Taiji, November 4, 2015: As we prepared to post a Blue Cove day, due to increasing winds and generally unfavorable weather conditions, the boats suddenly left the harbor in search of dolphins. It was quick and unexpected, with hunters likely tipped off that a pod of dolphins was in the region. What seemed like minutes later, black smoke could be seen as dolphins were being pursued.
The chase didn’t last long but the pod fought hard, fueled by terror and adrenalin. The hunters were fueled by a different sort of motivation: greed.
The dolphins, clearly Risso’s, were pushed into the cove, nets were drawn and we knew we were witnessing the last moments of their lives. The dolphins huddled together, attempting to recover from the assault of noise and machines, only to face a fate even more devastating.
Divers entered the water, and two Risso’s were selected and separated from the rest of the pod. The others were dragged by their tails deeper into the killing cove, disappearing under the tarps to meet a brutal end. A short while later the once-free mammals were taken away, and although potentially unfit for human consumption due to the presence of toxins, would be reduced to packaged meat. The two dolphins initially separated were transported via slings, for a life of endless performances.
We documented the entire capture process via Live Stream. At one point, the fins and tails of some of the dead dolphins were exposed as hunters struggled in rough water. In total, approximately 15 Risso’s were caught with all but two killed.
How some dolphins can be selected for captivity – usually young, unblemished females – while others can be slaughtered with callous indifference is chilling. Would it make a difference to a paying, adoring audience if they knew the mammal doing tricks in a tank had been forcibly taken from the wild? A sentient creature who witnessed family members being killed alongside them?
That’s precisely why Dolphin Project is on the ground in Taiji, Japan, for the entire killing season: to share with the world the extreme cruelty behind the captivity industry.
It’s simply, really: Don’t buy a ticket to a dolphin show.
We selected the cover photo* for this blog as a tribute to the beauty and perfection of wild dolphins, free from human harassment.
*Credit: DolphinProject.com/Vicki Kiely
Thanks to Dolphin Project Senior Cove Monitors Terran Vincent Baylor and Vicki Kiely for documenting this hunt of Risso’s dolphins and for sharing their accounts.
Your help in supporting our campaign in Taiji is greatly appreciated and needed. Click here to donate.
Learn more about becoming a Dolphin Project Cove Monitor.
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the USA (Tax ID 47-1665067), and donations are tax-deductible.