By Ric O’Barry
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project
In the face of the slaughter of thousands of dolphins, can the death of just one dolphin mean much?
Two years ago my son Lincoln and I stood in front of a tank in the notorious Taiji Whale Museum, surrounded by international and Japanese media. The tank was a small one, housing three dolphins in a very confined space. I used the tank to illustrate for the media what is wrong with captivity for dolphins.
These poor animals had been removed from their extended family – their fathers and mothers, their sisters and brothers, and likely their children. The rest of that family was brutally slaughtered, and these three dolphins likely knew it. They were now confined to a small tank and taught to eat dead fish instead of live fish. The tank was too small to let them swim much. Dolphins will swim miles each day in the ocean, in a very complex natural and social environment that even the largest existing tanks cannot hope to match.
Brian Barnes took this photo of the tank yesterday, which illustrates well just how confining this tank is for dolphins. Brian reports: “There is no stimulation for these dolphins in this tank at all. They won’t even open their eyes – it’s as if they’re in a coma.”
One other sad fact: There are now only two dolphins in this tank; one died.
As we know, the huge prices that aquariums will pay the dolphin hunters of Taiji to get live dolphins is subsidizing the slaughter of dolphins. We suspect that if the captive industry were not involved in Taiji blood dolphins, that in time the hunts would likely collapse.
Captivity runs on the principle of supply and demand. If dolphinariums cannot make any money, they will shut down.