[Updated: A "Take Action for Dolphins Day" in the UK is being organized for February 21st - with more sites around the world to follow. Check out more info here.]
As the world watches the dolphin tragedy that continues to unfold in Japan’s infamous “killing cove,” support is building around a rare albino dolphin nicknamed “Angel” stuck in the middle of it.
The calf, which a Cove Monitor for the SaveJapanDolphins campaign described as “an angel with fins,” was separated from its mother early in the hunt as rounded up. On his website, Ric O’Barry says the little one’s chances of survival in captivity are not good.
“The most likely scenario is that the Taiji Whale Museum would keep little Angel for their own promotion and to attract tourists,” he writes. “Taiji is out of the way in Japan, so tourism is always problematic for the town. An albino baby dolphin will bring a great deal of interest. And again, there will be a freak show in the museum that houses live dolphins and sells whale and dolphin meat in the gift shop.
“But Angel doesn’t deserve a life sentence to captivity,” he adds. “Angel was torn from her or his mother, which she still depends on. And her mother will be slaughtered and sold for meat, while Angel will sit in a tank to be a freak on display.”
Sadly, according to Sea Shepherd, the calf’s mother may have already died.
“There is widespread speculation that the mother of the albino calf committed suicide after her baby was violently taken from her.
“Our volunteer Cove Guardians documented and witnessed the grieving mother repeatedly spy-hopping, looking for her calf, before lowering herself into the water, never to resurface.”
And this is just once instance of separation and death that has been playing out in the killing cove over the last week – a hunt that O’Barry described as “one of the most violent dolphin captures that I have ever witnessed in my 45 years of working with dolphins.”
To support of the organizations on the ground working around the clock to bring awareness to this year’s hunt, the Internet has started rallying around such symbols as Angel.
A Facebook page titled “The Angel of Taiji” has soared from some 250 likes yesterday to more than 2,200 today. The international “hacktivist” group Anonymous also rallied to briefly take down the webpage for Wakayama Prefecture, where Taiji is located and the site for the Japanese Aquarium.
— Anonymous Priest (@YourAnonPriest) January 21, 2014
People are even creating picture montages set to music, as seen in this recently-added YouTube video.
“ I am not an animal activist,” writes Jade Jones from the UK. “I will voice my concerns for the vulnerable, whether they are human or animal. The reason I have started the petition is not just that theft on a grand scale from the ocean has been committed, but that research supports that baby dolphins in pods of families are not just cared for by their mothers but from everyone in the pod. This baby albino should not be held in a museum, away from those that can care for it.”
Want to help? Beyond supporting the groups listed above, here are some contacts courtesy of Ric O’Barry’s site to reach out to and express your feelings on the hunt.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Contact these leaders and ask them to release the dolphins in Taiji and Angel with his mother:
The Hon. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister, Japan
Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae
Embassy of Japan in the United States
2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W
Washington DC 20008
Tel: 202-238-6700, Fax: 202-328-2187
Dr. Gerald Dick, Executive Director
World Association of Zoos and Aquariums
WAZA Executive Office
IUCN Conservation Centre
Rue Mauverney 28