A growing number of people have been protesting about the mistreatment of dolphins and whales by the hunting industry. Yet, even though these hunts receive global attention, the malpractices and brutal slaughters remain a reality.
People were disturbed and upset to see the photos released in February 2020 by Yahoo News Australia and the Dolphin Project, which revealed a pod of whales killed by Japanese hunters.
The photos were taken by The Dolphin Project, who witnessed the event and shared them on their social media account to point out the ongoing issues with whale hunting and the problems caused by the whaling industry.
It is believed that all thirty-five melon-headed whales have been killed in total. The group explained that they had been herded into a “killing cove”, or Taiji, which is a common practice to trap the whales in Japan.
The whales huddled together before their deaths, and have been heard crying out.
The Dolphin Project wrote:
“For sentient, self-aware, intelligent and intensely social animals, the level of suffering involved in the entire drive and slaughter process is unimaginable. No lives were spared.”
Activists shared photos of the aftermath of the hunt as well, revealing the slaughtered dolphins with their tails tied together.
The founder of the charity, Ric O’Barry, stated that he hopes the image will make a change in Japan:
“(The hunt is) depressing, sadistic, but most of all unnecessary. This dolphin slaughter will end when the Japanese people rise up against it.
Today’s exceptionally cruel event in Taiji is a good example of why it’s imperative to keep live streaming, why it’s important to keep a light on Taiji during the entire six months of the annual dolphin slaughter.”
Unfortunately, this footage might not the last one we see, as, until the whale hunting season ends in March, volunteers keep filming the tragedies and dreadful effects of the whale hunters.
This prominent charity and group of activists is the longest-running anti-captivity dolphin welfare organization worldwide, dedicated to the protection of dolphins, was formed in 1970 by O’Barry.
According to its website:
“The mission of the Dolphin Project is to end dolphin exploitation and slaughter, as dolphins are routinely captured, harassed, slaughtered and sold into captivity around the world – all in the name of profit.
Dolphin Project works not only to halt these slaughters, but also to rehabilitate captive dolphins for retirement and/or release, investigate and advocate for economic alternatives to dolphin slaughter, and to put a permanent end to dolphin captivity.”
In 2003, he visited Taiji cove and started collecting footage of the slaughter of marine life that took place there, and this eventually led to an Oscar-winning film (The Cove, 2010), and a lawsuit against the Taiji Whale Museum.
The charity also won the battle against dolphin slaughter in the Solomon Islands and released over 20 dolphins back into the wild.
The world was shocked when in summer 2019, Japan resumed commercial whale hunting and withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Until then, Japan hunted whales for scientific research purposes only.
Conservationist groups like Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd criticized Japan’s resumption of whaling but admitted that they have no concrete plans for action against it.
Nicola Beynon of Humane Society International said that it was “ a sad day for whale protection globally,” and accused Japan of beginning a “new and shocking era of pirate whaling”.
Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan, added that Japan “is out of step with the international community”.
Japan argues that hunting and eating whales are part of its culture and that the practice can be sustainable.
Every year, Japanese whaling ships are currently allowed to catch 227 whales total, including minke, Bryde’s, and sei whales in Japanese waters, while the international dolphin drive quota for this year is 1,749. Sei whales are the only endangered whales among Japan’s hunt list.
Let’s just believe that continued education will persuade governments and marine life experts to find more humane and environmentally- friendly practices.