Tag Archives: Taiji

Children raise their voices and stand witness for dolphins in Japan

Photo courtesy of Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project
Photo courtesy of Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project

“The dolphins who had survived the ordeal were all young, comprised of babies and juveniles. They appeared lethargic and their breathing, uneven. Yet, they hovered close to the area where their family members were killed, refusing to leave. They took turns spyhopping as skiff after skiff of dead pod members passed them.” Cara Sands,  DolphinProject.net
Children question why people do the cruel, thoughtless, and destructive things people do…and grownups tell them that the problems are too big to solve, or that they will understand when they are older. But the kids aren’t buying that anymore – access to the internet has made them a bit savvy and world-wise, and what they don’t see at home they hear from their friends.
Then they take action in any way they can, and leave us inspired.

These annual Japan dolphin drives exist because of the small fortune the hunters make  by selling the dolphins to amusement parks and aquariums, and while the captive industry both denies past involvement and bemoans the annual butchery, they do little to stop it.
From BlueVoice.org:

Traveling into these villages where the dolphins are killed is always a heart-wrenching thing. But some good news came out of our trip — there is not the slightest doubt that the explosion of protest around the world against the brutality of dolphin hunting in Japan has had enormous impact on the Japanese government and the fishermen who conduct it. At both Futo and Taiji we were told the same thing — that foreign reaction is the main obstacle to the continued dolphin killing and that the fishermen fear the government will shut them down to avoid further international protest. We learned that the government suggested Futo suspend dolphin hunting operations until the public loses track of this issue. We will make sure this does not happen.
Again I stress, that from the fishermen’s own mouths we heard without any equivocation that foreign pressure may ultimately shut down the dolphin capture and slaughter operations.
The bad news is that at Taiji there is a firm intention to continue the catch of dolphins and small whales. At Futo there is some dissent among the fishermen as to whether to continue hunting dolphins, but there is a government quota for several species and the head of the fishing cooperative told us they expect to begin hunting again. We must be on hand with cameras.
Additional bad news is that the dolphin capture and export business in Japan has expanded into an assembly line process. There are two dolphin bases in Taiji and a new one at Iki. Dolphins are literally “packaged” for export – i.e. they are captured, trained and exported, accompanied by a trainer who introduces the dolphin into the new facility. A formidable dolphin packaging infrastructure has developed at Taiji, which contributes to the continuation of the slaughter of hundreds of dolphins in that village alone.

While SeaWorld tries to hide their earlier participation in these drives, they and other facilities that profit from dolphin captivity have a duty to help put an end to the dolphin drives instead of circling the wagons in denial.

“In addition to empathizing deeply with the suffering of the cetaceans, we also feel the reverberation through history…we know how humanity must look back on the endurance in this age of such cruel and needless practices…its stains all our humanity.” Leah Lemieux,  author of Rekindling the Waters.
What you can do: go to any of the organizations that are actively engaged in this issue and find ways to contribute your ideas, time, energy, and talents. Of course non-profits are always in need of financial donations too.
Find a variety of Tweets here:  https://sites.google.com/site/londontaijidemo18dec

#Tweet4Dolphins  #1Voice4Dolphins
Share on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/145245015831005/
“London is key, the pressure in London is working” – Richard O Barry has said. It is at tipping point and so now the pressure needs to be higher than ever. Ask your friends in London to share and tweet this event.

The Blackfish Effect Continues: Captive Whales and Dolphins Have an Ally in Virgin Airlines CEO Richard Branson

In another case of ‘when you know better, you do better’, the creative genius who brought us Virgin Airlines as well as over a hundred other ventures has now taken a stand on cetacean issues – when Whale and Dolphin Conservation recently mounted a campaign asking tour companies not to book with amusement parks such as SeaWorld, Virgin Airlines CEO Richard Branson took note. His tour company, Virgin Holidays, will no longer book with any organization that won’t guarantee that they won’t display dolphins and whales that are taken from the wild. (Please see below).

Lolita's violent capture - she is now displayed at the Miami SeaQuarium.
Lolita’s violent capture – she is now displayed at the Miami SeaQuarium.

That means any place that accepts dolphins from the Taiji dolphin drives won’t get his business, nor will any park or aquarium that takes the orcas, belugas, false killer whales, pilot whales, and dolphins caught around the world. Countries such as Cuba, Honduras, Russia, Japan, and the Solomon Islands openly catch dolphins and whales for the display trade, and others such as Mexico are lax in allowing dolphin brokers to get “scientific research” permits for capture.
Where Morgan will have to live (Loro Parque, Spain).
The wild orca “Morgan” was sent from the Netherlands to Loro Parque, Spain where SeaWorld warehouses  orcas. In six weeks the courts will decide if she can be returned to the wild.

Branson’s stance will affect large corporate ventures such as SeaWorld, privately owned parks such as Loro Parque in the Canary Islands, and every mom and pop ‘swim-with-dolphins’ company world-wide. While other tour companies may still book with those facilities, and while Virgin Holidays probably does not have arrangements with many of the captive dolphin and whale based businesses, Branson’s renowned social media presence will cause a ripple through the industry.
This decision by Branson shows the character of the man – whatever income is lost by his choice will be more than offset by the satisfaction of living according to his principles. Still, as a businessman losing money is unpleasant, no matter how rich and successful you are.
So, please fly Virgin Airlines if you have a choice, and book your vacations through Virgin Holidays. Follow him on Twitter @richardbranson , and leave comments on his blog.
Your opinion is important – he is still studying the issue of captivity in general, and may be open to not booking with any amusement park or aquarium at all where cetaceans are displayed, regardless of whether the animals are wild caught. His study strategy is listed below.

From Branson’s blog:

I’ve instructed Virgin Holidays not to deal with any organisation[s] that do not pledge that they will never again take cetaceans from the sea. We hope other holiday companies will follow suit. 

Virgin Holidays has played a leading role on the issue of animal welfare in the travel industry for many years, and helped to draft the first ever set of global guidelines to ensure minimum standards are met. This is a complex subject that we’re committed to fully understanding.
We expect all of the tourism facilities we work with to meet the required local and international welfare standards for the animals in their care. As part of an ongoing audit process, any supplier found not to be meeting those requirements is reviewed and if necessary, the relationship ended.
We have begun an engagement process that will gather a broad spectrum of opinion from the scientific community, commercial partners, other travel companies, the general public, conservation organisations and our industry as we improve our knowledge of the various elements of this debate, and work towards a long term vision of captive cetaceans in tourism in the future.

The engagement process will include, but not be limited to, discussion on the following points:

  • The role of captive cetaceans for education and raising awareness.
  • The issue of training captive cetaceans for entertainment.
  • The welfare of captive cetaceans, including the space given to them.
  • The breeding of cetaceans in captivity.
  • The reintroduction of captive cetaceans into the wild.

We have put a six month timeline on this engagement process. I look forward to hearing more of your views on the subject too.

Update: Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s response to Branson’s statement can be found on their website.

Peace Doves Attacked by Birds in Rome – The End of Days, or Nature?


Doves released as peace gesture were quickly attacked by a crow and a seagull.
Doves released as peace gesture were quickly attacked by a crow and a gull.

The archetypal image could have come right out of the pages of a Harry Potter novel, resembling a classic battle of good versus not-so-good –  the white doves which were released at the Vatican as a gesture of hope towards peace in the Ukraine were quickly attacked by a hooded crow and a gull. The doves appear to have survived the attacks, but nonetheless the superstitious beliefs emerged over the internet in chat rooms and comments, fearing this event as a sign of the ‘End of Days’.
But crows  and gulls are opportunistic predators and no doubt are accustomed to finding easy meals from the lunches of the thousands of tourists who flock to visit the Vatican. They just happened to be there at the wrong time looking for a snack – to them the doves may have seemed just another tasty morsel thrown from the window.
Peace dove attacked by hooded crow (Daily Mail).
Peace dove attacked by hooded crow (Photo by Gregorio Borgia).

The strikingly white doves have been carefully bred for centuries – we are fascinated by the appearance of these  animals who lack the normal pigment of their species.  Their brilliant white color stands out and seems to command our attention, causing us to wonder about their origin and chances of survival in the natural world, and to marvel at what we are taught to believe about them.
In the case of wild animals, all too often that sense of wonder is soon replaced by a desire to capture these rare individuals for display, or to kill them for their hides. In other instances these unexpected white animals stir a deep and primal need to restore our inner equilibrium and often become symbolic in cultural beliefs.
white buffalo calfwoman
“Prophecies have been shared and sacred instructions were given. We, the People of the Earth, were instructed that the original wisdom must be shared again when imbalance and disharmony are upon Mother Earth. In 1994 the sacred white buffalo, the giver of the sacred pipe, returned to the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people bringing forth the sacred message that the winds of change are here. Since that time many more messengers in the form of white animals have come, telling us to wake up my children. It is time. So listen for the sacred instruction.” Arvol Looking Horse, Lakota Tribe.

According to legend, the White Buffalo Calf Woman was a holy entity that visited the Oceti Sakowin [Sioux]  over a four-day period.  She taught them sacred ceremonies, songs, and dances.  She gifted the people with a sacred bundle containing the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, which still exists to this day and is kept by Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.  Upon appearing and leaving, the White Buffalo Calf Woman changed into a white buffalo calf, then changed in color from white to black, to yellow, and finally, red.  Prophetically, it is said that the White Buffalo Calf Woman will return at the end of an age, and she will appear as a white buffalo calf. (Native Times).

The images of white animals and the  ideas that they represent do seem to have a primal impact on us, but the question is, what do we do with our beliefs – do we obey our gut reaction to capture or kill the unusual white animals or do we choose to let them live free and wild, taking whatever message that we will just from having seen them?
whitewhale russianorca.org albino
There are several biological mechanisms which can cause a loss of pigment.  A true albino loses all pigment (including the eye color) while  mutations or defects can cause partial or complete color loss, and the animal usually retains eye pigment in the latter cases. The orca above appears to have lost just some of his pigment, while the dolphin calf below appears to be a true albino.

Rare albino is among hundreds destined for captivity or slaughter.
Rare albino is was taken for display.

This albino dolphin calf was recently captured in the brutal dolphin drives in Taiji, Japan. Separated from her mother and the rest of her family she faces a tough adjustment to life in captivity, as there can be physiological complications that arise with albinos. Her mother was either released back into the wild, or more likely slaughtered in another classic parable – that of killing the golden goose – for she might have carried recessive genes that could have produced young who in turn may have carried the gene for albinism which appears to have been a high revenue capture.
Saving the mother dolphin along with the calf would also have helped the calf survive the trials of captivity – but then again the whole strategy behind the dolphin drives shows stupidity at every level…having over-fished their environment these fishermen see the dolphins as competitors for the dwindling fish stocks, and they also consume the meat from the dolphins which is known to be contaminated with heavy metals.
There is a correlation of heavy metals with increased albinism in fish:
Photo by Amber Young.
Taken for captive display, the fish soon died. Photo by Amber Young.

Heavy metals (As, Cd, Cu, Hg, Se, Zn) were shown to increase the incidence of albinism during 5 years of experiments with channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus). Metal-induced albinism resulted from exposure of both adult fish and eggs. In egg bioassays, exposed populations consistently exhibited higher percentages (up to 6.3%) of albinos than did controls, but frequencies did not vary significantly for the six metals or for exposure concentrations which ranged from 0.5 to 250 µg/1.
Metal contamination in a hatchery water supply yielded frequencies of albinos corresponding directly with those observed for metal-exposed laboratory populations. Inasmuch as albinism has proved deleterious to fish survival and production, caution is recommended in using metallic compounds in hatchery management. Tests for albinism may prove useful in screening aquatic contaminants for mutagenic potential.

ajun0807ravens061albino dreaming wizard
Science and mythology may intersect when it comes to the symbolism of albinos; the Sioux prophecy of the white buffalo tells that white animals will appear in a time of change, signalling a need for humanity to unite – and ironically, as we inch towards irreversible climate change our careless treatment of the environment may result in an increased incidence of albinism, but certainly does call for a need to unite across cultures.
flat,550x550,075,f.u1 migaloo jenny dean albino

 Photo from George Dvorsky.

A final cautionary tale about our tendency to project concepts onto wildlife: Ahab in Moby Dick lost sight of reason in his obsession to destroy a white whale, determined to dominate the forces of nature.  We now know what a perilous undertaking that has been as we face ecological problems on a global scale, and hopefully have learned to balance the comfort of superstition with perspective. If the crow attack symbolizes the ‘End of Days’, it is only what we read into nature, combined with our efforts to try to manipulate and control natural forces.

To some, the White Whale is a myth. To others, he is immortal. But one significant question is, What is the White Whale to Ahab? Ishmael grants that Ahab views the whale as an embodiment of evil. Ishmael himself is not so sure. The narrator often sees both sides of a question, never more so than in Chapter 42, “The Whiteness of the Whale.” There he tells us that Moby Dick’s whiteness might represent good or evil, glory or damnation, all colors or the “visible absence of color.”
For Ahab’s interpretation, it is helpful to consider the captain’s comments in the pivotal Chapter 36. There, the captain says he sees Moby Dick as a “mask,” behind which lies a great power whose dominance Ahab refuses to accept. Ahab sees that inscrutable power as evil.
Some scholars argue that it is not the whale, or the force behind the whale, that is evil; the evil is in Ahab. Others see the captain as simply insane. Ahab is out of control as he rants about attacking the force behind the façade of Moby Dick. He wants to kill the whale in order to reach that force. Ahab seems to want to be a god. As great and charismatic a man as he can be in his finest moments, the captain is destructively egocentric and mad for power. To Ahab, we might conclude, the White Whale represents that power which limits and controls man. Ahab sees it as evil incarnate. But perhaps it is just a big, smart [whale]. Cliffnotes.


U.S. State Department Expresses Concern About the Japan Dolphin Drive, Supports Ambassador Kennedy

One of three false killer whales imported to Sea Life Park, Hawaii, from the Taiji dolphin drives in 1990 with her half-dolphin calf. Bottle nose dolphin in the back. Sea Life Park still has the offspring of this whale.
One of three false killer whales imported to Sea Life Park, Hawaii, from the Taiji dolphin drives in 1990.  With her is her half-dolphin calf. Sea Life Park still has the offspring of this whale.

Below is the audio recording from the National Public Radio interview with State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. It is about three minutes long and worth listening to as they discuss Ambassador Kennedy’s fresh approach as Ambassador.

This is the transcript of the press briefing, it is interesting in the reaction to Twitter:

21 Jan 2014


State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf briefs reporters joining her teleconference on a range of international topics.

Looks like the next question is from Elizabeth Shogren of NPR.
QUESTION: Hi. Thank you for taking my call. I wonder if you saw that Ambassador Kennedy tweeted that she’s deeply concerned about – by the inhumanness of drive to hunt dolphins in Japan. I wonder if you know anything about why she decided to tweet this comment and whether there’s any other U.S. reaction to that drive.
MS. HARF: Yeah. Well, obviously, we – in general, in terms of why she tweeted, we communicate with the public in a variety of ways. So I don’t think I have probably more of an analysis of why she went to Twitter to talk about this. But suffice to say the U.S. does remain committed to the global moratorium on commercial whaling, and we are concerned with both the sustainability and the humaneness of the Japanese dolphin hunts. We have been very clear that this is our position, and we remain – excuse me – remain concerned about it. And the Ambassador was expressing our view that we’ve made public for a long time.
QUESTION: And was there any official correspondence with the Japanese officials on this issue?
MS. HARF: I can check and see. We have discussed our concerns directly with Japan. I can check and see what level we’ve discussed those concerns at.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. HARF: Thanks.

Taiji Dolphin Drives Started in 1969, and Are Not a Part of Japanese Tradition


Dolphin Drive Hunts Only Began in 1969

(Press release from The Earth Island Institute)

Claims being made by the Japanese government to the media and the public that the Taiji dolphin drive hunts, revealed to the world in the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove, are part of Japan’s “traditional culture” are completely false.
Worldwide condemnation of the dolphin drive hunts continues to grow.  US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy released an unprecedented public statement of concern over the Taiji kill.   And Japanese artist and activist Yoko Ono published a powerful open letter to people of Taiji calling for an end to the dolphin killing to avoid “making the children of the world hate the Japanese”.
One of Japan’s foremost defenders of the dolphins, our colleague Sakae Hemmi of the Elsa Nature Conservancy of Japan, submitted a letter a few weeks ago to Dr. Gerald Dick, Executive Director of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), which includes as a member the Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA), one of whose members is the Taiji Whale Museum, which brokers dolphins from the dolphin hunts around the world.
Dr. Dick responded to Elsa stating that WAZA would not take action against the hunts:  “As you know, in some Japanese communities these drives have been part of the culture for centuries.”  This same false claim is now being made to the media by the Japanese government.
“This claim of ‘Japanese tradition’ is nonsense,” stated Ric O’Barry, Director of Earth Island’s Dolphin Project.  “The dolphin drive hunts, according to the town’s own written history, says a couple of drive hunts occurred in 1936 and 1944, but the current series of hunts only began in 1969.”
Ms. Hemmi has replied to Dr. Dick with an open letter stating that:  “In fact, the history of dolphin hunting in Taiji is short. According to The History of Taiji, edited and published by Taiji town in 1979, the first recorded dolphin drive was in 1933, with subsequent hunts occurring in 1936 and 1944. It was not until 1969 that dolphin drives have been conducted on a large scale. The history of the dolphin drives spans not so-called 400 years, but a mere 45. Furthermore, in 1969, the main goal of the dolphin drive was to capture pilot whales as prized showpieces for the Taiji Whale Museum. In other words, the dolphin drive was purely for profit, having nothing to do with cultural history.”
Elsa and two other grassroots Japanese environmental organizations are asking WAZA, in their open letter, to eject JAZA members that violate the WAZA “Code of Ethics” in using the brutal hunts to catch dolphins for display, thereby subsidizing the slaughter of dolphins for meat.
“What is going on here?” Ric O’Barry asked.  “The dolphin hunts are being used by the captivity industry to supply wild dolphins to aquariums in Japan, China, Dubai, and other aquariums all around the world.  (Imports of dolphins from Taiji into the US were finally blocked by the efforts of Earth Island Institute and other organizations in 1993.)”
WAZA publishes a “Code of Ethics” and has given lip service to opposing the Taiji drive hunts.  But JAZA and the Taiji Whale Museum are still members in good standing with WAZA.
Ric O’Barry stated: “What kind of ethics condemns the dolphin hunts while taking advantage of them to help the Taiji dolphin hunters round up and slaughter hundreds of dolphins every year?”
“WAZA and ALL its members should be condemning the dolphin hunts in no uncertain terms,” Ric O’Barry added.  “If JAZA members continue to acquire dolphins from the drive hunts in Taiji, JAZA should be expelled from WAZA.”
Mark J. Palmer

Associate Director International Marine Mammal Project,  Director Wildlife Alive Subproject Earth Island Institute The Brower Center(510) 859-9139 (Berkeley Office)

Rare albino is among hundreds destined for captivity or slaughter.
Rare albino has been taken into captivity, separated from its mother.

Does SeaWorld Discriminate? Have You Seen a Minority Whale Trainer?

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

While the world watches and waits to see what will happen to the hundreds of dolphins who face slaughter in Taiji, Martin Luther King’s words of compassion and personal responsibility remind us that society will never be just if we don’t make an effort to right wrongs when it is in our ability to do so.

Even as SeaWorld sits mute on the annual dolphin slaughter, they also remain mute on their failure to represent persons of color in their high-profile trainer line up. Until recently, when people learned how miserable the whales can be in confinement,  becoming a whale trainer seemed to be a glamorous job, one that every child had the right to dream about.

Unless your skin was dark.

How often have you seen a minority trainer among SeaWorld's elite?
How often have you seen a minority trainer among SeaWorld’s elite?

According to Death at SeaWorldthere was only one African-American trainer, although I can’t verify if he was among the elite whale trainers or whether he was involved with the comical seal shows. SeaWorld doesn’t disclose information on its hiring and recruitment programs.

Jeff’s friend and confidante Samantha Berg was not about to give up her job either. She
loved working at SeaWorld, though she did feel out of place with her dark curly hair and the
only Jewish surname in the department (there was one African-American; the rest were white
and decidedly gentile). Nearly all the other female trainers were tall, fair-haired and willowy.
gentile). Nearly all the other female trainers were tall, fair-haired and willowy – except for one
other dark-haired New Yorker, of Italian descent, who worked at Sea Lion and
Otter Stadium. When Sam was transferred to the stadium, the two became great friends. They
both thought it was pretty funny they had been hired at all,
Two months after Dawn died, the Department of Labor cited SeaWorld parks for
employment records that showed a “disparate impact” on African-American and Hispanic
applicants. As a result, the company was required to contact nearly 1,000 qualified applicants
578 who had been denied employment and either offer them a job or a portion of the modest
settlement mandated by the government.

What makes this a painful fact is that SeaWorld has not problem pandering to children as can be seen with the Mattel SeaWorld trainer dolls – yet the reality is that minority children will come to believe that there is no place for them as equals at SeaWorld. That is the pain of prejudice at work.



From an article I wrote in 2011:

When I was looking through the witness reports on [trainer] Dawn Brancheau’s death, I noticed that witness after witness is listed as white. Of the 41 witnesses that were employed at SeaWorld, 3 were black. It looks like two of those were employed in the restaurant, though it is hard to be sure, and none were listed as trainers. None identified themselves as Asian or Native American.
That is less than 7%. The black population of Orlando is 27% (reference). Because SeaWorld has proven itself to be excruciatingly indifferent and obtuse about their statistics, I didn’t even bother trying to contact them this time, but the pictures, and the evidence don’t lie.
It is time to diversify or to face dwindling attendance by people who don’t see themselves represented fairly, and if SeaWorld can’t recruit minorities willing to go in the water with dangerous animals, then it is just another clue that whole segments of our population don’t relate to those circus acts. Instead, SeaWorld could hire people of all races and physical ability to reconstruct livable habitat for the animals and to figure out a way to make money from keeping the whales in sea pens instead of tanks.

It is not just the animals who are hurt at SeaWorld, prejudice and racism leave scars on the lives of those who are made to feel not good enough by prejudice in all its forms.
As SeaWorld celebrates 50 years of being in business, they appear to be celebrating 50 years of business as usual, even though they need riot police to protect them from what most people feel are unfair and unkind policies, as was shown in the recent Rose Parade fiasco.
It is a new era, one that SeaWorld just can’t seem to adjust to quickly enough, which is a shame given all the good they could do with their resources.
Why was a blond child chosen as iconic of SeaWorld?

SeaWorld, Sea Life Park, and Dolphin Quest Are Linked to Dolphin Massacre

Update January 20th, 2014 7 pm EST. The dolphins who were not chosen for captivity are now being slaughtered as the world watches. Please continue to voice your outrage, and consider boycotting the summer Olympics taking place in Japan in 2016.
If I had to pick just one aspect of the Japan dolphin drives that encapsulates all that is wrong with the annual dolphin slaughter, it would not be the fact that it is a function of greed.
Nor would it be the fact that the dolphins are normally just migrating through the area, by no stretch of the imagination are these “Japanese dolphins”. Sadly, the dolphins killed in Taiji may be the same ones that winter along the beaches of other countries where their presence would have been welcome.
It wouldn’t be the fact that the fishermen have the arcane idea that dolphins and whales are competitors for a dwindling fish supply either that is the most abhorrent. And no, not the obvious joy shown by the ignorant fishermen in upsetting the rest of the world.

And dolphins still don't harm humans...
And dolphins still don’t harm humans…

No, the one thing that takes this slaughter to heartbreak level is that the brutal fishermen, in their cowardice, have chosen a species that never attacks back, allowing the hunters to safely enter the water, their killing knives and skewing implements wielding destruction unopposed.
They don’t do this with sharks. Or rays, swordfish, or barracuda. But these fishermen of Taiji callously swim and wade out with the dolphins knowing that the dolphins won’t harm them, maiming and torturing the one species that is known to save humans in need.
Due to bad press, the dolphins now try to kill dolphins bloodlessly, but it doesn't work, often resulting in a prolonged death.
Due to bad press, the fishermen now try to kill dolphins bloodlessly, but it doesn’t work, often resulting in a prolonged death.

A few short days ago, the little white dolphin who activists have named ‘Angel’ was swimming free with her mother and extended pod. Today she is in a tank with a few other calves, their mothers left behind to face the possibility of slaughter unless the Japanese government steps in and puts an end to this barbaric practice.

Is there hope for these dolphins? Yes, given enough public pressure, and if the amusement parks would own up to their complicity in the carnage. The video below explains how these captures are driven by people who make a fortune from it.
SeaWorld claims that it no longer supports the drive fishery, but does nothing to intercede. Sea Life Park in Hawaii still has the whale/dolphin offspring of a false killer whale who came from the Japan captures. Dolphin Quest has two swim-with-dolphin facilities in Hawaii, both built with money from ‘blood dolphins’ caught in Japan.
Please watch this video, you can skip the first minute or two if it is hard to stomach, and still learn how the dolphin slaughter is driven by industry. The people of Japan have been unaware of the situation, but are beginning to protest, bringing hope that this will soon be stopped. Please see this website to learn why these hunts not reflective of the Japanese country as a whole, but instead is reflective of a heartless few.

RIC O’BARRY’S DOLPHIN PROJECT has prepared this list of resources for you to contact and have your voice heard, together we can end this:

The hunts for dolphins in Taiji must be stopped, and the captivity industry should be in the forefront of efforts to stop the hunts.  Instead, the captivity industry is subsidizing the hunts by paying top dollar for captive dolphins like Angel, while the mother is carted off to the abattoir.  They should be ashamed of themselves.
Please help in any way you can!  We need your continuing help to end the Taiji dolphin hunts.
Contact these leaders and ask them to release the dolphins in Taiji and Angel with his mother:
The Hon. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister, Japan
Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae
Embassy of Japan in the United States
2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W
Washington DC 20008
Tel: 202-238-6700, Fax: 202-328-2187
Dr. Gerald Dick, Executive Director
World Association of Zoos and Aquariums
WAZA Executive Office
IUCN Conservation Centre
Rue Mauverney 28
CH-1196 Gland

250 Dolphins Face Slaughter in Japan Today, Including a Rare Albino – You Can Help!

Update January 20th, 2014 7 pm EST. The dolphins who were not chosen for captivity are now being slaughtered as the world watches. 
I am shocked and horrified by this, it is extreme even for the brutal Japanese fishermen in Taiji. The sorting and slaughter is set to start at 1 pm Pacific Standard Time, and will be live streamed by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Here is a list of Japanese Embassies if you would like to express your opinion:  http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/japan#855. More information on the Japanese slaughter can be found at Save Japan Dolphins. (Please see video below).

Rare albino is among hundreds destined for captivity or slaughter.
Rare albino is among hundreds destined for captivity or slaughter.

Sea Shepherd News – Five separate pods of Bottlenose dolphins were driven into Taiji’s infamous killing cove yesterday and held overnight. This now massive pod of more than 250 dolphins includes babies and juveniles, including a rare albino calf who has been clinging as closely as possible to his or her mother in the stress and panic of the drive hunt.  If not killed, the albino will most certainly be taken as a novelty for Taiji’s local marine park attractions. In some cultures, it is taboo to capture or otherwise harm albino animals, as they are considered “spirit” animals and hunting them is thought to be bad luck.
Today, the members of the pod will face a violent and stressful captive selection process. Babies and mothers will be torn from each other’s sides as some are taken for captivity, some are killed, and others are driven back out to sea to fend for themselves. Taiji dolphin killers and trainers work side-by-side to choose those deemed suitable for captivity – the “prettiest” dolphins without visible nicks or scars. Those taken captive are forced to watch as the remaining members of their family are brutally killed for human consumption. The dolphin meat is sold by the Taiji Fishermen’s Union despite the fact that it contains high levels of mercury and other harmful toxins. We anticipate going online from the Cove with our live stream today at ~ 1 pm PT as the captive selection and slaughter begin. Please spread the world by sharing our URL widely:  http://livestream.seashepherd.org.

Man Against Dolphin – a Search for Understanding the Conundrum That is Japan

Right now the annual bloodbath of dolphin hunting in Taiji, Japan is ongoing.  During this archaic process dolphins and small whales are driven into a cove where some are destined to be sold to amusement parks while the rest are cruelly slaughtered en masse nearby, the screeching screams of their pod mates audible to all.  It is so senselessly cruel and unnecessary that it bewilders the more educated people everywhere – why does the government of Japan allow this to go on?  There is the usual claim of indigenous rights to eat the dolphins, yet they harvest more than the village can consume…and certainly there is nothing indigenous about selling dolphins to amusement parks.
The fallback position of the Japanese always comes down to their belief that the dolphins eat too many fish, hence as man’s competitors their numbers must be controlled…an almost bizarre demonstration of a lack of higher order thinking in which critical thinking, analysis, and problem solving seem to be completely lacking.  Very strange, considering how otherwise cultured, educated, and modern Japan is seen to be – and search for understanding this also involves understanding that people in varying cultures become entrenched in what allowed them to survive, and in counties like Japan these skills are passed from generation to generation, and their whole outlook on the world may be different than ours.

Lately the graphic images of blood filled water, massacred populations of dolphins, and assorted carcasses of marine mammals have dominated the cyber environment where my attention is normally focused, and it is so relentless and disturbing that I find myself disinclined to check Facebook for updates. Yet I realize that this barrage of unsettling information is a good sign because it means that public awareness of the senseless brutality of man towards ocean life is beginning to snowball as it becomes clear that the constant abuse of the marine environment has reached a tipping point. If we keep destroying the ocean we will destroy ourselves in the bargain – some of it due to greed as in our search for resources, some to fear of other nations as in our navies, but most egregious of all is the free rein given to a few senselessly cruel practices in many nations to kill the innocent, friendly, and benign dolphins and whales that have swum the oceans since before humans evolved.
Unfortunately it is very difficult to reason with people whose living involves the destruction of the environment, whether it is due to oil exploration, development, ranching, fishing, or industry. In every case a handful of powerful people try to run over the rights of the public – from ranchers who are trying to have the wild horses exterminated so that their cattle can run on public land to fishermen who believe that marine mammals should not be allowed to eat the ocean’s fish, these people fight tooth and nail continue their destructive ways of operating.
Yet if we truly seek to understand these cultures we may find more effective ways to bring awareness to them and stop the senseless destruction of the other intelligent beings that share our planet. Given that people have only relatively recently discovered the depth of intelligence and compassion possessed by dolphins and whales it is possible to understand that the barbaric cultures of the past did not know what they were killing.
But now we know better, and as it is often said, when we know better, we do better.

Taiji, “Look Not Upon a Right Whale”; In 1878 Greed Cost the Lives of Over One Hundred Japanese Whalers

The Taiji whalers now only hunt the gentle dolphins that they know won’t hurt them, even as the dolphins are stabbed to death. (JapanProbe photo)

The superstition:

Some years ago there lived a wealthy fisherman called Matsushima Tomigoro at Matsushima, in Nagasaki. He made a large fortune by whale-fishing. One night he dreamed a strange dream. A whale (zato kujira), carrying a baby whale, appeared before his pillow, and requested him to let her and the baby go safely–they were going to pass a certain part of the sea at a certain time and date. Matsushima heartlessly did not accede, but took advantage of the information. He put a net in the said sea at the due time, and caught a whale and her baby. Not long after, the cruel fisherman began to reap the harvest of his mercilessness. Misfortune after misfortune befell him, and all his wealth disappeared.
‘It must be the result of his cruelty in killing the whale and its baby,’ said the neighbours; and for some time they never caught whales carrying babies.

The event that occurred in 1878:

As the year of 1878 dragged into winter the beach-master or ‘ami-moto’ was getting desperate. At that time there were two hereditary leaders in Taiji. One was Taiji Kakuemon, who ran the business operations, and the other was his relative, Wada Kinemon, the advisory head. On December 24, 1878, after a bleak, poverty-ridden period of poor catches, a big female right whale and her calf were spotted by the lookouts. The triple black and white pennant was raised and the whalers momentarily relaxed, for the whalers knew that a female and her calf were not to be hunted. It was late afternoon, and for a successful hunt, a whale would have to be killed and secured before nightfall.
At the beach in front of the shrine of Asuka, the two leaders argued. Kakuemon insisted that the village needed a whale, and needed one before the New Year. Kinemon said no, it was not their custom to hunt a female with calf, and that it drew late, that bad things would befall them if they broke this rule.
Nevertheless, Kakuemon gave the order to hunt, and as the red signals went up and the conches blew from the lookouts, the surprised whalers jumped to their long sculling oars and the gaudy, sleek boats darted forward. The whale was enmeshed and harpooned, but she fought with great fury, and dragged the boats out to sea. Cold winds were blowing from the shore and the men became cold and exhausted. It got dark. By morning the fleet was scattered, and no matter how hard the men in the boats attempting to tow the whale struggled at their oars, the winds, current, cold and the sheer size of the whale was too much for them. Finally, in tears, they cut the whale loose. The storm grew worse.
Within a few days, the cream of the Taiji whalers, and the best of their boats, had been swept far out to sea and had died from exposure or drowning. Some drifted as far as the seven islands of Izu. Estimates of the death roll vary from 111 to 130 men killed. Only a handful survived.
Taiji Kakuemon, in his grief, gave his entire family estate to the bereaved families, and eventually left Taiji for good. The village was plunged into an awful depression, and many young men left for foreign shores, for Hawaii, California, Canada, Mexico. Many of the dances, skills and sea lore of the whalers died with those men who chased the taboo female, and although there were attempts over the next two decades to rebuild the net whaling fleet, they had small success.
C.W. Nicol
February 1979
Taiji, Japan

(From the Taiji Action Group)

Background on the Taiji controversy-
The villagers of Taiji, Japan persist in the slaughter of whales and dolphins, primarily to feed the captive display pipeline (see Save Japan Dolphins for more information). The country of Japan supports the activity of this village, and as a nation continues to kill more whales than they consume. They believe that the whales eat more than their share of fish, and so Japanese whalers are motivated less by the desire to eat whale meat as they are to kill off the competition for resources. From the Consulate-General of Japan, Sydney


Competition between whales and fisheries
Research by Japan’s Whale Research Program in the Northwest Pacific has revealed that whales eat huge amounts of fisheries resources.
It is estimated that whales consume approximately three to five times as much marine resources as the world’s yearly marine fisheries production volume. (The exact amount varies depending on the yearly marine fisheries production output).
Besides eating Krill, which is also food for fish, whales eat a large amount of Anchovies, Mackerel, Saury, Salmon, Squid and Walleye pollack. Furthermore, it has become clear that whales feast on certain types of fish during their most prolific season. Japan as a fishing nation cannot overlook this issue.