Thousands of dolphins, whales and many other mammals are being slaughtered worldwide. We need to help stop these senseless killings.
Japanese fishermen are capturing whales and dolphins in harsh ways and then slaughtering them. According to the Whale Foundation, more than 20,000 dolphins and whales are killed a six-month period each year.
The fishermen drive groups of dolphins from the open sea into shallow coves to capture them. They then slash their throats with knives and stab them with harpoon-like spears. Their excuse for this is that the dolphins are food.
A dolphin trainer from Miami, Ric O’Barry, has a house in Taiji, Japan as his second home, and he does whatever he can to stop this horrible tradition. “This here is ground zero for the largest slaughter of dolphins on planet Earth,” O’Barry said. O’Barry witnesses killings and says it takes a very long time for the dolphins to bleed to death. Some of them are dragged onto boats by hooks and are gutted alive.
Sometimes, instead of killing the dolphins, the fishermen sell them to marine parks for up to $100,000 each, where they live in confined places for the rest of their lives. According to the Whale Foundation, in Taiji alone, more than a thousand dolphins are killed and around 50 are sent off to marine parks every year.
The Japanese will argue that these killings are justified. CNN produced a special report on these dolphin killings and conducted interviews with residents in Japan. They explain this act as an old tradition that traces back hundreds of years. The Japanese have been eating dolphins for a very long time. They fry the dolphin or sometimes turn it into a stew. But if the Japanese are so proud of their tradition, why do they hide these killings from people? They disguise the facts because they know that what they are doing is wrong.
Many locals comment that outsiders have no more right to tell them to stop eating dolphins than they would have to demand that Westerners stop slaughtering, say, chickens or cows. The thing is we eat what we kill; we don’t kill them just because. Our government doesn’t issue permits that allow people to kill their animals unless it is for food. That would be considered animal cruelty.
The problem in Japan is the way fishermen torture and kill their food, and how they pick and choose the “prettiest” dolphins to send to marine parks. The Independent newspaper ran a story in which they quoted marine park trainers. The trainers explained that they help sort the “best-looking” dolphins from the kill to use in circuses and aquariums across Asia and Europe. These fishermen put the dolphins and whales through a tremendous amount of pain.
Also, according to SaveJapanDolphins.org, Taiji fishermen admitted that the Japanese government issues permits to kill dolphins as a form of “pest-control.” So many of these beautiful and smart mammals are being killed for no good reason; besides the fact that they think there are too many of them.
Dolphins in particular are highly intelligent and complex mammals, so how can they be considered “pests” and then slaughtered. They are not Japanese property. They belong to the ocean and should be protected. The fishermen in Japan say the reason for killing whales and dolphins is the demand for food, but they try hiding these killings now because they know it is wrong.
The Whale Foundation reports that dolphin meat contains extremely high levels of contaminants such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls — a class of organic compounds and environmental pollutants. Japanese health and government officials have declared it “unsafe” for human consumption. But many stores still label the dolphin meat as whale meat.
Also, SaveJapanWhales.org says that the Japanese government has put this meat in children’s school lunch programs despite the fact they know the meat is toxic. So why are so many dolphins killed “for food” if the meat isn’t even safe?
These fishermen have no moral right to do what they are doing and the Japanese government is not helping. So, we need to fight to end this yearly massacre. We need to come together and take a stand. There are many ways to help — just check out the Save the Whale Again project and see what you can do now.
Jennifer Merriman is a senior journalism major.