Do you remember watching Flipper on tv? I loved that show as a kid. It was exotic, adventurous and opened my eyes to the gorgeous creatures of the sea. That & Jacques Cousteau showed me the beauty of another world. As a kid, I would pretend to be a dolphin whenever I was swimming, whether it was in a pool, lake or the Atlantic.
Taiji, Japan is home to the famous whale museum. It is also the place that 100’s of thousands of dolphins have been brutally murdered in the past. Taiji is the #1 supplier of dolphins to parks and swim with dolphin programs. Each live dolphin sells for up to $150,000 to these parks and swim programs. Dead dolphins ones only fetch $600 for meat. The Taiji Whale museum brokers all of the deals and the town and fisherman share the profits. When you consider that most swim with dolphin places make $2-3 million a year, this is BIG business.
I watched the Cove last night. Very eye opening and I have to tell you it disgusted me to my inner core but I am getting ahead of myself. The Oceanic Preservation Society documents reefs around the world. You remember Ric O’Barry from the famous show FLIPPER in the late 60’s. Rick & Jim went undercover with a group of others to expose this travesty. You know those cute cuddly dolphins you see at Seaworld and other places? Those big smiles they always have? Well did you know that the ones in captivity suffer from ulcers from being stressed out so much and have to be given tagament and maalox?
Dolphin drive hunting, also called dolphin drive fishing, is a method of hunting dolphins & porpoises and by driving them together with boats and then usually into a bay or onto a beach. Taiji fishermen use a method called “oikomi” to hunt dolphins, banging on metal poles in their boats to create a wall of sound and herd them to shore, where they are harpooned for meat or captured alive as show animals. Their escape is prevented by closing off the route to the open sea or ocean with boats and nets. Dolphins are hunted this way in several places around the world, including the Solomon Islands, Peru, the Faroe Islands and Taiji, Japan.
Dolphins have some of the best sonar out there. Very sensitive to sound which is ultimately their downfall in Taiji. Dolphins use the same migratory routes and the boats just sit and wait and they bang on poles in the boats which creates a wall of sound which frightens the dolphins. The dolphins swim for their lives, directly to shore, freaked out and stressed. They become trapped in the nets and the Japanese Fishermen herd them into a net and there the ambushed dolphins wait for dolphin trainers to come from around the world. These dolphin trainers from well known aquarium pick the ones they want. They mostly want bottle nose dolphins. But what happens to the dolphins not chosen? They are slaughtered in a secret cove and their meat is sold. This area has high fence around it, hidden on three sides with secret tunnels in. Tsunami Park is a secret lagoon where they do the killing.
An estimated 23,000 porpoises and dolphins are killed every year in Japan from September to March. The fisherman gets only $600 for a dead dolphin’s meat. The International Whaling Commission is in charge but they do nothing to protect the smaller cetaceans like dolphins & porpoises. Japan says it is their tradition and culture but MOST Japanese citizens are unaware of what goes on. Huge coverup and media blackout.
FYI, Dolphin meat is loaded with mercury and dangerous to eat. The recommended total level of mercury in seafood in Japan is .4 parts per million. Dolphin meat can have up to 2000 ppm. In Japan they repackage it and mislead Japanese consumers into thinking it is larger whale types and charge more. The government lets it go by. Japanese citizens would be mortified if they knew they were paying a premium for mercury loaded dolphin.
So a Ric led a team that went undercover with freediver Mandy, divers, tech gurus and thrill seekers to hide camera rocks, balloon cameras and other things to uncover and expose the travesty going on in Taiji. They tried to be discreet but a little hard with all the equipment that was brought in. They were followed by the Chief of Police. They went to the bridge to photograph where it was allowed. They were harassed, ridiculed and provoked. They arrived to bloody water and babies separated from their parents who were being slaughtered.
Next they just watched and waited and planned. They wait till dark one night and then begin their attack. Freediver Mandy hits the water first. They have thermal cameras, night lights, audio devices and more. Then they planted the rocks on shore and in the woods. The divers took to the water and did their part. Guards come and they have leave quickly. They wanted to catch an experience that would make people watch. Well, it caught my attention.
Japan is also recruiting smaller, poorer nations that are in the IWC like Laos, Guinea Bissau, Eritrea and Kiribati. Not that I am ignorant, but I have not even heard of some of these countries. But seriously in most of the smaller islands throughout Caribbean, they have bought votes and built small fish refineries that sit empty or store chickens for the vote of these countries.
You can make a difference if you care.
To help you make up your mind…here are two video clips, I warn you that it is very horrifying to watch. If you love what you see when you dive, please do your part to protect them. I know diving with a dolphin in the wild is on my dive bucket list.
Sign this petition – by clicking this link, below is what will be sent for you.
Alternatively you can text dolphin to 44144
or go to http://www.takepart.com/cove
FYI, Sea World spokesperson Fred Jacobs has responded to the release of the Cove by saying that, “We think we’re being unfairly criticized for something we’re opposed to.He adds that, “SeaWorld opposes the dolphin hunts documented in The Cove. We do not purchase any animals from these hunts. More than 80 percent of the marine mammals in our care were born in our parks. We haven’t collected a dolphin from the wild in decades.”However, Jacobs does not condemn those who purchase from the Taiji dolphin hunt.
I stopped and reread this before posting it, giving myself overnight to reflect. I understand that to poorer countries like the Solomon Islands this is a huge source for food but I still can’t find it in my heart to condone the massacre. It is not that dolphins are adorable but I think I would be mortified it I had to see cows slaughtered in mass or turtles or even pigs. To me, I guess it is the corralling, the stress the dolphins have to endure, and the deception the Japanese government is involved in about hiding the facts.
Now upon further research, I find that Taiji plans to create a marine park that will open in 3-5 years and populate the proposed 69-acre marine mammal park with bottlenose dolphins and pilot and other small whalescaught nearby. However, they do not plan to stop the killing.