Taiji’s First Drive Hunt Plunders Bottlenose Dolphins for Marine Parks: The WAZA Agreement


By Kirsten Massebeau

Hunters and trainers select bottlenose dolphins for captivity at The Cove

Hunters and trainers select bottlenose dolphins for captivity at The Cove Via Ric O’Barry Dolphin Project Livestream

Never has it been more clear that the captive industry is keeping the cruel and horrific dolphin drive alive in Taiji, Japan. On September 1st the dolphin drive season opened for a small group of men and their associate trainers from the dolphin brokering Taiji Whale Museum, and Dolphin Base in Taiji, Japan. The hunters drove a pod of approximately 60 bottlenose dolphins into the cove. After leaving the frantic dolphins overnight the captive selection process began. At the end of the day 18 young dolphins, mere children, were ripped from their families and taken to the harbor pens in preparation for a life of captivity. The remaining dolphins were then released. There was no slaughter because of an agreement with WAZA and the captive industry:

While the Ric O’Barry Dolphin Project and over 100 Japanese and foreign activists demonstrated on the shores of the Cove in support of the dolphins on September 1st, the opposing right-wing had a whale meat BBQ on the opposite shoreline broadcasting Hawaiian Luau music, and touting tradition. The Right Wingers put on a good show for this first dolphin drive but in fact it had nothing to do with eating dolphin meat but rather fulfilling the orders for display dolphins placed by aquariums and marine parks from all over the world.

Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project and the Japanese Group  Flipper Japan September 1, 2013

Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project and the Japanese Group Flipper Japan: Japan Dolphins Day September 1, 2013 at “The Cove” Via Livestream

In her recent article, Hawaii’s Captive Dolphins Are Linked to the Taiji, Japan Brutal Captures, Candace Calloway Whiting highlights the role of Jay Sweeney DMV a collector and captor of dolphins for display. The presence of the captive industry in Taiji is well documented:

“It seems gruesome that one of the founding partners of Dolphin Quest (swim-with-dolphins facilities located in Hawaii and Bermuda), Dr. Jay Sweeney DVM, now spends his days carving dolphins out of wood, as he stood by while dolphins were carved up in Taiji. His direct involvement with the removal of dolphins and small whales from Japan to amusement parks in the U.S. is irrefutable.

This is fully documented in the film A Fall From Freedom, a clip of which is below. Sweeney continues to profit from the dolphins at Hilton Waikoloa Village and Kahala Mandarin Hotel, where people fork out huge funds to swim with the dolphins” (source)

Find a list of Jay Sweeney DMV’s captures of dolphins obtained through drive fisheries in Japan here.

The dolphin hunters and dolphin brokers of Taiji claim hunting dolphins is their right and their tradition:

“The southern part of Wakayama prefecture has little arable land with many precipitous mountains. Because of this, it has been natural for the local residents to take whales and dolphins which come close to the coast, and utilize them as food. In Japan, we utilize all parts of whales for various purposes not only as food but also as materials to make craft products. Since its beginning, the substance of our whaling has been different from that of other countries which, until petroleum came into use, killed an enormous number of whales for the sole purpose of obtaining whale oil, throwing the meat away into the ocean”(source).

In looking at all the evidence it seems while slaughter, and the meat maybe the byproduct the very non traditional capture of dolphins for modern marine parks and aquariums is not tradition. The only way to end the slaughter is to stop the show, stop the real exploiters those paying $150,000 dollars for a trained disposable dolphin from Taiji drive fisheries.

Be part of the solution!

TELL IMATA (International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association) & WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums) TO $TOP $UPPORTING THE $LAUGHTER IN TAIJI !!

Watch your Cove Monitors and Cove Guardians as they report from the cove daily as the drive season continues. Together we can make a difference! Be a voice for the dolphins!