By: Zine Larbaoui
Each year, thousands of dolphins are slaughtered near the city on either side of Japan. In 2010, more than 23,000 were killed in a bloodbath.
The small bay of Taiji is the heart of an ancient tradition that is arousing growing international criticism ever since it’s been known worldwide. And yet, the horror continues. Small port in western Japan, Taiji was made famous by the documentary “The Cove, Bay of Shame.” This 2010 Oscar winning documentary film exposed worldwide the unacceptable killing of hundreds of dolphins, both for business of leisure. Dolphins are slaughtered for the spectacle of it! For traditional entertainment!
This concept may offend or revolt and yet – if the fishermen of Taiji capture thousands of dolphins every year, it is primarily to meet the demand emanating from dolphin aquariums worldwide. A dolphin for aquatic parks sells for up to $150,000 dollars! A real boon for fishermen, a more than lucrative business and blessed by park owners claiming the shows contain an educational value…and whose avowed aim is to promote a better understanding and more effective protection of dolphins and whales! Can you see the hypocrisy here?
But what is so educational about captive animals forced by hunger to perform pirouettes and stupid tricks for a “treat?” And most importantly, who can claim with a straight face that we are protecting wild dolphins while, at the same time, participating in an industry of captivity that leads to countless sea mammals massacred?
Out of all captured dolphins in the Taiji Bay, only a small part is selected by dolphin aquarium trainers. It is solely the finest specimens (Tursiops truncatus females, the ones that look like Flipper) that are spared to be sold at exorbitant prices. All other dolphins are then forced towards the small bay of Taiji located nearby. There and in private, they are slaughtered in appalling conditions before being skinned, weighed and packed to end up on market stalls, restaurants and even in the city schools cafeteria – a dead dolphin pays $ 600. This is much less profit than a captive dolphin, certainly; but why pass on a source of additional income, right?
Although the demand for dolphin meat as well as whale meat has decreased, there remains yet a hundred people still involved in this sinister fishery in Taiji. In the village, some are fiercely observing the ancient tradition, reminding you that fishing dolphins is a 400 year old activity and they denounce the world’s “cultural imperialism” which dictates that the concept of killing dolphins would be more cruel that shooting cattle.
Far from stopping the massacre, the town of Taiji plans to open a 70 acre marine park within 5 to 20 years. Part of the Bay will become an area in which tourists can swim or kayak in the company of these cetaceans. The port already has a small area for cetaceans aimed at increasing tourism but, “We want to turn the whole village into a park,” says Mr. Wada, head of NGO for animal welfare in Japan, “where you can observe marine mammals and also taste sea products, including dolphin and whale meat. ”
Unfortunately, it seems as if it is impossible to stop the massacre. “The whole plan is based on the idea that they can exploit dolphins and whales as if they belonged to them, but the whales do not belong to Taiji,” railed Nanami Kurasawa, who heads the NGO and Iruka Kujira Action Network IKAN, Action Group for Dolphins and Whales. Thanks to the work of the Sea Shepherd – see seashepard.org – who submits daily reports of atrocities committed against the Dolphins in the “Bay of Hell,” we can measure the extent and cruelty of these massacres.
For the 2013 season, the authorities set quotas for fishing:
• 134 Pacific white-sided dolphins
• 450 striped dolphins or blue dolphins
• 557 bottlenose
• 400 pantropical spotted dolphins
• 265 Risso’s dolphins
• 137 pilot whales
• 70 killer whales
Officially then, more than 2,100 dolphins could be captured or killed, nearly ten times less than in 2010.
However, from Sept 12, 2013 on, the season resumed with the capture and killing of young bottlenose dolphins and another sixty from other species. Then, almost every day until December 4, dolphins were killed, driven against the rocks where they rushed in desperation, agonizing in a bloodbath and subjected to obvious cruelty.
Last breath of a pilot whale in a bloodbath September 18, 2013
Let us not hastily judge the vast majority of Japanese people who are not aware of these massacres. Until the release of the documentary, “The Cove,” the Japanese media completely blacked out the existence of this butchery. Dolphins are worshiped in most cultures and recognized by scientists as the most intelligent mammals on the planet.
I would like to think of them as my marine brothers or cousins and I’m certain you feel the same about these extraordinary creatures. At our level, we have an obligation to boycott the marine parks that imprison and enslave these creatures. Dolphins are migratory and social animals and have absolutely no place in captivity. Please share this article; share your outrage!