Taiji, Japan, 10-28-18: The dolphin hunters of Taiji, Japan hit payday with the first capture of bottlenose dolphins in the 2018/19 drive season.
Since their start on September 1, only four pods of Risso’s dolphins have been decimated – some killed for their meat and others selected for captivity. Profits have been low, while tensions have run high. After 16 days where no dolphins have been successfully captured, the tide turned in the hunters’ favor.
All 12 banger boats went out just before 6:00 a.m. in search of dolphins. Two hours later, a pod of approximately 25 bottlenose dolphins had been located. Dolphin Project Cove Monitors began live streaming as the mammals swam frantically, attempting to evade the boats which had gunned their engines, working to corral the pod closer to shore. The sounds of banger poles could be heard as hunters worked to further terrify the dolphins. Sadly, by 9:00 a.m., the pod was trapped behind a double set of nets, their fate sealed.
Several young juveniles could be seen swimming alongside their mothers. Others began spyhopping and tail slapping. The group swam tightly together as the minutes dragged into hours. The Cove became quiet as it became apparent the pod would be left overnight, with no access to food or water.
The following day on October 29, divers and trainers arrived to The Cove to begin their captive selection. It was a violent ordeal, with our team documenting at least one death as a result of this process. Keep in mind the people responsible for caring for these dolphins in captivity are the ones who work alongside the hunters, helping to choose who will live and who will die. Fifteen mammals were selected for “life” in captivity while the others were released.
In an eerie coincidence, approximately one year ago, on November 2, the first pod of bottlenose dolphins was captured during the 2017/18 hunting season.
“The dolphins kept swimming very closely together and went in circles over and over. I have encountered bottlenose dolphins many times in the wild, but never like this. I have never seen them behave so frantically. Even their eyes and their faces looked so different when they would spyhop, it was heartbreaking.” ~ Tracie, Dolphin Project Cove Monitor
The blatant connection between Taiji’s brutal dolphin slaughters and the captivity industry cannot be overstated. The capture of wild dolphins is where profits lie. The mammals will be conditioned, their spirits broken. They will be sold, then shipped to aquariums and marine parks worldwide. They will be forced to perform for their food, and will suffer throughout their incarceration.
“What I witnessed today I will never forget. To see those dolphins huddled together, swimming in a tight circle… Panic, fear and confusion in every breath they took will be burned in my heart, soul and mind forever.” ~ Lea, Dolphin Project Cove Monitor
Why, you might ask? To entertain paying audiences. It’s a money train from start to finish. And there’s only one way to end it:
Dolphin Project will be on-the-ground in Taiji, Japan during the entire hunting season. We have been the only organization to have done so since 2003. We are committed to bringing worldwide awareness to these crimes against dolphins but cannot do so without your help.
Updated October 29, 2018.
PLEASE HELP US EXPOSE THESE CRIMES AGAINST DOLPHINS!
Dolphin Project will be on the ground in Taiji, Japan during the entire killing season, broadcasting live on social media, blogging and disseminating information for the world to see. Your support has never been more crucial and is greatly appreciated.