Disregard for Life in Taiji

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Image Credit: Huffington Post Images

Some 50-60 years ago, marine-mammal amusement parks first began displaying cetaceans - namely killer whales and their smaller dolphin cousins. Many of these parks started in the United States and North America. Basically, we westerners began the plague, the hunt for dolphins.

Today, we are finally starting to see the wrongs of our ways. We are finally starting to understand the depth and breadth of dolphin intelligence, family structures, their likeness to us.

Unfortunately, this understanding seems to be too little too late. Now the rest of the world wants in on the money making scheme that is dolphin captivity.

From September 1 to end of February, I tune into the Dolphin Project's and Seashepherd's twitter, facebook, and livestream feeds every day. To see the images and to hear the words of the Dolphin Project's Cove Monitor Daniela about what she's seeing in the cove right now, as Dolphins are forced to give up their lives for our amusement, is not only disturbingly sad, but beyond evil.

Just recently, 42 bottlenose dolphins were taken captive, the remaining 40 or so juveniles released with little chance for survival, and at the same time 15-20 pilot whales were netted in the cove, without access to food, water, or freedom for 4 days. They were terrified, huddling together, weakened, innocent, awaiting their prescribed fate - a painful death for the large ones, and a dump-into-the ocean for two babies who will surely die without their pod.

The fisherman and trainers laugh about this - for them, it's a big pay day.

But, this is no laughing matter.

To take a free-living animal and remove it from everything it has ever known, for greed is inexcusable, immoral, unethical, and displays the very worst of mankind.

If I sound angry about the situation, it is because I am. Anger is a great motivator to want to do something, to educate, to inform those who have no idea what is going on.

The injustice of the situation cannot be understated. Hundreds of dolphins are captured every year in these hunts. Hundreds die and are unaccounted for. Others become slaves to the captive, entertainment industry. Suffering traumas, pain, and a lifetime of cacophony or starvation. Others are straight-up murdered.

If this were truly an historical or cultural tradition, they would not hide their faces, they would not hide behind tarps, they would not hide period. They would be proud to show off their tradition. But they do hide.

We know enough about dolphins now to know that they are intelligent, emotional, family-oriented creatures. We know that they have conversations, even though scientists seem to equivocate on this issue.

Just because I don't understand what two Japanese men are saying to each other doesn't mean they're not having a conversation. So, why would we be so naïve and egregiously arrogant to think dolphins don't have conversations with each other, just because we don't understand them?

To see the livestreams and images of dolphin and pilot whale families surrounding their young, behaving as we would in a similar situation, is not only sad, but it is cruel, beyond any shadow of a doubt. Anyone who thinks otherwise either doesn't have a heart, or has one so filled with hate, that this is all they know to do with it.

No creature (animal or human) should ever endure this type of stress, pain, suffering, or death. It shouldn't be us or them. We CAN live in harmony if we just let them be. Their only fault, was using a migration route that has been used by their ancestors for hundreds of thousands of years.

Their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. As I write this, I have to believe that the lives of the dolphins and pilot whales in the cove right now will not be in vain.

Share, share this with everyone you know. Take the pledge to not see any dolphin shows. Do you part to help stop these egregious displays of domination.