If you’ve heard about the drive hunts and slaughter, or transport for captivity, of thousands of dolphins each year in Taiji, Japan, you are probably (or hopefully) outraged. Taiji’s plans to open a marine park where you can both swim with and eat dolphins are certainly sparking some outcry.
Recent news of a lesser known dolphin slaughter is now making the headlines. An undercover investigation in Peru has shown the brutal slaughter of dolphins to be used as shark bait, according to PanAm Post. Florida’s Blue Voice and Peru’s Mundo Azul joined forces for the investigation, and found that fishermen on 545 local vessels capture an estimated 15,000 dolphins each year for shark bait and for human consumption.
The organizations report in a press release, that they obtained footage and photographs of dolphins being “harpooned, clubbed to death and then butchered” during the three-week investigation. You can see some of the photos in the press release, along with the photo above. “We videotaped from the boat and in the water and what we saw was unimaginably horrific. I just went numb looking at the pitiful dolphin being battered with a club. All I could do was continue recording the event in the hope that making the world aware of this tragedy can somehow bring an end to it,” says Mundo Azul president Stefan Austermuhle.
While it is illegal to kill dolphins in Peru, the non-profits point out that the law often goes unenforced because the slaughter takes place on the high seas. The dolphin meat does end up in markets where police could monitor sales, though.
Sharks are often forgotten due to their undeservedly bad reputation, despite millions of them being killed each year and their importance for the ocean ecosystem. While the slaughter of these dolphins is cruel, the shark slaughter was found to be equally brutal. “Blue sharks and Mako sharks were taken on board the Peruvian fishing vessel, whose name must remain confidential. The process involves unbelievable cruelty and can take can take as long as an hour,” Austermuhle adds. “The shark meat is sold on the national market – The fins are separated in port by an intermediate fish dealer for export. BlueVoice and Mundo Azul will continue the investigation of markets into which the shark fins are sold.”
Austermuhle reports that the mako sharks are killed by a cut from behind to severe the spine, and the whole rostrum (snout) is cut off of blue sharks. The non-profits also report that the mako shark is listed under the Convention on Migratory Species’ Annex I list of migratory species threatened with extinction.