After a few months of respite, the horrific dolphin hunt on the bay of Taiji, Japan, recommend on September 1. Thousands of dolphins will be trapped between boats before most of them are killed. The survivors will be sold to aquariums where they will live out the rest of their lives in tiny tanks.
Source: The Inertia
This huge massacre has the approval of the Japanese authorities and continues to take place to the general indifference of the population. The country's government has banned anyone from the surrounding bay, in an effort to stop activists coming and disrupting the hunt.
Source: National Geographic
New execution methods are less bloody but are equally as violent
The killing methods employed by these fishermen are particularly brutal. After gathering a group of dolphins, the boats press on towards the bay closing off any escape route with nets so that the dolphins are completely trapped. They then launch metal rods into the spinal columns of the animals, which are then plugged to stop the massive flow of blood into the water.
Source: The Dodo
Until 2009, hunters had been harpooning these animals. The dolphins would bleed out into the water, turning it bright red. The release of The Cove, a documentary by Ric O'Barry, former dolphin trainer, most famously for 'Flipper', changed international opinions on this massacre of animals in Taiji.
While the fishermen have changed their methods, the results stay the same. The severing of the spinal column does not always cause an instantaneous death and some dolphins are dragged onto their boats still alive before being cut up. Others drown or are hit against the rocks, suffering a slow and painful death.
Source: Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project
Those who carry out this massacre justify their actions by citing 'ancestral tradition.' However, while whale and dolphin hunting is not a new phenomenon and has been documented throughout history, the method in which they are now killed was only invented in the 1970s.
The Japanese government is complicit
Quotas are established each year which determines the number of animals that will be killed. Officially, the meat from the animals killed is to be sold to be eaten and finds its way into many supermarkets and canteens, sometimes without the customer knowing the origin of the meat. This distribution is orchestrated by the powerful Japanese fishing syndicate, the Japan Fisheries Association, which is responsible for the hunt at Taiji.
Source: The Cove
However, the reality about cetacean meat in Japan is far from the official statements of the organization. Very few Japanese people consume whale and dolphin meat as the flesh of those killed is particularly high in mercury, a metal that is dangerous to the health of humans. The World Health Organization published a report in 2008 naming the populations in danger because of this substance.
Source: The Cove
The Japanese minister of health is aware of this information, as he has advised children, pregnant women and elderly people against eating whale and dolphin meat.
The true cost of the entertainment industry
The true reason behind the killing of these animals lies in the lucrative aquarium and marine park industries. Not all of the animals are captured and some are selected to be sold at an extortionate price. A dead dolphin will sell for $500 while an animal destined for an aquarium can be sold for up to $30,000.
Source: Dauphin Libre
The aquariums which decide to acquire animals from the bay are not controlled by the WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums), an organization which oversees zoos and aquariums on an international level. It has formally banned buying animals from Taiji, but this does not stop, notably Chinese organizations from acquiring these animals.
In 2015, the Japanese branch of WAZA, JAZA, disassociated itself from the fishermen of Taiji, banning the sale of cetaceans from the bay to aquariums in Japan. Sadly, this decision has not put an end to this massacre.
International action is growing stronger
However, anger has begun to grow on an international level. While Sea Shepherd will no longer be going to Japan during this hunt so as not to put their volunteers at risk, they continue to remind the public that the dolphins captured and destined to be sold to the entertainment industry are drugged and forced to perform stunts for their food.
The public, therefore, unknowingly and involuntarily, participates in maintaining this vicious circle, which can only be broken by a collective refusal of encouraging captivity.
Source: Common Dreams
Protests such as Japan Dolphin Day are organized at the start of September every year to denounce the massacre at Taiji. On his website, Ric O'Barry has given some important advice on how to put an end to this cruel practice.
The possibility for change lies in the hands of the public. As long as people visit these types of parks, maintaining a demand for these animals, the bay of Taiji will continue to be blood stained and dolphins will be sent to live out the rest of their lives in tiny tanks, forced to perform tricks for the enjoyment of an audience.
To support Sea Shepherd and help them to continue their amazing work protecting and conserving marine life, you can make a donation by clicking here.
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