After The Cove – A Report From Taiji, Japan
Standing atop a promontory in Taiji, Japan, I’m enduring an agonizing wait to see if today will bring another merciless slaughter of dolphins. I’ve been in Taiji for four days now and have witnessed over 60 dolphins lose their lives at the hands of the Taiji fishermen. On November 29th, a large pod of more than 50 spotted dolphins were killed, while a pod of 10 risso’s dolphins were destroyed the following day. On both occasions, babies were among the victims. I am deeply troubled that almost a year after The Cove won the Academy Award for Best Documentary the fishermen have employed a new killing method that reduces the flow of blood into the cove’s waters. They have also perfected the transfer of dead and dying bodies under blue tarpaulins so that the bodies are rarely seen as they are moved to and from the grisly gutting barge and butcher house.
On previous days, I’ve watched as so-called “banger” boats round up the dolphins at sea by creating a wall of sound with incessant banging on metal pipes, which drives the dolphins into the cove. Once the net has been dropped, they are then driven farther into the cove and up onto the rocky beach beyond public sight for slaughter. In some instances, as with the pod of risso’s dolphins I observed, the pod gets separated in such a way that some dolphins are slaughtered well before others, and those awaiting their gruesome end must listen as their family members are murdered. The scene is a profound horror, and one can only imagine the terror, pain, and fear that these highly intelligent and sentient beings must be experiencing as they are hunted down and their lives extinguished.
Currently there are 50-60 captured dolphins being held in small pens to be trained for a life in captivity. They can spend months in these pens swimming in mindless circles, undergoing daily “training” sessions, in which they learn that food now comes from a human, and only after performing a meaningless trick like jumping in the air, touching a ball with their nose, or waving their fin. I cannot express how desperately sad and disturbing it is to see these incredible beings, who were living free and wild only days and weeks before, suffer such degradation and exploitation in this way. Their lives have been shattered, their freedom and families lost, and now their dignity taken too. It is heartbreaking and shameful.
As for the fate of the dolphins this day, I am happy to report that due to bad weather, they managed to get away and escape the hunters’ conniving trap. For all the dolphins who won’t be as lucky as these were, please take action to help them.