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Dolphin massacre in Taiji, Japan, and Why should you care?

Updated on January 30, 2013

Deadliest slaughter of dolphins, porpoises and other small whales

Sept 17, 2009: Wild dolphins are the only wild animal that is known to come to the rescue of a distressed human. Around two dozen fishermen in the small village of Taiji, Wakayama prefecture, Japan, corner the dolphins into a bay with a tightening "wall of sound." They then proceed to slaughter most of the dolphins as a "pest control" measure. Some of the dolphins are sold off to aquariums around the world. Though some of the dead dolphins end up in the fish market these are generally inedible due to the high mercury content.

A 2009 documentary has created the media focus that will hopefully end the massacre at Taiji, but that still leaves over 20,000 dolphins, porpoises and other small whales that are killed in Japan every year, making it the largest scale slaughter of cetaceans in the world.

January 23, 2011: Since then the documentary has received twenty five awards including the Oscar for the Best Documentary. The killing at Taiji has somewhat abated, but only because of the vigilance, media uproar and activist organizations.

Challenge Japan to End the Hunt - Should Japan's infamous dolphin hunt affect their chance of hosting the 2020 Olympics?

Japan is making their fifth bid to host the Olympics. Hosting the games will undoubtedly boost their economy suffering from the tsunami & the nuclear disaster. Japan's eagerness also gives the rest of the world some leverage. Once you have read this page please come back here to help the dolphins.

"The Cove" - Trailer

In the 1960s Ric O’Barry trained 5 dolphins who played the title character in the TV sensation “Flipper.” But his close relationship with those dolphins led O’Barry to a radical change of heart. He came to realize that these deeply sensitive, highly intelligent and self-aware creatures so beautifully adapted to life in the open ocean must never be subjected to human captivity again. His search for redemption brought him to Taiji where the story begins.

This town that appears to be devoted to the sleek, playful dolphins and whales that swim off their coast. But Taiji fishermen, surrounded by barbed wire and “Keep Out” signs, wheted by a lucrative dolphin entertainment industry and an underhanded market for mercury-tainted dolphin meat, engage in gruesome hunt. This is so chilling -- and the consequences are so dangerous to human health -- that they go to great lengths to keep these operatoins covert.

Undeterred, O’Barry joins forces with filmmaker Louis Psihoyos and the Oceanic Preservation Society to get to the truth of what’s really going on in the cove and why it matters to everyone in the world. The result won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. It is directed by Louie Psihoyos, produced by Paula DuPre Pesman and Fisher Stevens. Mark Monroe has written the film is written. The executive producer is Jim Clark with Olivia Ahnemann being the co-producer.

Killings at Taiji since "The Cove".

With the media attention that "The Cove" generated the local administration has become more wary and cautious. The number of killings have gone down, but the practice has not been discontinued totally. If the actions by the Japanese government against the anti-whaling organizations is anything to go by, the slow down does not seem to be the result of a change of heart.

Why should you care?

I mentioned in the introduction that dolphins are the only wild animal known to come to help distressed humans. There are stories, myths, legends and movies around animals coming to the aid of humans in distress. But does it really happen? When the animal is the dolphin it is surprising to see how often.

What can you do about it

Sharing is this page and other links like it is a good place to start. Doing a bit of research on your own and thinking about the issue wont hurt. But if you are moved enough to actually start exploring your options, then please click the link below, it doesn't cost you anything except some more time.

The Taiji Story on NPR

I first heard of the Taiji massacre on NPR while driving back from work. Here are the stories that I could find on their website. The stories span over time as at first they examine the hunt, review the movie, comment on the first day and go on to hint that the end of the slaughter may be in near.

This should not, however, lead us to believe that all is well and we can now forget the issue. The killing continues elsewhere.

YouTube vids on the Taiji killings


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      happynutritionist 6 years ago

      I love animals and must admit that it would be to painful for me to view the video showing harm coming to dolphins, but did read what you shared. Dolphins are beautiful gentle creatures. It is good that you have it hear and have written this to keep people aware.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 7 years ago

      See how karma is no coincidence when 'innocent' humans suffer from seemingly higher powers, as currently happening in Japan. It has little to do with higher power but action, and reaction. If humans wish to feel more comfortable we need to rise above the ignorance of the effects of needless slaughter. What goes around, comes around. And what do we do when it comes around? We can choose to forgive; it's the only way out of the cycle. Squid angel blessed, and featured on Blessed Pets.

    • SylviaRolfe profile image

      SylviaRolfe 7 years ago

      Animal cruelty is NOT okay. We need to stop these people. Here is the one I am fighting for right now...

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have lensrolled this in my lens, Dolphins in the Bahamas. Good to bring this issue out.