Photo Source: Onegreenplanet.org

The Cove: Taiji hunt

When you think of dolphins you typically don’t think of their meat or them being a food source. You probably think of them as beautiful, intelligent marine life and associate them with fun aquariums and Flipper. In the small town of Taiji, Japan, thousands of dolphins are brutally tortured and slaughtered each year. To the people in this town a dolphin sadly symbolizes the hunt which is considered a tradition and a source of meat and income for the people.  The Cove is a film investigating the truth behind the barbaric hunt and the town of Taiji, which has many secrets that are kept hidden by their fishermen. They hide these secrets so securely that filmmakers and divers had to go to the extent of installing hidden cameras/microphones in the cove to uncover the horrific truth.

Since the film released in 2009, it brought awareness to activists around the world and has played a large role in stopping this issue. Activists and a conservationist group, Sea Shepherd have gone to Taiji and created more awareness by launching social media campaigns and a live feed broadcast (CNN). This has helped the public become more aware, and celebrities like Ricky Gervais and Shannen Doherty are joining the campaign against the hunt too.

The locals defend their practice by arguing that the town has a 400-year long tradition of whale and dolphin fishery and this is a source of their income. However even if this is the case, it doesn’t excuse the barbaric technique or the live dolphin trade. The process in which they trap the dolphins goes like this: they use poles to create a wall of sound to disorient the dolphins, leading them to the shallow cove. Then they are netted and stabbed in the spine with large metal rods which results in them slowly dying and bleeding out from internal injuries (CNN).

Photo Source: Sea Shepherd

The Japanese compare killing dolphins to livestock in the United States. According to Ric O’Barry, a former dolphin trainer, there’s no comparison because dolphins are “self-aware like humans and the great apes. They look in the mirror and they know what they’re looking at. They’re not domesticated animals.” (CNN) The young, healthy ones are kept in nets to be sold to aquariums for about $100,000 while all the others are stabbed and killed around them, which can go on for hours. Especially since they are so intelligent and self-aware this is pure torture and it terrorizes them.

If the abuse of the dolphins isn’t enough, there are other health concerns surrounding people. The dolphins that are slaughtered contain high amounts of mercury and are then being fed to children as part of school lunches. This was hidden from parents for a while and they were being told that the meat was from whales caught in the Antarctic. Children can get mercury poisoning which damages the nervous system and internal organs. An alarming 1,700 deaths have been linked to mercury poisoning since the 1950s. If the people in Taiji don’t care about the hunt for the dolphins’ sake, they should for their children (The Guardian).         

Although this subject is gaining a lot of recognition, it needs to be stopped altogether. An article by the Huffington Post suggests that if all Japanese aquariums stop buying these dolphins it would put the Taiji hunt out of business. Although the town of Taiji claims that this is a tradition and they benefit economically, it doesn’t take away from the brutality of the act. To see how you can get involved check out our action steps below.

Photo Source: Tokyo Weekender

Photo Source: Tokyo Weekender

Ways you can REACT to The Cove

1. SIGN A PETITION< to stop the slaughter and captivity of dolphins in Japan.

2.MERCURY CALCULATOR: Learn which seafood is safe to eat, and change your seafood consumption accordingly.

3.RECEIVE TEXT UPDATES: Text DOLPHIN to 77177 for updates on The Cove.

4.REDUCE DEMAND. Boycott captive dolphin shows and encourage your friends to do the same.

5.BE INFORMED by reading these FAQs

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