Taiji marine park to let visitors swim with and eat dolphins and whales, not far from the infamous killing cove.
by Jennifer Mishler
Categories: Animals, Causes.
Photo: Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians

Taiji, Japan is planning a marine park where visitors will be able to see and swim with dolphins and small whales. In that same town, not far from where the park will be, large pods of cetaceans are driven to the shallow waters by boats and brutally killed.

The annual hunt season, which usually spans from September through March, has become infamous due to the documentary “The Cove” and the yearly return of activists like Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians who document the hunts and send daily updates to the world. Thousands of dolphins and whales are killed each year. Activists also point out the link between the slaughter and marine mammal captivity, as the animals who are not selected for captivity by trainers are then killed in front of their pod and their meat is sold. The captive dolphins and whales are transported to aquariums and marine parks around the world.

Now, Taiji is planning to open a marine park, where visitors will be allowed to swim or kayak with the dolphins and whales who have been captured. According to AFP, a net will be placed at the entrance to Moriura Bay in northwestern Taiji, and the park will span about 28 hectares or 69 acres.

The killing cove is in Taiji’s Hatakejiri Bay, and officials say they are not planning to stop the slaughter. “We already use dolphins and small whales as a source of tourism in the cove where dolphin-hunting takes place. In summer swimmers can enjoy watching the mammals that are released from a partitioned-off space. But we plan to do it on a larger scale. This is part of Taiji’s long-term plan of making the whole town a park, where you can enjoy watching marine mammals while tasting various marine products, including whale and dolphin meat,” said Masaki Wada.

Those who oppose the hunts are pointing out the contradiction of celebrating whales and dolphins while capturing and killing or separating pods nearby. “The whole plan is based on the concept that they can exploit dolphins and whales freely as their resource, but the mammals don’t belong to Taiji. Marine mammals migrate across oceans, and internationally public opinion is that wildlife should be allowed to live as they are. The plan will only ignite more protests over dolphin-hunting,” said Nanami Kurasawa, the secretary general for Tokyo-based Iruka & Kujira (Dolphin & Whale) Action Network. Kurasawa added that demand for dolphin meat is decreasing and only 100 people participate in dolphin hunts. “If they want to get more tourists, they can for example exhibit the beautiful whale-hunting ships used in ancient days, that would show their tradition without stirring more controversy,” she said.

Sea Shepherd’s leader of their Cove Guardian campaign, Melissa Sehgal told Ecorazzi, “Taiji is a town of hypocrisy. Misleading tourists into believing that these dolphins and whales are happy and well cared for. Meanwhile around the corner, an entire pod is being slaughtered. Once again proving that this is not about culture, it is about carnage.”

Taiji’s new marine park is set to open within the next five years.

About Jennifer Mishler

Jennifer Mishler is a writer, and a vegan and animal activist. When she's not writing, you can often find her volunteering or advocating for animal, environmental and human rights causes. Along with writing for Ecorazzi, she has contributed writing for nonprofits like Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and enjoys blogging. She resides in the Washington, DC area (and loves all the vegan food it has to offer). Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @jennygonevegan.

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  • Sally Newell

    What happens at Taiji is brutal beyond belief. 17 dolphins are slaughtered for each kidnapped dolphin. The dolphin and whale killers use a hideous method called “pithing” where they stab away with a spear at the spine until they think they have severed it, then plug the hole so less blood escapes. From Cove Guardians I have talked to this year, judging from the screams and tail slaps it takes most dolphins over 10 minutes to die (The Cove is draped from view to hide the shame). From hidden camera footage which is freely available on many websites, you can see the dolphins writhing in agony for up to 20 minutes and some of them are still alive when they are dragged off to the butcher house by their tails to be chopped up. The younger dolphins hear the screams of their family, swimming in their blood. Before this, some younger prettier females have been selected for a life of slavery. They are starved until their ribs show, and then drugged and force fed dead fish. They will only be fed dead fish when they perform a “trick” for human entertainment, living in a tiny concrete tank for the rest of their lives. Please work to save dolphins and whales! They need our help! Please never go to a captive dolphin show!

  • Rod Barker

    Humans are the most destructive creature alive on this planet. What will it take to change how we view other creatures and ourselves as part of an intricate bio-sphere? We have become so twisted in our thinking and behaviour.
    Financial wealth over environmental health is the sickness bringing this beautiful place called earth to it’s demise. While we sit behind our computers in horror and shock, the devastation continues.
    What will it take for people who care to take action? This is what it comes down to. How much do you care and what will you do about it?

  • lo wag

    Not much different than going to a zoo to see the funny, cute monkeys and elephants and then having monkey burgers and real elephant ears for lunch.

    • Alexandra Cooper

      i wouldnt do that either, totally sick and twisted

    • D.R.S

      Urgh! People have monkey burgers and elephant ears? We humans are touching new lows !! Urgh! tMakes me sick!

  • kaltem

    It’s horrible. Human is the worst thing on Earth. Poor intelligent dolphins! :-(

  • D.R.S

    Swim with and then Eat em? What do they do when they swim wid d dolphins? Dont they appreciate the beauty of these wonderful beings? Assholes.