Barbaric scenes of dozens of dolphins being trapped and slaughtered in a cove at Taiji on the south coast of Japan just before Christmas have again been captured on camera and exposed by the world’s media.
In an extensive report by the UK Daily Mail newspaper, which conducted its own investigation, it can be read that businessmen wearing wetsuits waded “in a shallow bay teeming with trapped wild dolphins … running their hands carefully over each dolphin’s body … to ensure the creature is free from scars.
Steve Bird, author of the report, writes that “these are businessmen selecting their merchandise for a multi-million-pound trade in live dolphins. The best specimens (usually young females, or cows) are removed from their families to be sold live for between £50,000 and £100,000 each to aquariums”.
The rejects, “the ones with minor blemishes on their skin”, are slaughtered where they are trapped in that cove.
The Mail report continues: “In a frenzy of violence that has shocked animal lovers and marine environmentalists around the world, some are speared repeatedly by fishermen circling in motorboats whose propellers often slice the dolphins’ skin. Others are simply held underwater to drown … amid the blood-red waters almost all of them eventually succumb to their fate.”
Japanese fishermen harvest dolphins to supply to aquariums for human entertainment. The ones that are killed are recovered by the fishermen and their meat sold for about €12 a kilo.
It is estimated that for every wild dolphin caught to be trained to perform tricks in captivity, around four times that number are slaughtered.
Three years ago, dolphin trainer and one of most vocal campaigners against this practice, Ric O’Barry, 73, made a documentary called The Cove, which revealed the truth about the brutal dolphin drives that take place at Taiji in Japan. But the practice continues.
The on-screen trainer of the five dolphins that played ‘Flipper’ in the popular US TV series says live dolphins taken from the Japanese waters are shipped to aquariums and fun parks mostly in the Far East.
There are no international laws protecting these animals from being transported to those countries, where the suffering they endure is “unimaginable”.