Last week, the world waited in horror to find out what would happen to the sweet baby albino dolphin caught amidst the Taiji dolphin slaughter disaster. Unfortunately, we knew the ending to the dolphin massacre before it even began, but the fate of the baby dolphin was less certain.
“Angel”, the albino dolphin, was captured, and people speculated that the rare cetacean would be used and abused at a marine mammal park. Now, we know that Angel is on display at a Japanese Whale Museum, but the calf’s fate is not so secure. Stan Kuczaj, director of the Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory at the University of Southern Mississippi says, “Calves that have stranded for various reasons have sometimes been nursed back to health by humans, but others have died. So the calf could survive, but that is certainly not guaranteed. We know little about the effects of trauma [and] stress on young marine mammals, but it seems likely that this calf was very stressed by the hunt and so could be at even greater risk, especially since it was separated from its mother.”
Taiji dolphin brokers sell captured dolphins to other countries across the world. This lucrative practice set its sight on the albino dolphin as its first victim in this year’s slaughter. Claims that Angel is safe at the Japanese Whale Museum are falling on deaf ears. Naomi Rose, a dolphin and killer whale expert at the Animal Welfare Institute, is adamant that separating a dependent calf from its mother is dangerous and unethical on every level.
According to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, 52 dolphins were captured and 41 were slaughtered in Taiji over a four day period, and the remaining dolphins were sent back out to sea to grieve alone.