Animal rights activists in over 30 cities around the world marked the first day of Japan’s notorious dolphin hunting season with “International Day of Action” protests, an annual event organized by The Dolphin Project. In NYC, about two dozen activists demonstrated in front of the Japanese consulate in midtown Manhattan, educating locals and tourists about the atrocity and demanding that the Japanese government put a stop to it:
During the hunt, which lasts about six months, fleets of Japanese fishing boats surround pods of dolphins off the coast and drive them into an isolated cove in Taiji, Japan, where the dolphins are snatched from the water to be sold to aquariums or killed for their meat. “It’s a bloodbath during which families are torn apart and massacred. It’s nothing short of an act of terror,” said Phyllis Ottomanelli “Captivity is the driving force behind the hunts. If you pay to swim with dolphins or see them in an aquarium, then you have blood on your hands.”
The hunt was largely unknown to the mainstream public until The Cove, a documentary thriller about the hunt and the heroic activists working to expose it, was released and won the 2010 Academy Award for best documentary film.
As the 2017 hunt began, advocates around the world took to social media to raise awareness. Paul Watson, the founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society which has engaged in direct action in an attempt to stop the massacre, wrote “Since the early Sixties, an insidious trade of intelligent, self-aware, sentient beings has been growing like a malignant cancer within human society. It is a slave trade that has been the cause of unimaginable misery and has claimed the lives of thousands of dolphins. This cruel industry has spread across Europe and Asia with hundreds of marine aquariums operating, many of them with grossly inadequate facilities.”
The dolphins are slaughtered by “pithing” – stabbing them behind their blowholes with a metal rod. This method severs the spinal cord, paralyzing the dolphins and supposedly causing a rapid death. Often, however, the death is prolonged. In 2011 AtlanticBlue, a German conservation group, documented a dolphin moving for over four minutes after pithing. Activists with The Dolphin Project and Sea Shepherd have witnessed dolphins drown while being dragged by their tails to the butcher house.
Kim Danoff, a Virginia-based veterinarian and animal rights activist told TheirTurn that babies often watch their parents being killed before themselves dying from stress or starvation: “We must continue to fight until Japan outlaws the trade and massacre of wild dolphins.”
To learn more about Japan’s annual dolphin hunt and to find out how you can help, please visit The Dolphin Project.