Children raise their voices and stand witness for dolphins in Japan

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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,
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.

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:

#Tweet4Dolphins  #1Voice4Dolphins
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“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.

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