Having ‘Fun’.

Dolphins are among the most complex and intelligent species on the planet. They are self-aware and have the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror and notice changes in their appearance. And just like us, they have deep social and emotional bonds with their pod members. Studies have also shown that dolphins have personalized whistles for members in the pod, similar to how humans give each other names. Despite all of this, we continue to keep dolphins in marine parks for the sake of our paltry entertainment.

The demand for live animals in marine parks and aquariums across the world has lead to the perpetuation of the cruel Taiji dolphin drives. Every year, a group of fishermen swarms into the infamous “cove” located in Taiji, Japan, and herds wild dolphins into their nets. Once captured, some dolphins are beaten and killed to become meat (a delicacy that no one really eats anymore) and the other “pretty” ones are sold into captivity.

In a photo shared on Facebook by Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians, a juvenile Bottlenose dolphin is seen trying to jump out of the enclosure in Taiji. This is NOT okay.
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These holding tanks are a tiny fraction of the space these animals enjoy in the wild, so dolphins and other marine animals become understandably bored and frustrated by this stale life. When sentenced to a life in captivity, dolphins will sometimes exhibit stereotypical behaviors such as swimming in circles repetitively and lying motionless on the surface or floor of their tanks for long periods of time. In some heartbreaking instances, dolphins have chosen to stop breathing and end their own lives.

But we can stand up to this abuse by refusing to patronize marine parks. Once these facilities stop profiting from showing animals, they will close up shop. If you agree that dolphins deserve so much better, please join the #EmptyTheTanks movement on social media and share this article.

Take Action for Dolphins!
Don’t Let the U.S. Air Force Bomb Hundreds of Dolphins and Whales [PETITION]
Whales, Dolphins, and Turtles Are Dying in Commercial Fishing Nets – Sign Petition to Stop This!

Imagine, as you’re swimming, suddenly finding yourself entangled in a massive sprawl of netting that drags you down deeper under the water. The more you wrestle to free yourself, the more entwined you become. As the last remaining bits of oxygen exit your lungs, panic sets in, and you have no choice but to fight for your life and do everything you can to make it back up to the surface to regain your breath. You endure deep gashes and wounds and break several bones in a desperate attempt to untether your body in this struggle, but try as you might, you simply cannot break free. The latticework is too complex and the netting spread too wide. And so, exhausted and defeated, you give up all hope and drown.

This is a scenario that plays out day after day throughout the world’s oceans, affecting countless dolphins, porpoises, and whales. And they’re not the only ones suffering. Sea turtles, gigantic manta rays, sharks, seals, or sea lions also regularly become “bycatch” victims. In fact, a report commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund found that approximately 1,000 marine animals are killed each day by commercial fishing nets, not including the fish they’re designed to catch.

It’s bad enough that the widespread use of fishing nets exacerbates our planet’s overfishing problem, which is depleting global fish stocks in mass. Experts estimate that more than 80 percent of these fish stocks have already been “fully- to over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse.”

But these nets are doing far more damage than that by greatly disrupting the oceanic food chain and destroying vast ecosystems by killing off the very species that keep our oceans in balance.

We must act now to protect these species and keep our oceans healthy and supportive to our current way of life. This is no small task, but here are a few things we can all start doing right away to bring an end to overfishing and the indiscriminate killings caused by these nets:
  • Sign this petition urging George Eustice and the devolved Ministers to take urgent action by implementing laws that protect dolphins, porpoises, and whales in UK waters.
  • Lower your consumption of seafood or eliminate it entirely to reduce the demand for commercial fishing.
  • Follow these swimmers’ lead and help rescue any sea life you find ensnarled in netting
In addition, share this article to generate more awareness about these issues and encourage others to help, too.