By Tim Burns
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project
2/8/2012: Today, 28-33 Risso’s dolphins were slaughtered under the cover of tarps in Taiji, Japan. The bodies were dragged out of the Cove hidden under tarps, heading to the Fisherman’s Union building where the dolphin hunters sort them, ultimately to end up at one of the butcher shops to be cut up and packaged. Two other sad Risso’s will be performing tricks for food until their greatly-shortened lives end.
This morning the Taiji dolphin hunters found two separate pods of Risso’s early. The pods broke up and rejoined several times. Once in the Cove, the fishermen seemed to take a break, as it was about an hour before some of them returned in skiffs with dolphin trainers from aquariums, who get to decide which dolphins live and die.
Last year, I had a brief encounter with a local dolphin trainer, who explained to me how much she loved the dolphins and would never want to see one hurt. She could not understand how anyone eats one and understood the effects of mercury poisoning. The very next day, I witnessed this same trainer entering the Cove in a skiff and documented that she was under the tarps as the dolphins were sorted and killed. Some they keep, and some they slaughter. It was heartbreaking to witness the very people taking care of them in captivity are the ones watching them being slaughtered, day after day, and are fully aware of the harm the meat is bringing the unsuspecting people of Japan. Captivity truly kills!
Today’s slaughter was no different as the trainers disappeared under the tarps; the dolphin hunters began slaughtering the Risso’s. Because of their large size, it is done in waves. One group is pushed under the tarps, while the others become frantic from the noise and sight of their family being slaughtered. Then the next group is pushed up on the beach beside their suffering pod members under the tarps. This is repeated over and over again until they are all gone.
I’d give anything to say this is the last slaughter I will ever have to witness. Sadly we will return to the Cove tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that, and everyday until it ends.