By Kirsten Massebeau
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.
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.
The dolphin meat contains Mercury, PCB’s and Cesium-137 as documented by most recently by the the Ric O’Barry Dolphin Project:
The full results were as follows:
- Cesium-137: 3.37Bq/kg. This is below the Japanese Health Ministry’s recommended level of 100Bq/kg.
- PCBs: 0.12ppm. This is below the Japanese Health Ministry’s recommended level of 0.5ppm.
- Total Mercury: 1.4ppm. This is higher than the Japanese Health Ministry’s recommended level of 0.4ppm.
The mercury level is of concern. Even low-level mercury poisoning can have a substantial impact on human health because it bio-accumulates in the body over time. (source)
The Fisherman’s Union responsible for the hunt numbers are few. There is little call for dolphin meat in a modern world. So how does the hunt survive?
According to The Ric O’Barry Dolphin Project: Dolphinariums that work together with the Japanese dolphin killers are a major reason that the dolphin massacres are still going on, and organizations such as the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums or WAZA, endorse the hunts by allowing members into their orgs who source dolphins from the drives. (source)
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.
2014/2015 QUOTA: 1,938 total animals from seven species
- Bottlenose : 108 caught · 028 killed · 041 live-capture · 039 released · 069 total take · quota = 509 · 440 more allowed
- False Killer Whale : 000 caught · 000 killed · 000 live-capture · 000 released · 000 total take · quota = 070 · 070 more allowed
- Pantropical Spotted : 193 caught · 040 killed · 024 live-capture · 127 released · 064 total take · quota = 400 · 336 more allowed
- Pacific White-sided : 006 caught · 000 killed · 006 live-capture · 000 released · 000 total take · quota = 134 · 128 more allowed
- Risso’s : 333 caught · 259 killed · 007 live-capture · 067 released · 266 total take · quota = 261 · 005 over quota
- Short-finned Pilot : 061 caught · 041 killed · 002 live-capture · 018 released · 049 total take · quota = 114 · 065 more allowed
- Striped : 383 caught · 383 killed · 000 live-capture · 000 released · 383 total take · quota = 450 · 067 more allowed. (source)
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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!.
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Check back for upcoming posts on individual species analysis 2014/2015 drive season!