Here is the article that was published in The Island Moon newspaper January 12th. It is not available online but the newspaper is read by pretty much everyone on the island. The newspaper included pictures as well. They did a fantastic job and I would like to thank Ronnie at the Island Moon for making this possible! I will have two more articles published once I am on the ground in Taiji. Thanks go out to the citizens of Port Aransas and North Padre Island as well for all the wonderful support!
Dolphins Dying to Entertain You
Little did I know back in November 2009 when I added the movie “The Cove” to my Netflix list how much this movie would change me! It still is.
The movie, filmed in 2007 tells the true story of a small town in Japan with a very dark and deadly secret. They kill dolphins. Lots of dolphins. Although the slaughter of bottlenose dolphins, the primary target species, has dramatically decreased compared to previous seasons, they, along with pilot whales, spotted dolphins and risso’s dolphins, continue to be captured for aquariums and slaughtered for meat by the Taiji fishermen in Japan.
Unable to sleep after seeing the unforgettable movie I was determined to be a part of the solution, I just didn’t know how at the time. Living in Port Aransas I was lucky enough to see these beautiful, intelligent mammals in the wild everyday. How could someone just kill dolphins, indiscrimately? Thousands a year? The answer starts with money.
While Japan has hunted whales and dolphins for hundreds of years, the modern day practice of dolphin drive hunts only started about 40 years ago and really began to pick up steam around 1986 when whaling was banned by the International Whaling Commission. Whaling, a long tradition dating back to 1600 in Taiji, had long been a way of life for this small coastal village, looking to other forms of “fishing” Taiji turned its focus to the dolphin drive. Taiji, Japan is the only placed in the world where these practices of dolphin drives still take place.
The dolphin hunters, 26 of them in total, set out each day in 12 large metal boats and attempt to herd whole pods of dolphins into a killing area known as “The Cove”. The hunters use long metal poles and bang them against the boats to create a wall of noise, driving the dolphins into a small secluded cove to await their fate. Once the dolphins have been secured behind nets, trainers from the dolphin show industry come out and select the prettiest for a life of containment. The rest of the pod, including nursing mothers and babies are all brutally slaughtered. This year’s dolphin quota is around 2300 dolphins. So far to date an estimated 565 small whales and dolphins have been killed at the killing cove.
At the start of the 2010 season things were looking pretty good. As long as the camera crews were there filming the hunters were only selecting dolphins for the dolphin trade industry and letting the remainder of the pod go free. That soon changed once the majority of the camera’s left town. After three weeks of hunting and driving dolphins and small whales into the killing cove the slaughter began. On September 19th 12-16 pilot whales were driven into the cove and killed. By October 2010 the fisherman were back to normal and hunting and slaughtering dolphins at will, once again killing the whole pod including babies and nursing moms. The fisherman view dolphins as pests.
Compounding the problem even more is the dolphin meat. Scientifically proven to be 5 time higher in mercury than recommended for human consumption, the dolphin meat is mislabeled and sold as more expensive whale meat in Japan.
Inspired by the movie, on January 19, 2011, I will be departing for Taiji Japan to join a group of dedicated volunteers in documenting the ongoing slaughter of dolphins. By keeping the camera’s turned on and pointed at this brutal slaughter I hope to help end this slaughter by bringing awareness to an issue so many people have no idea about. Riding the momentum the Oscar winning movie generated has created a great opportunity for change, now we just have to keep the pressure on. I will be joining the Sea Shepherd’s, an activist group made famous by Animal Planet’s series Whale Wars, on the ground for just over 2 weeks. This is the first time in history that any conservation group has been on the ground for the entire dolphin hunting season, which lasts from September1rst to March 31rst.
I’d like to invite you to follow me in my journey and encourage everyone to see this unforgettable documentary which has inspired me and many others to risk personal safety and comfort and travel halfway around the world to keep a spotlight on these few men. You can follow my blog at https://acoveguardian.wordpress.com or on facebook by joining the group “Save the dolphins in Japan”. I will be reporting to The Island Moon once I am on the ground as well.