The dolphin drive hunt in Taiji, Japan has been at the center of animal activism for many years and now it has finally come to the center of science.
The dolphin drive in Taiji involves the corralling of dolphins into a cove for slaughter or to be removed and then sold to representatives from marine parks. An estimated 22,000 small whales, dolphins, and porpoises are killed in these hunts each year.
Dr. Andy Butterworth of the University of Bristol and colleagues have published a paper in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science analyzing the methods used by Taiji fishermen to kill the dolphins in the drive hunts. Through their analysis, the authors have revealed disturbing levels of physical trauma inflicted on the dolphins, and commented that these methods would not be acceptable under any international animal welfare standards.
The paper has compared the information provided by the Japanese government on the dolphin slaughter with video footage of the methodology and concludes that the current methodology leads to prolonged trauma and paralysis, which contradicts the information in the government report.
The publication of this paper has raised awareness of the dolphin slaughter within the scientific community and has elevated the issue to a peer reviewed scientific journal, raising the profile of the travesty in Taiji. This added pressure from the scientific community, which validates the efforts of so many advocacy efforts, could be what is needed to convince the Japanese government to end these hunts for good.
Video of the slaughter is available but be prepared, it is extremely disturbing.
In his new book, “The Voice of the Dolphins” ocean conservationist, filmmaker and Oceana supporter Hardy Jones reflects on his decades of work to protect dolphins and whales around the world, from killer whales in Norway’s fjords to sperm whales off the Galapagos Islands.
In addition to fighting dolphin hunting in Japan, Jones writes of his more recent work to stop one of the greatest threats to dolphins and humans: the rising level of contaminants, such as mercury and PCBs, in the ocean food chain.
The issue hit close to home with Jones when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2003, a form of blood cancer associated with chemical toxins. Blood tests revealed that he had highly elevated levels of chemicals such as DDT and flame retardants in his blood and tissues—the same chemicals found in ever-greater concentrations throughout dolphin populations around the world.