Dolphin Slaughter in Japan Continues
September 1, 2011, a grotesque annual massacre began once again, for the sake of “culture”, and has continued through today. In Taiji, Japan, fishermen go out to capture dolphin pods, including mothers and babies, trap them in a cove, and slaughter them brutally.
Although they claim to do it as tradition, Taiji local, Mr. Nakahira, said in an interview with a Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian that he, “has seen that the dolphin killing has nothing to do with tradition. [I have] seen how the children in Taiji are brought to tears by the whole thing. The children now know what happens to dolphins in their town and they cannot imagine how their parents can allow this to happen.” Even though their children are horrified, many Taiji residents are simply sitting around while the dolphin drive hunts go on. There are, however, many others trying to stop this, including the Sea Shepherd, an organization who works to end whale and dolphin hunting, and Earth Island Institute an organization who conducted a campaign called Save Japan Dolphins.
One Cove Guardian, a member of the team sent by the Sea Shepherd to end this atrocity, reported to the Sea Shepherd after a pod of dolphins was driven into the killing cove, where one was slaughtered and two were sent off to a water park. She stated, “This pod was swimming free this morning and now has been denied all that is familiar to them. Their new home is a concrete bathtub and they will have to learn to survive on dead fish only after performing stupid tricks, while some Taiji local feasts on their family member for dinner.”
Although the dolphin hunt is devastating for the children of Taiji, and members of the Sea Shepherd, why should you care? It doesn’t affect you in any way right? Wrong. Lori Marino, a marine biologist, stated, “For all we know it [the dolphin drive hunts] could have decimated several wild dolphin groups and cultures. Japan does no data collection on this question yet they continue to maintain that the Taiji drives are sustainable. Completely irresponsible.” This means there is a high possibility that you will never see several types of dolphin species.
Have you ever gone to Monterey, and seen pods of dolphins jumping out of the water? What if you never could, ever again? If you want make sure this doesn’t happen, there are many ways you can get involved. Earth Island Institute, for example, is right in Berkeley, which is much closer to Woodside than Taiji itself. Although it seems that Woodside students would be unable to help, there are many, very simple, ways you can. Some things include: Taking a pledge to not buy tickets to dolphin shows, telling zoos and aquariums to stop aiding dolphin killings, and signing petitions.
What if dolphins completely disappeared from our oceans? Since dolphins are at the top of the ocean’s’ food chain, a dramatic chain of events would occur, and each species’ population would grow larger. Bottlenose dolphins, for example, one of the most hunted dolphin species, feed on creatures including squid, shrimp, and herring. If bottlenose dolphins were to become extinct, the herring population would increase, causing the plankton population to dramatically decrease and eventually become extinct, for herring eat plankton. The extinction of plankton would cause the herrings to starve, and eventually become extinct. This chain of events would continue all the way down the food chain until the ocean species are so overpopulated, that all food sources diminish, and eventually disappear altogether.
Since October 11, 2011, when my first article, “Mass Murder in the Cove”, was published, approximately 719 dolphins have been killed, compared to over 1,200 killed in the previous 2010-2011 hunting season, 40 dolphins escaped, and unfortunately, 51 were sent to aquariums. Although 719 dolphins is a lot to be killed, things are beginning to change as awareness of this issue grows.
Along with all this, there has also been quite a bit of conflict. Cove guardian Erwin Vermeulen was arrested and kept in prison for 63 days, for attempting to take photographs of some Risso dolphins being transferred from a holding pen to the Dolphin Resort Hotel. Since Japan doesn’t usually react so severely to something so small, many people were shocked. Taiji officials claimed that Erwin Vermeulen pushed a hotel employee, but since Vermeulen wasn’t question after being arrested, there were no witnesses, and Vermeulen insists that he did not push anyone, the arrest seems pre-planned. If the intent was to intimidate activists, it didn’t work, and the arrest has brought even more international attention to Taiji.
For decades, the Taiji dolphin slaughter has gone on, unnoticed by many. If it continues, several dolphin species in our very own pacific coast could be completely wiped out. The good news is, the activists’ work is making a real difference in saving dolphins, but they still need your help. By working with organizations such as the Sea Shepherd and Earth Island Institute, even you, can help end this atrocity.
For more information about the Taiji dolphin hunts, read my first article, “Mass Murder in the Cove.” http://www.woodsideworld.com/green-health-science/2011/10/11/mass-murder-in-the-cove/
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