by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals, Causes
Tags: .
Photo: Save Japan Dolphins

Score it Dolphins 1, Taiji 0.

Today marked the first day of Japan’s annual dolphin hunt — the first time since the 2009 summer release of the Academy Award-winning film The Cove put a temporary halt to the slaughter.

According to a source in Taiji, fishermen went out this morning but failed to catch any dolphins. They will try again tomorrow.

Protests in the small Japanese town have been non-existent, largely the result of  threats from an ultranationalist group against “Cove” star Ric O’Barry and other activists. On Thursday, the 70-year-old will take a petition signed by 1.7 million people from 155 nations demanding the end of the dolphin hunt to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, escorted by police security.

“I wish all these people could be in Taiji,” O’Barry told the AP. “It was too dangerous. The big losers are the people of Taiji.”

Regarding his decision not to protest in Taiji, O’Barry wrote on his blog: “Our work in Japan has never been about confrontation. We believe we are making progress by bringing the truth to the people of Japan about the dolphin slaughter and about mercury-poisoned dolphin meat in markets. We will not play the game that the nationalist groups want us to play – we will not have it become “us versus them”, a battle between dolphin hunters with their militant nationalist supporters and the foreigners who want to ruin Japan’s culture.”

To learn more about the dolphin hunt and how you can help, visit Save Japan Dolphins here.

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • Anonyname

    Thank you, Mr. O’Barry and may good bless you for all you do and your extraordinary acts of bravery.

  • Neve

    One more day of blue water is one more day of peace. A huge thank you to Mr. O’Barry and everyone else who donates time, money, and passion to this cause.

  • David

    So why is he in Japan to take a petition to the US Embassy? Would it have been cheaper and greener to just stay in the US and deliver it to the White House? Or stay in the US and deliver it to the Japanese Embassy?

  • Whoever…

    Oh, how I wish our planet would ‘come alive’ and behave like Pandora on Avatar.

    It´s time Nature stands up for herself and gets even!

  • Bren

    Eating dolphins. I find it sickening…

    • David

      Then don’t eat it. I mean is someone trying to force you to eat dolphin?

      Just get over it. I suspect that there are things that people all over the world are eating everyday that you find sickening. And your opinion isn’t going to change their dietary habits.

      • ECOWARRIOR117

        Enjoy your lead poisoning!

      • David

        And where is this lead poisoning going to come from?

        Are you sure you have the right metal?

      • imforthewhales

        Which metal do you suggest David/ mercury perhaps? Or would you prefer we concentrate on all the other toxins found in whale / dolphin meat? The Japanese should be sued for endangering the health of its citizens!

      • David

        Well since lead poisoning in swordfish meat is never mentioned maybe we should just worry about those that have been actually found in the meat.

        Oh wait it is the US that allows the sale of swordfish with high levels of toxins. We where discussing dolphin meat in Japan, the only country in the world that allows meat with high levels of toxins to be sold.

  • monique

    This comment has been removed due to violation of our commenting policy.

  • Kevin

    Just some perspective:

    400,000 pigs were killed today in the US
    100,000 cows were killed today in the US
    Millions of deer are taking each hunting season in the US
    23,000 dolphins taken each _year_ in Japan

    Japan is a mountainous country with relatively little arable land. Likely for this reason, they have not traditionally raised livestock – livestock are an ineffiecient use of land for agriculture. For many centuries eating four legged animals was not allowed in Japan.

    It seems like we should be focusing efforts on saving whales, a seriously endangered species.

    • Cho cho ma

      You fail to realize this is an issue of brutality, not numbers.

      • Kevin

        Because slaughterhouses are filled with flowers. And every one of those 36,000,000 cows is killed a thousand times more humanely than the dolphins.

      • Michael Raymer

        Comparing dolphins to cows, whales to chickens, etc. is simplistic nonsense and an argument of convenience. Cows do not have the intelligence or social structure of dophins. And, make all the claims you want, cows are not put to death with anywhere near the brutality that is happening in The Cove.

        “livestock are an ineffiecient use of land for agriculture.” Care to tell us where Kobe (or Wagyu) beef comes from? If they want more beef, they can always buy it from us.

      • Kevin

        I’d be happy to tell you, Michael. In the second half of the 19th century, a US Naval commander named Commodore Matthew Perry under threat of force caused the opening of trade with Japan. In the first half of the 20th century, the United States won a major war with Japan and its military occupied the islands. Between these two events Japan began and later expanded its consumption of terrestrial mammalian flesh.

        Pigs are at least on the same order of intelligence as dolphins. I don’t think you have any concept, nor do I, of the social structure of aurochs, the wild animal cows are descended from. However, all animals known to be domesticable are generally accepted to have similar social structures that allow humans to take the place of a pack leader.

      • Michael Raymer

        Yup, pigs are so intelligent that they can wind up eating their own young, if left to their own devices. And in the medievel past, herds of pigs would be sent through city streets to consume the filth (including human waste) that would inevitably pile up. Show me a dolphin that does these things and I’ll shut up.

        “I don’t think you have any concept, nor do I, of the social structure of aurochs, the wild animal cows are descended from.” If there is a point here, I’m missing it. Just like whaling in the 18th and 19th centuries, I don’t concern myself with what happened in the past. Different reasonings for different times. I’m talking about what is happening now.

      • Kevin

        Dolphins brutally murder their young – infanticide is pretty well known in most mammalian species so no surprise. What is even greater indication of their intelligence is their tendency to stalk and kill other cetaceans but only to kill them, not to eat. Apparently they are just as smart as the great apes.

        I’m sorry that you missed my other point. It was a good one.

      • Michael Raymer

        Well, I read your article and it is certainly enlightening. I still don’t see how dolphins behavior is comparable to domestic swine, so you may want to elaborate. Intraspecies conflict is hardly limited to dolphins, porpoises and man. Gorillas, chimps (hell, many species of primates), lions, hippos….the list goes on and on. Territorial aggression and mating aggression occur all over the animal kingdom. And then theirs the garden-variety pig. They’re just hungry. And stupid.

      • David

        “Theories abound on the reason behind the mammal murders. These have included territorial clashes and feuds over food resources. But food is not in short supply and the victims are not just chased away but pursued to the death.

        Another belief is that dolphin attacks on their young may be down to mating instincts, because when her calf dies the female dolphin is ready for mating again. But the experts are still not positive that it is only males who do the attacking.

        And, incredibly, they can only guess that the attacks by bottle-nosed dolphins on Scotland’s harbour porpoises is some kind of bizarre ‘target practice.'”

        Hmmm, I guess someone didn’t read the article very well.

      • Michael Raymer

        Hey, way to not make a point. The researchers can’t figure out why the dolphins are behaving the way they do. Meaning, the dolphins are smarter than the researchers. Secondly, the point of this sub-discussion is the comparitive intelligence of domestic pigs. Are they doing anything that science isn’t figuring out?

        Hmmm, I guess someone didn’t read the thread very well.

      • David

        “The researchers can’t figure out why the dolphins are behaving the way they do. Meaning, the dolphins are smarter than the researchers.”

        Hey great way to make a nonsensical statement.

      • David

        Someone makes comments about dolphins in a thread on the article “Dolphin Hunt Kicks Off In Japan” after a series of posts about dolphins including an article strictly about dolphins.

        Hmmmm someone seems to have a problem understanding what the direction of the discussion is.

      • Kevin

        …and a problem bothering to reread his last statements. Paraphrasing, he said “cows don’t have the social structure of dolphins”, I said “I don’t think you or I have a concept of the original social structure of wild cows”, then he said “What’s the point of saying that”. Later he said “pigs are so stupid they eat their young”, I said “dolphins hunt and kill their young” and he said “I don’t see how this behavior is comparable to swine”.

        It’s hard to argue with quicksand.

    • Kimitake Hiraoka

      Hi Kevin, you raise some good points there and I commend you for daring to think for yourself on this issue.

      However, I thought I might just point out that most whale species aren’t endangered. Indeed, nearly all the whales harvested around the world aren’t of endangered species. I know there are elements out there who like to confuse this matter and throw around the “endangered” word for their own benefit. But you have to realise that such elements are heavily vested in the anti-whaling industry and are making huge profits from creating hysteria and spreading misinformation.

      Have a look into it yourself. Minke and humpack whales are the primary targets of the larger whaling operations around the world and all the credible scientific evidence shows them to be abundant and the harvests are all sustainable.

      • Michael Raymer

        And the methods of “harvesting” are some of the cruelist on the planet. Not to mention the cowardly and obsene method of targeting the baby so as to make killing the parents that much easier. No wonder the captains of such vessels are so easily cowed by the resolve of one good man and one good boat.

      • Kimitake Hiraoka

        Killing methods are cruel? Incorrect.

        The IWC has acknowledged that modern harpooning methods result in instant death in the vast majority of cases and a quick death in a majority of the non-instantaneous kills.

        It’s an unfortunate fact, I know, but fact nonetheless.

      • emma

        may i be bold enough to say that i think the killing of ANY species for our own consumption is wrong!! i just cant seem to get my my head round the fact that you think there is a humane way of slaughtering something!!!! i do not believe that “humane” and “slaughter” belong in the same sentence. as for the “not on the endangered list” oh i see your point, we should fish them until they are endagered yes???…… no??? i dont think so. and another point, your all discussing the intelligence of animals, so because one animal is less intelligent than the next, does that mean we have the right to slaughter them?? and actually pigs are very intelligent animals regardless of what they eat, as are chickens, i mean how intelligent are we, if you consider the fact that we are the only species that drinks milk past childhood and to top it of, we drink it from another species……gross!! no other “dumb animal” does that. but lets be honest here, i assume we’re all on here because we think the dolphin slaughter is wrong, morally and ethically, and thats not even mentioning the poisonous mercury in the meat!! so cant we all just put our heads together and unite, then maybe, just maybe, something can be done to protect ALL species.

      • David

        Actually emma, it is the anti-dolphin hunters who say they shouldn’t be hunted because they are intelligent and generally not the dolphin hunt supporters who say that it is OK to hunt them because they aren’t intelligent.

      • Carrie Leber

        the anti-whaling industry? uh ok. Is this the same “scientific evidence” conducted by the whalers who claim to be researchers.

    • Carrie Leber

      Those numbers are pretty random (did you make them up as you were typing? In one spot it’s 100,000 – then jumps up to 36 million) and they’re no excuse for bad behavior and outmoded traditions. Japan should consider alternatives to over fishing – like a promoting a vegan diet.

      • Kevin

        Yes I made them up – I made up 36 million by multiplying 100,000 per day by the number of days in a year.

  • Cho cho ma

    Slaughter houses are cruel, thats why I dont eat meat Kevin. However your saying if an animal is not endangered then screw it, who cares if it gets killed. The fact is however that slaughter houses are regulated and held to a much higher standard than hunts such as those in Taiji. Yes save the whales, but help save the other animals along the way.

    • Kimitake Hiraoka

      Wait Cho Cho, why “save the whales” when they’re not endangered? There are plenty of other animals out there which are genuinely endangered and in need of saving.

      Could it be that the whaling thing serves as a distraction from the real conservation issues?

      • Kevin

        Sei whales are taken often and are highly endangered.

      • David

        OK and they are taken in the North Pacific where the SSCS doesn’t intervene.

    • Kevin

      If you think the killing in Taiji is cruel and that a swift death is more humane, I challenge you to consider the treatment of livestock more deeply.

      The dolphins killed in Taiji live their entire lives up to a short time before their death as free animals. In the United States animals live in poor conditions in captivity their entire lives before being killed in a way that if you witnessed it would feel hardly more humane to you.

      If you can’t sleep at night due to the cruelty to dolphins, I can’t understand how your first priority wouldn’t be the pigs and cows here.

      • Carrie Leber

        there is no comparison between dolphins and cattle – they are completely different creatures in every way. This argument is grabbing at straws. Those dolphins and whales are not yours to kill.

      • Kevin

        Well clearly they aren’t different in every way. I think you’re thinking of the difference between cows and sea cucumbers.

        Both have a CNS and can suffer. My point is there is a lot more suffering in the world than these 23,000 dolphins, and you don’t need to fly across the world and be a cultural imperialist to fight the good fight. If you’re focused on animals that “are not yours to kill”, start with deer.

  • phillip

    Would a pig or cow saw your life or help you to safety?

    • Kevin

      Yes. It has been documented. Here is the book.

      There should be a snarky phrase to describe someone asking a question they could have rendered unnecessary by spending 30 seconds themselves on Google. I often say “I am not your Google” but in this case it doesn’t quite capture the point.

    • Carrie Leber

      it’s true pigs have saved human lives time and again and many have the intelligence of a 5 year old. I would never eat one and oppose their consumption as well.

  • Cho cho ma

    Kimitake Humpback and Fin whales are ENDANGERED!

    Southern Ocean IWC quota included 50 ENDANGERED fin and 50 ENDANGERED humpback whales.

    • Kimitake Hiraoka

      Humpbacks aren’t endangered. They’re listed as “least concern”. In other words, “able to be sustainably harvested”.

      • Cho cho ma

        No they are still endangered

      • David

        Well the IUCN says they aren’t endangered.

        “Megaptera novaeangliae (Humpback Whale)
        Status: Least Concern
        Pop. trend: increasing”

        Least Concern is three steps above Endangered. In fact there is no category above Least Concern.

      • AnimuX

        The IUCN lists Humpback whales as least concern overall with two sub-populations of Humpbacks as endangered (Arabian Sea Humpback and Oceania Humpback).

        However, many nations (including the USA) still consider all Humpbacks to be an endangered species.

        The words “sustainably harvested” have absolutely no meaning in reality. The whaling industry has consistently proven over its entire history that the word “sustainable” is just a political go-to when attempting to justify actions in defiance of IWC regulations.

        In fact, the IWC has no legal definition for what is “sustainable”. Instead it long ago concluded that whales should not be hunted from any population that is not at a biologically optimal level.

        So even before the “moratorium” on commercial whaling nearly every species of whale (including humpbacks) was considered a protection stock by the IWC. Then as now, certain whaling nations (like Japan) continued killing whales to satisfy economic and political interests.

        Since the moratorium, Japan has killed endangered Sei whales, endangered Fin whales, vulnerable Sperm whales and even Minke whales from the vulnerable J-stock. Not to mention the bycatch (or perhaps poaching) of other endangered species caught “incidentally” by coastal fishermen that end up as more meat for the market. Japan also imports endangered Fin whale meat from Iceland.

        As far as the dolphin killing goes, Japan has hunted Dall’s porpoises at “unsustainable” levels (or so says other IWC members and environmental groups).

      • David

        Well no one mentioned the IWC in relation to sustainable levels. And then what is the definition of biologically optimal level?

        And where does the IUCN declare the Arabian and Oceania sub-populations as endangered? I see discussions of both sub-populations but no claim of endangered status.

        And of course you ignore the fact that the IUCN lsits the species Megaptera novaeangliae as Least Concern and not endangered, as claimed by another poster.

      • AnimuX

        @David: For more information on endangered sub-populations of humpback whales see the two following IUCN links…

        Don’t ignore the fact that the IUCN lists some humpback populations as endangered as well as all fin whales.

        Also, don’t ignore the fact that the IUCN listing does not change the IWC designation of humpback whale stocks as protection stocks. Not to mention the global moratorium on commercial whaling.

      • David

        See, was that so difficult? Simple posting of a link and you prove the issue you raised rather than argue for 2 days.

        But don’t ignore the fact that according to the IWC Japan hasn’t taken a humpback whale since the moratorium. Not to mention the that Japan is conducting scientific whaling, a right guaranteed by the ICRW.

      • imforthewhales

        Sadly, there is nothing scientific at all about Japanese whaling. Time and time again the “science” behind Japans illegal whaling to be nothing but a smoke screen and a sham. It is purely commercial and is designed to maximize profits by not having to sustain an animal (eg a sheep or a cow)through its life, and provide it with land to roam about on, food to help it to grow, water, antibiotics and veterinary care etc. its so much easier to just go and take , for no outlay, some free whales which you can steal from the worlds oceans and rob others of having their whales swimming alive and free (ie the rest of the world)
        You then take the whales back to japan, package them up, and get a few of your cronies who are in the system to help get markets for whale meat in places such as schools, thereby making the Japanese tax payers investors in the whale meat business by default. it is a good business model, for sure, but it is a business model based on theft.

      • Kevin

        It seems like you think there’s something directly calculating behind not “having to sustain” the animal through its life. This is really a received preference, a result of four legged animal meat being banned in Japan from the 600’s until the US forced open door policy.

        This was partly due to religion and partly due to the lack of suitable agricultural land available in japan – back then beef was fairly unsustainable.

        Personally I think an animal living its entire life in the wild and then hunted is probably net happier than one kept in captivity its entire existence. But extinction is not an option so I am very in favor of severe controls on hunting.