150 melon headed whales washed up onto the shores of of Ibaraki, Japan April 10, 2015 (Japan times). Local residents and officials worked tirelessly to help the melon headed whales but sadly only three were eventually re-floated. These gregarious, and highly intelligent whales live in tight social communities, and are deep divers very susceptible to sonar and seismic testing. Each day strandings are increasing worldwide as the Navy, and Oil and Gas Corporations plunder the ocean with sound in warfare games, and in search of oil and gas pockets.
It is of no surprise to opponents of sonar and seismic testing that this tragic incident would take place. Immediately prior to the stranding the US Navy was roaming the Pacific Ocean U.S. 7th Fleet AOR in Japanese waters.
The Navy openly states, the USS Bonhomme Richard LHD 6 was “Underway” in the first weeks of April. While they will release some locations of their movements, their actions remain “top secret” because of “security”. The LHD 6 is not just one ship but a component of a “fleet” of destroyers, helicopters, and submarines, that move at high speeds emitting sonar, underwater charges, marine fire and many other activities that, “harass” and kill cetaceans. Deep divers like the melon headed whales can suddenly lose control of their ability to pressurize their bodies at deep depths due to the intensified ping of warships, sonar, sonar buoys, and underwater charges.
As another year of the Taiji dolphin drive hunting season ends dolphin activists worldwide take time for reflection as they contemplate and remember dolphins families and victims lost since September 1st.
Dolphin travelers migrating North will find the Kuroshio Current has a deadly “truck stop” known as Taiji. Only the lucky make it South in winter months.
Whilst the “False Killer Whale” has fallen from the roster of dolphin victims (none spotted since the 2011/2012 season) many other species of dolphin travelers going South on the Kuroshio Current were found by the dolphin hunters. 46 pods of dolphins were driven into the bloody killing cove of Taiji where they lost their children, liberty, history and their lives for aquariums, fertilizer, and human consumption.
The Risso’s dolphins would be seen as the dominate species driven into “The Cove” in 2014/2015 as the hunters went beyond their quota: 333 individuals were captured, 259 large adults slaughtered, only seven juveniles (children), were taken for marine parks, and 67 were dumped, or brutally driven back out to sea. The hunters took five over their quota for Risso’s dolphins. (source)
The striped dolphin a favorite food of the coastal area took the worst toll in terms of deaths. There was a quota of 450 for Striped Dolphins, of those 383 individuals were pushed into the cove. Of the 383 striped dolphins, not one was shown mercy or spared. No releases and no captures. Small pods, little families, with babies on board, and grandparents, would lose everything as they were pushed past hell’s gates to their deaths in Hatajiri Bay also known as “The Cove” a state park located in Taiji, Japan. (source)
Whilst the Japanese Fisheries would have the world believe that dolphins die instantly nothing is farther from the truth. In 2010 wildlife photographer Dieter Hagmann obtained secret footage of a slaughter during a striped dolphin drive. He captured the inhumane and slow slaughter of dolphins documenting what appeared to be death after struggling for 7 minutes. Because pithing begins with paralyzing the dolphin, and the bamboo nails inhibit the bleeding the suffering is extended. Some have estimated the dolphins still live for up to an hour or more as they are pithed at the cove and then transported to the butcher house where the dolphins are literally slaughtered and sold.
Thanks to the academy award winning documentary, “The Cove” saving dolphins and whales from marine parks, captivity, and the slaughter it supports has become a worldwide movement that is growing each day. September 1st marked the opening of the hunt and events were held in Taiji and globally in opposition to the dolphin drive.
On January 15th the 5th Annual “Change for Taiji & Candle Vigil” Event took place in in front of the Miami Japanese Consulate. Because of the captive industries close ties with dolphin drive fisheries to many the day was a moving demonstration of sadness, and hope that ended with a candle vigil.
Ric O’Barry personally spent a good part of this winter in Taiji monitoring and documenting the dolphin hunt and captive facilities foregoing holidays with family and events in his honor to stand watch for dolphins. He works 24/7 to be a voice for the dolphins in Taiji and in captivity. Where and when ever a dolphin needs help you will find Ric O’Barry.
“Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project has some phenomenal projects in the works — returning to the Solomon Islands, ending Indonesia’s traveling circus, Taiji of course, and Camp Lumba-Lumba — the first and largest permanent dolphin re-adaptation center in the world. Find ways to help here and become part of the pod here!.