Last Tuesday, EcoWorldly Staff Writer Bryan Nelson wrote an article on the suspension of dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. The suspension came off of Japanese local media swarming on Taiji, after the award winning documentary film “The Cove” put the spotlight on the small Japanese village that slaughters thousands of dolphins every year.
Ric O’Barry, the dolphin trainer and activist who brought the location to the attention of filmmakers, returned to the site of the slaughter this week, just as the annual “hunt” would normally begin. However, this time with all of the media attention, no dolphins were killed in the first 2 days of the season.
“It has been an exciting morning and the people here are very hostile, but as long as this goes on and we keep the pressure on, they cannot hunt the dolphins.” -Ric O’Barry
Sadly, O’Barry admits solemnly, this is only temporary. O’Barry keeping a watchful eye on the dolphin fishermen, has managed to disrupt the first two days of the annual dolphin hunt in the Japanese town of Taiji, but accepts that as soon as he leaves the fishermen will resume the killing.
“It’s very expensive for me be here and I can’t stay for the whole six months of the season”-Ric O’Barry
According to the Japan Fisheries Agency, around 20,000 dolphins will be killed all around Japan this season. The documentary revealed that dolphin meat is often sold illegally to the Japanese school system, and that school children often have no idea that what they are eating is dolphin meat. Dolphin meat has been shown to have high levels of mercury, which can be a huge problem for developing children.
On the coast of Japan, fishermen set out in dozens of boats and chase down a pod of dolphins. They then surround the pod with their boats, and create loud noises with metal poles, to frighten the dolphins into a net at the mouth of the bay. They leave for the day as the dolphins struggle within the nets frantically. The fishermen come back the next day to find “worthy” specimens. Fishermen tie a rope around the dolphins tail fin, and literally drag the dolphins to the coast for slaughter. The crystal blue ocean water turns crimson with the blood of the dolphins, as their necks are slit one by one and thrown onto an awaiting boat.
Dolphin fishermen will not just give up easily because of a little media attention, as each dolphin sold for meat will net them around $500 apiece. Each dolphin that they believed can be trained for aquariums can net them $150,000.
O’Barry is only staying in town for a week, and has already encountered angry locals at what they perceive to be interference in their industry. On Tuesday morning, as he tried to enter a grocery store, the head of the fishing union blocked the door and refused to allow him to buy any food. As soon as O’Barry leaves Taiji, media attention will wane, and the dolphin slaughter will continue.
The film “The Cove” has gone a long way in raising awareness. You can check to see if their are any screenings of the film in your area here. Spread the word. If enough people around the world know about what is happening in Taiji, O’Barry will no longer be the lone voice of protest that stands between the dolphins and those that wish to slaughter them.
Source: Telegraph.co.uk, The Cove
Image Credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society