It is extremely difficult to write some of the animal welfare posts, keeping it informative, hoping to raise awareness through peaceful and harmonious ways, without the anger, frustration, and sorrow that accompany such issues.
Across the globe, animals are losing their habitats, driven to extinction, bred and killed for their meat, fur, organs, and hide. Wolves are poisoned and shot. Stray dogs and cats are culled. Sea turtles are poached on their migratory routes. The list of cruelty and unbelievable arrogance and greed really does go on.
Close to my heart are the dolphin and the whale. It’s not their intelligence, for I don’t believe that animals labeled as “sentient” or “intelligent” or “our close relative” deserve more attention or care than any other animal. To me there is no hierarchy.
For whatever reason, each of us is attracted to help in the cause of some animals more than others. Perhaps it’s our experience with them or they are close to home (geographically)…sometimes it’s just an inexplicable connection.
There is a town in Japan, where September 1 starts the dolphin hunting season. Taiji is known as a whaling town and is the only town in Japan that still uses drive hunting. As the name suggests, drive hunting is a method that corrals the dolphins into a shallow bay, which becomes the “hunting grounds”.
When a pod is spotted, the dolphin hunters bang metal rods in the water to scare the dolphins and to confuse their sonor. Once chased into the bay, escape routes are closed off with nets. Here, the dolphins wait. They are usually not slaughtered immediately but are allowed to thrash about overnight.
Then they are caught. One by one, killed by driving a metal pin into their necks (or more likely slitting their throats with a knife), while others watch and wait. One by one, slaughtered. The sea turning a deep red.
This is how more than 2,000 dolphins meet their fate each year, at the ruthless hands of dolphin hunters, and those who fund these hunts. 2,000 sentient beings who feel pain and suffering, watching each other be killed, swimming still in a sea, once beautiful, now filled with the blood of their brethren.
This goes on until April, or when the catch quota set by the government is reached. Cetacean hunting here is beyond the reach of the International Whaling Commission. It goes on as animal activists watch helplessly, either aboard the Sea Shepherd or on the cliffs overlooking the bay, powerless to stop the massacre. Their job is to monitor and to bring this madness to the forefront of people’s attention.
Not all dolphins are killed. Those destined for the entertainment industry that is the aquarium and other facilities like those that offer swim-with-dolphins “adventures”, are separated from their mothers and the pod. These dolphins are sold for US$200,000 each, as exposed by the award-winning documentary “The Cove“. Dead dolphins are sold as meat at US$600 each. Mercury-laden meat, actually.
Taiji’s annual dolphin hunt continues unabated, despite international outcry (and despite recent earthquake). It is not the country of Japan that is slaughtering dolphins. Many probably aren’t even aware of what’s going on. Like Ric O’Barry of Save the Dolphins says, “It is 26 men on 13 boats, with approximately 20 more assisting those dolphin hunters – a total of less than 50 men directly involved in the dolphin slaughter”.
Sadly it’s not only Japan that hunts dolphins and other cetaceans. Japan has the largest dolphin hunts but drive fishing still takes place in the Solomon Islands and the Faroe Islands. In fact, Solomon Islands is where 27 dolphins were recently captured for Resorts World Sentosa (Singapore). Norway continues its hunting of the Minke whale, its meat destined for the Japanese market. There is nothing small-scale or traditional about this. In this global village, the defense of sovereignty over cruelty is absurd. It’s all about the $, which makes it more outrageous. And these are the countries on the radar.
Humans are sentient beings. Can we not feel the deep sorrow, pain, and suffering? The loss of these beautiful and joyous beings is a stab in my heart. Tears won’t stop and I cry for all the dolphins and whales who once freely swam the open seas. I cry for the loss of humanity. I cry for all of us.
Tears will not blur my vision as the $ has blinded others’. I will do what I can – sign petitions, spread the word, and not pay to see dolphins (unless it’s on a boat watching them in their natural habitat). Wont’ you join us?
How to Help
Save Japan Dolphins – see how you can help like Sign a Petition to President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Japanese Ambassador to the United States Ichiro Fujisaki
Saddest Dolphins – ACRES’ campaign against the exploitation of the wild dolphins captured in the Solomon Islands by Resorts World Sentosa Singapore
Ric O’Barry, ‘Cove’ Star, Urges Dolphin-Watching, Not Killing (huffingtonpost.com)
As Taiji Prepares to Begin Dolphin Slaughter, The Cove Diector Creates “Dolphin Project Team” (treehugger.com)