Taiji, Japan 9/5/19 – It’s been a brutal start to the 2019/20 dolphin hunting season in Taiji, Japan. On the first successful drive of the season, hunters managed to corral and kill a pod of five Risso’s dolphins. Then, in the three days following, three pods of bottlenose dolphins – a favorite amongst aquariums and marine parks – were driven into the cove, with 19 mammals chosen for “life” in captivity.
It’s possible all groups were part of the same pod. No matter their origin, our team on the ground has consistently documented the following:
- the hunt and subsequent captive selection is ugly;
- it’s violent; and
- it’s a perfectly acceptable practice within the aquarium and marine park industry
Let’s look more closely:
Myth: Dolphins in captivity are ambassadors for their species.
Fact: No dolphin has ever volunteered to be captured and displayed for the rest of its life. Whether their enclosures are floating sea pens, concrete, glass, indoors, outdoors or a combination of all of these, the moment dolphins are removed from the ocean, they lose their ability to make their own choices and decisions, hunt live fish, explore their wild world and choose with whom they socialize.
Myth: The behaviors captive dolphins do mimic those of their wild counterparts.
Fact: By very definition, “captivity” means they are confined in some manner. Thus, the behaviors demonstrated in these unnatural settings cannot possibly replicate how they would act in the wild. And, have you ever noticed that most tanks are barren? There is very little stimulation in a captive dolphin’s world, where the mammals are forced to co-exist alongside humans. The difference is, their trainers are free to come and go as they please, while the animals are not.
Myth: Dolphins live longer in captivity than in the wild.
Fact: While captivity is an issue of quality versus an issue of quantity, it would be a gross misrepresentation to state captive dolphins live longer than if they were free to roam the open oceans. Ever visit an aquarium where a dolphin has a familiar name? (think: Shamu, etc.) The reason for this is, repeatedly using the same names provides the illusion that the mammals enjoy longevity and are a happy part of the [insert aquarium’s name] family. This simply isn’t the case. The fact is, captive dolphins are replaceable. When one dies, another simply takes its place.
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Dolphin Project will continue to document and live stream for the duration of the hunting season. Please follow us on our social media channels for live updates.
Featured image: Wild-caught bottlenose dolphins panic as nets are drawn around them, preventing escape, Taiji, Japan. Credit: DolphinProject.com
Every year from September through March, a notoriously cruel hunt of some of the most sentient creatures on the planet takes place in Taiji, Japan, made famous by the 2009 Academy award-winning movie ‘The Cove’. During this period, dolphin hunters, “drive” the mammals to their capture or deaths via means of physical violence and acoustic torture. Their meat is either packaged for consumption (a dangerous practice as it contains high levels of toxins neither fit for humans or animals to eat) or shipped to aquariums that have placed orders for live animals. Dolphin Project is the only organization to have been on the ground consistently since 2003.